(Psssst! If you’re “late” to the challenge and just getting started, that’s OK too! Just go at your own pace!  Start with this blog post and scroll to the bottom, and make sure you have what you need to complete the challenge and fill out the 10 questions you need to fill out before you get started.  Then you can take it day by day at your own pace!)

Before I recap yesterday, I just want to do a check-in with everyone.  How are you all doing?  Are you enjoying the challenge so far?  Have you missed a day?  Have you struggled to stay on top of it?

I would really love your feedback in the comments section!

Also, I got a really beautiful comment yesterday from a very brave woman who was *thisclose* to giving up on the challenge. She wasn’t saying her mantras before bed, she was not saying them during the action steps, she was struggling to fill in the blanks… the whole nine yards. Then she hit Day 6, and everything changed for her.  You can read more about it below.

In order for this challenge to continue to be doable, I’m going to shorten the recaps a bit so you have more time for your other assignments.

Recap

Yesterday was Day 6 of the Love Your Body Challenge and it was a little “quieter” than the other days in terms of comments, which I expected.  But then I was blown away by this:

“On day 5 I decided the challenge just wasn’t worth my time. It wouldn’t work. It was too hard. It was too easy. It was self-indulgent. I deleted the journal I’d started, got rid of the document where I’d dutifully tracked each day’s mantra and action steps. I was having a hard time filling in the blanks and I had yet to say my mantras at bedtime even once. I’d probably only said them during the action steps on one day. So I wasn’t doing them “right” anyway.

And then day 6 arrived in my inbox.

I opened the email anyway. I clicked the link. I skimmed the post. I read the prompt. The prompt was:

‘Reason #6 To Love Your Body: Because it’s served you well.’

Betrayal.

It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my body. It’s small, unfair things: it’s not supposed to look this way, it shouldn’t gain weight so easily, it makes me uncomfortable, my colon sucks and my compartment syndrome keeps me from running. I know all of those things aren’t something I can blame my body for. In fact many would be eased if I loved my body more. But it’s big things too. It’s a baby lost at twenty weeks because my cervix didn’t feel like cooperating, and it couldn’t even malfunction in a normal way but insisted on doing so in such an uncommon manner that the doctors couldn’t see it coming.

I’m not gonna lie, I blame it for that and then because on some level I’ve internalized the connection between my body and myself, I blame myself for that loss. Just sometimes, when it gets dark inside.

So maybe I need this challenge more than ever. Here’s my list.

My body:

1. Walked me down the aisle at my wedding.
2. Crossed the finish line at a Warrior Dash.
3. Held a baby we’d already said goodbye to.
4. Carried a second pregnancy through five months of bedrest.
5. Gave birth to a happy, healthy, perfect little girl.
6. Fed that little girl for six months all on its own.
7. Held that little girl through sickness, naps, zoo trips, nights of coughing, and mornings of cuddling.
8. Embraced so many beloved friends and family.
9. Learned to do yoga: planks, forearm and handstands, push-ups, and upward bow.
10. Survived two surgeries.
11. Supported and nourished a mid capable of a bachelors degree with honors.
12. Carries me to and from work every day.
13. Allows me to hike, walk the museums, and wander new cities.
14. Allows me to see, hear, smell, and touch the world around me, to discover all sorts of delights.
15. Walks up and down 15+ flights of stairs on every work day, and at least six of them every morning to walk the dog.
16. Keeps my daughter feeling loved with warm embraces and sniffly cuddles.
17. Lets me kiss my incredible husband.
18. Highlights the incredible DNA I carry from my mother and my father, showing off features that carry on my bloodline.
19. Plays host to a head full of wild, uncontrollable hair.
20. Is home to a beautiful pair of eyes in a delightfully variable color.

So yes, it’s pretty amazing. And it deserves so much love and support. A body this strong, this capable, this full of potential for joy and laughter and knowledge and love… It’s time I give it the respect it needs to really come alive, to carry me through he best years of my life with all of its beautiful potential fully realized.

Now pardon me while I cry softly on an airplane for a while. This one brought out ALL THE FEELS.”

Beautiful and brave.  I loved reading that from her.

Bravo.

And please know — this challenge isn’t about perfection.  If you miss a day, or if one reason doesn’t resonate with you, or if you forget to say your mantra during bedtime… whatever your “mistake” is, it’s not worth giving up the challenge over.  Just get back to it and give it your best, which is the best that you can give at any given moment.

That’s all you can ask of yourself… the best you have at any given moment. 

As for Day 7, here we are!

Reason #7 To Love Your Body

7. Because it can experience pleasure.

Now I know what you’re thinking… this post isn’t just about THAT, although THAT is a critical part of the human experience as well — but think of all of the amazing ways that your body can experience pleasure.

The warmth of the sun on your skin after a long and harsh winter, quenching your thirst after a hard workout, a hug from someone you love deeply that you haven’t seen in a while, hearing a beautiful symphony or your baby’s first laugh, watching a gorgeous sunset on the beach, eating a warm chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, getting a deep tissue massage on your sore muscles, that first sip of coffee in the morning, spending an intimate evening with the one you love… the list goes on and on.

There is literally so much to look forward to every single day that brings us pleasure, if only we can slow down enough recognize it and be grateful for it.

Mantra: ”I love my body.  It has the ability to bring me immense pleasure in many ways if I can slow down to recognize it.”

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

Action Step:  Take 5 minutes to write down a list of the pleasures, big and small, simple and complex, that you get to experience on a daily basis, while thinking about your mantra.

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 (DO THIS BEFORE DAY 1) 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.
5. Check in with your accountability partner if you have one.
6. Check back tomorrow for more.

OH!  3 more things –

1. PLEASE post about what you’re doing on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #LoveYourBodyChallenge or #LYBC.  This will allow you to connect with others doing the challenge, offer support and encouragement, and get ideas for your mantras and action steps.

2. PLEASE comment below and let us know what your mantra and your action steps are each day.  Again, this helps build support and community as well as offers ideas to those who might need them.

3. If you’re so inclined, feel free to send me pictures of your amazingly beautiful selves and I’ll post them in my Facebook album.  It’s essentially an album of pictures similar to what my fitness professional friends and I did on Day 1.  It’s a picture that you might normally not want to post, but you post it anyway along with a short blurb about your journey.  You can see the album here, and you can send pictures and your blurb to: 28DayLoveYourBodyChallenge@gmail.com It’s such a supportive community of women (and men) over there.  It’s awesome!

That’s all for now.

See you tomorrow!

FIND DAY 6 HERE

FIND DAY 8 HERE

17 Responses to Love Your Body Challenge – Day 7

  1. This one stirred up a BIG appreciation for a process I went through in my eating disorder recovery. I was so used to controlling my pleasures and not allowing myself to have what I want that I started to forget what I want and what it felt like to experience pleasure. Relearning this and the kind of insight you offer here was such a big step to me. I have a boyfriend now and I know that wouldn’t have been a possibility without the lesson. Ditto for being able to take my Masters in Kinesiology instead of going through to be a Dietitian (a job prospect) or something else with a more defined career goal. I can’t thank you enough for starting a conversation about these topics, Molly. You rock! xo

  2. Renee says:

    ”I love my body. It has the ability to bring me immense pleasure in many ways if I can slow down to recognize it.”
    1. my body can feel pleasure by running through a forest.
    2. My body can feel pleasure eating something delicious and healthy that I feed it.
    3. My body can feel pleasure just breathing in and out slowly.
    4. My body can feel pleasure getting wonderful hugs from my sweet husband.
    5. My body can feel pleasure reaching a new weight-lifting goal. (Seriously, “lifting high” is totally a real thing!! )

    Today is going to be an awesome day!

  3. Heather@YSP says:

    Hey that’s me! Thank you for this challenge. I needed it.

    Yes, yes, yes! My body allows me so much pleasure. I see beautiful colors. I taste rich flavors. I feel warmth and cold, breezes and sunshine, hugs and kisses. I hear music and laughter. I produce amazing thoughts. I can sing in a way that makes other people happy. I taste warm coffee, I feel the peace and stretch of a good yoga pose.

  4. Melissa says:

    With the crazy long winter we’ve had this year, the experience of finally feeling the warm sun on my skin this past weekend was one of the greatest things my body has experienced recently. Other pleasures I’ve taken note of recently include:

    - The experience of feeling pride when getting positive feedback on my Master’s Thesis
    - The taste of a piece of dark chocolate paired with a glass of red wine after a long day at work
    - The enjoyment of a home cooked meal cooked by my partner
    - That first sip of hot tea when you’re office is freezing
    - The relaxing massage after a hard push at the gym
    - Epic long stretches first thing on a weekend morning
    - Taking my high heels off after work
    - Changing into lounge pants after wearing jeans/dress pants/skirt all day

    Loving this challenge :) Thanks Molly!!

  5. Dawn says:

    ”I love my body. It has the ability to bring me immense pleasure in many ways if I can slow down to recognize it.”
    - my body can feel the touch of the soft white warm sand on a summer vacation
    - My body can feel the sore, fatigued muscles from a great workout
    - My body can see the smiling faces of my nieces and nephews
    - My body lets me smell the delicious home cooked food that is in the oven or all of the flowers and tress in bloom in the spring
    - My body can feel love- loving hugs, butterflies and amazing kisses from my boyfriend.

  6. Danielle says:

    I’ll admit, I haven’t been very good with following through on this challenge up until today. I mean, I’ve read every post and I answered the initial 10 questions, but when it came to actually doing my action step or even repeating the mantra every day, I’ve been a major slacker. Plus, like so many of the women whose stories I’ve been reading, I tend to focus only on my body’s shortcomings and limitations. The things my body can’t do. The ways it has failed me so far.

    So the challenge hasn’t exactly been easy (I know, I know, that was the point). But today’s post about the woman who said she thought “betrayal” when she thought about her body really struck a cord with me. If she can endure so much, and still find things to love about her body, so should I.

    So this morning, I actually said the mantra 10 times (saying “I love my body” 10 times felt VERY weird, which is probably “Exhibit A” on why I need this challenge) and came up with the following list of ways my body lets me experience pleasure:

    1. Tasting the first sip of hot coffee on a cold morning
    2. Hearing a favorite song and being able to sing along (I didn’t say I did it well)
    3. Giving me the strength to complete a tough WOD
    4. Giving me the strength to go on runs, even though I hate it
    5. Letting me enjoy bike rides through the park on a warm spring day
    6. Feeling the wind and sun on my face
    7. Feeling my dogs kiss my face
    8. Getting a good, solid hug from someone I love
    9. Seeing visible results of hard work and clean eating, like new muscles (although this often takes longer than I’d like, maybe I should just be grateful for and encouraged by the results I do see instead of griping that it isn’t a quicker/easier process)
    10. Falling asleep next to my husband in a warm, soft bed

    My body may not be perfect, but maybe it’s better and stronger than I give it credit for.

  7. Kathleen says:

    HI! I am just joining this challenge today. I must tell you – I started following you on Facebook recently because “someone” did. I can’t even tell you which friend or Fb acquaintance I know who suggested your page. But it seemed nice and fitness oriented and I thought I’ll follow along for a while and see what motivation I could get. I might have seen this challenge starting and thought OH NO. Another challenge I won’t finish. Better not even click those links! And pretty much just scrolled past them in my news feed the past several days. Today, for whatever reason, I clicked that link. I read the recap from Day 6 and I was amazed. I spent the last few hours reading all of the past 6 days and copying and pasting the Mantra’s and Action Steps into a document so I could focus on them and catch up. I read your back story and many of the pages your blog links to. I devoured this information like a starving person. I was starving for this type of self acceptance and didn’t even know it until today. Thank you!! Thank you for being you and doing this challenge. This will be the one on-line challenge I finish.

    Kathy

  8. Anya says:

    I love my body. It has the ability to bring me immense pleasure in many ways if I can slow down to recognize it.
    I feel immense pleasure when I see the beauty of emerging spring flowers and trees, and the turning of the colors in fall. I feel pleasure when I see bees gathering pollen. I feel pleasure when I smell freshly cut grass and the sweet smell of flowers in spring. I feel pleasure when I smell the aromas of great food cooking. I feel the pleasure of working extra hard on a heavy lift or a sprint, I feel the pleasure of the warm sun when there is a break in the chilly breeze, I feel the pleasure of a foot massage, I feel the pleasure of someone washing, cutting, and drying my hair, I feel the pleasure of warm, cozy covers on a chilly night in the tent, I feel the pleasure of my husbands warm arms when I’m feeling cold, I feel the pleasure of kisses and hugs…I could go on and on now that I’ve slowed down to recognize all that I experience with my body!!

  9. Joanne says:

    there is nothing like the pleasure of a warm shower after a hard workout when all your muscles are fatigued and you feel sleepy and relaxed and oh so alive. Or the pleasure of coming in the warmth after a very long walk on a cold day, then sitting by a warm window with a cup of tea with your cat on your lap and your dog at you feet. Or the pleasure you get when you eat healthy food like avocados or tuna and your body just zings with the pleasure of it. I have learned to teach my body to recognize the subtle pleasures of the day and find myself truly happy because of it.

  10. Rachel says:

    Hi Molly,
    I just wanted to that you so much for this challenge. It couldn’t come at a better time for me personally. I have struggled with body image issues and acceptance since the age of 14 and my experiences with anorexia during that time. Fortunately my recovery from anorexia was early and quick but at 32, my struggles have ebbed and flowed over the years. I recognize that I have always been tall (5’8”), active and generally lean as a result of playing soccer since the age of 5 and then moving into distance running, however as so many women have already demonstrated, we all suffer from our own idiosyncrasies about our bodies and selves in general.
    In college I began marathon running and really started to lift, though I focused more on low weight/high rep routines. Additionally, I followed the “more is better” mantra and worked out 6-7 days a week for 1-1-1.5 hours every day. After completing 5 marathons and in the process of training for my 6th, I realized that I didn’t much enjoy distance running anymore and that marathons are very hard on your body…I want to be able to move freely and comfortably when I am 80.
    I really started to focus on my strength in January of 2013 and started to do Crossfit and changed to a Paleo lifestyle. This worked great for about 6 months and I can say that in June I started to see visible abs (always the bane of my existence). However, the 3 years that I had spent commuting 75 miles each way to work, coming home to workout, prepare dinner, breakfast and lunch for the next day, getting about 45 minutes of to rest after eating a 9pm dinner, only to get up and do the same thing again the next day left me fairly burnt out. That along with the stress that came with my husband getting a new position at work that moved us from Wisconsin to Texas and left me with weeks of uncertainty about my job, among a handful of other personal stressors that I won’t detail, induced a bout of insomnia that I have not been able to shake. While it has gotten better, it is a rare morning when I find myself waking feeling refreshed.
    Since moving, my workouts are now more of the Crossfit Football type, but I often have to scale the frequency way back because of my insomnia and travel schedule for work. At the same time, I have focused more of my efforts on controlling my stress and anxieties while trying to get at the root of my insomnia through meditation, acupuncture and other relaxation and energy cultivation methods. I am very much a work in progress to get back to a “normal” state. My acupuncturist has focused heavily on rebalancing my hormones as many of the symptoms I have described are on par with menopausal women.
    I have acknowledged that being fit and healthy is not defined by the number on my scale or the size of my clothes but decades of believing the opposite makes it hard to fully embrace that truth. Since just prior to Christmas, I have undergone some physical changes that are really challenging my mental strength and ability to love and accept my body. My weight has gone up about 7 lbs, which from 128 is pretty substantial in less than 3 months. I know I should stop weighing myself, but I don’t even need to do that to know that I am changing. Yes, I broke through 100 lbs for my back squat in January but it’s difficult to celebrate that at the same time that I am no longer comfortable in a lot of my clothes. I lived with a lean, runner’s body for so many years that the changes I am going through make me feel like I am in someone else’s body.
    I have pushed my body to extremes for many years and it seems to have finally hit a point where enough is enough. While the past few days of the challenge have actually been fairly easy for me to do, today was hard. After 4 weeks involving travel to Orlando, LA, Paris and Boston, a week of being sick and two nights of particularly bad sleep I can only see swollen eyes, a puffy face, yet again an increase on the scale, and a midsection that I am embarrassed for my husband to see. The tears came flooding out and it was even more evident that I need this challenge. I am stressing about how I will look in a bikini (something I’ve never been comfortable in) when I really need to keep sight on the fact that I cannot sleep. I need to learn to give myself some compassion and realize that this is only one time in my life; a time to allow my body to recover from the abuse that I have put it through. Those basic foundations of sleep and emotional stability need to be there before I can address any aesthetics. And when those foundations are solid, maybe the aesthetics will have fallen into place naturally or will no longer be a concern.
    I know my experiences are not the most difficult endured but they are real and they are mine. I wanted to share them with you because I have followed your blog for some time and you are truly an inspiration by inviting me and countless others to participate in your journey while sharing ours with you. At the end of this 28 day challenge I don’t expect to have reached the point of complete acceptance, but each day is an improvement over the last. Thank you!
    Rachel

  11. Karen says:

    I love my body. It has the ability to bring me immense pleasure in many ways if I can slow down to recognize it.

    After much thought, this is what I came up with:

    1. My body brings me immense pleasure after taking a HOT shower after a GREAT workout! I feel refreshed, relaxed, and soothed, which is often!

    2. My body brings me immense pleasure when I feed it the appropriate foods like healthy fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy, and more. I “feel” my body thanking me in so many ways when I give it the proper fuel it needs to keep me going!

    3. My body brings me immense pleasure when the new releases come out in my two exercise classes I take regularly: Les Mills Body Combat and Les Mills Body Pump.

    4. My body brings me immense pleasure by hugging my two beautiful girls daily!

    5. My body brings me immense pleasure when my husband softly caresses me while hugging me!

    6. My body brings me immense pleasure when I wear my new size 10s vs my old size 22s!

    7. My body brings me immense pleasure when I jog with my seven year old to her bus stop on cold mornings!

    8. My body brings me immense pleasure when I get it massaged regularly.

    9. My body brings me immense pleasure when I am dripping sweat after a two hour workout.

    10. My body brings me immense pleasure when I can put my feet up with a book in my lap and have some “me” time.

    11. My body brings me immense pleasure when I see my muscles working in a training session with my trainer! This can be overpowering at times because I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am today losing 60 pounds and seeing these magnificent muscles that help me get around on a daily basis.

    12. My body brings me immense pleasure (or it will soon) when I can run up and down a soccer field and play the game with a bunch of fit women!

    13. My body brings me immense pleasure when I can deliver food, clothing, and other such items to charities to help less fortunate families out who need it.

    14. My body brings me immense pleasure when I can wish a Happy Birthday to my loved ones!

    15. My body brings me immense pleasure when I can overcome tough obstacles that stand in my way!

    This challenge specifically hit home with me. Once I sat down and thought about it and RECOGNIZED that my body brings me pleasure (as you mentioned, Molly), this has helped me see the things I can do, I can feel in a more positive way vs the negative! Thank you for this challenge!

  12. Hannah says:

    to the woman who lost a baby at 20 weeks

    I lost my baby too. He was born at 28 weeks due to an incompetent cervix and died the next day. I had had an ultrasound the day before. Everything looked fine. I know this betrayal that you speak of regarding your body. I felt this too and sometimes still do. I have to carry this with me. But I think Molly is right, focusing on what your body can do and just how strong it really is separates you from that weak and dark place we sometimes find ourselves in. I wish you all the best.

    Hannah

  13. Maureen says:

    I’m a little late to the party on this 28 day challenge. But I have been playing catch up by reading 2 a day :) I just want to say thank you so much for doing this. If I could sum up the feeling I get when I read the first week’s posts it would be: gratitude. When reading other’s posts and reflecting inward, I feel increadibly grateful for what I have. No, I’m not perfect but who is? My body has given me so much and I should be grateful for what i have instead of what i wish I had.

    Thank you for that. Bravo.

  14. bodynsoil says:

    I have a few days of blog reading to catch up on, work has been extra busy, even at a few days behind on my reading I’ve noticed a change in my thinking already. As I mentioned once before, I’m only a few days from 50 and also taking a beach trip to celebrate. As a fitness person, I used to fixate on hitting a number on the scale and certain bodyfat percent before beach vacations so I could look at particular way. Doing so would make the preparation for these types of events extra labor intensive and me not a fun girl.

    I’m almost 50, before I found your blog post I had been asking myself how much longer I needed to keep up the facade. Asking myself when I could relax and just enjoy life as is and start to move into the role of elder, when do I hang up my bikini so to speak. At my age, I’m still noticing my idols able to maintain their physiques into their 60′s an 70′s, then there is Ernestine Shepard.. letting go can be difficult.

    Thank you for helping me take the first step and accepting my faults and scars as who I am, accepting what I can’t change, and embracing myself and my body for the wonderful gift they give daily, life. The photo series of the fitness models which showed them both at their best and worst helped my thinking so much and thank for sharing. I’m working up my courage to take, and share,less than flattering images of myself, I am human and have flaw just as the rest of the population and embracing myself and both my flaws and perfections equally..

    Suddenly I feel so free and relaxed… (I’m still taking that vacation anyhow)

    Thank you..

  15. Giselle says:

    Mantra: ”I love my body. It has the ability to bring me immense pleasure in many ways if I can slow down to recognize it.”
    waking up
    working out
    writing
    reading something good
    eating
    drinking water
    walking
    meeting interesting-awesome people
    doing what I love
    singing
    drawing
    watching movies, pictures, etc
    hang on with nice people
    spend time on nature
    having great ideas
    expressing those great ideas
    fall in love
    listening to music
    going to concerts
    playing piano
    playing bass

  16. Crystal says:

    I love my body. It has the ability to bring me great pleasure in many ways, if I can slow down to recognize it.

    - Warm water running over me in the shower
    - Taste of freshly popped popcorn in coconut oil with salt.
    - Enjoy the sun’s warmth on my skin.
    - The smell of BBQ, or a baked chicken, or warm cookies from the oven, or a baby’s freshly washed and lotioned skin…
    - Listening to music, especially the piano
    - Intimacy with my husband
    - A friend’s embrace
    - Hearing the sound of bird’s wings flapping in unison together (like a flock of pigeons leaving the ground all together)
    - Feeling my husband’s hand in mine
    - Holding my son
    - Feeling sore from yesterday’s workout and enjoying that I that tough workout!

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