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?