It’s my second week of summer, but it doesn’t feel like it with the forty-mile-an-hour wind howling outside. Whenever I have gone outside this week to enjoy the somewhat summer weather, there has been this menacing bee that circles me as if I’m its prey (if you didn’t already know, I’m deathly afraid of any insect that flies, yes, that even includes butterflies). So, I’ll make-do, writing this blog post curled up on my bed as pine trees sway in the wind outside my window.

I’ve had it on my heart this week to share with you something that is very personal. I’m talking about my love for Disneyland. Just kidding (you thought I was going to say that, didn’t you?) Actually, I’m talking about body image.

I’m pretty certain that everyone has struggled with body image at least once in their life. For me, loving my body has been a roller coaster of a journey. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis when I was in eighth grade and because my thyroid worked at the pace of a sloth, I was cursed with a slow metabolism, and boom, weight gain! And the best part, with Hashimoto’s, it’s nearly impossible to lose weight even if you’re eating nothing but fruits and vegetables and exercising six days a week (believe me, I tried all the diets in the book, and none were successful). High school was, well, let’s just say it was an experience, to put it lightly. I spent the vast majority of my days sulking, wishing I had my friend’s bodies and counting calories and exercising, hoping that someday all the work I was doing would make me skinny. I was so caught up in having the “perfect” body that I didn’t appreciate the body I had.

It wasn’t until I attended my first religious retreat junior year of high school that I finally began the slow journey to accepting my body. I surrendered everything on the retreat. I was tired, scratch that, exhausted, from constantly filling my life with negative thoughts about myself. I began to realize that I may never obtain the “perfect” body, and there was no reason in wasting my life away until I got that body. There was no reason why I couldn’t be happy in the body that God gave me. If I ate clean and exercised, that’s all I could do, the rest was out of my hands.

So I started enjoying life, trying my best to push out all of the negative comments I had built up over the years. I laughed more and thanked God for my body instead of wishing I had someone else’s. I focused on my writing and on school and mainly, on growing closer to God. I worked so hard on my relationship with Him that I began to see the me He saw. I started seeing myself as His beautiful daughter, and I focused my attention on glorifying His name in all that I did.

It took a long time to accepting my body, but that doesn’t mean that I never have days (or weeks) where I have setbacks. Those negative thoughts still have the power to return and take over my whole world. The season of life I’m in right now feels like one of those setbacks. As I mentioned before, summer started a couple weeks ago, and most of my friends have left to go home. I’m spending less time at the Newman Center hanging out with friends and praising God and more time with myself, criticizing my body in the mirror and thinking of all the times I’ve fallen. I see myself slowly morphing into the girl I used to be, the girl who constantly thought about being in a different body and never thought that she was worthy of anything.

I don’t want to retreat into my old ways, and I know that I will get out of this little slump. Brace yourself: I’m about to get really deep in an attempt to help myself (and anyone else reading this post) to see the big picture, and stop worrying so much about bodies.

First of all, the point that you are at right now is okay. No one is critiquing your body the way you are and no one cares the way you look nearly as much as you do. Of course, it’s important to have healthy habits but having a body that reflects those habits isn’t of the upmost importance. Having a healthy soul and spirit is most important. Having a soul eager and thirsty to proclaim the gospel and having a spirit itching to become the best versions of yourself, the you God made you to be, is what will set you apart from everyone around you. Having the perfect body won’t help you grow closer to God or help others grow closer to God, but your attitude and your actions will, all things that build a healthy soul and spirit.

Of course, there is always room for improvement when it comes to health. As long as you fuel your body and exercise your muscles, that’s all you can do. If after fueling and exercising you still don’t look “perfect”, that’s okay. As long as you feel healthy, that’s what matters. Know that God shaped your body to look like no one else, so comparing won’t do any good, because you aren’t meant to look alike anyway. Be happy and thankful that He has given you another day, month, year, to improve your habits to becoming the best version of yourself. And something that my dad told me years ago, when I was in my deep hole of self-loath, there is only ONE you in the world, and you are pretty freaking awesome. In all of this earth’s existence and in all that is to come, there will never be another you. So take this opportunity to be the best you. Take this time to stop comparing and to fuel your body and to grow closer to your Father, the One who loves you endlessly and only wants the best for you. You are priceless, a true treasure to this earth.

I hope this post helped you to look at your body in a different light and to hopefully see yourself the way the Heavenly Father sees you, as a treasure. Loving and accepting your body is a constant journey, and although there will be days (or maybe even weeks) that you fall, there will be a day when you stand back up and see yourself the way He sees you.

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