How To Love The Skin You're In

Nicole Markardt
How To Love The Skin You're In

This one is for all the female readers out there - Stop the insanity! You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are enough. I’m fortunate enough to have truly beautiful women in my life. Some are tall, have piercing blue eyes, clear perfect skin with that natural rosy glow...

Physical features, however, are not what I mean when I use the word “beautiful.” We are programmed and bombarded with images of what physical “beauty” is. My 6 year old daughter has asked me if she’s “pretty” after watching television. Images of this pre-programmed model of beauty surround women at every turn from billboards to television commercials, beauty magazines, and music videos. They are narrow images; a droplet of water in a vast ocean of beauty. Most women that I know have a laundry list of things that they want to change about themselves; an inner dissatisfaction with some aspect of their appearance. As I approach my late 30’s and have a daughter of my own, I’ve taken some steps to love myself a bit more; trying on a daily basis to know my worth and to stop being so hard on myself for not fitting the into the program. This not only feels so much healthier for my mind, body, and spirit, but I want to be a positive model for my daughter. Self-loathing and constant dissatisfaction is damaging not only to our health (our bodies hear the messages of our mind), but to our relationship to the world around us. How can we love deeply if we cannot first love ourselves? I’ve made some small changes in my daily life that have truly helped in my progression of self-love.

Some days, I still agonize over certain physical attributes, I’m human and breaking a habit that it took decades of mental conditioning to build is not easy. My journey through my yoga practice, lots of meditation and self-observance have taught me how to better focus more on who I am in my own heart and who I want to be in the world, rather than quantifying that through physical attributes.

Break The Cycle

Habits are easier to make than they are to break. If we repeat a behavior often enough, it becomes our “go to” experience, thought or response. The good news is that the human brain is very adaptive. Some studies show that it takes 21 days to break a habit. Who knows? Everyone's brain is different, and habit formation may rely heavily on aspects of experience and personality.

I ask all women reading this to try, for the next 21 days, to select more loving thoughts about themselves. These new habits have helped me tremendously.

Put The Scale Away

I mean it. Just step away from the scale for 21 days. This is not about complacency or indifference. Not by any means. Once I began practicing Bikram yoga, my body composition changed a bit. I’ve developed more muscle in certain areas, like my thighs, making them look (dare I say) a bit thicker. My arms have become more defined and firmer. I feel strong. When we make healthy choices, we feel it. We know it. We need not be a slave to 3 numbers on a scale that may not fit what our older, athletic or more mature bodies have become. I’m sure every woman reading this can relate to waking up, feeling amazing, and stepping on the scale to have our entire day ruined because those three numbers do not meet our expectations. What do they mean? We felt great 5 minutes ago! You don’t need your scale. Every person knows when they are taking care of their health, how their clothes fit, and how they feel.

Step away from the scale. You don’t need it. I’ve weighed myself about twice this year and I feel a much deeper satisfaction with my body than ever before. I have slowly released my attachment to numbers. I know when I feel healthy and strong.

Find Your Tribe

Who we surround ourselves with is so unbelievably important and a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Surrounding ourselves with people that see our beauty and encourage us to be our best selves is crucial. When I began really thinking about who elevates me in my life, who is on a similar path, and who is truly compassionate and loving in our shared humanity- I realized who I want my tribe to be. Anyone that may tear you down in the name of “honesty”; a person that is chronically critical or negative is not your tribe member. Loving yourself often means walking away from relationships that are stagnant or feel toxic. People that elevate your spirit, are like-minded and encouraging... seek that. Feed and nurture those relationships and watch them flourish. Find your tribe and watch how much more confident you feel.

Notice When You’re Being Kind. End Your Day With That Thought

End each day with one positive thought about yourself that has nothing to do with your physical appearance. What did you do today that you feel was loving, good intentioned, or helpful? Was it a bad day? Forgive yourself.

Try again tomorrow.

Be Amazed

Think of what your physical body has allowed for today. Simple things are often miracles that we forget to acknowledge. Having broken my back in two places and faced the possibility of paralysis has truly helped me marvel in my blessings. Jogging up steps when I’m in a rush, or ...just because, always stirs gratitude in my heart. Did you have to walk quickly to catch a train today? Did you meditate and truly experience awareness of your breath? Did you practice yoga and really use your muscles? Did you lift your child? Our bodies are miracles. A beating heart... a brain that controls every movement...

Notice. Be amazed. How can you not love your body?

There Is No One Else Like You On This Planet

As human beings, we all experience feelings of fearfulness, inadequacy, jealousy, or insecurity at certain points in our lives. It’s important to stop, take a breath, and check in with yourself. In those moments when the heat rises and we struggle, ask yourself, “What is happening right now?” Often, this question reveals so much. There is no other brain, physical body, or spirit like yours on the planet. You cannot be duplicated. That is truly amazing. You are unique. You are beautiful. There is no one else like you.

We all have darkness, bad days, and great struggle. Self-love is the first step toward emerging gracefully through all of it. Lack of self-love can lead to depression, cause us to fall short of our potential, and allows for possibly tolerating abusive situations.

Begin to practice taking action on this amazing journey through radical self love and acceptance. Be fearless.

You’re worth it. I promise.