It’s March and spring is just around the corner. Here in Texas we’ve already had a few days of 70 degree weather so you guys up north may not have Spring on your radar like I do. Trust me though, it’s on it’s way. And with spring comes the panic over those New Year’s health goals that most of us forgot around 4 or 5 weeks ago. It just seems wrong to me that one of the most beautiful times of the year is marred by one of the most stressful times of the year.
Swimsuit shopping season.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what size you are, most of us hate trying on swimsuits. At least most women. No matter how hard I try, it never fails that my body decides it needs some extra insulation during the colder months. I don’t mean to complain. I’m grateful that an active life has left me healthy and in pretty good shape after all these years, but, I’m also 50. Which means those extra pounds haven’t been going anywhere for the last few years like they did when I was younger. I didn’t worry in my 30s and early 40s when March rolled around because I’d drop 5 or 10 pounds without too much hassle. Not anymore! Those 10 pounds seem to have no intention of going anywhere. And I have to say…I hate it. Regardless of whether others think it’s logical or not, the emotional toll many of us feel around this time of year isn’t as welcome as the beautiful spring days we anticipate.
Why is it such a toll? Why do we feel like we should look a certain way? Worse yet, why do we put an expectation on ourselves to look the same way we did 20 years ago? Some of us are actually stronger or thinner than we were in our younger years but many of us carry around a photo of our “teenage self” plastered on the walls of our brain and it’s impossible to live up to.
I’m not saying we should justify being unhealthy. Contentment and pride about being overweight is as self-destructive as obsession and pride about being anorexic. What I am saying is…love yourself right where you’re at, eat a clean and healthy diet, don’t over eat but don’t starve yourself, keep your heart healthy through exercise, find joy in your relationships and in the things you invest your time in and appreciate the diverse beauty that God has made in His daughters.
I follow Erin Motz at “Bad Yogi”. The main reason I follow Erin is because she’s real and she encourages her followers to be real as well. She expresses this idea of being content and healthy in her new fitness/yoga program, “Perfect Body”, by saying, “The perfect body is the healthiest version of the body you’ve been given.” Simple, yet true, don’t you think? Find people who know about health, do what they suggest and then be at peace with the body that emerges from those healthy habits. At whatever age you’re at.
Here’s the reality: human bodies are living organisms and they are always changing. During those years that I look back on with longing, I never had a single curve. In fact, one of my “stellar” boyfriends told me I had the body of a teenage boy. (He was a keeper) So, now that I actually have a few curves, why do I scrutinize them because they may not be where I want them? My capacity to be discontent and negative is staggering but I don’t think I’m alone in that. We’re bombarded by varying images and opinions of how a woman should look: skinny, strong, tall, athletic, endowed with a big butt, or big boobs or no boobs, freakishly flawless skin, spider-like eyelashes, thick flowing hair, and on and on it goes. There are definitely more diverse images of “beauty” out there today than when I was young but I question why we are judging ourselves at all.
Comparison (whether to my past self or to someone else) is the enemy to contentment and joy. It’s a difficult paradigm shift to decide that uniqueness is more beautiful than conformity but I think it’s worth the effort. With all this in mind, here are a few tips for living this kind of lifestyle.
- Eating is essential but focus on fruits, vegetables and protein. Avoid processed foods, fast foods and sugar as much as possible. (Side note. Some fruits are higher in sugar than others such as strawberries, bananas and apples. Eat these in moderation and chow down on the berries. A side benefit to this clean eating is that it minimizes the effects or risk of depression, menopause, heart disease, cancer and many other common ailments.)
- Your body was created to move. Find varied and enjoyable activities to do daily. 3 or 4 times a week, break a sweat. (Body weight Hitt workouts can be found online and are perfect, and quick, to do at home.)
- Water is a necessity. Drink all day. 🙂
- Sleep, or lack of it, will mess us up. Seriously. Even if we don’t feel like it, we need at least 6 hours a night regularly. (Many need 8.)
- We have the freedom to make choices but those choices have consequences. (IE – If I want my wine every night, I need to be okay with the consequences. If I’m not willing to completely give up chocolate at 50, that means something as well. Probably that I’m happier and 5 pounds heavier.)
- Your size and shape is unique, so stop comparing. Your age makes a difference, so stop remembering. Confidence is beautiful, so change the negativity.
There ya have it. My goal for this swimsuit season is not to look hot in a new polka dot bikini but to feel beautiful in my own skin no matter what I’m wearing.
My hope is that you can set some goals yourself. Goals that are encouraging instead of discouraging. Goals that send you down the path of positive and healthy changes instead of negative and damaging ones. Goals that reflect a joyful, content and beautiful woman to the world. Lord knows we need more examples of that.
So, shake off the worry and jump back on if you’ve fallen off the health wagon. With spring on its’ way and hope for sunny days ahead, don’t you think it’s time that our self-confidence follows suit? After all, as the bastion of beauty says (insert sarcasm) “You’re worth it.”
By the way, post a picture of your confident and beautiful self in the comments. I’d love to see hundreds of strong, healthy and gorgeous women taking up the challenge to find peace in their own skin.
Love and Spring to y’all.