Body Thoughts

The weather has been amazing this week. But, as spring rolls in, so do familiar feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness. I suddenly realize I forgot to turn into a swimsuit model over the winter. Again.

I start worrying about cellulite and knee fat and just my current overall softness. Honestly, it’s kinda pissing me off. I feel like giving it all a giant middle finger and moving on. I think I will actually.  

IMG_34492018 was an interesting year for my body. During a season of anxiety and grieving, I lost some weight and gained some weight, lost and gained and lost and gained again until finally, I ended up heavier than I started. Clearly yo-yo dieting isn’t the way to go. Who knew?! It all left me in just a weird place – mentally. And, (maybe because of it – or maybe just because it was time) lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about body image. Mine and everyone else’s. It just seems like we all spend too much time focusing on what we don’t like. I for one am exhausted by it all. I don’t think it all adds up – the standards our society has set and the diet-culture instilled within us … even from an early age. Ugh. Can we just take a step back for a minute? Breathe. Feel. Think. I, for one, kinda hate dieting. Restricting certain foods or most foods, counting calories, really just all of it – leaves me grumpy, hungry, obsessive and unhappy. Like I just traded my joy in for … for what?! A smaller jean size 🤦🏻‍♀️. Now, please don’t take me the wrong way. I’m not trying to climb up on a soapbox and claim that I know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not saying that I won’t ever focus on healthy eating, “clean” eating or eating in a way that makes me feel good, strong and healthy. I’m not saying there’s not a place for health-related elimination (I have Crohn’s, I know).  I’m also not saying that I’ll never try to be thinner ever again, that I won’t feel self-conscious anymore, that I won’t shame myself sometimes. I’m human. You guys. I’m so very, unfortunately, fortunately human. But, I’m working on my mindset. I’m trying to look at it all a bit differently. And, I’ve realized that restrictive dieting isn’t for me. When I’m “following all the rules” on a restriction type diet, I end up fixated on what I can’t have and all that I’m supposed to do or not do. I feel guilt and shame when I can’t seem to keep up or I “cheat”. I over obsess about my body more, not less. I constantly compare. It becomes all I can think about. I can’t do that anymore. I DO NOT WANT to do that anymore. It’s feels like the exact opposite of the freedom promised. It doesn’t feel healthy at all. It just feels like a mental and emotional bully. Yet, it’s so, so tricky, because we’ve been trained so, so well to think that we have to be constantly improving our bodies. We’re sold on an “ideal body”. Here’s what you are supposed to be. Here’s what you should strive for. Oh, and by the way, your body should remain forever ____ (insert ideal body age here). Don’t let it change with age. Heaven forbid. So, where does that leave us? How do we retrain our brains? I’m honestly not sure. But, I’m trying to figure it out. Slowly. It’s a journey.

And, there are a few things that are helping me…

  1. Think about how much our bodies change from ages 1-10. From 10-20. I mean come ON. They change SO much. They change completely. But, they shouldn’t change from 30-40-50-60+!? That doesn’t actually make any sense, does it. Somehow, just considering how dumb that sounds, makes me feel better.
  2. Pay attention to who/what you follow on social media. What are your eyes/brain consuming? Are you following accounts that inspire you or accounts that make you feel less? When I realized that I was following too many women that were super, super tiny and it was leaving me annoyed and frustrated, I slowly started unfollowing. I found that by viewing a variety of bloggers/influencers of all different shapes and sizes, something shifted. If you constantly see different body types styling outfits that you like and speaking encouragement, your brain starts to normalize the fact that all bodies are different.
  3. Pray. Take the focus off yourself and put it back on God. Remember who HE says you are and not who the devil wants you to think you are. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” [1 Cor. 6:19]. Try to accept and appreciate your body, in all its imperfect glory, with humor and grace. If we can find peace with our bodies, maybe we’ll see that who we are in Christ is much more important to our identity than how we look.

We are better than this. We were made for more than this. Let’s figure this out together.

Here are a few of the “body positive” Instagram accounts that I am enjoying right now. Each account is quite different. They each serve a different purpose for me. I love the variety on this little list and I’m happy to share them with you …

@hgoodrichrd

@lovealwaysashleyj

@natalieborton

@maddy_gutierrez

@kristamurias

@ditch_the_diet

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The Post-Baby Body — It’s Okay if You Don’t Love It

40055_1570635430598_6005989_nA few months ago I read an amazing article by We Seek Joy on how “Babies Ruin Bodies.”  I agreed with every beautiful, poetic word that she wrote. I whole heartedly agreed when she said, “My body is full of life.  My body is powerful.  My body made me a mother.” In fact, I wanted to throw a fist in the air and shout, “Yes! Just, YES.” It was just so beautiful and so true.

Yet, for weeks after reading it, an unpleasant truth continued to nag me. I did find the whole experience of pregnancy and labor to be beautiful and amazing and magical. I did. Sort-of. I also found it to be exhausting and painful and kinda awful sometimes too. My body was strong. My body carried and birthed two children. I will forever be so proud of that. Of what I was able to do. The whole experience makes God feel so much closer. It is pure proof of his majestic work. Yet, afterwards, I hated my body. Now. Don’t get all bent out of shape. I wasn’t that hard on myself. I didn’t look in the mirror and continually beat myself up. I had other things to do. Important things. I was a mother. I stopped looking in the mirror. I was proud and I was strong. But, that doesn’t mean I was okay with my body. It’s been 10+ months since A entered this world and I still don’t love my body. I don’t hate it anymore. I’m working on liking it. But, I don’t love it yet either.

And you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay. It is. It’s OKAY. I don’t have to feel bad about that ugly little fact. So what? So I hated my post-baby body. So what?! The naked body in the mirror – it wasn’t mine anyways. It couldn’t be! At first, it was barely even recognizable. I wouldn’t have even been able to choose it as my own in a line-up. It wasn’t me. I felt detached from myself. The way I felt about my body was entirely separate from the way I felt about my babies. Or, even the way I felt about pregnancy and labor. Childbirth is amazing and beautiful. What a woman’s body is capable of, the fact that we carry and birth our children. It’s impressive. We deserve to walk out of that hospital with an itty-bitty baby and the body of a goddess! We do. It should all be opposite, shouldn’t it? We get through it all, give birth, and are rewarded with the best bodies of our lives. Can I get an Amen?! But, that’s not the way it works. And, I’m not one to get hung up on “oh, but that’s not fair…” It is what it is. It might feel like a punishment when you have to diet and fight to get your “old” body back. But, it is what it is. So, I’ve decided, that it’s okay not to love your post-baby body. It’s simply okay. No questions. No guilt. Don’t feel guilty because someone told you that you should be proud. You can be proud and still not love your post-baby body. You can be both. You can be a million different thoughts and emotions. Own it. And then, move on – put one foot in front of the other.

I’ve stopped trying to get my “old” body back. I’m not the same girl as I was back then, so why should I have the same body. I’m not even sure I want the same body. What I do want though, is to look in the mirror and like what I see. Recognize what I see. Feel confident in what I see. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Forward march. I’m getting closer and closer. And, it the meantime, I’m still proud.