I would like to introduce you to my friend Meghan. She is a former Naval Academy graduate who served our country for 6 years while on active duty. She now serves as a military wife and loving mother of two beautiful children. Meghan had a hard time deciding what she loved about her body for this campaign, but after doing some soul searching she was able to really explore all the positive ways her body has carried her through her life. Enjoy her story below.
“What part of your body do you love?” For some, that’s probably an easy question. For others, it’s hugely challenging. When I was asked this question, I felt torn. I wanted to say things like, “My smile!” except I’ve noticed more and more wrinkles….Or “my abs!” because they have been showing up more and more!” except I’m still embarrassed, even at age 39 by my “pooch” that I have always had. When I look around and see a room full of hot bodies…a body I’ve always wanted to have… it’s hard to say if what I have even compares. (I know, that should NOT be the POINT) My value should not be based upon the comparison of others.
This subject is something that I have been giving a lot of thought to over the past several years, and I’m happy to finally have the nudge necessary to put my thoughts down on paper. For three years I had the privilege of being the head coach of a predominantly woman-athlete CrossFit program. I saw beautiful bodies….not because there were perfect breast, firm thighs (although there were some of those for sure), but because the bodies, small or big, tall or short, thin or heavy, were trying! On days when workouts were really challenging, people would say, “I only did X number of rounds.” or “I only lifted X amount of weight.” I would turn it around on them and encourage them to change their way of thinking; instead of using words like “I only” try “I did X amount of rounds!” or ” I lifted X pounds!” It was with great personal joy that I would see a smile spread across the athlete’s face. In that moment, they were honoring their effort. I would often write this phrase on the whiteboard under the workout of the day. The moment they honored their hard work and effort, their whole body was loved!
It’s because of those years that I have been rather introspective. I have often begrudged my heavy thighs, my pooch, my pear shape. I wanted a body more toned, thinner, easier to dress. Now I am coming to see the reality of what my body, in comparison to others, has done… EVERYTHING I HAVE ASKED OF IT. Sure, it could be better, faster, stronger, but even in the struggle of failure, my body has EXCELLED! My body gave me strength and courage when I stood proudly in uniform, having the courage to serve our country. My body will run when I tell it to run, it climbs a rope when I tell it to climb and will do it again when I tell it too. (ok, I haven’t touched a rope in 10 years, but you get the point) it swims after months out of the water. It recovers when I stay up too late, eat too much or sleep too little. It heals me when I’m hurt and forgives me when I abuse it. It allows me to pick up weight, teach a class, demonstrate a movement, even when I’m not warmed up. It gives me the health I take for granted, and the strength to pour myself into others. It may not be the fittest, tallest or even the strongest, but my body is dedicated to me and that’s more then I can ask for.
Which brings me back to this Love Your Body Campaign. Before the photo shoot, I was too caught up in the flaws that I saw to really find something I was willing to let the photograph feature. So, I decided to ask my children. “What do you think is the best part of Momma’s body?” “What do you think is the neatest thing Momma’s body can do?” In the naïvete of youth, I was very careful about how I phrased that, lest I project on them, what society will do anyway.
Their responses? “Your heart, because it loves us very much, and your arms because they hug us and hold us and show us that we are safe.” This is where my body has gone above and beyond. With ease my body carried and delivered two babies to full term with fast labor and delivery. I struggled with breast feeding, yet my body still provided. I struggled with fatigue, yet my body still got up every morning and carried me though the daily challenges of early motherhood. I can hold my daughter close when she needs to snuggle, and even carry my son who is almost as tall as I am, if needed. I can chase them, play with them and even walk away from them when my emotions are sharp and frustration too high.
So today, I still have no answer to the part of my body I love the most. Society has had an influence on me when it comes to not accepting my flaws. I also recognize the grace I give to others (and passionately encourage them to give themselves) is something I often deny myself of. Those are the things I hold back from myself in my mind and it’s a daily battle that I must face and overcome. However, my body is strong and amazing! My body does everything I ask of it. So today, I will honor my body’s effort, because it is most deserving!
You can read more about Meghan on her blog