Body Image

Everyone has their own Thanksgiving traditions. Personally, I love watching the Today show before the parade where they tell stories about the do-gooders of the world and the children that overcame illnesses. And then, of course, I love the parade. And don’t get me started on the food!

I spent the last three years as a personal trainer so we always had to do some coaching around Thanksgiving about food. And this year, I haven’t been at the gym very much lately. And when I do go to the gym, I’m working out to maintain where I am, not necessarily to get stronger (which is what I used to focus on).

I made this shift when I realized I used to be obsessed about what I ate and how much I could lift and I looked almost exactly the same as when I let myself off the hook a bit and focused on moderation in all areas.

But I haven’t exactly been moderate in all areas. I’ve been tipping more on the lazy sloth side of things. And I’ve started to notice some changes that I don’t quite like.

And I had some realizations. Maybe you can relate.

1. Healthy body image is a constant battle.

I don’t like the word battle, because I don’t like thinking of the relationship with my body as a war. But what I found is that being ok and accepting of my body is something I need to constantly be aware of. If I am not focusing on it, it is surprisingly easy to start picking at the not-Vogue-cover-perfect parts of my body.

I realized I can start focusing on the cellulite on my thighs, the collections of a little extra fat in some areas…and there I go again. I find I need to remind myself that I am lucky to have a healthy, functioning body. I need to celebrate what I have. It’s awesome, it’s what makes me me.

2. Enjoying my food is more important that being strict about what I eat.

My two-year ago self is shaking my head right now. I was very hard core about what I was eating. I strongly believed that it was the best for me now and long term. But I can’t say I ever really lost that bit of back fat or the small bumps around my hips and thighs (not the bones, the layer of extra fat).  Eating that way was a little exhausting. I had to always prepare, I couldn’t always enjoy what I ate because it was so limited.

So I am a little more relaxed now. I enjoy the day that the Burger Truck parks in front of work- it is a celebrated day that we all enjoy around the office. I try to be conscious about getting lots of fruits and vegetables. And I don’t go too crazy with the junk food. I try to pick fresh food over anything processed or frozen and premade. And I watch my portions.

Besides, some days it is fun to have a treat. Like Thanksgiving. All bets are off. I love pie- all kinds. And I am not saying that casually. I literally LOVE pie. So I eat as much as I want.

Enjoying food is part of what life is all about for me. Appreciate that pizza every once in awhile. Enjoy the treats. And be mindful of the healthy fruits and veggies and proteins and whole grains.

3. No one judges you as harshly as you do.

I think that we all think other people think we look like whales. Or we are just walking around looking to criticize others. And maybe there are people that do that. But I believe most of us have way more going on in our lives besides checking out other people’s bodies (beyond glances of admiration and attraction of course).

I think we spend a long time worried we will look awful naked with our lover or in a bathing suit. But the truth is no one notices. And if they notice, it’s not for more than a moment and then they don’t really care.

So if no one cares about your body, you better care.

But you better care in the way that makes sure you are healthy. Are you eating fruits, veggies, protein, whole grains and healthy fat? Are you drinking lots of water? Are you moving regularly with some kind of exercise?

Yes?  That’s what matters! Screw the rest! Something like 97% of women have cellulite so don’t beat yourself up or waste money on expensive creams or treatments. It’s a part of a womanly body. Let go of the idea that others are judging you, and stop judging yourself.

And most importantly:

4. If you’re not feeling happy about your body or in general, find a way to change it.

Sometimes I don’t feel great about my body. But I usually know the answer is because that treat of ice cream has turned into a daily habit. Or I haven’t been to the gym or a yoga class. I know if I move I feel better. I let go of the harsh thoughts and find a way to accept what is.

It’s like Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.”



One thought on “Body Image

  1. Very well stated…I loved the read. I have been a work out nut, and because of medical issues I am presently focusing on physio and am entirely unable to do what I would call workouts. It is hard because I see the little and not so little changes. I have had my first child about 11 months ago, and I worked my arse off in the gym, the treadmill at home, some weights at home, piles of swimming and walks and got back into shape really fast…shocking myself really. So now to see those little things slip is really hard to take. I watch my food pretty carefully, but I still enjoy what I want in portions. It is really hard to not be harsh on yourself. I don’t know if that critical judgement changes with the level of effort one puts into working out or not, but I do know that when you are used to putting in that effort and aren’t you get upset, or I do, because I know what it takes to get there and maintain it.

    For me I never viewed the regiment as a battle, but as a reward. I put in the effort and felt my energy level was higher than average and became pretty confident in my own skin. The funny thing now is that I feel I still have that confidence, but perhaps diminished energy. I look at myself and say ‘no, I am not entirely happy with my body, but I am still proud of it.’ It doesn’t matter how good of shape I was ever in, I would never be entirely happy with the results, and I think on some level you need that to feed that drive to push yourself…motivation.

    I love working out. I enjoy the process…I love the burn and knowing that I am manipulating mother nature. I love the sense of satisfaction during and after. I love that I can push myself to go a little further and reward myself with something delicious after. It is hard not having a choice on that workout though, but there is one massive benefit…I have learned to focus on so many other things that I am grateful for, and it is a reminder that being in respectable shape is great because there are so many more significant things to focus on that are more important and rewarding! A healthy body is nothing without a healthy and balanced mind 😀

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