While at a women’s conference earlier this month, we were asked to participate in an exercise called STAND UP FOR YOUR SISTER.  We were all given a sheet of paper with different challenges we might have encountered or experiences we have had and asked to check the boxes off for the ones that applied to us. After completing the exercise, we folded them up and passed them around the room of 7800 people until no one knew who had completed their form.  THEN, they read the questions out loud, and you were asked to stand up for anything you checked off the list.

There were lots of hard things on the list, and more things that applied to a vast majority of the room than I would have liked.  The one that broke my heart was I HATE MY BODY.

I swear, 90% of the room stood up.

I HATE MY BODY.  Note: It didn’t say, “I wish I could change something about my body.” it said, “I HATE MY BODY.”

First, it made me sad……sad that so many women could HATE the body in which they live every second of every day for their entire life.  THEN, it made me mad….DAMMIT media with your airbrushing and the 90’s waif epidemic where so many of the women in my circle were impacted by the idea that somehow not having ribs showing or (gasp) touching thighs somehow tells the world (and apparently ourselves) that we aren’t quite as deserving or strong as a woman thinner than we.   AND FINALLY, it made me excited. That’s right. Excited. Not because there are so many of us running around HATING ourselves….that part still makes me tear up…but because we can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Yep.  We can do something about it, and it doesn’t involve a diet, an exercise plan (although I’ve got a recommendation for a kickin’ barre and cycle studio if you need one), or plastic surgeon.  We can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT just lying down. We can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT while driving in our car, sitting on our couch, or folding laundry. We can CHANGE OUR THINKING regarding our bodies.

Your body EVERY DAY…does amazing things.

YOUR BODY gets you out of bed, into the bathroom, and gives you the mobility to get through your day.

YOUR BODY lets you SEE and HEAR conversations with your loved ones and enjoy things you love and care about like music, a grandchild’s soccer game, or interesting lunch conversation with a dear friend.

YOUR BODY is the vessel where you open your arms and give and receive LOVE from your kids, your spouse, your friends.

YOUR BODY moves you from one place to another where you can LIVE!

Has your body…

Held the hand of a sick or scared friend?
Made a human being?
Danced in celebration of victory?
Felt the wind in your face as you rode to the top of a Ferris wheel and your stomach dropped?
Walked you down an aisle towards matrimony?
Crossed a finish line you never thought you’d cross?

Yes?  That’s YOUR BODY.  It deserves your LOVE.  HATING it is abuse.

What happens to an abused child, an abused animal?  It shrinks. It gets frightened and doesn’t feel safe to be who they are.

Did you know that there are studies that show if you speak kindly to a plant, it grows faster and thrives more than a plant that is spoken to negatively?  A FICUS stunts when you ignore it or mistreat it. What do you think is going to happen to YOU when you HATE your body?

So, what now?  Fine! Christina, I get it, you’re right! Thank you. But now, I just feel bad about hating my body, but I still hate my body. What can we DO? I am an action girl. I also realize that change doesn’t come without time and a lot of hard work. Work in self-talk can be the hardest work that we do. So, I have an idea. This week – when you wake up.  BEFORE you get out of bed, I want you to speak love into your body.  THANK YOUR BODY for THREE THINGS that it is going to do for you this day.  THREE THINGS that you are grateful for (for me, writing it down helps – but do what works for you.) THEN, when you go to bed, I want you to THANK YOUR BODY for what it DID FOR YOU TODAY.

Did you catch that flight JUST IN TIME because your body hustled, albeit super ungracefully while knocking a tall guy’s coffee out of his hand in concourse B, and got you to the gate right before the flight attendant closed the door?  Say, “I’m thankful for my legs and their ability to jog in business casual apparel.” Did your body sweat and get sunburned while you weeded your garden to make it beautiful for a BBQ your hosting tomorrow for friends?  “I’m thankful for my ability to move onto the ground and create beauty.” Did your body provide a soft shoulder for a co-worker to cry on while you learned of her recent marital trouble? “I’m thankful for my body and my ability to physically support someone when they need me.”

YOU ARE LIVING INSIDE YOUR BODY. …and you deserve to love that space.

I’d love to hear how this goes for you – and if you have ideas to share that can help us cultivate feelings of appreciation for these amazing tools that let us LIVE, I’m all ears.

Christina Vance is The Dailey Method Studio Owner in Colleyville Texas, mother of three, and passionate about empowering people everywhere to be their best selves.