Our bodies are a big topic at the beginning of each new year, with all the diet and fitness businesses trying to sell you on the latest product/program/service that promises to get you, “the body you always wanted.” It’s SO easy to fall prey to the hype, the “quick results,” and the push that your physical size and shape should conform to what the world has decided is ideal for a woman.
I work with all women, and not only that, but I work with a majority of women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby in the past year. Naturally, the topic of the body comes up during our time together, whether that’s a concern over their weight, fitness level, appearance of the abs, and anything in between.
There’s some merit in wanting to get stronger, move our bodies regularly, and be in a place healthwise where we aren’t concerned about blood pressure, diabetes, or other chronic diseases. But here’s what I want you to know: finding freedom and love for your body is sweeter than any pound lost, any size you’ll put on, and any muscle definition you can gain.
How do I know? Because I’ve been there. I’ve tried restricting calories. I’ve tried pushing my body to the point of exhaustion with exercise. I’ve punished it for simply growing and changing, whether it was through pregnancy, postpartum, or another season of life. And though I may have achieved weight loss and a smaller size through this method, it never left me feeling satisfied. It at times left me with pride, and other times it left me feeling disappointed b/c I still didn’t feel like it was good enough. But I never felt contentment. I never felt love toward my body. I certainly didn’t feel freedom in it – instead, I felt like I had to hang onto dear life or all the wheels would fall off again and I’d be back to where I started.
Whether you’re newly postpartum, in early menopause, or somewhere in between, it’s not wrong to want to make some health changes or even weight changes if that’s something you feel might be beneficial to your health. But here are a few pieces of encouragement:
- Don’t conform to what the world says you must look like to be seen as worthy. Your body is good. End of story. You were created GOOD by a Father who crafted you in love. If HE called it good – wonderfully made – then how dare we question the Creator? Knowing WHO made you and WHO you belong to changes our perspective and reminds us that God defines us – not the world. We don’t need to conform to its ideals, and declaring God’s goodness is a radical defiance against the darkness that wants you to believe you’ll never be good enough.
- Choosing to believe your body is good RIGHT NOW is not settling. So often we have trouble believing this b/c we want to shame our bodies into submission. Shame can be a powerful motivator, but it will never lead to long-lasting change. Instead, try kindness. What is the kindest thing you can do for your body today? You reap what you sow. Sow in kindness and you’ll reap kindness. Sow in shame and you’ll continue to reap shame.
- Stop thinking of health as just the physical body. Instead, consider your whole health, b/c they all play together and affect one another. How’s your mental health lately? What about your emotional and spiritual health? If you truly want lasting change, we can’t focus on just one and neglect the others. You are so much more than what is seen on the outside.
- Make KIND choices that you can keep up for a lifetime. Say no to diet culture that puts a timeline on your journey. Say no to fast fixes, gimmicks, and believing that when you reach “XYZ” you’ll have finally arrived. True health is found when we stop trying to “arrive” and instead choose a lifetime of wellness, knowing that we never actually “arrive,” but instead we’re on a journey of living well. Here are some questions to ask yourself?
- What foods fuel me well? What foods help me feel good, keep me full and satisfied, and give me great energy?
- What foods do I enjoy and love? (remember, God created all food and called it GOOD! Some just have different nutritional values and may affect us differently, but that doesn’t mean they have to be off-limits all the time unless you are truly allergic).
- In what ways do I enjoy moving?
- What movement is feasible to fit in my current lifestyle?
- How could I prioritize more sleep?
- Do I currently have any margin or white space in my day?
- How am I doing with my phone and boundaries? What are some ways I could decrease my screen time?
- How am I being intentional to connect with friends/family/people I love and enjoy?
- What am I doing to engage in spiritual practices that renew my mind?
These are just a few I thought of, but there could be plenty more! The goal is to think about health and wellness goals as a lifestyle, not just a quick fix.
Friend – if you’ve been stuck trying to figure out what to do next, try something that you’ve never done – making peace with your body. Your body is meant to change through the seasons of life. It’s not supposed to look like it’s 16 forever and ever. This is entirely unrealistic, and yet so many of us are hanging onto those skinny jeans just hoping that someday yet they’ll fit. Toss the jeans – if weight loss comes, you can get a new pair! 😉 But peace with your body is so much better than obsessing over it every single day.
Let’s make 2023 the year we choose kindness. Life is too short to spend each year just hoping we’ll get those skinny jeans back on. Let ‘em go. And find a lifestyle of wellness that leaves you filled with peace, contentment, and joy.
If you’d like accountability, encouragement, and support in this journey, I’d love for you to join us in Level-Up! This is my rehab-meets-fitness membership where we move our bodies together in JOY while working on building strength to enjoy all the things life has for us!