"You look so good!" my mom said as I walked inside one day over quarantine, dripping with sweat after a workout.
"Really?" I said in reply as I welled up with happiness.
It had been awhile since I'd worked out on a daily basis, but I really wanted to feel healthier and get toned for summer. It took a lot of will power for me to work out on a regular basis, so this was vindication that the hard work was paying off.
I smiled and thanked her, and walked back to the bathroom to take a shower.
Before I got in the shower, I looked at myself in the mirror, admiring the work I had done to get my body where it was now. Mom was right: I did look good. My muscular physique that I once had as an athlete was coming back, and in that moment I couldn't have been happier.
As I pondered my life's existence in the shower (like any rational human being does), my glee over my newly toned body suddenly turned into sadness. As I pondered my mom's compliment in my mind, I thought to myself, "If I look so good now, does that mean I didn't look good before?"
Suddenly, I felt a tear go down my face.
It surprised me, because I hardly ever cry. I know my mom only meant to compliment me, so I wasn't upset with her, but it was in that moment I knew: I cared much more about what my body looked like than I thought.
Fast forward to last week, where I looked at myself in the mirror with a different reaction: I felt like breaking down.
My workout routine and diet have become much more lax since school started, and with it, so has my body. While some people would loathe me for critiquing even my less toned physique, I couldn't help but compare my body to what it has looked like in the past.
Looking myself up and down, I judged every feature. My abs were no longer visible, my arms weren't as defined, my legs were less toned and my face was a little fuller.
"I looked so good this summer," I thought to myself. "Why did I let myself get so lazy?"
As I stood there staring at myself, I kind of had an epiphany: something about my attitude towards my body needed to change.
Sure, maybe I feel more confident when I have toned muscles, but that doesn't mean I should love my body any less when I don't. My body does SO MUCH for me, and I should love it for that reason alone.
If I am able to love my body in all its forms and metamorphoses, looking at it in the mirror doesn't have to be a painful, judgmental experience. Instead, it can be a beautiful and empowering one.
And so that day I looked myself in the eye, told myself I was beautiful, and got dressed to go to Wendy's for a 10 piece chicken nugget meal. I ate it with no regrets.
Loving your body isn't easy, and it doesn't happen overnight. Trust me, I have a long way to go myself. But please don't bully yourself because you aren't where you want to be, kill yourself comparing your body to others, or let a negative perception of your body hold you back in life.
You are beautiful and perfect in every single way, so don't let yourself or others tell you differently.
Whether it's by working out, eating chicken nuggets or looking at yourself in the mirror and saying "I'm beautiful," do me a favor: show yourself some love today, because you and your body deserve it.
Life is too short to hate on your body. I mean heck - you wouldn't be able to live life without it.