Do you ever feel like if you could just get to that goal weight, or that “ideal” body size, then you would finally be happy? If you could just get that perfect body, then you would finally go after your dreams and start living your life?
I know I’m not alone in this idea as the media does a really good job at showing us photos of skinny girls having fun, getting the cute guys and making lots of money.
Diet culture is a billion dollar industry for a reason: because they know how to get us emotionally invested in weight-loss.
I fell prey to this tactic and still find myself looking in the mirror and trying to change my body. But then I have to ask myself “why do I want to change my body?” Is it because I’ll feel better if I lose those love handles, or people will like me more and believe in me if my butt was just a little bigger or my abs were just a little flatter? Maybe…. but maybe not.
I know from years and years of experience manipulating my body through strict dieting and excessive exercising that I had days where I would look in the mirror and feel great and like I could conquer the world. But I also have days where I look in the mirror and hate everything about my body. I think most of us have those days regardless of our weight, our fitness level or appearance.
The truth of the matter is that controlling your body through strict dieting and religious exercising really takes the joy out of your life. How happy could you possibly be when all you are focused on is how you look, what you are going to eat next, how many calories are in it, and how you are going to work it off tomorrow? Honestly, it’s just not worth the tradeoff.
Now that I am becoming more comfortable in my body postpartum and at its natural “set point” rather than the one the media is telling me it should be, I am happier overall than I ever was when I was super “fit”:
- Instead of planning my every meal and knowing exactly how many calories are in it, I now decide what I’m going to eat once I become hungry.
- Instead of getting up early to go to the gym or go for a run, I prioritize sleep and do my best to get 8 hours of sleep each night (baby-dependent). I workout when I feel like working out and try to do something active for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise has become something I look forward to now instead of something I dread.
- When going out for dinner, instead of always ordering the salad or the meal with the least amount of calories on the menu, I order what I’m in the mood for. Going out for dinner has become a lot less stressful and a lot more fun.
- Instead of ditching friends and outings because I think I look “fat” or “I have nothing to wear”, I focus less on appearances and more on deeper connections and great conversations.
- Instead of putting so much pressure on myself to look a certain way, I am working on sharing my experience with others who might feel the same way and to keep myself accountable to not going back to my old ways.
- Instead of looking at myself in the mirror each day and tearing my body apart, I look at what parts I love and the amazing things it does for me each day. (Like growing a baby, and allowing me to exist!)
To be totally honest, I did have days that I felt awesome being so thin, and I’m sure my appearance helped me attract men and certain opportunities but I wasn’t happy; food, exercise and my appearance consumed my every thought.
Since I’ve stopped trying to control my body, I have WAY more days that I feel awesome and I am much more confident than I was before.
Being confident in yourself is attractive, regardless of your appearance.
(I mean, have you watched I Feel Pretty with Amy Schumer yet!? ;p)
I have the wisdom now to know that my determination and hard work is what got me to where I am today, and it had nothing to do with how I looked.
So if you are struggling with your body image, know that every woman is also struggling or had at some point in their lives. It’s unfortunate that society and the media have made us believe that so much of our worth is based on our appearance and an unrealistic “ideal” body, but it simply isn’t true.
Even when I was at my thinnest, I had days where I hated myself and I thought I would be happier, prettier and more successful if I just got thinner. That I would finally be worthy if I just got to this size or this weight…
Well, I’m sure you can guess that this cycle never ended. And quite frankly, it sounds ridiculous as I am typing it.
Take this advice from someone who spent the better part of her 20s chasing the “perfect body”: You will never be happy or satisfied with yourself or your body when you are coming from a place of control. As humans we make mistakes, we can’t be perfect 24/7. And trying to chase perfection that doesn’t exist is not worth wasting your life over.
So be kind to your body.
Be kind to yourself.
Try and see all the good in what you have right now, in the body you have right now and as the person you are right now.