SparkPeople Blogs  •  abs  •  motivation

Tummy Troubles: How I Learned to Embrace My 'Flaws'

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Confession: My stomach is my least favorite part of my body. When I was in high school, I had a taut, toned belly that my angst-ridden adolescent self couldn't appreciate. But by the time I realized how rockin' my body really was, it was too late: Years had passed, and eating disorders had given way to lax college eating and weight gain.

Much of the weight settled on my stomach, and, as a woman with fair skin, every bump, ripple and dimple was more visible.

A total of 50 pounds fell away in three phases: the bulk of it during my year in Korea, another 10 pounds when I started working at SparkPeople, and the final 15 since I underwent some major life changes late last year. (If my math seems fuzzy, it's because I gained and lost 10 pounds a few times!)

Everyone loses weight at different rates and in different places. For me, the upper body is the first area to see results, especially my breasts (TMI, but ladies, you know what I mean!). My arms and legs see changes next, followed by my hips and rear end. But the belly--that one's the last to go. It's so hard for me to see results there.

Thanks to years of yoga, I have strong abs... but they're still buried under some softness. (I don't use the "F" word.) I have no trouble baring my arms in tank tops or wearing open-backed tops, and I even overcame my aversion to wearing shorts. But I don't wear bikinis, and I feel self-conscious baring my belly. I pause during yoga practice if my tummy hangs out, and I often tuck in my shirt to avoid anyone seeing it.

A couple of weeks ago, I turned 30, and I celebrated with a yoga retreat in Honduras. With temperatures topping 90 degrees most days, I wore as little as possible to stay cool.

On my birthday, we took a 3-hour hike. About an hour into the hike, my clothes were drenched with sweat. I shed my button-down shirt and wore only my sports bra and hiking pants. I was nervous at first.

Were the other people on the hike staring at my belly, with its soft whiteness? Were they wishing I would cover up? Did they think I didn't have the body to bare my belly? After about five minutes, surrounded by the beauty of the Central American jungle, I stop caring. This is MY body, and I'm going to love it, flaws and all.

That day, I hiked three hours, climbed over boulders, did yoga on some rocks, and frolicked with the light heart and playful spirit of a child. I was the sole member of my hiking party to stand under a waterfall--our ultimate destination on the hike. I stood there, arms overhead, and let the water wash over me. I yelled: "I'm 30! Happy Birthday!" And I said a silent apology to my body.

Another woman on the trip captured a photo of me at that moment. It's not the most flattering angle--my hips are turned, my belly creased, my abs not sucked in--but the look on my face is priceless. It's now my favorite photo from the trip.

Women have curves, and I love mine. We have cellulite. Most of us don't have six packs.

I eat a super clean, plant-based diet. I run regularly. I practice yoga daily. This body is the healthiest it's ever been, inside and out. It's a body I worked very hard to achieve. It's a body that has been abused, loathed, and mistreated. And now it's a body that is loved. It's a body that is moved. It's a body that has infinite potential.

This body, "belly" and all, has run two half marathons, carried me through thousands of yoga practices, and supports me through each and every day. This body skinny dipped and stood naked under another waterfall on that trip. And I felt great! This body is beautiful.

This summer, I will be more confident in my body. I will not freak out if my stomach hangs out during yoga. (I already bought a pair of short yoga shorts, and I love them!) I will run in a sports bra and shorts on hot days.

I'm done bad mouthing my body and my belly. No more thinking of any body part as flawed. It isn't good or bad. It just is.

Love your body, and it will love you in return.

Do you have a body part you're afraid to bare? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I loathe my stretchmark-covered, flabby belly. ... That's a little unfair, I don't loathe it, I'm just annoyed that, with the amount of work I do and am willing to do, I will never be able to make it perfect. Still - I wear a two-piece only in the safety on my backyard, and even then, I'm careful to avoid hanging around out there if the neighbors are also outside (privacy fence or not).

The most ridiculously ironic thing about it, though, is that I posted pictures on SP and get at least one inbox a day asking how I got my belly so flat. I guess we never see ourselves for who we are.

I am 59. When I started reading your blog I thought "oh ya, I can really agree with being the healthiest I've ever been, but still having body parts that have changed forever". Then I read that you are 30. My kids are 30+. Continue to recognize that your body is wonderful as is. Don't waste the time I did thinking others are really interested. People are too busy obsessing over their own perceived defects. I am learning that my fortune comes from a body that works well. So many friends my age no longer have that blessing. Today I will honor the blessing of a healthy body; bumps, lumps, dimples, wrinkles, age spots and all!! Report
I often stare at my stomach hanging down as I do planks and sigh in frustration. This week it finally occurred to me that I was getting frustrated WHILE DOING PLANKS which is something I couldn't do 5 months ago. So I'm putting forth the effort now to just love my strength and enjoy my progress and maybe I'll just start looking at the floor instead of my belly while working out;-) Report
My stomach is the place I am most insecure about, but I am not going to let it get in my way of staying healthy! Report
My stomach and thighs would be the parts I am not too keen on. My thighs are big and my stomach is well, fat, and I have a scar that I am often very self-conscious of. But posting on SP has helped a lot as I do progress pics showing off my belly and thighs, while posing in a bikini.
I love your idea that you need to just embrace it as it is. I am working towards making my body as healthy as can be.
That is wonderful that you had such a liberating and freeing birthday! Report
I would have to say my stomache it always has been a problem area. When I lost almost all my weight once before I never was comfortable. Now I wish I had been...i am starting over now and I am trying very hard to love me so that when I do lose my weight I can be happy with however I may look..flaws and all. Report
My thighs are my area I don't like people to see :( Report
lol~ I also had a nice toned belly in high school that I didn't appreciate~ because I was too busy hating my thighs. I haven't liked my legs since I was a kid...they were never the long, lithe model thin legs I wanted. They were curvy, had cellulite etc...
but today I wore shorts on my bike ride. I've been Sparking since last July, & my legs are strong, & muscled~ it felt really good! Report
I feel pretty comfortable in my own skin. I've worked hard to look the way I do and I am continuing to work hard to maintain it. We all have things we don't like about our bodies. For me, it's my legs (short, pale, and proportionately big thighs). But... I remember how far I've come and what my legs used to be like and I am thankful for the changes I created and have learned to love them. Report
It's funny, I love my body (flaws and all) most of the time ... but I'm always surprised when I see photos and am not as thin as I envision myself. The mirror is kinder than photos I think! Report
I lost over 100 pounds during the last couple of years, and at 55, skin just doesn't bounce back like it used to. Even with lots of exercise and strength training, the belly flab didn't change. So, after having a breast reduction, I decided to have a tummy tuck, losing over 5 pounds of skin. I am now 4 weeks out and am very happy. Yes, I still have flaws, but my clothes fit better, and I feel more confident. Whatever it takes! For those who are interested in a group that discusses cosmetic surgery after weight loss, I have started a group called "Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss". Report
I hope someday I will this confident as well. I've never felt that way, so I'm hoping! Report
Mine has to be my stomach as well. As I've continued to lose some weight it's just not coming from my stomach! I'm trying to measure instead of weigh myself, and I can see that it's just not coming from that area.

But I don't want that to stop me from fully enjoying my life! I want to have the kind of confidence and freedom you describe. Because we all should have that! Comfortable in our own skin :) Report
This is the 2nd blog I've read this morning on the topic of loving your body for what it is and this is exactly what I need to hear right now. I'm at the beginning of my weight loss journey and I have a history of self-sabotage in the past because of being unhappy with my my body. I know that this time I need to accept my body for what it can do for me and not set up unhealthy ideals that I can't attain. Thank you for such a wonderful blog! Report
Yup, good thoughts, well-written and motivational! I want to feel a similiar rush of appreciation for my body ....just not there yet. Report
You have eloquently described one of my ultimate goals. I'm trying to love my body as it is right now - the extra pounds and all. It does a great deal for me and it would be nice to be thankful about it rather than frustrated and angry. Your words are inspirational and I appreciate them! Report
After more than one abdominal surgery, including one to remove one of the muscles, I gave up a long time ago on having a tummy I'd be willing to let anyone see beside my husband. But I'm okay with that. I'm okay with one-piece bathing suits. I'm even okay with wearing mostly loose shirts. (Losing that muscle made me decidedly lopsided and tight waistbands actually hurt.) Part of this comes with age. Even though I was much younger when I had the muscle removed, I had already had two children (both C-sections) and things like wearing the bikini just lost the importance it once held.
Now, if only my butt were smaller. Report
I'm not thrilled with my upper thighs, but they get me where I need to go.

One thing that helped me get over my body consciousness (especially when wearing a bathing suit) was taking up scuba diving. Despite the promotional materials for scuba courses, no one looks good when they dive. You've got lines on your face, straggly hair, seaweed and sand lodged in weird spots, goose bumps and probably a bit of snot coming out of your nose. What's important is what your body can do - and the magical underwater world it takes you to. Report
Thanks to SparkPeople, I've lost around 35#s in the last 14 months and gone from size 18 jeans to size 12. My class' 3x3 strength training challenge has helped firm up my hips, thighs, arms & shoulders, but I still have that little "apron" that, while smaller, doesn't want to disappear completely. Still at 67, the old bod doesn't look all that bad. Report
Awesome post!! The belly is my least favorite body part too. I need to come to terms with mine.
I would love to see that pic! You should totally post it! Report
Thank you for writing this post. You could have been describing the last 5+ years of my life. I lost 50 lbs (kept most of it off), started running and working out regularly, riding my bike to work (13 miles), and completed 2 half-marathons. I'm forever changed, inside and out, from the experience of creating health and wellness for myself. I'm celebrating my 35th birthday this year by running my second half-marathon this year, the Chicago Half Marathon on September 11.

I may never have a perfectly flat stomach, but that's probably because I grew a little human inside my belly a few years ago. :-) I'm just thankful that I can keep up with him! Report
I've never been happy with my stomach and have always hidden it. Even when it was flat it had a bit of pudge. Now that I've had two kids and four abdominal surgeries I take even more issue with it. I do appreciate what strength training does for the way I look (and feel obviously), but the little pooch won't go away without surgery. Looking back I wish I had appreciated what I looked like more.

I hide my thighs too. I've finally embraced my muscular calves though, which is progress for me and I wear knee length skirts on a regular basis.

I can't see baring my thighs or abs at any point in the near future, I'm just too self conscious of them. Report
Funny -- just yesterday I posted a comment in the Spark People Cafe about my frustration with waist measurements and how, despite my 5 days a week at the Y, frequent bike riding, weight training, and an overall healthy diet, my waist just doesn't want to let the "soft stuff" go. Ultimately and truly, I'm really ok with that. My waist is what it is and even though it jiggles a little bit when I do Zumba I'm content! I have seen a lot of healthy changes in my body since I began including regular varied exercise in my life. They happened just because I have been living healthy and having fun. Most important, I am a 7-year leukemia/bone marrow transplant survivor. The fact that I can do what I'm doing, the fact that I feel great, the fact that I'm here to do it all, is a daily reminder that it's all about feeling healthy and joyful. The only time in my life I've ever had a "small" waist was when I was 25 lbs underweight because of my illness and treatment. The little bit of pudge is a testament to the fact that I really made it past all that. SO...I figure if a slightly smaller waist is in my future do to my new healthy life, that will happen in good time too. If it doesn't, no big deal! Report
Good for you! Report
I AM a man who has lost a 163lb and I hate my tummy I work out and eat right and do abs work out
But feel I need to do more still feel fat I wished I could
Be happy with my tummy looking at tummy t
But no money trying not to lose more weight
But I must to get rid of my tummy need help
I needed to read this this morning. THANKS for sharing! Report
I feel like I could have written this exact blog... with the exception of the waterfall, and acceptance you've come to. Hopefully I'll get there soon!

I feel confidence, acceptance, and love for almost every part of my body, but just like you, my belly is the part of me that I STILL don't love (well, like you USED to be!). I'm still working my way through the self-esteem issues I've had for many years (as long as I can remember), and being okay being "real"-- not a six-pack, and having a few jiggly bits here and there. Even at my most fit, I still struggle with self-love.

Thank you for your inspiring story. It's nice to know there is hope with enough nurturing and time. Report
Thank you for this post!!! I just turned 47 and even with 30+ pounds lost I can't seem to lose the little belly pouch. 25 years ago I had such a flat tummy and was in great shape but I didn't appreciate it then. Now, even with toned arms and legs I have still been beating myself up about this and even berating myself about that darned pouch. Well Phooey, I'm done with that. I will be proud of what I have accomplished and continue the good habits. Thank you in reminding me that I can be in good shape, belly pouch and all! Report
I had never been built to wear a bikini that my stomach didn't pooch out of, and that didn't fall off when I went swimming. Even when I hadn't really known how to swim, I did do a vigorous side stroke. Even at age 21, after having dieted/starved down to my "happy weight".

Now I am many decades older. I am looking for functional fitness (that does not have to include a six pack). I do a grimace-worthy amount of pilates, but I am reaping the results in yoga (which is just the start of the story) ... and in my day-to-day agility.

Even at less than 20 pounds overweight, I used to have to use my arms to help rise from sitting in a hard chair. This may not sound like a big deal to some, but as a woman ages, she needs to have some measure of physical independence. Report
I'm not going to expose my tummy for a major reason -- I have an ileostomy. Of course, at age 66, it also sags. Report
I think body acceptance is the final stage of a healthy lifestyle. When you can live in your body and not obsess over its appearance, you're really there. Thanks for sharing with us!

I am wearing a bikini again even though I'm heavier than what I thought was my ideal weight. I am slowly learning to be comfortable with myself no matter what size I am or what parts are less than perfect. I can't even name a part I don't like anymore! Report
I feel the same way! I just can't get this layer off my belly!!! But I keep doing core exercise so, even if I'm not completely defined, at least I know I have this amazingly strong core/center. It just makes me feel good feeling strong. Report
I don't know if I like the phrase "Real women have....", because there aren't any "fake" women. Sometimes when I look at my body I think I would like it to be smaller, but in the end I think I'm beautiful, even if I am obese. No matter what, reaching my goal weight isn't going to make me accept my body image; me having self esteem is going to do that. Report
My body is completely imperfect .and I love it. I'd like some things to be different and I'm working on them. I am overall very healthy and I'm very happy with that. Report
I will celebrate my 57th birthday in less than 2 months, and I, too, have a problem with my belly. I joke about my "stealth fitness"--the strong abs hidden beneath the softness. I would be happier with my body if I could get some of the weight off my waistline, but at an age when many women face the beginnings of osteoporosis, diabetes or hypertension, I am proud of my body for what it can do. Report
21 years and 2 months ago, as I was on the table, gritting my teeth with each staple removal by my OB/Gyn, he suddenly noted and I quote "I see plastic surgery in your future....there is no way this will shrink back naturally. You were stretched too far and your skin is not that elastic." I gasped! But as my 10lb, 22 1/2 inch, extremely happy and healthy, bouncing baby boy grew stronger and happier, I knew the words of my doctor were true.

Even when I got within 5 lbs of my pre-pregnancy weight, my kangaroo pouch remained. Years later when working, raising a family and going to school started to take a toll and I gained more pounds than I want to mention, the pouch became even more prominent. Today, even as I've taken up running and eating a much healthier diet, I still have to wear a size larger slacks/shorts or skirt than my weight would indicate, to accomodate the pouch. After someone asked me how far along I was, I took to wearing Spanx, even in the summer!

So there is NO WAY I will ever sport a bikini! Though now that I'm training for a triathlon, I am wearing a very modest swimsuit, something I haven't done in over 20 years. Report
I tend to despise my thighs. Most of my skirts will come down to my knees and I never wear shorts unless I'm in my apartment. Even in high school they were the most unflattering part of my because while the fat on them was a pretty healthy amount, the muscle beneath them was huge! Now it seems like they're the same size with the opposite problem. Report
Like you, I'm not a fan of my stomach. While I'd love to be able to wear a bikini, that ain't happening. Years of yo-yo dieting have left my stomach with stretch marks that look like the Amazon delta from the air. I also have sagging skin that didn't pop back. As a result, there is no way I'm wearing a bikini. One piece, yes. maybe even boy shorts and a top, but no bikini. It wouldn't be a pretty sight even IF I didn't care what other people thought.

Anyway, could I have cosmetic surgery ? Sure, but you know, well fitted clothes can solve all sorts of "flaws". LOL !!!

These days, while I may not be able to rock a bikini, there are things I can do with my body that I certainly couldn't do when I was 25 years younger. I can turn out over 100 military style push ups without blinking an eye or gasping for air. Like you, I'm healthy inside and out even though I have stretch marks.

For some people, wearing a bikini is a mark of success. For me, being able to do pushups or some yoga poses is my mark of success.

Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.