Inventions That Will Take Your Home To Another Level
What Will It Take For You To Start Loving The Body You Have Now?
Chris Freytag (above third from left) andPreventionshare a belief: Women should measure happiness not by their waists but by the sheer size of their lives. "We're our worst critics," says body-love champion Freytag, 49, whose relapse of body shaming at 40 sent her toward gratitude for what her body had done for her—given her kids, carried her forward—and her current mission. The women below finally quieted the critic within. Let their stories change yours.
Krisanthy Sikkila, 49
My mom wished to be thinner her whole life, always measuring herself by those stark black numbers on the scale. Even though I've always been slight of build, I inherited her preoccupation. But when I became a mom, I decided to be very conscious about not commenting negatively on my own appearance. Instead, I talk to my girls about muscle size, and we focus on enlarging our lives, not narrowing our frames. It's helped me finally learn that the scale doesn't signify how I feel. It isn't the sum total of me or anyone else.
What I love most:My arms, which resemble my mom's. Although we had different body-image perspectives, I know that deep down we have always matched each other in strength.
Kari Turkowski, 33
Even though it's ridiculously tough to find jeans, I love my athletic legs. But it wasn't always that way. In ninth grade, determined to fit in, I asked God to help me become a top athlete and be beautiful. My diet and training schedule paid off on the field, but my body image was collateral damage. Then I was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition and had to take a break from training at 26. I felt lost until a friend gave me the bookThere's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, by Wayne Dyer. It inspired me to begin meditating and be more grateful. Now, every morning, I look in the mirror and say, "I am a strong woman. And strength is beautiful."
What I've learned:To be generous and kind to myself. It is the happiest way.
MORE:8 Simple Meditations That Can Change Your Life
Darla Churness, 44
Five years ago, I felt a lump in my breast. After going through a bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, and a year of chemo, I felt like my body had let me down, and I distrusted it. If I wanted my life back, I knew I'd need to embrace the new me. That journey started with my first boot-camp class. The movement woke me from my stupor, and I felt truly alive for the first time since my diagnosis. Now I try to consciously feel my strength.
What I love most:My back. It's funny that a part of me that's covered most of the time can make me feel so good. But—like my inner strength—it really does.
Erica Hanna, 33
Ever since my teens, my weight has ping-ponged, and it only became worse when I was sexually attacked after reaching my goal weight. Eventually, to feel "invisible" to men, I regained every pound I'd lost. I hated myself for it, but when I shared my story with other women, I felt liberated. Now I can honor my body, no matter my size.
What I've learned:Carry yourself with confidence: shoulders back, head up, proud.
MORE:3 Ways To Be Nicer To You
Julie Lang, 54
I'm the third in a family of six girls. We shared clothes and our struggles with weight, and we compared ourselves with each other and other girls around us. As an adult, I perpetuated the pattern. I never felt satisfied with my body, and I treated it poorly. It wasn't until I started exercising and saw my father's health declining that I realized my body was to be treasured and not abused. My journey ultimately led me to see how body acceptance comes from within. And I've never felt more beautiful than I do now.
What I love most:My hands. They represent strength and connection.
Greta Hansen Begg, 41
When I was a young girl, my body was my empowerment. I was lean and athletic, and I could do anything the boys were doing. That changed in middle school, when kids started to tease me relentlessly. Soon everything in my life was driven by the number on the scale—it was a miserable existence. Thankfully, a trainer got me to focus on improving my fitness from the inside by eating healthy, lifting weights, and reducing stress. It sounds so simple, but all that helped me reconnect with how wonderful I felt about my body as a young girl.
What I've Learned:That my body can do just about anything I want it to do.
MORE: The One Fitness Tool You Need To Transform Your Body
Rhonda Cox, 50
Maybe if I'd had Michelle Obama or the striking WNBA women as role models growing up, I would have felt strong and exceptional. Instead, my worries about being too tall, bulky, and different started in kindergarten. It wasn’t until 35, when my father died of congestive heart failure, that I stopped viewing myself through painfully narrow standards of beauty. I started running, and my long legs took to it, leading me to a confidence I had never known. Now my insecurities no longer drive me; my strengths do.
What I love most:The fact that my body waited, fairly patiently, for me to treat it right.
Kathy Kessler, 63
When I was growing up, every girl wanted to look like Twiggy. But a waif model's body wasn't in my future, so I focused on staying fit with running. Then, in my late 50s, I saw a photo of myself in a swimsuit. I was finally twiggy, but not in a good way. My arms and thighs were too thin and weak looking. Seeing that made me realize that thinness shouldn't be the goal. So I stopped worrying about getting bulky and, for the first time, started strength training.
What I've learned:Strength and vitality make you beautiful at any age.
Leslie Pitt Schneider, 46
When a dump truck plowed into me the summer after first grade, my left leg was crushed completely. My first prosthetic looked like a Barbie foot—which, to a 6-year-old, really didn't seem so bad. And honestly, it rarely has bothered me. The only time I remember feeling self-conscious about it was when I started dating.
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