In February, I wrote my first blog From Thunder Thighs to Athletic Thighs. I wanted to focus on perception — the transition from body loathing to the power of body acceptance and body love. Many of you reached out to me to dive deeper into the topic and I appreciate both the support and the perspectives you offer. You challenged me to consider what I think of as body respect — that link between loving my body for what it is and honoring it for what it can be.

I was 27 years old.  I was a few pounds overweight. I was unhealthy and out of shape. Eating out almost daily.  Living on soda to keep me awake while I worked 80+ hours per week. Low on sleep; high on sugar & caffeine. I did not enjoy going to the gym, so you know what? I didn’t go. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without huffing & puffing. My arms burned carrying groceries from the car up to my second floor apartment. I was soft. I did not like the way I looked nor the way I felt. But I believed this situation was temporary. I was training in a career I believed in. Things would get easier when I started my career, right?

I was 29 years old and still training for my career. I was fatigued & depressed. I felt like crap and I was tired of feeling this way. I found a karate dojo, where they offered kickboxing classes (the courage needed to walk into a classroom filled with super fit folks, is a whole other story). That was my introduction to group fitness. I was immediately hooked by the release of stress, the adrenaline high and the motivation that came from exercising with others. Eventually, I gained stamina & strength. I could feel the difference. I no longer struggled to walk up stairs or carry groceries. I could play with my nephew with abundant energy. And where was I with nutrition? I naturally changed the way I ate. The desire to feel strong directed me to more nutritious foods.

I am 47 years old. I am a few pounds overweight. I am healthy. I am in good shape. I can play with my children and race the dog in the backyard. I exercise with friends and family, challenging myself to try new things. I honor good nutrition & sleep to support my body. I recognize that life does not get easier. Rather, I believe life FEELS easier when I respect my body for the strength it possesses and the potential it has.

Am I working on believing I am beautiful just the way I am?  Yes — I truly am. But there is also an intention to respect my body –  respect my health & my potential. For I am happiest when I can DO – when I can interact and participate without feeling limited by my physical capacity. I know — If I want to love the shape I am, I need to feel good about the shape I’m in.