1. On occasions when you happen to cross a mirror, where before you’d speed up or even find a way to avoid getting a glance, you slow down and deliberately walk towards it. You look at yourself up and down — head to toe — and instead of turning away with a cringe as you have in the past, you smile. The first thing that comes to mind is no longer, “Oh, God, I really need to start working out,” but rather: “Aw, don’t I look good today!”
2. When you flip open a magazine and get an eyeful of the perfect models and actors that grace our TV screens, you’re no longer hit with an instant inferiority complex. You don’t immediately wish that you could look like that — in fact, after the first glance, your mind doesn’t dwell on the physical appearance of them at all. The fact that you don’t look like them truly doesn’t bother you anymore. And when someone else says, “I wish I had that body,” you find that you no longer wholeheartedly agree. The “Nah, I’m good” is genuine, as opposed to simply being a mask for your insecurities.
3. When you eat healthy foods, replacing cookies from your midmorning snack with apples, it doesn’t feel like deprivation or punishment. Likewise, when you exercise, you don’t do it to be “fix” yourself. Your actions are no longer driven by what they’ll do for your body — now, they’re just something you do. Period.
4. Labels in a clothing store no longer affect you: you don’t feel embarrassed when the dress for you is Extra Large in size anymore — whether you discover this privately or when you’re forced to ask the sales associate to help you locate it. Having to make alterations doesn’t scream out to you that you don’t have the traditional figure and therefore need to work on that, either. Now, all you see is how well it fits and that you look damn good in it!
5. Not being able to own that pair of jeans because it just doesn’t come in your size doesn’t ruin your day, and it most certainly doesn’t inspire you to try starving yourself so that you can squeeze yourself into them. There’s momentary disappointment, but you shrug it off easily. You know that that’s plain unfortunate, as opposed to being a sign from the heavens that you need to work on “fixing” your body.
6. When you can’t reach the top shelf (or likewise narrowly avoid hitting your head against it), you don’t feel any irritation or embarrassment anymore. You don’t instantly wish that you were taller or shorter, and now, having to get a stool to climb onto genuinely amuses you as much as it does your friends.
7. You’re able to actively forgive yourself when you go on a junk-a-thon, as opposed to forcing the memory to fade within a few days from replacing so many meals with an overabundance of water. Maybe you didn’t need to eat the whole packet of cookies, but you’ve learned you lesson, it won’t ever happen again and the world did not in fact end! And anyway, there’s nothing wrong with a treat once in a while.
8. And finally, you begin to understand that no matter what your goals, your life is ultimately meant to be enjoyed. And it’s perfectly O.K. to take a break every once in awhile.