“What part of your body do you love?”

At a previous gym, this question was posed to the women members in preparation
for a “Body Love” photoshoot and blog series. For some, that’s probably an easy
question. For others, it’s hugely challenging. When I was asked, I was torn. I
wanted to say things like “My smile!” except I have noticed more and more
wrinkles…or “My abs”…because they had been showing up more and more, except
I was embarrassed by, and still even now by my “pooch” that I have always had.
And when you can look around and see a room full of hot bodies…bodies you’d
love to have…it’s hard to say that what you’ve got compares. AND THAT
SHOULD BE THE POINT. That no matter the comparison, because that is
bound to happen, value should not be based upon it.
This subject has been something that I had been giving a lot of thought to
over the past several years, and I was glad to finally have the nudge necessary to
put my thoughts down on paper. For three years I had the privilege of being the
head coach of a predominantly woman-athlete Crossfit program. I saw beautiful
bodies…not because of their perfect breasts or firm thighs (although there were
some of those for sure!) but because the bodies…small or big, tall and short, thin or
heavy, were TRYING. And on days where things were challenging and someone
would say “I only did XX rounds” or “I only did XX weight” I encouraged a
change. Be enthusiastic about your work! “I did XX rounds!!” or “I did XX
pounds!!” And it was with great personal joy I would see a smile spread across the
athlete’s face. In that moment, they were honoring their effort…a phrase I often
wrote on the board underneath the workout. In that moment, their whole body was
It’s because of those years that I have been rather introspective. I have often
begrudged my heavy thighs, my “pooch”, my pear shape. I have wanted something
thinner, more tone, less difficult to dress. But I am coming to see with the reality
that my body, as imperfect (in comparison) as it is, HAS DONE EVERYTHING
I HAVE EVER ASKED OF IT. Sure, it could be better, stronger, faster. But
even in struggle or failure, my body has remained true. It stood proudly in uniform
as I joined the military and in strength affording me the privilege of serving our
country. It runs when I tell it to, it climbs a rope, it swims after months out of the
water. It recovers when I stay up too late, eat too much or too little, and heals when
I hurt it, forgives when I abuse it. It allows me to pick up a heavy weight, teach a
class, demonstrate a movement even if I’m not warmed up. It gives me the health I
take for granted, and the strength to pour myself into others, even when they don’t

know I am doing it. It may not be the leanest, or the fittest, or the tallest, or the
strongest, but my body is dedicated to me and all I ask of it.
Which of course, brings me to the photo shoot. I was too caught up in what
flaws I saw to really find something I was willing to let the photographer feature,
and so I asked my two children. “What do you think is the best part of momma’s
body? What do you think is the neatest thing that momma’s body can do?” In the
naivete of their youth, I wanted to be careful about how I phrased that, lest I
project on them what society will do anyway. Their responses? “Your
heart…because it loves us very much. And your arms…because they hug us and
hold us and show us that you love us and keep us safe.” And this is where my body
has truly gone above and beyond. With ease, my body carried two healthy babies.
I had two easy and fast deliveries. I struggled with breastfeeding, yet my body still
provided. I struggled with frustration, yet my body still got up every morning and
carried me through my challenges. I can pick up my man-child son, and I can hold
my daughter close when she needs a snuggle. I was able to chase them and play
with them, and I can walk away from them when my emotions are too sharp or my
frustration too high.
So today, as I try and decide what part of my body I love, I still have no
answers. I see the influence of society on my acceptance of my flaws, and I
recognize that the grace I so freely give others (and passionately encourage them to
give themselves) is something I often deny myself. But those things I hold back
from myself, that acceptance, is in the mind. For in the body, I am strong and
amazing. Because my body has done everything I have ever asked of it, and today,
I honor my body’s effort, because it is most deserving. If you struggle similarly,
join me by giving yourself grace, Honor Your Effort, and stand confidently in your
successes, despite what you see as flaws. We are each uniquely made, and I for one
am ready to celebrate that, along with the ups and downs that come with each stage
of life.
Need some help on your self talk? Reach out.

Coach Meg Smith meg@crossfiteverlasting.com