We are pleased to have Lisa Danielson, also known as “Veggie Lisa,” as a guest writer this week. She is a vegan nutritionist, High Fitness instructor and personal trainer. She has helped thousands of people in Utah and across the nation learn to love their vegetables. Subscribe to her blog VeggieLisa.com, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and More.
Being in the health and fitness industry, I have heard many times “Oh it must be so easy for you to stay in shape,” or “You are just a naturally small person.” Yes, that is partially true, I have a small build and bone structure, but there was a time in my life when I was overweight, and not just 20-30 pounds, but 60 pounds overweight.
When I look back at photos during this time in my life, I am smiling in each one. It wasn’t a fake smile, I was truly happy. Did I want to be thinner? Sure. But did it affect my self-esteem? Not really. I had just become a mother to a beautiful and healthy baby boy. He was perfect in every way. I couldn’t believe that my body had created him and he was mine, to love and to take care of. Although this baby boy is now a teenager, I cherish those days of wider waistbands, bigger bras, and a body that didn’t seem quite mine.
Over the last 12 years, I have gained and lost and gained and lost the same 40 pounds with three other pregnancies. My body has changed with each one. I’ve been a size 2 and I’ve been a size 14. But with every passing year, and the new changes that I see (hello, wrinkles!), I have learned the importance of loving my body, at any stage. Here are some things that I have learned along the way:
How we look at ourselves, and how other people look at us can be very different
A ‘flaw’ that we might focus on might be unrecognizable to others. Often what we see as insecurities, are most likely the things that others love most about us.
Your self-worth has nothing to do with what you look like
Your best qualities are more than your face or body. It’s quite possible that you have a sparkling personality, love to serve others, or put 110 percent into being a great mom and wife.
Be proud of your body
I have stretch marks above my hips from pregnancy. The other day I was at the gym and noticed my shirt had come up a little and they were showing. Instinctively I pulled my shirt down not wanting anyone to notice one of my “flaws.” After thinking about it, I thought I shouldn’t be ashamed, my body has gone through heck bringing four kids into the world, and here I am at the gym, despite my insecurities, to make myself better and stronger. For me that is a symbol of love, not something to be ashamed of.
Media images aren’t real!
I have been a part of the fitness industry long enough to know what tricks can be used, how lighting can be manipulated and what crazy diets models do to make themselves look good. For the majority of women to have a six pack, you need to be less than 16 percent body fat. I did that once, and must admit I had some pretty great abs. Then my hair starting falling out and I no longer had a menstrual cycle. Not a healthy trade off.
As women, we are programmed to not have the focus be on ourselves. Now if someone compliments us about our children, we will gladly accept that, especially if that child is a teenager or a toddler. But when was the last time someone paid you an honest, genuine compliment and you said “thank you”? I find myself making excuses or deflecting from the attention whenever I receive a compliment. As I’ve gotten older, I appreciate them more and try to respect the fact that someone felt the need to say something nice.
Loving your body doesn’t mean giving up on your goals
I would say 99 percent of the female American population would like to change something about their bodies. Does that mean they shouldn’t love it the way it is? Absolutely not. If you don’t love yourself at 190 pounds, I promise you, it will be the same at 120 pounds. The scale might change, but the mind is slower to catch up. Love yourself now, love yourself through the process, and love yourself when you reach that goal.
Be patient with yourself
This can take years to accept and implement. Don’t end up in a perpetual state of body hatred. Write a list of all the things your body has done for you. Chances are it will be longer than you think. Trust me, there is no such thing as the perfect child, the perfect marriage, or the perfect body. And when I start to get anxious about getting older, I remind myself what a privilege it is to age, experience life, and most of all, love myself.
A Little More About Lisa Danielson:
My name is Lisa but some people call me Veggie Lisa. I am a mom of four kids who loves to dance, cook, exercise, shop, decorate, and enjoy all the beautiful things the state of Utah has to offer. I have had a very long journey to get to the place that I am now, strong and confident but most of all happy. At one point in my life I weighed 200 pounds. It took 11 long years and 4 babies later to finally learn how to nourish my body properly and be comfortable in my own skin. Being a lifelong vegetarian, I have a passion for vegetables and love teaching my kids how delicious they can be. Most people find veggies very, very, very boring. And gross. But not me! I love all things green and the more colorful my plate is, the happier I am. Vegetables don’t have to be boring! My motto is eat good, feel good, look good. When we eat good food and treat our bodies with respect, the rest falls into place.