We all have some goals we want to accomplish in life, and some of us probably have age limits attached to them. One of my major goals is to accept what I cannot change and fully embrace this philosophy by age 25. It’s hard, but I’m getting there. Amidst that larger goal, I have a smaller one embedded in it: to understand that I am beautiful in my own way and that being different is okay. Yeah, it sounds utterly cliché, I know, but it really breaks down to this: I’m never going to be white girl skinny, and that’s okay.
You have to accept some facts of nature. My genetics make it physically impossible (using natural methods) to adhere to the notion of white girl beauty. I cannot be small all over, with mile long legs. I am a shorter legged Hispanic with a big ass and thighs, and that’s okay. Long and lean looking legs is never going to happen for me, and I’m completely fine with it. It is but a fact of life. While this may not be your particular “issue,” it all comes down to accepting what can and cannot be changed.
You can’t change biology and you can’t change genetics. If you’re a large framed person, you will always be so. You can’t physically make your bones smaller. Barring some radical surgeries, you can’t change your actual height, when not wearing boots or heels. Another common one I hear from my fellow women peers: the little pudginess on their bellies. You know the one I’m talking about: it’s below your belly button and above the pubic area. It’s that little bulge that can show in very skin tight clothing, unless you’re sucking it in like mad or are using a sorcery called spandex.
Ladies: you can’t get rid of it, short of extreme anorexia (and please, don’t do that). Even then, it shows to a degree. That little bulge there has existed since the dawn of humankind. It exists similar to the reason women tend to store fat around the hips, buttocks and thighs. It’s meant to prepare you for potential baby making. Also, it makes many of us naturally protective of our abdomens (to the point that even the gentle touch of a partner can irk some of us in a way we don’t quite get).
Sometimes, I think understanding why we cannot obtain a supposed “ideal” form of perfection in plain terms, makes it easy to accept. In a way, we have a system of accepting facts about our body similar to how we go through grieving a loss. Here are the modified stages of self-esteem grief.
1. Denial: “These jeans weren’t that tight before. They must have shrunk.” “No, that can’t be my bra, my boobs aren’t THAT big.”
2. Anger/Frustration: “No matter what I do, this isn’t working!” “Why am I stuck with these genes!?”
3. Bargaining: “Come on. If I do all my exercise this week, can I lose that fat in my belly and not my boobs?”
4. Depression: “I’m never going to look like a runway model.” “I’m screwed.”
5. Smug Acceptance: “Screw that. I’m sexy anyways.”
Perhaps my philosophy may seem negative to some, but I just try and accept what I can and cannot change. Once you realize what is actually in your power to change, you can get a renewed vigor toward your goal. The impossible can change to “I can do that.” From there, I think, you’re on you’re way. Another part is to actually set yourself up for success. Once you have accepted what can be changed, you need to set up possible, smaller goals.
It’s okay to start small. I also like to give ranges for my goals. For example, let’s say I want to make a goal to exercise on a certain day. While my ideal would be to exercise 45 minutes or longer, I put in a range of acceptable times. The goal of “exercise for 45 minutes” can be “exercise 10- 45+ minutes.” That way, if I make it to just 10 minutes, I have still succeeded in my goal. The physical act of checking an accomplished goal off your list does fire the reward processes in your brain. It makes you feel Good, and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
So, as we come closer to swimsuit season, I approach it with confidence. Bring it on, summer!