I’ve always had a very complicated relationship with my legs.

Most of my life has been spent hating the way that they look. Cellulite, stretch marks, scars, and spider veins all seemingly standing in my way of real self-love. So much time was wasted thinking that happiness would come as soon as I leaned them out and/or lost weight.

And it wasn’t just about how they looked. Every devastating injury I’ve ever had as an athlete has been in my hips and legs — multiple stress fractures, dislocations, tendinitis, as well as IT band and piriformis pain. Through it all, they kept on trucking.

Now in my late-30s, I’ve finally come to give my legs the respect they deserve. I recognize that I’ve been supremely unkind to my body in my lifetime — both in words and actions. I’ve heaved insults, neglect, and unspeakable abuse on my body for the better part of three decades.

And it’s become abundantly clear to me that working against my body and trying to make it conform to some ridiculous and impossible ideal will never lead me to happiness. Because happiness is not the work of your body, it’s the work of your mind.

If you don’t like what you see when you look at yourself in the mirror, no exercise plan or diet in the world will change that. Trust me, having been a size 18, a size 0, and everything in between, I assure you that I was just as unhappy with my body after dropping 80 pounds as I was before.

Your perspective doesn’t change just because you alter what you’re looking at. The work is deeper than that. For me, healing came when I stopped trying to make my body be something I thought I wanted it to be and instead worked to develop what I already had.

And in that process, I learned that it was far more capable, strong, and amazing than I ever gave it credit for. Because as long as I was trying to be something else, I was ignoring my own unique abilities and I’d been selling myself short all along.

If you allow yourself to see what you’re really capable of instead of hating yourself for what you aren’t, you might find that you’re already a masterpiece — a living, breathing work of art just waiting to be revealed.

It’s time to get out of your own way.

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