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It’s finally here.  A post that I have been thinking about, dreaming about, talking about, and stressing about for the better part of a year, and it’s coinciding with an amazing challenge that I’ve been wanting to run for at least 6 months now.

A blog post on cellulite. Yes, cellulite.

And a Love Your Body Challenge.

Umm… cellulite and loving your body?  Are you lost yet?  Bear with me for just a second and it will all make sense.

You see, ever since I posted my article, Its Hard Out Here For A Fit Chick, my life has been totally different.  I recognized that what I am most passionate about is helping women discover what their best body looks and feels like with minimal time and effort.

But most importantly, I’ve discovered that I want to help them have grace and compassion towards their bodies.

That, plus a few of the other soul-baring posts that I’ve written, plus this amazing blog post by Amber of Go Kaleo all about cellulite, is what initially made me want to write this blog post.

Then all those pesky web designer issues got in the way, and postponed things a bit.

Then, I saw an amazing post from my girl Jen Sinkler, where she posted a picture of herself, and her cellulite, in all of it’s glory right smack dab on her Thrive As The Fittest Facebook page (you’ll see her post below).

In her post, she referenced another amazing woman, Lauren Fleshman and her post, Let’s Keep It Real About Our Bodies, where she posted pictures of her looking incredibly fit, and then, well, less fit, and discussed how those pictures were taken within the same week.  Eek!  This woman basically wrote the blog post I’d been wanting to write for almost a year.  And she did it really, really well.

Kudos to Lauren.

But just because it has been “done before” doesn’t mean I can’t take a stab at it too,right?

I’ve been desperately wanting to do this for a long time, and not just with my pictures.  It’s been my dream and my goal to get other female fitness professionals to join me in this crazy adventure, in hopes that we are even stronger in numbers.

And you know what?  They did join me.  In droves.  And I am so, so happy to share their amazing stories with you.

But first, before I do, let me explain something.  The purpose of this post is five-fold:

1. To help you see that you are NOT alone.  There’s comfort in community and feeling like other people have dealt with what you’re dealing with, and have been through the same struggles you have.

2. To take away the shame of having an “imperfect” body.  I mean seriously, what the heck does a perfect body look like anyway?  Cellulite, stretch marks, birthmarks, scars, moles, wrinkles… these are a part of every single one of us, and they make us unique, and they help us tell our story.  There is no reason to hide them anymore.

3. To help you see that even very fit, and very lean women have cellulite, or belly rolls, or loose skin, and that lighting and camera angles make a huge difference.  We always looks at ourselves in the worst lighting in the most awkward positions, and compare ourselves to a fitness model who has a crew of 15 including a professional photographer and lighting director.  Get real!  We are comparing our “behind the scenes” to her “highlight reel.”

4. To help you see yourself clearly.  This point is honestly one that I didn’t expect when I first had this idea.  In fact, I didn’t even realize that it would be a topic within this post until Mrs. Marianne Kane Fass pointed it out, and it’s the most poignant lesson of them all.  All week these women texted me or emailed me pictures of themselves saying,

“Is this enough cellulite?”
“Does this belly roll look big enough?”
“Can you see my stretch marks well enough from this angle?”

When all of these women stepped back for a moment and tried to see these “horrific” things about their bodies, when they tried to capture these monstrous “flaws” that kept them out of bathing suits and shorts for years, when they looked at themselves through the eyes of a stranger, wondering if their “flaws” would look bad enough to YOU, the reader… they could hardly find them at all.

5. To help you recognize that you look amazing.  As you’ll notice, many of these women hardly have a dimple to their name, and yet they have each struggled with body image and loving their body at some point in time.  They’ve been way too hard on themselves, and I know you’ll think the same when you see them, too.  They look amazing!  Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, YOU are being too hard on yourself, and YOU look amazing too? =)

I hope you get these 5 lessons from all of the wonderful women in this post, and stick around for Day 1 of the Love Your Body Challenge at the very bottom!

Without further ado…

Jen Sinkler

I remember shopping for shorts in high school, making sure they didn’t reveal even the first pit in the backs of my legs. I felt mortified, carefully dressing around this visual for years.

That was 30 pounds ago.

That’s right, like 90 percent of women, I have cellulite, and I have since I was just a little scrap. I was fit then, I’m fit again now (and a hell of a lot stronger, too), but now, I dare wear short shorts (cue Nair jingle). And often.

What changed, besides my clothes? My attitude about what I “should” look like, and the realization that we are air-brushing ourselves into a corner, with regard to societal expectations of what we should look like.

There is no should, and the sooner we start dressing the part, the better.

Along the same vein, I was pleased to read about professional runner Lauren Fleshman’s #keepingitreal campaign. (Get up to speed here, if you haven’t.)

Her suggestion is that we start peppering our own social media feeds with less-than-flattering photos of ourselves, in the spirit of not just body acceptance, but body *embracement.*

The challenge she laid down: “Everyone keeps saying how powerful social media is. Let’s use it to redefine beauty. Post an unflattering photo of your body on Facebook or Twitter and spread the word. Add the hashtag #keepingitreal.

The amazing J-Sink

So, in the spirit of self-love, I posted this side-by-side shot of myself to my Facebook page, Thrive as the Fittest, on Valentine’s Day.

These two photos were taken the same day, during the same shoot for my apparel line. The light coming through the skylight was a little softer in the one on the left, AND it didn’t feature the backs of my legs, complete with my cellulite on blast. And right before the launch of my ebook on conditioning, Lift Weights Faster, on March 18, no less.

Would it hurt sales, I wondered?

But then, hot on the heels of that thought, a resounding “F*** IT.” Because my responsibility as a woman who works in the fitness industry to demonstrate that you can be fit and pitted, drowned out any reservations.

I’m strong, I feel healthy and vibrant, my life is rich and full of love, laughter and friendship, and I have a job that I’m passionate about.

Puts those itty-bitty pits in perspective, doesn’t it?

If you want to know more about Jen, visit her website.  You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Liz DiAlto

I remember “training” for the biggest photo shoot I’ve ever done back in 2011.

The amount of pressure and guilt I experienced during that time was ridiculous. I remember dreading the experience of measuring my body fat – getting pinched and prodded. The worst part is, that was the best shape I’ve ever been in, and

most of the enjoyment of being in that body was drained because I was mainly motivated by not feeling good enough.

I was up against a deadline – hoping to be good enough by the time it came to be in front of the camera.

I look back at those pictures now and really appreciate that body. I’m a few pounds heavier and a little bit softer now, but I feel so damn good in my body because I fully accept her. I dig my cellulite, I love my curves, and I swear I am more attractive as a human because of all these things.

Liz 1&2

It feels nice to not hide anymore. The two pics you see here are from that photo shoot. I’d never posted the one on the right anywhere because the angle made all the difference between nice booty/thigh shot and jiggly booty/thigh shot.

Largely inspired by Jen Sinkler’s post and Molly inviting me to share here, today I say, “What the hell!”

All of it is mine, the muscles, the meat and the cellulite.

Home is not a place, my body is my home and it’s my choice to love and respect her always.

If you want to know more about Liz, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, and get a real peek into her life on Instagram.

 

Holly Rigsby

As far back as I can remember I had always been self-conscious about my butt and today it is one of my favorite assets ~ pardon the pun ; )

After having my 1st baby in 2001, my body image was completely shaken. Gaining 50 pounds really did a number on my self-esteem and my lower body.

Long story short – divorce, discovery of self, dating, discovery of passion and getting married…it finally all came together for me.

I was more than a number on a scale and the size of my jeans.

I finally understood that my body was something I could love right then, as is, with no changes needed.  Yes, I could get stronger, leaner or make various improvements, but I was still me and no changes were needed for me to finally love my body. I began to respect my body and embrace everything that makes it unique.

In 2007, after three years of personal training I launched an online fitness program for moms. I found myself coaching dozens of women who were putting off their happiness until they could fix all their problem areas.  This obsession with achieving a perfect, flawless body was a challenge to address and overcome.

Breakthroughs began to happen as I opened up and shared my own personal ups and downs, which included photos and some hard core, super honest videos.

One video in particular demonstrates that while my body fits the appearance of being lean, I still have areas that are “as is” and no matter how much work I put into transforming, these parts are what make me, Me!

HollyBodyPics1

One area in particular, my butt! It jiggles, it has dimples and a dog bite from a mean old cocker spaniel and I joke about the multiple folds as smileys, but my butt is strong, curvy and can rock some skinny jeans! This is why I love my butt!

Sharing what makes my body real, and that no matter what fitness goals I achieve, there will always be parts of my body that keep me unique, and quite frankly, grounded and humble, is so cool.

My body is constantly transforming, and yet my body is amazing AS IS.

I know I have arrived at the body I want, not because of what I look like, but because of how I feel about myself.

I love this quote by Steve Maraboli,

There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being  herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.

Be unapologetically YOU!

You can find out more about Holly by visiting her website or blog. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Stacey Schaedler

As a young female in the fitness industry I often wondered why there weren’t more women on the local Perform Better fitness circuit.  The male presenters were intelligent and passionate about teaching and sharing their fitness knowledge, however it was NEVER about the way that they looked.

 

Females in the spot light were the likes of Jillian Michaels /Tracy Anderson; covered in makeup, while sporting just a bra and booty shorts. It was as if their good looks and killer body alone made them a “good trainer.”  So I decided that if I couldn’t get noticed for my brains alone then maybe a killer body would do the trick.

LEFT: Uber-lean and miserable RIGHT: Vibrant and happy

LEFT: Uber-lean and miserable         RIGHT: Vibrant and happy

Here I am with a killer bod, attained and just plain MISERABLE.   At this point in time I was a mediocre coach with no work/ life balance. No photoshop or editing just extreme discipline. (photo: Jay Sullivan)

Then you see me 3 years later, and I am happier then ever! I am STRONG and VIBRANT. I am the coach I want to be.  I may not rock a 6 pack but that’s ok with me! (Photo Jess McDougall Creative)

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Guess what?  I HAVE STRETCH MARKS.

I have been told on numerous occasions that I am WIDE and needed to wear a girdle in order to ever have a waist.

These things do not DEFINE me.

There is a shift happening ladies.  As females in the fitness industry we are embracing ALL of ourselves!  The sooner we can embody a, “progress not perfection,” attitude towards our bodies the happier we can be!

My top 2 takeaways on body acceptance:

1) Exercise and food should be pleasures that COMPLEMENT your life, not take it over.

2) Everyone’s body is unique and different and everyone is beautiful, ESPECIALLY YOU. The sooner you realize this the better life is! =)

You can find out more about Stacey by visiting her website.  You can also find her on facebook, and her blog.

 

Danny – J

I know when I got into the fitness industry my biggest goal was to, “get on the cover of Oxygen!”

I wanted to be a fitness model, to have an awesome physique and exude confidence and smiles!

Interestingly enough, I remember my very first fitness competition, and I was going to be able to meet a few IFBB “pros.”

I was startled to see that they did NOT look like their pictures in person.  The two that I met were puffy, a good 15+ lbs. heavier than pictured and not at all glamorous without the make-up.

I recall going to my hotel room and telling my husband, ”Wow, those girls don’t look at all like their pictures in real life.”
As I continued to compete and meet more of the models in “real life” that I had seen in the magazines, it became increasingly clear how much a nice tan, make-up, lighting, and angles make.

I started doing shoots myself and suddenly, I wouldn’t even ALLOW any bad angle of a picture get posted online. 

I had control over my image and I did NOT want people to see the “average” me, they only got to see the, “amazing, fit, tan, and smiling me!”I wouldn’t even post a bad selfie!!

Ironically, this is also what sickened me about the whole industry as I knew it was a facade.  I knew I had cellulite on my bum and I knew my pasty, pasty, skin did NOT look all that flawless without a tan and great light.  Even though I do have a few pounds on me in the booty picture, what a difference a tan and arching your back makes!


Danny J Bikini

Don’t ever compare your average day with someones great day!!

My couch pic should be a meme!  What I think I look like when I’m lounging around at home…what I actually look like.”Danny J Lounging
If you would like to learn more about Danny-J from The Sweaty Betties, find her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
Jen Comas KeckI was extremely self-conscious all the way through my late twenties. The thought of what people may think of me – more specifically, my body – was constantly on my mind. As I entered my thirties,“I slowly shifted my focus onto what my body is capable of doing, rather than how it looks, and that has been my saving grace.” My workouts used to solely revolve around what would make my body look better, and while I still care about my physique, I’m far more concerned about conquering my performance goals. Interestingly enough, now that I’ve been working more on certain lifts and different types of fitness, my body is leaner, more muscular, and stronger than it’s ever been. I attribute that to less stress, and a whole lot more fun and playtime, both in and out of the gym. I’m a firm believer that our thoughts manifest physically.

Speaking of fun activities, taking up pole dancing has done a number on JCK!

Speaking of playtime activities, taking up pole dancing class has done a number on JCK!

Being immersed in the fitness industry, it is a slippery slope not to get too wrapped up in how my bod looks. Instagram and Facebook is nothing but a plethora of ab and ass shots these days, but I’m proud to deviate from that nonsense, and far prefer to share pics and posts about what a body is capable of doing if you put your mind to it – along with plenty of bloopers and failures, because that is real life.

So, cellulite? Who cares. ;)

To find out more about Jen, visit her website.  You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Jessie Mundell

A couple of years ago, I was at my family’s house in Ontario sitting lakeside with friends and family. I had shorts and a tank top on. I stood up and started to walk inside to the house when my uncle said to me, “How does such a fit girl like you still have dimples on the backs of her legs?”

UM. WHAT THE EFF DID YOU JUST SAY? Pretty sure I had a couple choice words almost leave my mouth.

Here’s the thing. A couple years ago that comment would have (and did) upset me. It made me want to cover my dimply legs. It made not want to wear shorts in case someone else might notice.

Today, though?

I realize that this man did not in any way mean to make me feel uncomfortable or self-conscious, but that he was probably just generally surprised and interested to see that strong women with muscle have cellulite too. That women who are fit and even lean, have cellulite because that’s just how this science stuff works.

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So my gals, if you too have some dimples on the backs of your legs, or anywhere else on your body for that matter, know that it’s perfectly fine and good. If someone has made a comment that has left you embarrassed, uncomfortable or feeling “less than,” take it as their ignorance to knowing what women’s bodies are really made of.

We are the only ones that can decide how we feel when we look in the mirror and, I’m telling you, embracing all of you a little more each day feels damn good.

If you want to know more about Jessie, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

 

Marianne Kane

When Molly asked if I was interested in contributing to her article, I JUMPED at the chance because, “I HAVE CELLULITE!”

Only now I had to prove it! Easy, right?

What if I told you that I took several dozen photos in my most unflattering poses and…ZERO cellulite to speak of? That’s right, the day it was finally going to be seen by everybody, it decided to hide – from my eyes.

I have spent most of my adult life comparing my body to others and hiding my legs.  It’s good to feel normal, and it’s good not to feel alone in having body issues, but what struck me today was how upside down my approach to these photos was, and what an amazing thing happened as a result!

You see, normally, I am fearing imperfection, seeking “perfection” and seeing only flaws; today,

I went in seeking those flaws and expecting imperfections and I saw only beauty.

My cellulite has always looked worse to me.  It didn’t matter who else had it worse than me, I always found a way to shame myself more.  I’d usually say, “Yes, but I also have THIS too!” (and point to another flaw).

As I dried my hair in preparation for the “flaw” photo, I asked myself, “At what point do you feel beautiful and ready to face the world?”  Certainly not when I am wearing shorts or without my make-up. I feel exposed and bare; unsafe and open to criticism – people might see me for what I really am: imperfect!

Look, it’s not like I don’t know I’m not perfect. I mean, I am quite comfortable sharing my inner struggles with my readers on my blog, but there is always this horror when you see your body as it really is: a shell.  What is meant to make it shine is your character and confidence. It doesn’t happen the other way round. But you can’t see your beauty until you accept you own worth, just as you *are*

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So, here is one photo which made my heart skip a few beats when I saw it online (I did a photo shoot for someone else’s website and they clearly didn’t care that my leg is rather rough looking lol). And the second photo is me, today, trying to recapture the evil shadows that revealed my “flaw.”

But don’t focus on my outer shadows, or your own… the only shadows that need made alight are the dark places in my mind that tell me I am ugly, sub-standard, and unworthy.

You can read more about Marianne on her website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or watch her on Youtube

 

 Elsbeth Vaino

“I’ve never had anywhere near a perfect body, but for the past 10 years or so, I’ve had a pretty good one. That’s when I made a few dietary changes, and got into heavy strength training, resulting in losing about 25 pounds. Thankfully I never had a very negative impression of my body, but it  wasn’t until recently that I learned to really love it – fatty inner thighs and all.

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 It wasn’t a specific change that happened that allowed me to start loving my body, but rather a realization that I really had found a perfect balance: I had a body that I could look at and smile; It was fit enough that I could enjoy high level athletic performance; and I could maintain this without an overly restrictive approach to nutrition (I eat well most of the time but I also drink wine and beer, eat chips sometimes, and when I eat pizza, I eat way more than would be considered “a serving”). So that was it – I had everything I wanted out of my body – how could I not love it?

If you want to know more about Els, visit her website.  You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Lucy Hendricks

That's me!  And it's how I wanted to look for the rest of my life!

That’s me! And it’s how I wanted to look for the rest of my life!

When Molly asked me to contribute to this blog post, It actually made me realize how happy and comfortable I am in my body. I couldn’t even get a good picture of my cellulite!

I then remembered how my stomach looks like when I sit down. I have a flat stomach when I’m standing up, but because of  how I’ve dealt with stress in the past and the lifestyle I used to live, it will be a while before my stomach looks “perfect…” but I think I look good naked, and I don’t care if it looks like that when I sit down.

Lucy
In high school I stayed inside for two whole summers because I hated the way my body looked. My body went through a huge change when I moved to the U.S. from Guatemala.  I wasn’t used to having curves, and I thought I would be skin and bones for the rest of my life.

It saddens me knowing that I spent 8 years hating my body and the way I looked, but it feels so good to know that I love the way it looks now.

To see more of Lucy, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.


Molly Galbraith

I don’t think it’s any secret that I’ve struggled with body image for a long, long time.  I’ve written about it, spoken about it, and presented on it, and now, here we are.

I kept wondering what pictures I wanted to include for my contribution, and then I remember it’s my blog and I can include as many as I want!

I have so many “perceived imperfections,” from my belly when I sit down, to my booty full of cellulite, to my stretch marks and loose skin, to my incredibly small eyes and sleepy face when I first wake up.  So I’ve decided to share them all, and like I said in the introduction, after looking at them through the eyes of a stranger, I’ve decided that they actually aren’t that bad after all. =)

This body has stretch marks, cellulite, loose skin, moles, scars, and more, but they're hidden due to flattering angles and lighting.

This body has stretch marks, cellulite, loose skin, moles, scars, and more, but they’re hidden due to flattering angles and lighting.

You were probably wondering who's belly that was.  Surprise!  It's mine!  These pictures were taken 60 seconds apart.  What a difference position can make!

You were probably wondering who’s belly that was. Surprise! It’s mine! These pictures were taken 60 seconds apart. What a difference position can make!

 

The difference between good lighting and a flattering angle, and bad lighting and a horrible angle.  Oh, and a little loose skin/stretch mark combo for good measure. =)

The difference between good lighting and a flattering angle, and bad lighting and a horrible angle. Oh, and a little loose skin/stretch mark combo for good measure. =)

I'm often complimented on my eyes, and I always think in my head, "Yeah, they look good with makeup on.  They look horrible without."  Not anymore.  That thought is poisonous.

I’m often complimented on my eyes, and I always think in my head, “Yeah, they look good with makeup on. They look horrible without.” Not anymore. That thought is poisonous.

 

Oh you know, just me and a few of my friends... Sleepy, Happy, Dopey, Grumpy...

This is generally how I look between takes during photo shoots.  No seriously.

So… there you have it.

11 of your favorite fitness pros, stripped down half naked, sharing their vulnerabilities and insecurities with you.  Remember, it’s not about how YOU think they look.  They have each struggled with hating their body at some point.  It may seem crazy to us, but they’ve struggled with it just the same, but they are all on their own journey to not just body acceptance, but body embracement.

And you can be too!

So… about this 28 Day Love Your Body Challenge… What’s the deal?

First, before you get started go HERE, so you can answer the 10 questions you need to answer before you can start (scroll to the bottom to find them)!

Each day you’re going to check back to my website to see the challenge for the day.  And each day there will be a reason to love your body, a mantra associated with that reason, and a small assignment/action step to cement that reason.  And the posts will be short, so they should take less than 5 minutes to read, and the action step should take less than 5 minutes.

Keep in mind, some mantras and reasons will resonate with you more than others.  If you find one that works, stick with it.  Don’t feel like you have to use a new one if a different one is working.  And if the first few don’t resonate with you?  Don’t worry!  We have 28 days of this, so you’re bound to find something that sticks with you.

There’s no official registration or sign-up or anything, so I recommend you find yourself an accountability partner and do the challenge together.  It will be fun, and you’re more likely to stay on track.  And you’re always welcome to comment on the post of the day to find community with other women also doing the challenge.  And, if you’re feeling inspired by this post, feel free to join me (and others) by sending your “less-than-flattering” photos to: 28dayloveyourbodychallenge@gmail.com
and I’ll post them in my #LoveYourBodyChallenge album on Facebook.

Let’s get started!

Reason # 1 to Love Your Body: 

1. Because it’s yours.

Sounds kinda silly, right?  But seriously — think about other things that are yours: your house, your car, your favorite pair of shoes or your puppy.  Think about how well you treat so many other things in your life that are yours.

Even crazier?  Those things are finite.  They are replaceable (ok, maybe not *your* puppy, but you get my drift).  How ridiculous does it sound that we spend more time and energy taking care of our finite and replaceable possessions than we do our own body, mind, heart, and soul?

Mantra: ”My body is my home. It’s the ONLY place I have to live.  I will treat it with the care and respect it deserves.”

Repeat this (to yourself or out loud) 10 times right now,  10 times during your action step, and 10 times before bed.

Action Step: Do one really nice thing to take care of yourself today.  Maybe it’s a bubble bath, maybe it’s deep conditioner in your hair, or maybe it’s a few minutes in the steam room at the gym, whatever.  Just do it, and while you are doing it, repeat your mantra to yourself 10 times.  When you’re done with that, then just simply enjoy what you’re doing.

No work, no kids, no emails.  Try to experience what you’re doing with all of your senses, and clear your mind.

That’s it for today!

So here’s your checklist:

1. Make sure you’ve signed up for my newsletter so you can get links to the new challenge every morning!
2. Make sure you’ve filled out the 10 questions at the bottom of this page so you have your “starting point.”
3. Say your mantra 10 times immediately, during your action step, and before bed.
4. Complete your action step, however small it is.
5. Check in with your accountability partner if you have one.
6. Check back tomorrow for more.
7. (optional) Spread the word and share your experiences on Facebook and Twitter with the #LoveYourBodyChallenge hashtag.  If you’re on Twitter, and that’s simply too long, use #LYBC.  This will enable more women to find the challenge, and you’ll be helping to change lives!

See you tomorrow!
FIND PRE-CHALLENGE QUESTIONS HERE

FIND DAY 2 HERE

 

 

78 Responses to Cellulite, Stretch Marks, and a Love Your Body Challenge

  1. Thank you! Bravo! And AMEN!

    Seriously wonderful post. I will be sharing this with my followers and clients today. PLEASE KEEP DOING WHAT YOU DO: Great work and real talk. PEACE! @mdsapphire

  2. Outstanding Molly. Bravo!

  3. Mel says:

    Molly –

    While everyone’s experiences are fabulous, you know what stuck out to me the most? Your thighs. They look like mine. The thighs that I hate because they are so round and muscle-y!!!

    I’m going to work right along with you all and I will get there damnit. I will love this body!

    Mel

  4. Amanda Thebe says:

    Oh thank you so bloody much!!! aaahhhh
    so refreshing.

  5. Brooke Brown says:

    Many, many thanks from gals all around the world! Inspiration comes in many forms; this one was needed and is absolutely perfect!.

  6. Cheryl Davis says:

    What an awesome, motivating, honest article! Thank you so much! I hope to share it with some very special friends who need encouragement. Love it !

  7. Sandy says:

    Thank you for this! Thank you all for this! As a woman who has always struggled with my weight & body image this is just what I need. I’m excited for this challenge & the days ahead!

  8. Elianora says:

    I have no words for how awesome this blog post is, and much needed. I hope it gets as viral as it deserves.

    AS someone who wasn’t even able to wear a sleeveless top to gym because of my “arm fat”, now being able to ignore little “flaws” and just embracing how strong and capable and happy I am, is fantastic, and it’s mainly thanks to communities like GGS, bloggers like Molly, and the amazing people at Fitocracy.

  9. This is seriously awesome – and NEEDED to be said. I’ll be sharing this with my readers and followers today for sure.
    And YAY for back to blogging :)

  10. Antoinette Sottile says:

    Can’t wait!!

  11. Alissa says:

    I love this post Molly and I love that body acceptance is gaining more and more traction in the health and fitness community. As someone who went through treatment for anorexia over 10 years ago, practicing body acceptance techniques have practically been programed into my brain after many years of therapy. However, I have been surprised when I talk to people in the fitness industry at what a foreign a concept it seems to be. Kudos to you for bringing it to light. I am looking forward to participating in the challenge!

  12. Nanci Kettler says:

    I think this is a great idea and I am willing to take on the challenge of learning to love my body.

  13. I LOVE this post! I’m going to be sharing this with my readers on my facebook page. Thank you! Thank you! It’s crazy how we’ve come to compare ourselves to images of women that have been photoshopped, or have the perfect lighting and angle etc etc. Yes, they’re beautiful, but they’re still shots… real life is never still.

  14. Robyn Durham says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It was beautiful!!! Liberating!!! You’re all awesome and amazing!!! I think I’ll start believing my husband when he says I have an awesome body instead of thinking of the flaws he’s missing!

  15. Jodi says:

    Thanks for the great read! I will be sharing with all the women AND MEN in my life!

  16. Jim Smith says:

    Damn it, that was a great post!! We need one for us guys now… starts pondering!

  17. George C says:

    So which ones are the flawed pictures?

  18. Sarah says:

    THANK YOU. All of you in the fitness industry who show how it really is, not just the perfect moments. I deeply appreciate this post and all the detail within it. Molly, you’re amazing and extremely inspiring (as are all the rest of you in this post). Helps me to appreciate my body much more.

  19. Laurie says:

    I have been striving my whole life for something and to get somewhere, to be someone but not sure who. Seems as though my body could never measure up and I am hard on myself and all my imperfections. My husband told me yesterday that I “have arrived” and that I need to appreciate my hard work and dedication because its shows and I have earned it. Then today this article is in my inbox!! Amazing article and was just what I needed after my husband’s words. Thank you. I am sharing this with my two best friends, my two beautiful daughters and on my facebook page.

  20. Jen says:

    Thank you, Molly! I was on the fence about doing this, but after coming to tears trying to say today’s mantra out loud, I realize this will be a wonderful exercise for me. Thank you!!!

  21. Denise says:

    Thank u! Thank u! Thank u for sharing! This’ was much needed for me!!!!

  22. Alli says:

    This post is incredible. I’ve just started lifting and I’ve been self-conscious about it because I’m not perfectly chiseled yet. This post has helped reassure me that even though I still have some flab,its about progress not perfection. I just want to be stronger. Thank you!

  23. Great post Molly! We all share in this quest for perfection when in reality it does not exist! I would have loved to share some of my photos as well! Really hits home!! Thank you!!!!

  24. Rhinaa says:

    beautiful, just beautiful :’)

  25. Angie says:

    Molly, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing all of this to light. I have followed your blog, heard many things about you, and my trainer, Matt Myers, raves about you. I have always thought that you were such a confident and fit woman, but I have never been able to get myself there mentally. When I scrolled down and read your post and saw your photos, I literally burst into tears. If you covered your face on the photos, I would swear that I was looking at photos of myself. How is it that I can admire the confidence and fitness level of another woman but not see the same thing in myself? I hope that I will have the answers I need to boost my own self-confidence by the end of this challenge. Again, thank you so very much!

  26. Jansen Ongko says:

    Thank you so much Molly! Words can’t express how big my appreciation to every fitness pros who’ve contributed on the making of this article.

    I’ve always encouraging all of my women clients to accept the “flaws” and focusing more on their health.

    Every women are equally beautiful.

  27. Malissa Watkins says:

    I found this link on Facebook through a friend’s post, and I read it while sitting at work. It is hard to explain to co-workers why you have tears in your eyes from reading a blog post, but I will email it to each of the beautiful women in my life. I want them to have the same tears in their eyes.

    Daily, I tear apart my body, piece by piece. How can I be a role model to my boyfriend’s daughter if I don’t love myself, flaws and all? How can I help other women see their beauty, if I don’t see it in myself?

    Thank you each and every one of you for your honesty.

  28. Katie says:

    Reading that just made me cry! I cried for three reasons: First, tears of anger that I spent so much of my competitive fitness career hating my body rather than being proud of how fit I was. I cried tears of sadness as I realized that although I am better now, I am still way too hard on myself. Lastly, I cried tears of happiness and comfort knowing that I am not alone and there is hope to someday feel awesome about my WHOLE self like the other women who posted their pics! THANK YOU for a wonderful article

  29. Brier Frasier says:

    Thank you Molly! This self-perception piece is what is missing from many fitness approaches. This is such an emotional topic for so many of us and I applaud your courage to address it head on. Your 28 days challenge is catching like wildfire among the clients of Matthew Myers at Force Fitness and Performance in Bloomington, Indiana. Just so ya know.

  30. Elen says:

    I love this cause, but I’m a woman who’s not as far down the fitness trail as many of the women showed here. I’d love to see a series of images of women like me who are working to get in better shape and learning to love our bodies as they are along the way. Speaking for myself, I have more fat/cellulite than I have muscle. That’s hard to accept sometimes.

    • joy says:

      exactly. i’m 40 years old and over 200 pounds. i scored 24 on the pre-test but only because i am actually unfit. i don’t think i have ‘issues’ the same way other women do, who see perceived flaws on their own fit bodies. i think this is aimed at younger women in the fitness industry.

  31. Amanda says:

    i think this post is amazing and you are VERY inspiring! Thank you, thank you!

  32. Jen says:

    This is such an encouraging post!! LOVE it!

  33. Angela Kelly says:

    THANK YOU LADIES!!!

    What a refreshing and REAL account of our beautifully stretched out, dimpled, puckered, STRONG and EVOLVED SELVES! I shared this amazing post with my followers on Facebook and Twitter this morning. I hope it continues to circulate and change the preconceived notions of what beauty and strength really are. #LoveYourBodyChallenge

  34. Kim says:

    Thanks to all of you for sharing and such an insightful eye/heart opening post.

  35. Jennifer says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Thank You, Thank you for bringng this out into the light. If only one women reads this and gains one ounce of acceptance for her body you will have accomplished amazing things. In all honesty though I think this article will have an impact on so many women. I know that I will be sharing it with many. The honesty and humilty in your writing has always atrracted me to your blog. I love what you are doing. I am a lifelong fan. Thank you for all that you do. So appreciated.

  36. KrisR says:

    Nice post, Molly. But I have to ask….where is the representation for the ‘older’ woman? I look at these fitness professionals and what is missing to me is someone over 45 who has been fighting the fight for more years than some of these gals have been alive. :) There seems to be a big hole in the fitness/health industry. Yes, I can use the information you ‘youngsters’ put out but seriously – I’d love to hear how a middle-aged woman deals with these same issues.

    I’m 55 next month. I’m overweight. STILL. I’ve been chasing fitness since I was 12 or 13. I have health issues. I want some inspiration from women in my age group. Someone who has dealt with injury issues – someone who is dealing with menopause – someone who can recommend scaled down workouts rather than ‘balls to the wall/lift faster’ workouts. Someone who knows that Crossfit may not be the perfect fit for an out-of-shape, wanting-to-be-in-shape woman.

    Is there such an animal even out there? The only professional who fits this description that I’ve run across over the last couple years is Tracy Reifkind and the gals from Fit, Fabulous and Fifty (or something like that).

    Sorry for the mini-rant. I guess I’m just a little frustrated. Can you help me out and point me in a direction? I’m doing your 28 day challenge and I know I’ll gain knowledge and support from it but I need more to stay on course. I think I need support from a group of my peers or at least a pro who has some sympathy to the issues of the older woman.

    • joy says:

      i recommend katy bowman’s work. gentle but not-at-all easy workouts that will help you change the way you live and preserve health and mobility for the rest of your years. she is more about functional than fit, and teaches natural all-day movement rather than traditional exercise. http://www.katysays.com

    • Marianne Kane says:

      Kris, i can sympathise, but i really want to mention just a few extra things:

      I was overweight, i was skinny, i was strong and lean, i had no boobs, i got breast implants, i was 15 years old, i am 31 years old, I have lived in chronic pain for 10 years and have had to scale EVERYTHING back and not train at all (basically)… i have been fit and healthy, unfit and healthy and now, my health is suffering.

      Not one of the above listed things have ever added anything to who i am. Not even the “good” things. The biggest freedom i received was letting go of “having to be” anything but ME. And this is the same for everyone; no matter your size, your “issue” or circumstance, or your age.

      I completely understand what you are saying – i too felt that way for a while – but your initial reaction is a great clue to the fact that *even when* you get what you though you always wanted, you soon realise that beauty/happiness/acceptance lies inside (and comes from what is unseen) verses what we see on our body or in the world.

      I wish you well on your journey x

    • Rachel says:

      I am 43. I think the lack of representation of older women is because the younger generation is a lot more savvy about fitness (I would also argue that the whole field of exercise science is still a young discipline and the research is changing so quickly), and therefore, there are way more fitness professionals now. I think the omission was done intentionally. All of the stuff I have gleaned from the Internet regarding fitness comes from millennials. I am glad they are active.

      I do think you have hit on something, though. Truth be told, I am very strong, but cannot and will not perform a conventional deadlift, for example. I have a two degenerative discs. I am pre-menopausal. I have one leg shorter than the other. Most of my workaround ideas come from a guy, Ben Bruno, who is almost young enough to be my kid. Inspiration comes from a variety of places.

      You may also want to check out this book: New Rules of Lifting for Life

    • Rachel says:

      Whoops!! I meant to say their omission was NOT intentional.

    • Rachel says:

      I think it is a little unrealistic to expect that the author is responsible for covering every single possible demographic. I would argue this post is groundbreaking and certainly has more impact than the Dove commercial (photoshop demo). Let’s hope it receives a wide audience.

      I forgot to add that I am also completely deaf in one ear and have slight bell’s palsy due to a brain tumor I had several years ago. I never let that stuff stop me.

      Oh yeah, Fit is a Feminist Issue is a decent blog about women over 50. I like to keep training separate from political preferences, but you could find some inspiration there for sure!

  37. April says:

    Honestly, while I am happy that all these women are comfortable sharing their more “unflattering” photos, this really doesn’t do much to my own body confidence and self-esteem. Why? Because I think “well if these women feel bad about their bodies, what hope do I have to really like my body when it’s a lot heavier and more unsightly than these women?” I would love to look like any of these women featured even with their “faults”

    Not trying to be all negative- honestly this was my first reaction! I think I really need to do this love your body challenge :-)

    • joy says:

      yep, like going to someone’s spotless house and hearing them apologize for the mess. i guess this just means that we have actual body issues, not just perceived body issues like these women. we need to be healthier in body rather than mentally or emotionally. so a fitness routine is what we need for our fat selves, a love yourself routine is what they need for their fit selves. something like that.

  38. Jen says:

    You women are ALL beautiful and I’m not talking about your bodies (although they’re wonderful as well) – it’s your hearts and minds!! Thanks for sharing. I’m feeling such a sense of sisterhood going on in this article and its inspiring. So glad I clicked through to read this article this morning… Big fan from Brisbane, Australia.

  39. Mandy says:

    Ladies, thank you for your courage and your beautiful words. You are all amazing and inspiring, and I am at a loss for words. I just can’t say thank you enough. I’m teary-eyed and verklempt!

  40. Tamara says:

    Oh my gosh. I love this!

    Wish I’d seen it before I had my first fitness photo shoot last October (for my very first fitness book, no less!).

    I was stressed about how I’d look, at 46 (strong, fit, but not without cellulite, wrinkles and a little baby belly) next to the 23 year old who’d be modelling along side me.

    I ended up doing just fine and didn’t starve myself or kill myself with the various suggestions other fit pros gave me. Body acceptance rocks!

  41. Jenelle says:

    So my first thought when I saw a picture of you with Valerie Waters was “finally, someone MY size”. I was so excited to see a tall girl with healthy, beautiful curves. How refreshing, especially when everyone else is TINY like Val and yes I do compare (bad me).

    I look at your pics and think – “well that’s not bad” until I see my own pics – ugh! Our pics “could” look the same but becasue you are you and I am me I would (do) pick mine apart and find the beauty in yours and everyone elses.

    Thanks for this blog, it’s really awesome, especially as I come to grips with how I can be “happy” forever in my ever changing skin.

  42. Olivia says:

    This is a fantastic post. It actually brought tears to my eyes because it really hits home. I’ve had body image issues almost my whole life. I can remember being in elementary school and HATING how my thighs rubbed together. If I was going swimming, I remember telling myself that I needed to watch what I ate so my stomach wouldn’t stick out so much. Once I hit puberty, I got hips, thighs, and a butt. Comments people made to me about my figure really stuck in my head. By high school, I decided I wanted to lose some weight. At first, it was harmless. I just cut out some junk food and did some simple calisthenic exercises. Sooner or later, it became a full-blown obsession. Already dealing with an obsessive-compulsive/anxious personality surely didn’t make it any easier. Through out high school, I was under weight, unhealthy, and hating my body. I was then made fun of for being too thin. Once I got to college, I finally put on a little weight and became a bit healthier, but I still engaged in purging at times when I thought I “binged”. 10 years after the onset of these issues, I can say that I have come a long way. I am a lot more comfortable with myself BUT I still struggle every single day. I am now obsessed with being fit and looking like a fitness model. **We are comparing our “behind the scenes” to her “highlight reel.”** is exactly what I engage in every single day. I get down and depressed about myself when I see my thighs looking a little “jiggly” or my stomach not being completely “flat” only because I’ve eaten food! There are times when my “cheat days/meals” go overboard and I end up “binging”. There are also moments where I want to revert back to purging to quickly release the guilt I feel inside from eating something “bad.” These little things can sometimes take over my entire mind, encompassing my day of negative self-talk. I try my hardest to focus on the strength and functions of my body instead of what it looks like. Setting small goals for myself like being able to do pull-ups, increasing my dead lift PR, or running a race faster all keep me goal-oriented in a positive way. I know I have a long ways to go in my journey to truly loving my body, but reading this blog is certainly one step closer in the right direction!! Thank you so much Molly.

  43. Sarah Gaines says:

    Love this mantra. What I did for myself today? I got a massage and now I’m going to hop in the bath!

  44. Deb says:

    I have to say I LOVE my cellulite, because is the first reason I sign up to the gym, and if wasn’t for it, I wouldn’t have started in strenght training. It’s been 7 monthes now and I feel better than I ever felt, I’m actually thinner (though I weight the same that I weighted before) I’m pretty petit, I’m 1,50 mt and 44kg, and this far I was able to squat 50kg, deadlift 50kg and bench press 30 kg. I couldn’t care less for my cellulite. I’ve found something I really love to do and want to continue and get a lot better at it!
    Love the article!
    Ps: I hope it’s written ok, I’m from Argentina, I speak spanish :)

  45. Vanessa Smoley says:

    Molly,
    Thank you x a million!!! I shared this with all of my clientele and every female in my life. Many blessings to you and the ladies helping you spread this message and every fabulous woman reading this message realizing that she is freaking gorgeous just the way she is! Healthy is sexy!!!

  46. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for this post!I love the absolute honesty from everyone, its so refreshing to read posts like this :)

  47. Melanie says:

    I am super stoked for this challenge, because like so many of us, I constantly beat myself up for my “imperfections” and compare myself to others. This first post was so motivating, and I was so relaxed last night when I took my pampering detox bath, and repeated the mantra, and then read my book by candlelight. Peace!

  48. Lauren says:

    Molly,
    I’ve followed you for awhile now on your facebook page and receive your newsletter. I have always liked your honesty, your down-to-earth approach to fitness, and of course your bad-assness in the weight room! But I’ve never really “engaged” in anything that you’ve posted or talked about until now. What a gut check. I’m a mother of four who has struggled with body image all my life. In highschool I developed faster than the other girls, only not in the best areas. I have hips, butt, thighs, too big calves from walking on my toes instead of flat footed and a chest that was always under developed. I only ever tried to be anything BUT how I truly looked. As a woman, even after I got married to an amazing man who is truly the one who turned me on to my love of lifting weights, I still felt critical of my body. I struggled with each child birth and critizied how I looked and felt instead of taking joy in the fact that MY BODY CREATED THAT. That beautiful, innocent, sweet-eyed baby. Instead I’d cringe at my stretch marks, hide at my cellulite, and even more recently, cried over the C-sections scars that saved my childs life. I gave birth to my last child in December and from day one I’ve been dying to “get back in shape”. I had to have a 2nd C-section and was so impatient to get back to the gym and lifting weights to get my body back that sometimes I felt resentful of ever being pregnant in the first place. Actually, to be honest, this child was a complete surprise and I resented the pregnancy and what it was doing to my body- again- from the start. I was not “ready” to be pregnant again, not for the baby, but the pregnancy. Now, as she is 3mths old, darling, literally the love of my life, I still struggle. I struggle with the extra fat my body is holding onto. I struggle with the 30lbs of baby weight that I never lost from my THIRD pregnancy. I struggle with the extra stretch marks. The C-section scar that just got worse, the cellulite that I can’t hide. It was too the point that I debated stopping breastfeeding this beautiful new baby JUST so I could diet hard-core, take supplements that would rev my metabolism, and pump myself full of pre-workouts. But not any more. You asked what my body is capable of? Well my body is capable of giving life. And my body is capable of nourishing that life. And I am no longer going to walk into my gym to try and make myself into something it’s not. I’m actually crying right thinking about it. About all those times I stared at myself in the mirror hating what my body looked like, instead of praising what it is doing. My body is amazingly flawed, amazingly imperfect, amazingly STRONG. And now I’m going to go nurse my baby, then get back into my gym so I can finish up leg day and I am not going to care one bit if my shorts ride up and my cellulite shows, because that does not define ME anymore.

  49. Diane says:

    Thank you so much for being a positive force for good in this world. And for sharing your wonderfully fun and goofy-ness with us, too! Self-acceptance is definitly my weakest attribute, and probably one of my biggest roadblocks to being truly successful in weight loss. I’m excited and nervous to give this challenge a shot, but I’m going to give it an honest effort. After all, what do I have to lose but a lot of negativity! I’m sharing this away on Facebook and SparkPeople in case there’s anyone else out there in my life who could use a good 28-day dose of good vibes. Thanks for your support, Molly, I’m so happy to have discovered someone out there like you!

  50. Sasha says:

    Molly i am sorry … good try … but your body is PERFECT … no matter how hard you try to convince us otherwise

    • molly says:

      Ha! Sasha you’re a doll and thank you! I am quite happy with it overall, but I swear to you lighting and angles are the key here! I’ve had deep purple stretch marks all over many parts of my body (breasts, hips, back, inner and outer thighs, etc) my whole life, and luckily they have faded to white/silvery, but they crinkle when I move, and I definitely have my share of cellulite (there were “worse” pictures, but the angles were too racy)… so again, thank you. I DO love my body — but I did only get a 67/100 on my challenge questions — so there’s room for improvement there! Thanks for following and take care! =)

  51. Judy says:

    I absolutely LOVE that you’re doing this challenge. I need it so badly. If I’m being completely honest… this post made me cry. Not because of the self-realization, just because I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between most of those “good” pictures vs. “bad pictures.” It’s hard for me to read a post claiming “see, fitness pros are worried about our cellulite too!” when I maybe saw one square inch of cellulite on the whole page. You all look perfect in every picture, so it’s hard to relate to that self-pity when I *actually* have a lot of very noticeable cellulite. It’s kind of like when you’re talking to a size two friend and she pinches the skin (literally skin) on her stomach and complains about how fat she is… I have a hard time commiserating with that, because as someone who actually struggles with a lot of extra body fat and is working hard to lose weight, I just want to slap her.

    So I completely appreciate the spirit of this post, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I found it upsetting and actually slightly detrimental to my own self-confidence. Maybe it’s just not targeted towards people who have real weight to lose and is more meant for people who are already in shape and still have trouble with self-confidence. Which is cool. But no matter, there’s another 27 days of positivity and I’m looking forward to a good change in myself! The mantra about our body being our homes is profound and wonderful, and I think I’ll be repeating that to myself for the rest of my life. So thank you. :) Looking forward to the rest of this challenge!!

    • molly says:

      Hi Judy! Thank you so much for your honesty… and I can completely appreciate where you are coming from. Posts like these are hard, because while you so desperately want to resonate with every single woman, it’s impossible. I reached out to 30+ women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities, and this is what I got in return.

      Thinking about how I could have done it differently is eye-opening, but I can picture/hear people’s responses in almost every imagined scenario (i.e. if I showed 1-2 women with much more body fat, the focus could have been completely on them and the other women’s voices might have been lost, or I could be criticized for having a “token fat person” featured, or that one post would have make the other women with fewer “perceived flaws” look frivolous and silly, when in fact, they really HAVE struggled with body image).

      Please know that I TOTALLY hear you and your thoughts and feelings. It’s my hope that you make the challenge about YOU (which it sounds like you are) and try to forget about THEM (the women in the post and how their body might differ from yours). And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check out my album where women are shunning their “body shame” and sending me their pictures. The environment is so encouraging and awesome. =) Take care and enjoy the challenge! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.478549975601751.1073741826.137577139699038&type=1

  52. bodynsoil says:

    I’ve just learned about your site and this challenge; what a great idea. Your photos of the body shaming of public figures, at bad camera angles, frustrates the heck of me as well too.. While I have body confidence, I too have things that I’m either sensitive about, or strategically dress to deflect the eye away from my “perceived icky” areas. Later this evening, I plan to pour over your information, I hope to make it through the public open sharing of photos phase. I’m soon to be 50 and feeling the pressure that the number brings, trying to find my new place in the world with this age number as well. Your posts hits at a time when I’ve asked myself, my family, and my friends: “What age is too old to want to feel and look your best in a two piece” when you don’t feel you’re ready to retire.

  53. April says:

    Thank you for this article, and all of the women who have, will and are contributing to it. Funny thing, today I was complimented on my weight loss, and for the first time I took the compliment well. I thanked her, and answered honestly when she asked what I had done to lose weight. I even continued to thank her after she said that she liked how I looked before because in her home country, if women are “too thin,” they must be starving. I still have curves, and I am FAR from the low BF% that is required for visible abs, and that isn’t really even a goal of mine (I love food too much). :-) I was also questioning myself about going through this challenge, because like Elsbeth, I don’t consider myself having a negative body image, I just don’t love my body, so I continue on this quest that you have laid out. But the main thing that got me to post is this mantra. What a time to be saying this over and over to myself. I am in the middle of a move, and by middle, I mean that I have given notice that I am moving out of my current home, but haven’t been able to find a new one. It’s been stressing me out so much, that I don’t tend to sleep as much as pass out from exhaustion. I cried during my first set, and I will probably cry the next two times, too, but somehow it has also let me know that at the end of the day, I still have me, my husband, and all the people who love me. Things will work out! Thank you again!

  54. Liz says:

    Is part of this challenge to post here daily? Not sure. Happy to do so.

    • molly says:

      Hi Liz! That’s not an “assignment” but that would be lovely if you did! That way others can read and share and get ideas and encouragement from your posts! Happy to have you. :)

  55. Sandra Fedler says:

    Just wanted to say Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! Wonderful article. I needed to read this, and I think every woman needs to read this.

  56. Andrea says:

    I just got back from a vacation in Florida. Wearing a swimsuit I felt critcal of myself the whole time. Looked at women walking by thinking, I wish I looked that good. Why? why not just enjoy myself and not worry about anyone else?

    Your post came at just the right time. I need to have less worry, more enjoyment. This is my motto today. Less worry, more enjoyment.

    I am late to the game, but considering the little amount of motivation I have after vacation, that seems pretty appropriate. :)

  57. Michelle says:

    Dear Molly,

    Thank you so much for doing this!!! This challenge will change my life. I can already feel it, on day 3. I have been slowing changing my news feed over the past year to focus on self acceptance and love rather than fitspo motivation, but taking the daily steps to make an internal change has been much more challenging. There is no roadmap to self love.

    When I see a woman who looks GREAT, in media or in person, what I envy is not her size or her features. I envy how I imagine she must FEEL about herself. I envy her (perceived) confidence. I envy that I imagine she must really really love herself. “I want to be the best version of me (lose 20 lbs, get rid of my cellulite, tan my skin, straighten my teeth, etc.”) I think, “Then *I* will be happy with myself and then *I* can finally love myself too. Wouldn’t that feel SO good?” But the truth is, even the most beautiful women (like the ones above) have flaws, and have a hard time loving themselves. Some even hate themselves, and ALL of us envy others.

    Over time, I’ve realized I don’t just envy fit women. There are plenty of women who don’t embody the media ideal and still exude that confidence and self-love… and I envy them too. Perhaps even more, because they have found the key to FREEDOM from the oppression we exert on ourselves. They feel free to simply BE beautiful and love themselves, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

    THAT is what I crave, I realized. I want to love myself, regardless. After all, even if I check off my whole list of imperfections and attain the ideal me in my head, it won’t last. When I get old and wrinkly, or my weight fluctuates again, would I stop loving myself? No – I don’t want to do that! Which means the answer is not a physical one… loving your body, your face, your image, your SELF can’t be dependent merely on appearance. There’s something more to it.

    Which means I don’t have to wait. I can do that NOW.

    To me, this challenge means I will finally let myself be “good enough” to deserve my own love. When I look at myself in the mirror, I will not be critical and catalog flaws. I will be happy to see me, and smile, and go about my day.

    That is an AMAZING gift to give yourself, and I know this challenge will be a MAJOR step along that journey for me. (No pressure, lol)

    Thank you so much!!! :D
    ~Michelle

  58. You are AMAZING. And this is the most inspiring post I have ever read.. and I like to think I follow a lot of amazing bloggers. I am so happy to have stumbled across your page today and I cannot wait to partake in your challenge. Thank-you for being the strong female role model that the world could use a little more of.

  59. Jennifer says:

    Thank you all for sharing your photos! I feel like I want to cry because I still think that I need to look better/”smoother” even though I eat eat well, move lots,feel good, have energy, and I am healthy! It is so stupid. Bless you!

  60. Hey Molly! I’m a little late to the game and playing a bit of catch up here. Last night, after a very LONG and stressful week at work, I was beyond grateful that I’d had the foresight to schedule myself an hour long massage. I one upped it though by paying a little extra for the aromatherapy lotion and then after I got home, I slipped into a bubble bath with a glass of wine and some chocolates…and then I went to bed…at 9 o’clock! Ha!

    I just want to thank you for doing this challenge. Reading all these excepts and seeing these pictures from so many amazing women is truly inspiring!

  61. Joanne says:

    thanks that Mantra is ultra powerful. I am posting it everywhere, and sharing with everyone, speaking of which you really need to bring this challenge to sparkpeople.com . You are so awesome to do this and help so many people

  62. Grace says:

    Thank you so much for creating such an inspiring challenge! I’m a bit late, but am hoping to have caught up by this time next week. When I found these posts, I thought, “Well, why not give it a go? What have I got to lose?” and as I filled out my rankings for the 10 pre-challenge questions … it really hit home how much I need something like this. I feel like I’ve heard all the reasons why I should love my body unconditionally so many times, but honestly believing them to be true about ME is what I struggle with. Really enjoyed taking my action step this morning — I took my dogs for a long, early walk before starting my day instead of rushing them around the block when I get home in the evening. Walking and breathing in the cool morning air made my whole body feel vibrant and energised, but also relaxed, focused, and clear-headed. Ready to face the day with purpose! (The dogs were worn out and ready to head home way before I was!)

  63. Debra Shockley says:

    I saw a friend last night I had not seen in a long time. She told me I looked fabulous. I said “thank you, I appreciate that,” It felt SO weird NOT to leave it at just that and not do the typical rambling to defect attention from myself. Wow

  64. samantha says:

    Hey Thanks for the motivational post to have me keep up the work at the gym. Its always good to have a reminder that it will pay off with all that hard work!

  65. tina says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this. I started seriously working out at age 45 after having 4 kids. I have lost 80 pounds and down to a size 2 (which is my natural size, I am tiny-boned)…yet I still feel self-conscious because of the loose-ish skin (my belly is wrinkled when I sit down), saggy back of arms, and persistent cellulite (which I keep reminding myself I had since I was a very thin teenager). I keep thinking I am just not working out hard enough, seeing all you “fitness ladies” looking so perfect for the camera…many of you mothers like myself. It’s all just an illusion and maybe, I am actually OK after all! I am healthy and strong and I need to be able to say, “So What” to my little flaws! I am a beautiful, vibrant 47…wrinkles and grey hair and cellulite included!

  66. Lindsey says:

    After reading this I think I’m in love with you, possibly a little obsessed also. Before I had my first child I was a fitness freak and I was the smallest and toned I had ever been in my life. Nine months after peeing on a stick and finding out I was pregnant I stepped on the scale to see I had gained 70 pounds during my pregnancy, I delivered the next day. After we got home with the baby I was completely mortified when I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t stand the sight of what I had to done to my body by not treating it correctly while I was pregnant, I could not wait to get back into the gym and try to “fix” myself. I had a hard time healing from my delivery and wasn’t given the go ahead to workout until I was 12 weeks postpartum, by that time I was still 40 lbs over my pre pregnancy weight and just felt defeated, I had no drive whatsoever to even try and go the to gym. When my son was six months old I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and hit the gym harder than I had ever hit it before. I was taking Zumba, yoga, Pilates, Toning classes, you name it and I was in there sweating it out. By my sons first birthday I was only 3 pounds heavier than my pre pregnancy weight and I felt fantastic in clothes, only in clothes. I was so embarrassed by my stretch marks that I wouldn’t even let my husband see me naked. I was too embarrassed to show my husband the flat and actually toned belly I had been working so hard for because of the fact that on top of my toned tummy was a reminder of how badly I had treated my body by gaining so much weight. I never got over it, my son is now just shy of two. How pathetic is that.
    I’m now pregnant again and my due date is only two and half weeks away. This pregnancy I’ve still been in the gym daily (even now) and have done so much better about my weight gain, I’ve gained less that half of what I did with my first. I’m confident that I can lose everything again and get back to how I looked but I also know this time that no matter how thin I become I will still have to walk around with these scars on my belly. I cannot tell you how encouraging it was to look at these pictures. I read your article twice and cried both times I read it. I worked so hard for the results I achieved and was still self conscious about myself and that’s pathetic. It was so nice to see all of these beautiful women who also work so hard to achieve what they have and know that everyone has something they deal with that isn’t “perfect”

  67. Oh Molly, I couldn’t thank you more for posting this. I felt empowered after reading this. Loving your imperfections will truly give you a new perspective and it’s a better perspective. I will stop being guilty and I will love my body more, because loving yourself is the equivalent of having a healthy life.

  68. Sarina K says:

    I find this post very good for anyone that has some body image issues (who does not).
    Thank you so much for posting!! I have such a big issue with my own body at this moment! I am so sad because of it. I am a small girl, I’m 1.51m and weigh 46kg. I don’t have bad muscle tone and my BMI is 20 (normal)
    I guess I don’t look to bad in clothes but I still feel so sad and even sick to my stomach because under my clothes I look like a real monster! I feel really disgusting and repulsive because of my horrid Cellulite.
    Even though I workout and eat/live very healthy I still have this plague that literally follows me around.
    The first time a found out I had cellulite was when I was 7years old, In a panic I called my mother to come quickly! Very worried she came running to my room just to find me with no pants and staring in the mirror at my butt. Very upset I asked her what are these ugly dimples and craters on my Butt (only really noticeable when squeezed or contracted) Oh she said, no…everyone has that! (not when your 7!!!) But I went along on my merry way not even knowing a name for this dreaded “condition”. The next time when I was 9, I did some “modelling classes” (my mom wanted me to get some confidence and hoped this might help) we did a photo shoot at a small local holiday resort. I noticed by this time my legs did not look like the other girls’ and a stole my mom scarf to use as a sarong, not wanting to expose my less than pretty legs..that looked different. When I was 11, I was at my first where there are boys, there was a pool and every one played and enjoyed themselves in the pool. I had my bathing suit but I said that I forgot it at home because I did not want to expose my legs that I knew was not like the others’ and I was painstakingly aware of how it was not pretty! I did not know how or why or what to call this issue. But for the most I was a happy kid and forgetting about any pool parties and being happy. Then when I was about 13, a few friends and i met up with some boys of our own age in a shpping centre near my house. I was wearing shorts, I thought I was looking cute with my brand new shorts and shirt that my mom bought me, But apparently I was the only one to think that because soon the teasing started. First some of the boys called me “Celly” because of my “cellulite” I didn’t even know what that word meant…but it was made quite obvious that they were talking about the cottage cheese on my legs.
    Please do note that I was a very normal and active child, I was always petite, short and was not at all overweight.
    Now, I am 26 and of course my cellulite did not get any better. Even with exercise and diet (sometimes ridiculous dieting and detoxing)
    Mostly I am okay with my body…I am always aware of my “shame” that I carry with my…literally. But I am happy enough. Now, I am getting married, my fiancé, obviously aware of my problem to, at least loving me none the less. And we are going on an Island holiday. Needless to say this has now caused some serious stress in my life. I do not worry about anything as much as how I will look in a sunny beach. I have not had many beach holidays in my life and the few times I was near a beach or even a pool, I keep it very low-key and cover-up. I know my husband-to-be loves me and think I’m attractive enough to marry. But it is very difficult to me. Something that’s ugly IS ugly it will never be pretty! I know he excepts me because he loves me so much but that’s just not good enough for me…I want to be the best that I can be… from every angle and in every light.
    I wish I can feel ok and not think about how I look at this or that angle or this light or that light (my cellulite is very obvious in every light even candle light)
    I just find it so difficult to except my body. I got a new bikini for the Honeymoon, and now I just feel like a fool for thinking even for one second that I will look OK, even just OK! But I feel like I wasted my money because why get a pretty bikini if you’re going to put it on a repulsive body.
    I just feel why should I love my body if, even though I treat it really good, it does not love me back?
    I know some people will say I’m ungrateful or I should be lucky I have legs etc etc. But this does not help. Saying you can’t be UNhappy because someone else has it worse is like saying you can’t be happy because someone else has it better. It does not make your own pain go away just to know someone else has got pain to.
    I am so sorry for the lang post. Just had to confess my feelings to someone and maybe someone that knows how I feel.

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