As I have discussed before, the way we view our bodies and the way we talk to ourselves about our bodies is HUGELY important.  One of my favorite sayings, (and I believe my good friend Alli McKee said it first)

 ”Don’t train because you hate your body, train because you LOVE your body!”

Think about it, so often we look at ourselves in the mirror and pinch our bellies or our thighs and make a nasty face and tell ourselves, “Ugh… you are so gross!  You MUST run sprints tomorrow to get rid of this nasty fat!”  If you have a hard time recognizing how negative and powerful that statement is, think about if someone else said that to you… your Mom…your boyfriend…your Trainer…your best friend.  You would NEVER let them speak to you that way (and if you do… we need to have a talk!)  And yet, we speak to ourselves that way constantly.  In fact, Jen Comas Keck wrote a great article about it here.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I never look in the mirror and wish that my body were a little different, and I think constantly striving to reach new goals, whether aesthetics or performance related, is perfectly fine!  We almost all struggle with self-acceptance in some form, and even the ladies of Girls Gone Strong aren’t immune to it.  However, for the most part, we have learned to train hard and love our bodies and treat them with the respect they deserve, and we want YOU to do the same!  Below, you will hear from 10 different women (myself included) — they will talk about what they love most about their bodies and some will talk about how they were able to overcome negativity and get to that point.  There is a lesson to be learned from each of these women, so sit back, relax, and take it all in!

Elsbeth Vaino

I love that I can do anything – go skiing, cycling, play ultimate or whatever, and be able to perform at a decent level without being sore for it later.  As for my favourite body part – obliques! I love food too much to get a 6 pack, but I love the definition I get from the lateral and rotary core work I do. There are so many fantastic options, I can only narrow it to my top 3: cable chops, cable lifts, and cable push-pull. Here’s a video of the chop:

 

 Julia Ladewski

My favorite body part is my back. Most people love training what they see in the mirror, so it takes discipline and dedication to train the parts we can’t see on a daily basis. Think about it… every day we look in the mirror at our stomach (or shoulders or legs) and gauge our success on those parts. But when you take a picture of your backside after 5 months of hard training, it’s amazing to see the progress!  This approach also allows me to focus on getting stronger and my performance in those pulling and rowing exercises.

Lately, I’ve been loving Meadows rows (with dumbbells or a barbell), but I can never go wrong with chin-ups and pull-ups. Nothing is more empowering than a woman completing her own unassisted chin!

 

Jen Comas Keck

My favorite part of my body are my legs and my back. My mom has the most beautiful legs I’ve ever seen and I’m lucky that she passed those genes down to me. My legs look good regardless of where my weight is at and they really don’t fluctuate much. I love to train lower body and hammer away at it more often than I probably should, and I love wearing dresses and shorts with heels to show off my hard work! Some of the reasons I am so fond of my legs are because they are incredibly strong, rarely get fatigued, and they remind me of my mom’s. My back is muscular and also stays quite lean, which makes it a favorite of mine as well – I’m a huge fan of muscular backs on women! Although I love my legs and back, it’s not always smooth sailing. I definitely go through spurts in which I struggle with my body image, but I take it one day at a time and work hard to stay optimistic and appreciate having a strong, healthy, and able body that allows me to do everything I want to do!

 

Nia Shanks

There was a point in time when I looked at my body and all I saw were “imperfections” or things I wanted to change. Nothing was good enough for me, no matter what I did or how I ate. However, over the past several years I’ve began to appreciate my body, and my perception has drastically changed. Instead of wanting to “fix” a few things, I appreciate my body for what it can do. For example, I can deadlift 300 pounds for a triple. I am strong and can dominate my bodyweight via parallel bar dips, chin-ups, and pistols. Not only that, but I have learned to love how I look and stopped comparing myself to anyone else. It’s all about becoming the best me possible.

I don’t have a favorite body part, but I love lifting heavy. And, to me, nothing beats ripping hundreds of pounds off the floor.

 

Alli McKee


I have two favorite body parts. The first is my booty: it represents two things to me – 1. A very powerful muscle which lends to my strength and athleticism. 2. When I get dressed up, it’s a great accessory and one-heck-of-a beautiful curve!

There are lots of great exercises to hit the glutes!!  Front Loaded Reverse Lunges, Hip Thrusts, Single leg RDL’s or Hill Sprints…lateral band walks are a favorite too. Oh so many!!! The best video I prob have though (bc I haven’t shot any in a long time are the front loaded lunges:

My other fav body part are my shoulders, but you only asked for one ;-)

(NOTE FROM MOLLY:  I LOVE that Alli loves her body so much that she can’t narrow down her fave body part! AWESOME!)

 

Jen Sinkler

My body has broken thousands of tackles, lifted millions of pounds and run hundreds of miles — all in the form of sprints, natch.

I’m filled with appreciation for its willingness to explore and experiment without a peep of protest; to adapt readily from launching 180 pounds over my head to picking 300 off the floor, from traversing the room on my hands to playing a respectable round of dodgeball. To continue to perform so well that I can’t understand when peers use age as an excuse to lag.

In return, I feed my body coconut oil and eggs, ribeye steaks and wedge salads. (Occasionally brownies and ice cream, too.) I sleep plenty and seek variety of movement.

My body is round and full, sleek and dangerous. It looks silly dressed in too many ruffles, but I’m OK with that.

I don’t have a favorite body part. That may seem uncooperative (sorry, Molly!), but I’m not happy unless the whole package is lookin’ good. Therefore, the more full-body the exercise, the more I like it, so let’s go with these two complexes — both are killers.

The Bear is a classic barbell complex that flows between the following five exercises: power clean, front squat, push press (lower behind the neck), back squat, push press (lower in front). You’ll perform either five sets of five reps (each time through counts as one) or five by seven. Your call.

This 9-Rep Complex is one put together by Coach Dos. It rolls from three power cleans to three squat cleans to three front squats, just to make sure you’re cooked through and through. Your number of times through depends on how completely you’re able to recover between go-rounds. Take your time.

 

Kellie Davis

My body provided a safe place for my children to grow, and now it provides strength so that I can be there as they grow up. My favorite body part is *drumroll* my glutes. Since I began building them, I no longer suffer low back pain, can run faster, jump higher, and move more weight. I feel them powering as I walk, climb, and pick up weights.

My favorite glute exercises is barbell glute bridges. I love the progressions of this exercises and often try new approaches when I implement them into my routine. It’s a basic exercise that can be manipulated so many ways, hitting the glutes hard on different levels.”

 

Marianne Kane

I have always loved my butt, so I won’t talk about the obvious choice – it’s not a challenge to convey love of something that you’ve always felt good about. What I want to talk about is a part of me that I have grown to love – my arms! I used to HATE my arms as a teenager and, in my early 20′s, I thought they were so fat, I couldn’t bear to look at them in photos; I had focused so much negative energy on them that they were (in my mind) out of proportion with the rest of me … so big, that they could be considered legs if I put shoes on my hands!

Now, I LOVE my arms, particularly my triceps! I love them so much I would kiss them if I could reach ;) This is not all about how they look, but I started to love them because of their strength in a time of weakness. When my back was really bad about 5 years ago, I spent a lot of time training my upper body (because my lower body was too painful to train). As a result I became a badass at one of my favorite upper body pressing exercises … DIPS, DIPS AND MORE DIPS! Weighted dips, high rep dips, wide grip dips, narrow grip dips … basically, if I was in pain squatting, deadlifting, lunging –  I wanted to be REALLY good at something! So Chin Ups, Push Ups, Rows and DIPS were may favorite things! Recently I made a video of a weighted dip PR:

You see, you may not start out loving your body because we are conditioned into believing it is all about how we look.  It took me a long time, and a lot of wasted days nit-picking how I looked, to finally realise my body could actually DO stuff!  For that, I love my body (especially my arms) – and the funny thing is, that once I started feeling better about my arms, they started to look better too.  Or, my mind started accepting how they looked because what they could do was just awesome!

 

Neghar Fonooni

Having grown up a chubby girl with a serious love of food, learning to love my body has been a challenging and continuous journey. Today, I love my body for what it can do as opposed to how it looks. I work diligently towards healing my self talk and avoiding any negativity towards my thighs, my stretch marks or the skin that hangs from my belly after carrying a baby. Instead of berating myself for the inevitable onset of cellulite, I take pride in the fact that I can move heavy furniture or throw my 50 pound kiddo around with relative ease. My body is strong, powerful and graceful, and the thing I love most is my back. I love how muscular it is and how it allows me to do weighted pullups and heavy deads. I am never self conscious about it and actually love showing it off with a backless top.

 

Last but not least, there is little ol’ me.  I don’t think it’s any secret that I have struggled with my body and body image over the years.  From being a young, stick-thin gymnast, to being the tallest (and biggest) girl on the cheerleading squad, to being an overweight college student with poor self-esteem, and then a Figure Competitor who fought her body every step of the way to the stage, to being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and needing to focus on my health instead of my weight… it’s been quite a ride.

My body is not perfect, but it’s the only one I have and I constantly remind myself how important it is to love and celebrate my body.  I work hard to make it strong, nourish it with good food, and allow it to recover with ample rest. My favorite body part would have to be my upper back. It’s strong and defined, and it allows me to have good posture and walk with confidence.  The same back that helps me deadlift over 300 lbs and squat 275 lbs, also helps keeps my shoulders healthy, allows me pick up my niece and nephew with ease, and looks awesome in a backless dress.

Chains

My favorite exercise for my back would have to be Kroc Rows, which you can read more about here.  They are not for beginners and not for the faint of heart.  Check out my video where I do Kroc Rows with a 100 lb. DB for 18 reps.

 

Well there you have it!  10 different women, 10 different bodies, 10 different experiences, 10 different perspectives… with one thing in common: we are learning to love and accept our bodies!   (the other thing we have in common is that we all move some SERIOUS weights… so (ahem!)  keep that in mind next time you think that heavy weight will make you a she-hulk!)

I hope you enjoyed this blog post!  Please comment below and let me know what YOUR favorite body part is and what you think of the post!

34 Responses to Learning to Love Your Body…

  1. This is one of my all time favourite posts on any blog, ever! I love celebrating female strength, and I love when women are proud to say they love their bodies. What an amazing, inspiring group of women. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go to the gym more than I do right this minute :)

    • molly says:

      Tara,

      I am so glad you like it! I love it when women love their bodies as well. There is already so much hate and negativity surrounding women’s bodies… we need more love, not more hate! =)

  2. Julia says:

    Awesome post! If I could combine the power and strength of my legs with the visible musculature and leanness of my upper back, I’d be all set. And like Nia, I love doing heavy deads and putting most of the men in my gym to shame. Keep up the awesome work GGS!

  3. Rachel says:

    I was literally just editing a post on approaching your exercise and diet from a positive, life-enriching perspective when this appeared in my Twitter feed. What a glorious post – you really are the most wonderful, inspirational group of women!

    • molly says:

      Rachel,

      AWESOME! I love it! And I totally agree… having positive goals > have negative goals any day of the week! =) Thanks for the kind words!

  4. Laura says:

    I love the body image discussions that have been going on in the GGS blogs. If all women learned to love the bodies they have and train to get strong the world would be a better place!

    • molly says:

      Laura,

      You are exactly right! And we need to support one another and not cut each other down to make ourselves feel better… which comes from lack of self-esteem in my experience.

      Spreading body love is so much more effective and helpful!

  5. Janine says:

    One of the best themes throughout this post was that all 10 of you love what being strong, healthy & fit allows you to accomplish in everyday life. The looking good part came across as being secondary to function and an added bonus rather than the goal of any training you do. All 10 of you are an inspiration and such good role models! keep up the great work.

    • molly says:

      Janine,

      Thank you! And yes, of course… we all want to feel good about how we look naked ;-)

      But the performance aspect is what is so motivating! And let’s be honest, our bodies don’t always cooperate and there are things we can’t change in regards to aesthetics…. but improving performance is something we can all strive for. And it’s measurable… which is nice too!

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  7. Sara says:

    I really love this post. I’ve been pretty private about my fitness journey with my real life friends, but I think I’m going to share this one, every woman should read it.

    I have struggled with loving anything about my body for years, both through times when I was in shape and times when I was very out of shape. As I work my way back to fitness I love what my body can do. I recently ran 5 miles straight for the first time in my life and it was amazing to me that I could do that. I’m also really digging my arms lately, for the first time ever. :)

    • molly says:

      Sara,

      Totally understand. For some people fitness and their bodies are very private things and it can be hard to share with people we are close to. Congrats on your accomplishments and hooray on loving your arms!

      SUNS OUT, GUNS OUT! ;-) hahahaha

  8. allie says:

    Wow. What an incredible compilation of awesome chicks being awesome. Seriously, it is so refreshing to read stuff like this- very cool. You girls rock!

    • molly says:

      Allie,

      Thank you my friend! Our goals are to educate, motivate, inspire, and change the world! Thanks for reading and thanks for helping us reach our goals and our mission! =)

  9. Great post Molly! Thank you for taking the time to write this great piece!
    Through the years I learned that you can’t fix a body you hate! So you better love every part of your body, so you can work on it and make it even better! :)

    Ines

    • molly says:

      Ines,

      Totally agree. And like I said above… there is enough negativity out there surrounding women and their bodies. It’s time to start a “spread the love” campaign regarding women and their bodies! =)

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  13. dani says:

    I love when there is a blog post with different opinions from you guys! there is comfort in knowing that even you ladies, who i admire, share the same struggles sometimes. that i’m not the only one who has trouble looking past my legs with spider veins and cellulite or my-never-going-to-be-thin-enough calves/ankles or whatever flaw we all choose to focus on ourselves. it helps put things in perspective and frankly, sometimes you just need to hear/read it from someone else! my training buddy is my boyfriend but its not as much of a mental game as it is for girls. i don’t have any other gal pals that actually enjoy working out so thanks for all your posts, i just wanted to tell you that!

    • molly says:

      Dani,

      Isn’t it nice to know you’re not alone? There is comfort in knowing that even the most “fit” women have struggled with body image. And would it make you feel even better if I told you that some of us have spider veins and cellulite too? ;-)

      Thanks for reading and commenting! And thanks for helping spread the word! =)

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  16. Corrie Anne says:

    I so loved reading this!!!! Thank you all for sharing.

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  22. .ViV. says:

    I needed this so much right now!! Thanks for re-sharing it!! The way you girls talk about your bodies is inspiring! I’ve never thought of it the way you describe it, and now, reading this, I have learned that there’s not really a body part I don’t like!! Apart from still being a bit squishy, but that’s because a) I used to be fat, and b) I’m keeping my body fat over 18% (for now).

    Having suffered low back pain and shoulder pain (all due to the excessive amount of sitting I did whilst having an office job for 10 years, and during a hugely sedentary part of my life) I do a lot of exercises that help me to correct that.

    I worry that my legs will get huge, but I love getting a new PB on a squat (75kg) or deadlift (80kg), I’ll just have to keep the old leggies in check, and besides, for now, they look alright too! I also love pull-ups and rows, anything to help my upper back and posture. My arms are the weakest part of me, but I’m working on it :-)

    Thanks again for sharing, I’ll be passing this on the my page fans!

    • molly says:

      So glad you liked it!

      Yes it’s easy for us to be super hard on ourselves and have unrealistic expectations of how we should look… sometimes we just need to give ourselves some grace! =)

      And don’t think of it as a “weak” body part… but the body part with the most opportunity for improvement! =)

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing Viv!

  23. Melly Testa says:

    Last year I had a bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction due to breast cancer. After being diagnosed with a life threatening disease, I could not see putting silicone implants under muscle as a solution. The chemotherapy, the entire process really, made me understand how very strong, willing and awesome my body is. If it can withstand that, what else can it do? So as I step into my new form, I have decided to lift weights. Beauty in strength.
    I really appreciate what you and the GGS are doing to create community, discussion and healthy female fitness practice.
    My favorite body part? My scars, they are my breasts and they help me re-member why I am on a fitness journey.

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