5 things that happen when you stop hating your body

They tell you if you love your body, you’ll let yourself go

It’s a lie. I take better care of my body now that I’ve accepted my fine lines, cellulite, and everything that’s “wrong” with it, than I did back when I hated every flaw.

During my teen years, I’d starve myself for days so that I could lose a few pounds in time for summer – and then went on a binge a few days later when I saw the number on the scale wasn’t budging.

I wore full-length jeans even in the torrid heat of Italian summers even if my higher body temperature made me dizzy because I thought that hiding my cellulite was more important than my health.

I’d continue exercising past the point of exhaustion and then called myself a loser when I injured myself.

Does any of that sound healthy to you?

Truth bomb: you don’t take care of what you hate. You only take care of what you love.

When I started accepting myself, I discovered mindful eating. That’s eating what your body craves when it’s hungry and stopping the second you feel full.

I wear whatever I like – even if that means a few strangers will see my cellulite (FYI, no one is looking at it but you).

And I stop exercising when my body tells me it’s had enough.

That’s taking care of yourself. And it’s just one of the wonderful things that happen when you stop hating your body.

1. You Fall In Love With Exercise

I used to hate exercise. It was something that I’d do to slim down and fit in a size zero. It never worked. But it hurt. Every step, every push-up, every squat felt like pure torture. Until I realised I was doing it wrong.

When I stopped exercising to get the “perfect” physique and started moving my body in a way I enjoyed for health and fun, everything changed.

Now I can’t wait to go for that long walk or do my 45 minutes of cardio. It’s fun, gives me energy, and makes me feel so powerful.

2. You See food As Nourishment, Not An Emotional Crutch

Whenever I was feeling down (which was all the time), I’d drown my sorrows in chocolate and potato chips. Even if I wasn’t hungry, I’d still reach out for food to fill that emotional void.

In the short term, it worked. In the long term, not so much.

The more I started appreciating my body for what it can do, the less I felt the need to eat my emotions. Now I see food for what it is – nourishment and fuel that keep me healthy and energised. And, it tastes a lot better, too!

3. You Start Practicing Self-Care

When I hated my body, I didn’t really care what happened to it. I just wanted it to look like I wanted it to, and alternated periods when I’d try to punish it into compliance by extreme dieting and exercising to periods when I punished for its refusal to comply by binge eating and complete neglect.

But, the less I hated my body, the more I started to take care of it. I listen to its needs, and move it with purpose to keep it healthy but stop to rest when it’s too tired. I nourish it with healthy foods. I meditate. Most importantly, I treat it kindly, like the old friend it is.

4. You Feel Comfortable In Your Own Skin

I used to be so critical of the way I looked. Anything short of perfection was ugly and unacceptable, a visible proof of all my failures.

When I stopped giving so much importance to the unachievable ideal of beauty our society feeds us, the self-criticism evaporated. I still have stretch marks and cellulite, and will never fit in a size 0, but I no longer obsess about those things.

Now, I’m comfortable in my own skin, I realised I don’t have to look like anyone else to be happy.

Related: Cellulite Is Normal, Get Over It

5. You Start Living Your Life

I missed out on so much stuff because of body hate. I turned down going to the beach with my friends because I was too ashamed of wearing a bikini, didn’t apply for jobs that required a “nice appearance”, and just preferred to stay at home, binge eating on the couch than go out and meet people who, I was sure, would realise what I loser I was the second they set eyes on my ugly self.

The more I appreciated my body the way it is, the less I cared about those things. These days, I don’t let my appearance dictate what I wear or what I do. I don’t even hunch my shoulders or drag my feet as much. I’m done with trying to disappear. Now, I’m finally ready to be the protagonist of my own life.

If you’ve started loving your body more, too, what positive changes have you noticed in your life?

And, if you still can’t stand the way you look, I hope this post has given you some hope. Amazing things will happen when you let go of the hate and become your own BFF.

Give it a go. It’ll be the best thing you ever do.