Photo by Crystal Sing

The dieting industry and media seem to be coming after our post-pandemic bodies. After the year we’ve survived and lived through and the unprecedented events we’ve endured, is our appearance the most important thing? Maybe like me, you’ve been targeted with exercise programs, weight loss supplements, and captions with phrases like “bikini body” and “hot girl summer.” What if we made this a real body summer instead? Or a “fed girl summer” or “nourished body summer, or what about a healing and whole summer? Shouldn’t movement and food be used to nourish our bodies rather than punish them? Isn’t healing from the inside out the most important journey?

There is nothing more incredible than natural bodies or real women. But what if you don’t “feel” incredible? Can you still make peace with your body? I believe the answer is yes…

Some women might feel resistance towards the recently trendy “body positive” movement. All bodies are worthy of respect and celebration whether or not they fall under the typical societal standards of beauty. But maybe you feel like you don’t love your stretch marks, scars, or dark circles under your eyes. Maybe you despise the way your thighs touch or buying a larger bathing suit because you are too tired to try. Guess what? That’s okay. Perhaps you don’t have to “love” all the quirks that come with being a real human every single day, but you don’t have to hate them either. Your body has value separate from your appearance and clothing size. It is deserving of respect and kindness whether it’s a few pounds heavier than last year or not. What if we made peace with our bodies this summer instead of hating them, fighting them, and trying to make them fit an unreal expectation? What if we focused on all the things our bodies enabled us to do this past year and appreciated that we got out of bed through all the challenges of 2020? Thanks to our bodies, we can have conversations with people we love. We can enjoy good tasting food, read books, dance, run, walk, see a beautiful sunset or sunrise; we can give hugs and offer comfort, as well as love and support those we care about.

If loving your body feels too hard this summer, maybe start by acknowledging the amazing journey your body has brought you through. Practice the art of accepting your body for everything it is rather than everything it is not.

Let’s love and appreciate that we are multi-faceted human beings. Our bodies deserve better than to be bullied by society or even by ourselves. What if all bodies are good bodies because they are bodies. They all do so much. Sleeping, walking, eating, playing, loving, creating. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to channel more energy and more thought into how I’m living my life rather than I look and fit into clothes or how I compare to all the glamorous social media posts.

Closing thoughts… What if we ate, drank and moved for our overall health and well-being rather than strictly for weight loss or appearances? Weight isn’t the only indicator of your health. As women, our hormones, metabolism, ability to get enough sleep, digestive system, energy levels throughout the day, having regular and pain-free cycles, and many other minuscule actions are all very important to our health. This is where my story begins.

If women’s body sizes and shape, and appearance are a topic of public discussion, then women’s health and issues that affect them should also be. 

As a woman who has had two pregnancies, two births, and two nursing journeys, I’ve had to become intimately familiar with a rapidly changing body as well as with various health problems. Thyroid cancer (and resulting hyper-thryoidism, low iron, and hypocalcemia as a result), Colitis, and PCOS are all autoimmune diseases I’ve been diagnosed with in the last 5-7 years.

There’s so much I didn’t know going into my twenties. Like how rampant thyroid problems are among women in my age group. How many of us ignore our body’s symptoms because we don’t want to be a bother or make a big deal out of anything? We don’t want to say how tired we are no matter how much sleep we get, or the headaches we have, or irregular periods, or no matter the steps we track or carbs we count how we can’t manage to lose weight and still gain some. However, some diseases and disorders can be hereditary, just as many have been linked to environmental causes and even lifestyle changes and challenges (stress, major life changes – moving, breakups, starting a new job, having a baby, lack of sleep, imbalanced hormones) etc.

I always ate healthy and was physically active, but maybe you wouldn’t know that or think so after what you just read. With imbalanced/high to low hormones, inflamed body organs, high cortisol (the stress hormone) and insulin resistance (the hormone that regulates glucose and metabolism of carbs, fats and proteins) all of my efforts for daily exercise and fitness and eating healthy balanced meals mostly just maintain my current status. All this to say you can’t judge a body by how it looks. Autoimmune diseases are often referred to as invisible diseases. Why? Because they wreak havoc on your body on the inside, on your sleep, energy levels, and day to day functioning, but you appear perfectly healthy, normal and capable to those around you. 

Mental health can also be a result of autoimmune diseases. Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression often work the same way. Debilitating and affecting you on a day by day basis but often appearing invisible to those around you.

What does this all have to do with making peace with your body? We are whole bcomplex, multi-faceted and nuanced human beings. And the conversation and appearance of our bodies and how they came to be the way they are, is a much more complex matter than mainstream media acknowledges or realizes.

Maybe we should comment on our own and other’s joy, sadness, wins ,loses, hopes and dreams just as much or more than we comment on how our jeans fit, or how skinny (or not) we or they look. Our bodies are part of us, but we are also more than our body – we have a mind, a heart, a soul and spirit.

I hope that in reading this you can come to appreciate your body and recognize its purpose apart from the appearance. I hope that you discover the key, that health is a resource to living our lives with purpose and showing up well for the things and people we love. I believe we can make peace with our bodies. And maybe, just maybe, change the stories mainstream media has told us. Perhaps we can help write a new chapter for the next generation of women and conversation starters. Perhaps we should start by letting another woman know she is worthy and she is not alone.

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