It was never easy to love my body. It was, in fact, easier to hate it. For years I was told my body wouldn’t be able to do things because it was bigger. People who I considered friends told me cruel things about my body. I vividly remember wearing a brand new outfit to school in sixth grade and my friend telling me that it made me look like a watermelon. I could write a book about the negative comments I remember people making about my body, but that is the one that sticks out to me the most as I write this.
I spent a great deal of financial, physical, and spiritual resources attempting to shrink myself. Years of diet culture taught me that my body wasn’t good enough because it was too much. I truly believed no one would ever be interested in me, that I wasn’t good at moving my body, and that the cruel comments I was hearing were all true.
Cue a 14-month journey through infertility and miscarriage. My negative body image turned into hating myself inside and out. My body wasn’t functioning properly. I was miserable in a job that was burning me out quickly. It was impossible to love any part of myself. Then I found meditation. I did mostly guided meditations, but also meditated on my own during my acupuncture appointments. I ended up leaving my job for the sake of my mental health and dove into my business in the beauty industry full-time.
As a new mom, I decided I had something unique to offer the world when it came to meditation. Those experiences I had of negative comments, self-hate, existing in a larger body, infertility, and loss meant that I could teach others how to love themselves through difficult seasons. However, I needed to learn to love myself first.
As recent as this time last year, I was still dieting. I was still punishing my body by forcing it to do exercises that didn’t feel good.
I signed up for a 200-hour meditation teacher course and my journey to self-love began. My teacher’s way of instructing clicked with me. I started to see all of my limiting beliefs and how detrimental they were to my soul journey. I was finally able to recognize the negative self-talk and say “no”. Eventually I started replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones.
With everything I’ve learned along the way, here are my top 3 tips for loving your body:
Unfollow any account on social media that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. Set those boundaries and surround yourself with positive messages. The mute feature is amazing if you need to follow someone out of obligation!
Stop hoarding clothes that don’t fit your body! They aren’t serving you anymore.
Say “no” when negative self-talk enters your mind!
Today I am living my best life—following my passions, existing in a plus-size body, and developing a positive relationship with moving my body. I’ve transitioned my business from the beauty industry to the wellness industry, teaching in-person meditation classes and developing an online program. I’m a blogger and am going to pursue more creative outlets this year. I never thought I’d star in an exercise video, but I swallowed any self-doubt and asked my friend if we could record some plus-size modification videos for her Pilates streaming service. It was important for me to represent a community of women so underrepresented in the wellness industry.
My biggest advice from this journey is that you are worthy right now—as is. You are valuable no matter what season of life you are in or what your body looks like.
Here’s my challenge for you: stand in front of the mirror each day and name three things you love about yourself. Even if you don’t believe it in this moment, the messages you put out into the universe will eventually become your truth.
Let’s unlearn everything diet culture taught us to hate about our bodies and replace it with so much love.
Nicole Lemke is a blogger and business-owner from Peterborough, Ontario. She and her husband Jeremy live in a tiny home with their son Anderson and Gibbs the Aussiedoodle. Nicole is a Registered Nurse, reiki practitioner, blogger, and certified meditation teacher and a pilates instructor at Pilates on Demand. She is a body positivity advocate and acts as a voice in the infertility and pregnancy loss community.
If you want to follow her personal journey, she’s on Instagram @_nicolelemke and her personal blog is www.growinguprainbow.com where she shares about her infertility and pregnancy loss journey as well as learning to love herself.