Accepting a changing body

Today I’m talking body image with a changing body.

I’ve tried writing this post several times. It’s not an easy topic.

You see, I’ve noticed my body change over the last several months. I’ve gained weight. I notice that I’m softer in my arms, face, booty, belly, etc. I feel the change and I see the change.

There isn’t a single reason for the weight gain, it’s likely a combination of things, like how I no longer take an antidepressant (weight gain is a common side effect of stopping the one I was on), working at a bakery over the summer, being more social, changing hormones, having less time to prep food, etc. I remember hearing from a previous therapist that a woman’s body will go through many changes throughout her life and I guess this is me seeing one of those changes right now.

To be clear, I haven’t propelled myself to an unhealthy weight, but as we know, we typically notice the small changes in our bodies that others wouldn’t normally notice. Apart from a few select individuals, no one’s commented on my weight gain and the few that have had said so in a way to insinuate it’s a good thing. (Whether or not it’s okay to comment on another person’s body is a whole other subject, but in short say, don’t!)

Anyways, I’ve been wanting to write on how I’ve dealt with the changes, since it was something I mentioned in a previous post. However, the truth is, I can’t write out a list of the steps I took to come to terms with my changing body. It happened less mechanically than that. The need to accept my body became a harsh reality rather than a goal.

Reflecting on the time I spent questioning whether or not I should try to alter body made me realize how much time I was wasting and how much brain space I was stealing. I thought about the women in my life who constantly related back to their former bodies and how they yearned to return to that. I knew, I did not want to be that way.

I discovered that we can hang on tightly to an image of ourselves believing that we can return to, accomplish, or maintain that image OR we can choose to live in peace with our bodies. 

^The way that I’ve decided to handle my changing body is to daily make peace with it.

Have you ever heard the phrase “vanity weight”? As in, the weight that one feels the need to lose, not for purposes of better health, but for purposes of looking more attractive or feeling more confident. It’s also commonly called the “5 extra pounds.”

(source)

For most people at a healthy weight, intentionally losing 5 pounds will not bring more happiness, but instead heightened anxieties. From my past experience, when I tried to maintain a weight lower than my set point, I was constantly worried about the food I ate and the exercise I did. It was work to maintain that weight because my body didn’t naturally like being there. It left no room for living, which means it wasn’t a true healthy lifestyle at all. With time, I realized that instead of maintaining a weight my body didn’t like, I could simply eat a diet consisting of 80% whole, nutritious foods and 20% more indulgent foods and exercise 4-5 times a week and only be 5 pounds more, still well within a healthy weight. Do you see how the term “vanity weight” really fits here? If you are focused on the 5 extra pounds, your focus in life becomes mighty narrow.

Today we can choose to accept our bodies no matter what they look like. If your body is going through changes, you don’t have to fight them. Living a meaningful life, nourishing yourself with good nutrition, exercising in a way that gives you energy, and managing your sleep and stress are all things that you can focus on rather than your body. The body is your house, don’t forget to live in it.

Older posts on this topic: Stop Waiting to Love Your Body & On the Pressure for Beauty

Today I’m linking up with Thinking out Loud.

Please share your thoughts- have you experienced changes in your body? How did you deal with them?

45 thoughts on “Accepting a changing body

  1. “I discovered that we can hang on tightly to an image of ourselves believing that we can return to, accomplish, or maintain that image OR we can choose to live in peace with our bodies.”

    This couldn’t have resonated with me more. Between moving, working my full time job, and training at Olive garden my exercise has fallen to the wayside and most dinners are Olive garden dinners. I can tell a difference and I keep telling myself I can “get back to where I was”. When in reality I am better off accepting where I am, and knowing that I’ll be able to get back into exercising and eating better when my life is ready for it.
    Laura recently posted…Time to be HonestMy Profile

  2. This is a great post, Kate! I noticed changes when my job changed. I used to be very active on my feet in childcare all day. Now I sit most of the day at a desk. I know that I’m doing my best and that I’m at a healthy weight, but it can be tough not to have that vanity weight feeling!
    Also, you look absolutely beautiful in that top photo!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…TOL: 10 Favorite Halloween MoviesMy Profile

  3. Sometimes change is good! We can’t always look like our teenage selves or else we would be some weird looking adults ;p.
    You have a wonderful message here, it’s funny because what I’m most scared about is the body after pregnancy. Although we should be proud, I have this fear of having a weird looking stomach and gaining weight I won’t be able to lose.
    Totally irrational since I don’t plan on getting pregnant anytime soon, but that’s my biggest fear when it comes to our body changing!
    Stephanie Leduc recently posted…Easy Lunch Idea: Herb, Beet and Goat Grilled CheeseMy Profile

  4. Change is never easy! What you said about vanity weight is so true – it takes up so much space in our brains where we have to maintain either this perfect style of eating or intense schedule of exercise to stay at that silly number. That’s just not maintainable and it takes away from living our lives. My favorite line of your post: “The body is your house, don’t forget to live in it.”
    Sarah @ BucketListTummy recently posted…What I Ate WednesdayMy Profile

  5. I was also going to say that last line of yours was my favorite. Its perfect.
    One thing I’m really trying to remind myself of daily is how much more brain space and energy I have/will have to spend on other things – things that truly make e happy – when I’m not focusing on food and exercise and body image. We simply can’t focus on controlling our weight AND living a free life at the same time. Thanks for sharing this, Kate.
    Cora recently posted…WIAW: Real Talk. Getting Jacked Up and Letting Anger Take OverMy Profile

  6. Wow! I DEFINITELY needed to read this after a comment that was made to me last night. Thanks for encouraging me to accept the weight gain as necessary and natural. You are right; it is better to live with five extra pounds and no anxiety than to live full of fear.

  7. This is so true! I’ve gotten healthier and gained some weight and even though it’s a good thing I’m still not always used to it. But I know that it’s natural and that I’m wonderfully made by God. You look great by the way (hope you don’t mind me saying!). 😊

  8. Kate, I cannot relate to this post more. I’ve been noticing changes in my body and it, honestly, has been hard to deal with, especially being around some friends and other acquaintances who talk about their bodies/other people’s more often than not. But you are so right- it’s important to not hang on to an image or the thought of your body at a previous point in time, but to embrace the changes. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Sara @ Oats & Rows recently posted…Studio Spotlight: HSM Core – Charlotte, NCMy Profile

  9. “I discovered that we can hang on tightly to an image of ourselves believing that we can return to, accomplish, or maintain that image OR we can choose to live in peace with our bodies. ”

    Amen to that statement girl. That is something that has helped me so much. Also remembering that our bodies are constantly changing just like our lives our constantly changing. Putting pressures on ourselves to look the same will only bring anxiety and stress.
    Lyss recently posted…IIFYM- My opinionsMy Profile

  10. Thanks for sharing, Kate. I can definitely empathize with what you’re saying here; I also have gained some weight over and since the summer. At least, I think so. My pants have been getting a bit tight. And it’s SO easy to overthink it. Like, I’m still a totally healthy weight, but it’s totally that five to ten pounds or so that have so much to do with our ego and how we see ourselves. 🙁
    I remember something a fellow blogger posted–I’m pretty sure it was Kat over at Katalyst Health. She said something along the lines of, “That five extra pounds is your life”–the late night drinks with friends, the spontaneous brownie, the day you stay home from the gym to watch the season premier of your favorite show. What good does it do to become focused on keeping our weight in such a narrow range but then missing out on life’s joys?
    Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar recently posted…WIAW: The Heroes Among UsMy Profile

  11. Thank you SO much for this post! It helps to hear someone else’s perspective on the topic. You are so right that the extra five pounds is not unhealthy; it is the stress of the extra five pounds that is unhealthy. For me, the extra five pounds means not being cold all the time, not being anxious about everything, and hopefully it will mean even more as I get further along in my recovery. Thank you again – it helps so much to know that we’re not the only ones!

  12. This is an awesome post. I think it is something all women can relate to and I love that you shared this because we really need to be reminded that we aren’t alone.
    My body has definitely changed but I’m gonna say it’s for the better too <3
    Megan recently posted…The week in reviewMy Profile

  13. In yoga practice we recognize that holding on to an image of ourselves that no longer fits is detrimental to our forward progress in life. Being present in the moment (and in your skin) is always a healthier (physically and mentally) option. Great reflection and thank you for sharing!
    AmberLynn recently posted…Thigh Gap? – TOLTMy Profile

  14. Thank you for being so transparent! I like how you called it “vanity weight” and addressed how even if one looses this weight it doesn’t really make them feel better. The journey to self acceptance and self love is definitely a process. I think it’s important to also realize that the journey won’t be perfect and we need to be kind to ourselves.
    Sarah recently posted…Self Love or Self Acceptance?My Profile

  15. Thank you! I SO needed this right now. I realize that this post was written from the point of view of someone who is already at a healthy weight, but it is applicable and inspirational to someone still in the weight restoration process.

    1. It definitely is. However, you also have the ability to remind yourself that your body changing is also a sign of your body healing, even if it’s uncomfortable. You aren’t quite there yet. And when you are there, later down the road you will likely see your body change again. And it’s completely okay. Keep fighting friend!

  16. Thank you for sharing, I’m so in that place right now. I’ve gained weight not through doing anything specific, but just a variety of factors & my body naturally changing, which in itself off hard to accept as previously I tried to control my weight even at a healthy weight, so accepting natural changes is difficult. But as much as my vanity would like to drop back to a slightly lower weight, I know I would have to return to being more obsessive about food, which just takes away some freedom to live. But I’m not yet comfortable with my body in its current form. It feels like I’m going round in circles, I don’t like it but I don’t want to change it either. I think it’s about changing the focus away from the self – God loves me as I am, my friends and family love me the size I am, who am I to disagree?

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