Resolute in body acceptance

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

They tend to be too general. Make time for friends. Read more books. Lose weight. And in my experience generalized goals don’t work. With resolutions, goals — whatever you call it — you have to be specific. Run a 5K by March. Read at least one new book a month. Lose 10 pounds by [fill in the date]. But even when you are specific you still have to have a plan of action, hold yourself accountable, have a contingency for set-backs… or basically all the things that stand in your way to realizing your goal in the first place. If it were easy, you’d already be doing it. Beyond that, I believe that if you want to change something about your life, you should start right now. Today. Carpe Diem!

But how to escape the inevitable January diet-crazy media onslaught? Commercials, magazines, internet banners, end-caps at the grocery store… even if you are not on a diet, it’s everywhere you look! And if you are not on a diet yourself, chances are you know someone who is on a diet right now.

No wonder everybody hates January!

But as I approached the New Year I asked myself what I hope to see in my life in 2011. I am really looking forward to all the adventures to come with my baby girl! As I’ve shared before, I am looking forward to running again and committing to some 5Ks before summer. It’s already been really fun to take the girl out in the stroller for some walks around the neighborhood!

And as she grows and takes in more of the world, I feel its even more important to start modeling the positive body image I want her to have. I am her first guide to what it means to be a woman, after all. And I don’t want her to get loaded down with all the bullshit, fat-talk and other destructive behavior we put on girls. So, it’s gotta start with me. And that means — deep breath — I have to love myself. Right now. Just the way I am.

I don’t know which is harder, childbirth or body acceptance at the age of 34.

Luckily, I’ve got posts like this one from BlogHer’s Own Your Beauty to help me get going in the right direction. In the piece, 40-year-old JLgoesVegan talks about the ways she’s challenging what she thought made her beautiful. She let her hair go gray after 20 years of coloring it. And the marathoner and triathlete let go of her so-called “happy weight” which kept her perpetually dieting and depriving herself for more than 20 years. (PS: How much does it suck that even a marathon runner has fat and body acceptance issues?) In fact, JL says that instead of dieting this January, she bought new clothes to fit the body she has.

All of these years I’ve been asking myself the wrong questions. Instead of asking “How did I gain this weight?” and “What did I do wrong?” I should have simply asked “Why do you keep trying to get to a weight that you cannot maintain?” Maybe happy is right now, this 8 – 10 pound increase that I experience, and maintain, each year? Or perhaps happy isn’t attached to a number?

It’s January. People are dieting. I am not.

I really, really appreciate this post. I appreciate JL’s honesty. I relate to her struggle. And I, too, want to challenge myself to accept who I am. Maybe now at the age of 34 it’s time for me to embrace that, yes, I will wear glasses for the rest of my life. That my hair is going gray and it’s just not worth crying about.  And, yes, this body of mine has gone through pregnancy and that will leave a lasting impact on the size and shape of things no matter what I do. (Oh, the stretchmarks!)

Like JL, I think this does not mean that we should abandon healthy habits, healthy eating and healthy exercise. I am doing all those things. I want to be and feel healthy. I want to be strong for my baby (and to have the stamina to chase after her on 4 hours sleep). And I want to show my daughter that food is not the enemy. Exercise and the great outdoors are fun and exciting. And that, yes, we are all beautiful in our own ways regardless of what any magazine or movie tells us.

Most of all, I don’t want it to take her 34 or 40 or 60 years to love herself. If that’s a resolution, then that’s one I aim to keep for now and always.

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9 comments

  1. Excellent resolution! Stretchmarks are the devil. I have not ever seriously considered plastic surgery even at my biggest weight. But now the extra skin/stretch mark situation on the lower belly is reallybothering me. I have a good workout schedule going and am eating relatively well. Not giving up the tasty chocolate treats for a pound less of body fat. I want to enjoy myself! All things considered am pretty happy with my body except the extra stretched out skin. Do I need to work more on my body acceptance or is it ok to treat that icky skin like a hairy mole and remove it if i dont want it?

  2. […] pregnancy and child-birth. It is changed by breastfeeding. It is changed by aging and gravity. But I want to model positive self-esteem and body image for my daughter and I can’t do that if I am saying one thing but doing another. I can’t tell her that […]

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