Updated: Apr 28
Ah, Spring Break. The annual ritual of spending quality time with the family to rest and reset before the end of the school year push. If you went to the beach like I did, you likely put on a bathing suit for the first time since mid-2022, Yowzah!
The good news is it wasn’t that bad. I’ve gotten pretty good at sticking with a healthy eating and movement routine that kept me in good form over the winter, so the experience was not as jarring as I had anticipated.
The bad news is, I hate my knees. Always have. No matter what level of fitness I achieve, my knees remain the same. You see, my knees are normal apart from two areas on the inside of each knee. I call them my “fatty side cars.” I walk, do leg lifts, use a firming lotion, and apply targeted massages to break up whatever is going on in there, you name it, but nothing seems to work. It’s been this way since I was sixteen.
I became very self-conscious about them at one point and refused to wear shorts. I think that went on for a few years in my 30’s. I’m not sure how I started wearing shorts again. I probably got too hot and said, screw it! LOL We all have our limits. However, the fact remains, I picked one arbitrary part of my body and made it an issue. Every one of us likely has that one area of our body that they would point the “magic wand” at and make it go away. But we all know that’s not realistic. Another question is, what would that solve even if we could. We’d likely move on to another area next in line to vex us. When does it stop?
This weekend as I pulled on my bathing suit and passed the mirror, guess what caught my eye? My knees. There they were in all their chubby glory. For a moment I stared at them and waited for the “feeling” to come over me. The one where I fret about how bad my knees look and how I hoped my cover up would be long enough to hide them. Once I was in the water, no one would see them, and all would be spared from their presence.
But you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. The feeling never came. They were just knees. They looked the same, but I didn’t feel the same. There was a part of me that had just let it go.
As we walked down the hall and through the lobby, I saw an outline of myself working toward the exterior patio door. I couldn’t see my clothes, my face, or any other distinguishing features, just my silhouette. Here I was, walking toward this reflection and the knees of that silhouette looked just as fine as I felt about them.
When we arrived at the beach, it struck me that everyone looked just as normal as I did. I had knees. So did everyone else. When you start to think about how all our insecurities warp our point of view and how all the photoshopping and filters give us misconceptions about how we think we should look, clarity washes over you like the water lapping up on the shores of that beach.
Look around, there are more people out there in the world that look like you than don’t look like you. There’s a reason for that. It’s because that’s life and we are all different. It was meant to be that way. I don’t know about you but there was not one Gisele Bündchen or Dwayne Johnson on the beach I was on! We were all just regular people. Well, my husband looked pretty good, but of course I’m a bit biased about that and fully aware he’s no Dwayne Johnson, but I’m okay with it.
This self-realization, this self-acceptance helped me have one of the most enjoyable beach experiences I’ve had since I was a kid with no idea that my knees would ever become an issue in the future. Isn’t that crazy? That also made me realize that we need to make sure our kids always know that they are fine just the way they are and no one, no magazine or no social media platform should make them feel otherwise. We need to arm them with the tools of self-acceptance early and pray those seeds spread and pollinate to other kids.
A big part of health coaching is not only balancing your nutrition, but also balancing your mindset so self-acceptance can be nurtured and strengthened fully. Self-acceptance opens so many doors to experiences we may have felt were unattainable due to self-limiting beliefs, like your knees are too fat and you can’t wear shorts! Why was that even a thing!
Had I not been able to fully realize that my thoughts where not logical or substantiated, the old me would have probably considered liposuction or CoolSculpting or some other procedure to “tame” the fatty side cars. Now, I just appreciate the cushion they provide for side sleeping or their impact absorbing nature during a brisk walk. There’s always a bright side and it’s all about acceptance.
Embracing acceptance can be difficult, especially if you have severe body image issues or still suffer from the effects of emotional abuse as a child or adult. If you struggle with either, the path to self-acceptance may be more intense but not insurmountable. If you need a little help in balancing your mindset so you can fully embrace what you already know, that you are good the way you are, working with a health coach can help you get there.
Not everyone likes or believes in the effectiveness of daily affirmations, but I strongly believe in the power of positive thoughts over negative thoughts. Listed below are a few you can try if you don’t know how to get started. You’ll notice these are not too “new-agey” or “overly flowery.” Affirmations don’t have to be out of this world to have an impact, you just need to read them, repeat, and absorb them. Tape them to a mirror in your house, keep them in your bag or car. Review them at least threes times a day and keep an open mind and spirit.
Positive affirmations for self-acceptance:
I appreciate all the ways I am unique.
There is no such thing as perfection.
I’m doing the very best I can every day.
I can’t change everything, but I can take small steps toward improvement every day.
I am creating the life I want to live one day at a time.
I choose to be kind to myself.
When I was struggling with my selfcare and stress management, I turned to guided imagery and affirmations. My coach suggested writing my own affirmations, as outlined above or using a program. She also suggested the work of Belleruth Naparstek and I have used her recordings ever since. She is a Psychotherapist, author, and guided imagery pioneer that launched the Health Journeys guided imagery audio series in 1991 (https://www.healthjourneys.com/). It’s wonderful and can be extremely beneficial in helping you relax and move past some of your past hurts and negative thoughts. It was a game-changer for me.
Additionally, I provided some tips in my September 25, 2022, blog "Blaze Your Own Trail! Tips for Shedding Self Consciousness.” Refer to the post and see if any of the recommendations there could be helpful to you as well.
So, do I still hate my knees, no I don’t. My knees and I have come to an understanding. They have been a strong, loyal, dependable part of my body for a very long time, and I respect them for what they have done and continue to do for me. Knees have never been regarded as one of the sexiest parts of the body and I put far too much pressure on them to live up to an unrealistic standard. What that standard is, I’m still not sure. I’ll let you know if I ever find out.
Have you conquered your self-doubt demons regarding a specific area of your life or overcome an insecurity about yourself? My knees would love to hear about it.
Leave a comment below and share your experiences to help others!
Take care and be well,