Is it time to make peace with your body?

If you spend any amount of time with me – in person or even online – you will very quickly find out that I am very passionate about health, and more specifically how it pertains to body image, fat loss, and lifestyle.

I refer to my own experiences a lot when I discuss weight loss and the correlation to mindset, body image, and overall health. I am fortunate to be in a position of having fought these challenges over a long period of time – and experiencing many points on the spectrum of body change – and now coming to a place of health, balance, and education that I can now use to help others as a professional.

This was me just over 6 years ago, when I was trying to achieve a number on the scale - I was MISERABLE in this photo because I did not feel "good enough".
This was me just over 6 years ago, when I was trying to achieve a number on the scale – I was MISERABLE in this photo because I did not feel “good enough”.

Like I mentioned, I have run my body through many extremes over the years. I have been a dieting teenager. I have put on weight in college from an unhealthy diet and no physical activity. I have lost so much weight from restrictive eating that my body shrank down to 90 lbs. I have been through 3 pregnancies, when I was already overweight and gained about 35 lbs each time (I’m only 5’2″). I have lost weight, gotten “skinny” and then gained the weight back because I ate my emotions due to stress or depression (this happened more times than I’d like to admit). I have been super-fit, relatively lean, and athletic and have been among the top finishers in road races for my age group. I even defied everything I thought I could never be and competed (on stage in a tiny bikini) in not one, but two figure bodybuilding shows at age 36 and 38. I have done the work, dialed in my diet, and ended up with an unhealthy metabolism that required just as much work to “fix” as it did to break. I have learned to hang on when I could have given up. I have witnessed many extremes on the spectrum, and now stand here at my happiest, healthiest, most educated and balanced state EVER. 

 

This was me in 2011, the week before my first figure show at about 114 lbs. This is NOT my normal, natural look. This was hard work and a life that was solely focused for MANY months on strict diet and exercise.
This was me in 2011, the week before my first figure show at about 114 lbs. This is NOT my normal, natural look. This was hard work and a life that was solely focused for MANY months on strict diet and exercise.

In other words, I’ve been around the weight loss block a few times and I have not only survived, but I learned how to THRIVE.

So what has all this taught me?
It has taught me that I am not a better person if I weigh 90 lbs than if I am 125 lbs or 140 lbs.
In fact, my weight has nothing to do with anything. Chasing an arbitrary number has done me more harm than good. What I have learned is that CHOICES make the difference to becoming healthy, slim, and fit. The pursuit of the number on the scale or the tags of my clothes generally has led to messed up body image and constant dissatisfaction – that unhealthy mental state also led me to partake in unhealthy dieting practices, which led to an unhealthy, damaged body.

All of this has fueled my passion for helping other women see past the external and seek the internal. 

Because – I have learned that *skinny* doesn’t equal happiness or health. Hey, I would be the first to admit that if I could be one of those women who has long, slender legs (I am only 5’2″ with a 27.5″ inseam) or I could rely on sporting a lean midsection at all times without resorting to measures of torture – then I would be okay with that!

But, I have learned (the hard way) that not all of us are built or hard-wired to look like that. AND THAT’S OKAY!!

For me to get – and stay – fairly lean (aka get rid of all the fat from all the places I don’t want it, even though it seems to like it there), I have to live and behave in a way that is not natural or even pleasant for me. It means that I have to put my food, my physical training, and my focus on my body before my family and friends, and give up a healthy, happy balance to my life.

This doesn’t mean that I choose to not care or live in an unhealthy way as a result.

The exact opposite, actually. I get to choose to eat an abundance of nourishing foods that completely satisfy me – body, mind, and spirit. Giving myself proper nourishment makes my brain healthy which means I no longer suffer from depression (which I did for so long) and I get to be stronger and more physically fit than ever. Like I said, it is about how and why I make the choices I make.

I eat to LIVE a good life.

I no longer find myself abusing food. My balance is about wanting to feel my best, not about how much I can get away with for “enjoyment”. So my balance involves the things that nourish my body, but also includes things that nourish me in other ways, like wine with my husband or treats with my kids – they aren’t my downfall or my roadblock….they just allow me to live my life without harmful extremes or unnecessary anxieties.

I love to exercise (most of the time)…but the key is keeping it real. I used to just think in terms of more, more, more must be better. What I didn’t understand at the time was that sometimes too much can be just as detrimental as not enough. One example: When you stop getting your period for six months to a year, this is not normal. All that “healthy” exercise can become unhealthy and your hormonal state will let you know. Crazy that this happened on and off for me over a number of years and I never really thought much of it. However, that is one of the “alarm bells” that goes off when your body is entering “survival” mode because of too much output and not enough input – or if your body gets too low on body fat (this will be different for everyone, and my body likes it better when I have a *sufficient* amount of fat on it LOL).

This brings me to another point: there are no “rules” for what your body should look like or what your “ideal” weight or pants size should be.

There’s a difference between:
– the need to lose weight for better general health, especially if you have a significant amount of dangerous body fat – compared to assuming you need to lose weight to fit into a smaller pair of jeans or get a better standing on the BMI chart.
– calling yourself “fat” when really what you need is to find your HEALTH.
– creating unrealistic expectations for what you want the aesthetics of your body to look like and doing “whatever it takes” to get there – as compared to finding acceptance about your own UNIQUE self and what balanced and healthy looks like for YOU.

This is me in March 2013, about 25 lbs heavier than the pre-contest photo above. I am much happier with my life here - eating healthy, not restrictively. My life is balanced and I do not concern myself with a number on the scale.
This is me in March 2013, about 25 lbs heavier than the pre-contest photo above. I am much happier with my life here – eating healthy, not restrictively. My life is balanced and I do not concern myself with a number on the scale.

The answer to weight loss isn’t always simply finding ways to become skinnier.

I’m not saying that weight loss isn’t a good thing for those who have a significant amount of harmful body fat. But what I am saying is that there are also many people who are destroying their health with the notion that simply “losing 20-25 lbs” will make them healthier, more attractive, and will solve their problems. It won’t.

Your body’s happy place involves much more than what it looks like on the outside or how much exercise you do or how little food you can get away with. Your body is the WHOLE package – and it is the vehicle you will use to travel through life for as long as you are blessed to have it.

I have learned that I am who I AM right now. There is no prize to chase; I am experiencing it everyday by the choices I make and the perspectives I choose to seek. My body is what is right now, for better or worse. It was what it was and will be what it will be.

It’s not a race and it’s not a competition.

You are YOU right now – you CAN choose to “do it better everyday” whether you are in a smaller size jeans or not. You can choose better health and a better reality – and not judge yourself (or your progress) by how much you weigh.

The *perfect* you is not found, wrapped up in a size 2 or achieved with a 20 pound weight loss. Your “perfection” is constantly being unwrapped everyday – if you SEEK it and LIVE it 🙂 
If you are interested in finding NOURISHMENT for your body instead of another diet, then please check out my healthy fat loss nutrition program – The Girlfriend’s Guide to Fat Loss Nutrition

This is 30-page ebook that gives you the foundation for balanced eating and mindset, along with the opportunity for FREE group coaching support.

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