Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Body Image

I've put much thought into this topic over the years. Very much thought.

Now that I'm in my thirties, I am happy to be over the stage of life where I compared my body to others' bodies and felt constant inadequacies.  In fact, I feel so strongly about what a waste of time and energy that is, that I wish there was some way to inject that peace of mind I've found into the minds of every teenage girl out there, or inject it into the me of the past.

It is very difficult however, for me to deal with and make peace with the fluctuations of my own body as it compares to itself at different times. I will admit that there is a vain side of my inner self that would be happiest to be a certain size (which I discovered during my second pregnancy when I reached an all-time lowest size that I have yet to replicate), which corresponds to my own body shape and not that of another's.  I will also say that I feel my body frame looks best a certain way, but that it also looks good a little bigger than my particular preferential ideal.  That was a rather nice revelation of mine, that moment where I had gained some weight, but still felt like I looked good.

Because of these feelings, I have often wondered: Why am I dieting? Do I really need to diet? How much should I weigh vs. how much do I want to weigh? etc.

Lately though, I have put all of that questioning to rest because of something I witnessed this year.  Either because of my lifestyle or because of my hormones (or both because doesn't my lifestyle affect my hormones?), I am not able to maintain any certain weight. This means that even though I've had moments this year when I felt like my body looked just fine if unfortunately not perfect, I was in a state of gradual weight gain.  This is what justifies my drive to diet, it is not constantly feeling like my body is hideous and has to be a certain unhealthy perfection, it is to prevent and/or stop weight gain. As I said in my first post, I am prone to extremities in behavior, and as it seems, just in general.  I am in a constant state of either gaining or losing 15-25 lbs, and I'm certain this isn't healthy.

I've been back and forth about what is ok to like about my body and what is ok to want to change about my body.  This is a highly controversial topic, especially in my particular religion where I believe that our bodies are sacred and a gift from God.  On the one hand, if you diet or want to surgically change something, it feels like the vanity card gets played, but on the other, it is deemed irresponsible to not take care of our bodies.

I love my body.  I really do.  I'm not just saying that because we are "supposed" to love our bodies, I do actually love my body.  My body isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I have grown to appreciate my body and love its shape and differences over the years.

I think everyone has to decide for themselves what to do with and for and to his or her own body, and ideally make peace with it at some point in their lives, and I'm pretty sure that looks different for everyone.

I feel like it has been my quest over the last ten years or so to figure out exactly what my body needs to be normal and healthy.  I feel closer than ever before to having those answers, and I really hope that I am there.  Maybe my actions won't be perfectly executed all of the time, maybe there will be mistakes, but I'm desperately hoping that my knowledge on how to keep my body healthy is full or very close to being full.

It is on this point that I feel somewhat defensive.  I've often wondered why it is that we can't seem to stop nitpicking at other's and our own healthy or unhealthy habits. Or why it is that people feel threatened when someone decides to make a change? I already know that some of the things I'm going to change about my lifestyle will be scrutinized or even criticized for being extreme, but I think my head is in the right place and I really feel like I know now how to care for my body.  I'm just hoping I have what it takes to stay strong in my convictions and weather the criticism.

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