I still have much to learn about the way I see myself, but the way I view my body and overall appearance has changed a lot over the years, and I’m very thankful for that.
Here’s some things I wish my younger self would have known.
Don’t Get Caught Up on the Scale
Weight is weird. If I cut out certain foods, I can lose five pounds in three days. If I’m starting my period, I can be up three pounds for no apparent reason. What I weigh in the morning is easily five pounds less than the same night. Not to mention if you build up muscle mass, then you may be smaller but weigh the same or more than before.
The number on a scale can be a tool to understand our body better, but it’s not the only tool. It is most certainly not the most important.
Weight Loss Is a Myth
When you want to lose some weight and then accomplish that feat, it can be quite shocking when your body does not look the same to you. You may look smaller, but the shape may be the same unless you have certain genetics and a strict training regime that helps reshape and tone specific areas. More than once over the years I’ve hit my dream weight to find my body still looks nothing like any woman I see in magazines.
And you know what, that’s okay.
Don’t Worry About Clothing Size
I’ve made this mistake many times. Somehow I thought squeezing myself into a smaller size was better because a smaller clothing size means I’m more “beautiful” (by our cultural standard), even when the smaller size really didn’t fit me well and was unflattering.
But no one can see your size but you, so no one else knows if you’re wearing a 4 or 14. It’s better to wear clothes that make you feel good and fit you well — like where you can breathe when you’re wearing them.
Wear clothes you enjoy today, whatever size you are. Don’t wait.
If keeping certain clothes in your closet that are too small for you brings you stress or sadness, give them away. And if you do eventually become a smaller size, you can enjoy finding some new clothes!
If you don’t have cute clothes that you feel good in and can’t afford a shopping spree, consider buying one piece of clothing a month. I’ve had great luck buying cute clothing pieces at resale shops often for between $2 and $15.
Find Your Own Diet
There couldn’t be more diet ideas out there. It can be really overwhelming. I’ve learned it’s better to educate myself on basic nutrition and then try different ways of eating. I listen to my body about what types of food to eat, and different ways of eating, and that allows me to feel my best.
Just because some people function best without gluten doesn’t mean it’s not good for others. Maybe your body does well with only certain types of dairy products. You may need to eat something first thing in the morning while other people feel better when they wait a few hours. It’s okay that we have unique needs.
Take responsibility for your own health and learn to listen to your unique body. If you need help, get it!
Love Yourself Today
We won’t get to live today again. We can’t change our appearance instantly, so we might as well embrace ourselves where we are. I wasted years wanting to look a certain way in order to be happy with myself. It feels so sad and wasteful to me now.
Okay, maybe we don’t look like that picture we have in our heads of what we “should” look like (which is likely an idea from years of our culture telling us what it believes beauty is, which excludes 99 percent of our population). But what if we look just like we were created to look? What if the famous people who seem to have perfect appearances also have the funds to under go plastic surgeries (they do) and have the money and time to have personal chefs and professional trainers (they do) and have makeup artist and access to the most flattering clothes (they do).
So I’ve found the best option is to embrace and enjoy myself as I am today, while at the same time implementing any consistent changes we need to improve our health (spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, physical).
We can simultaneously appreciate and enjoy where we are today while still working to improve ourselves for the future.
I’ve had times when I worked out hard every day and cooked every meal for myself. I’ve had times where I didn’t work out for a year and ate whatever was available.
Different seasons of life bring different opportunities and challenges. When I had one child, I walked a ton. When I had two kids, I kept walking. But when baby three came, it just became too hard to go on walks. Recently I’ve found that I can walk on our treadmill in the garage after the kids go to bed for 30 minutes, and it makes me feel great.
Sometimes you have the funds to buy all the organic, local food and sometimes you get your nutrients from canned or frozen foods.
All you can do is be flexible and do the best you can in each season. Your best look different at different at times in your life.
It’s okay to silence our cultural expectations and be happy with the way we look no matter what. Be as healthy as you can, be at peace with your body, and love it not just for how it looks, but all it does for you every single day.