Any beauty therapist, any personal trainer, any cosmetic surgeon will confirm that most of us have that one body part that we just hate.

We’ve been trained to. Think about how many TV commercials you’ve watched, or how many magazine articles you’ve read that encourage you to focus on your “problem areas”. How many products line the shelves, promising to fix the bits of you that supposedly aren’t quite right?

There’s the YouTube video showing you quick makeup tricks to disguise under-eye shadows.

The money machine trying to convince you that there’s something wrong with you.

The magazine cover that promises to divulge the top yoga moves to flatten your stomach.

And so you learn to focus on these perceived imperfections. You adjust your posture to hide your belly, wear sleeves in 100 degree heat to disguise your upper arms, refuse to go to the gym without makeup so no one notices your acne/wrinkles/eyebags.

You stretch, you crunch, you spend a fortune on miracle treatments. You berate yourself, you moan to your friends. You obsess.

Or you try to protect yourself by shutting off from those body parts entirely. Which only seems like the healthier option.

When you deny any area of your body, you deny who you are.

Think of how much time you dedicate to your health. You try to eat right, you meditate, you move your body, and you make as much time for self-care as your busy schedule will allow. Yet if you’re still at war with any part of your body, none of it will work. Even if you’ve decided to disconnect from the bits you hate rather than try to change them with punishing, unhealthy diets or over-exercising, you’re still missing a vital piece of the puzzle.

You’re trying to do healing halfway. And that just doesn’t work.

You cannot have health if you don’t love yourself — your whole self.

The time has come for women and men everywhere to say enough is enough. It’s time to focus on health over appearance. It’s time to focus on what your body does, not what it is.

It’s time to step into your physical presence, your entire physical presence, and own it!

So that lower belly pooch that sticks around no matter how little you eat or how many crunches you attempt — you need to acknowledge it, make friends with it, and grow to love it. Because it’s a part of you. Perhaps it helped you grow your children. Perhaps it’s a gloriously soft part of you that your partner absolutely loves.

Those legs that you think are just too short, that make you totter around in sky-high heels, are perfect as they are. Try to appreciate everything that they do for you. They can carry you up mountains or let you spend hours on the dance floor.

Your not-so-toned upper arms — do they make you a bad friend? Stop you kicking ass in your career? Have any bearing on how strong you are? Not in the slightest. They let you embrace the people you love, carry your children up to bed…

Tell your loved ones how you feel about these “imperfections” and I guarantee you’ll discover they don’t notice your “flaw” or they love it because it’s an essential part of you.

I’m not for a minute saying it’ll be an easy process — but it will be worth it. When you’re finally able to love and accept every part of you, you bring your head, your spirit, your emotions, and your body into alignment. You can listen to, interpret, and act on what your body is telling you. You quiet those crazy-making voices in your head and become able to focus on the things that really matter.

Every single part of your body makes you who you are. And you are pretty awesome. When you begin to connect with your body as a whole, you finally give yourself the opportunity to heal — fully. And isn’t that an incredible gift?