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.”
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.
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?