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Letting go of your “best” body

Good morning! My gym was closed today because of a water break so I don’t have any workouts to share yet. I may try and find a yoga class after work to attend, though, so I can keep up with my new year goal of taking yoga once a week. Since I don’t have the usual subjects to discuss, I thought I’d talk about the expectations many of us set for our bodies. There’s always a point in our lives where we feel like we’re at our thinnest/fittest/healthiest and any time we stray from that it can bring on feelings of guilt.

A couple nights ago, when my friend Danielle was over, we got to talking about exercising and eating. She works out regularly, but she was lamenting the fact that she was heavier than when she was at her fittest. She didn’t feel all that bad about it, but wasn’t sure how to feel if she didn’t strive for the kind of body she used to have. We went back and forth talking and I told her something I hadn’t really realized until recently: I’m totally fine with my body the way it is.

I’ve been fitter than I am now. When I was in college, I was in a dance studio 5 days a week. I could look at my body in a leotard and tights and be happy with what I saw. In a ballet studio, having the flattest stomach in the room was just as important as having perfect balance during turns. Years later, I’m still in great shape, but I often wonder if my body will ever be as toned as it used to be. Stepping on a scale and pulling out the measuring tape have got me thinking and I thought I’d share my thoughts on having (or not having) your “perfect” body:

1) I may never have the body I had when I was 20 years old, and I’m ok with that. I’m almost 30 and I’m learning that people’s bodies naturally change over time. I used to weigh 15 lbs less than I do now, and yet I’m wearing many of the same exact clothes! More proof that a number on the scale doesn’t really mean anything.

2) I like grabbing a mid-day chocolate scone more than I like being super skinny. My health isn’t suffering, I’m not overweight, and I work out regularly. I’m eating the damn scone.

3) The only person who notices the maybe 1/2 inch difference in my waist is me. My husband certainly doesn’t notice or care and the slight changes in my body are noticeable only to me, especially since I’m wearing the same clothes. If this started to creep up to the point that my clothes weren’t fitting it might be a different story. But the tiny differences that only I notice just aren’t worth stressing over.

4) The things I’d have to do in order to get my 20-year-old body just aren’t worth it anymore. I can have pancake-flat abs, but I’d have to give up wine, sweets, and bread. Not worth it!

5) My happiness isn’t tied to having a certain waist circumference or a number on the scale. I feel good about myself because of what my body can do, such as running intervals or lifting heavier weights than I did last week.

I’ve generally always been pretty confident in my body, mostly because I know I work hard for it. I’m also lucky enough that I’ve never really struggled with my weight and I’ve always stayed active. Every now and then, however, that little voice in my head would question my choices: “should you really be dipping your bread in the olive oil?”, “If you skipped dessert and give up sweets, you’d probably have flatter abs,” “You should really do 10 more minutes of cardio so you don’t feel guilty.”

I rarely listen to that voice, but I was definitely tired of hearing it. Over the last year or so especially, that voice has gotten quieter and quieter. I feel so much more relief from knowing that yes, I’ll be completely fine if I’m not as toned or thin as I once was. I’ll keep eating healthy, working out, and living my life without worrying about unrealistic expectations. There was a time where I might have put those expectations on myself, but lately I’ve just naturally let them go. And it feels awesome to realize that!

Do you find yourself putting expectations on yourself that are unrealistic?

How has your view of your “best” body changed over time?

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Letting go of your “best” body

  1. Yea I do find myself doing this from time to time but I think we all do a little bit, the media makes us think we need the perfect abs, legs, hair, basically the perfect everything. My perfect body image in my mind has changed in high school and beginning of college I thought I needed to be super skinny and thin and now I want to be healthy and have muscles and look fit.

  2. I JUST blogged about this same topic! Reading the People “Half their Size” issue and feeling crappy because I was “fatter” than those people. I’ve been fatter, I’ve been thinner, but I’ve never been happier and that’s what matters. And if that means I trade being a few pounds heavier for the ability to have a few of my favorite foods, I’ll take that trade. Now pass the wine.

  3. This is SUCH a good post! I have finally come to terms that I will never look like I did when I was 18 and you know what? That’s a good thing! I take pride in my curves. Also I have so many more commitments now than I had then. Going to the gym everyday and eating perfectly healthy just isn’t an option anymore. I drive way more satisfaction from all the other things I do in life that having my “perfect” body just doesn’t concern me anymore.

  4. I like #2- I’m eating the damn scone! haha. Well said, my dear.

    I can completely relate to this post and love the message behind it. No one can maintain a 20 year old body for an eternity, no matter how much you workout. Learning to love and accept your body is the key to happiness!

    p.s. love the new look! 🙂

  5. I am actually thinner and fitter now than I ever have been — I was heavier in high school, and far less active. While my inner voice is still fairly loud at certain times, lately it’s been quieting down a bit. At this point, even if I’m not stick thin, I KNOW that I am strong — and that alone is very empowering, knowing I can lift heavy things and that I am treating my body well. You only get one body, and you can’t go your entire life hating the vehicle that allows you to walk around, breaths for you, and heals you. Our bodies are amazing things, and it’s pretty incredible how they still keep functioning even if we don’t appreciate them.

    Would I like to have a super flat stomach and be totally lean like a fitness model? Of course! They look great. The nice thing about those types of bodies is that you have to work for it, you can’t buy it or just be “blessed.” I would like to do it just to see if I can achieve that, because I enjoy working hard for things and looking great. Do I need to maintain it forever? No, because I too love sweets and bread. But I will continue to give myself the best body I can using healthy ways to do so. If I get that flat stomach and 6 pack abs, great, if not, that’s ok too. I just want to be healthy 🙂

  6. Kelly, this was an amazing post and I love your thoughts on this- It is so refreshing to read about your comparisons and how positive they are- instead of self judgement you are embracing the body’s natural changing process with age and accepting things which don’t need to be changed!

    I often have unrealistic expectations or rather, difficult to maintain expectations for my body but working on overcoming those- a decrease in life’s happiness is NOT worth it!

  7. Loving this post, lady! I’ve definitely been thinner and fitter than I am now, but if I’m being completely honest with myself… I was also unhappier. Constantly worrying about numbers and stressing about what I was eating took a huge toll on my happiness, and having to always tell myself no to things I genuinely enjoyed eating had the same effect. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that none of that mattered, but I don’t think I would have listened — it’s one of those things that people have to discover on their own, and I definitely think that getting older helps a lot.

  8. Great post! I’m a little heavier than I would like, but man do I love my donuts and I’m never giving those up. In reality, I should do a bit more working out and eating healthy, but I’m working on it!

  9. What a GREAT post. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t always been the easiest watching my body change – to see definition fade & more curves to take place, but I think that day I came to my senses that I’m still beautiful, and my husand will always love me no matter my shape or size was one of the most rewarding days of my life. ❤

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  11. Great post! I think that we all struggle at some point! With so many ads about what the perfect body is, the pressure is upon us. Of course is our choice!! I do deal with it, but I’ve learn that what matter the most is not a number, but to be healthy! Strive for health not for thin!

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