Oh, hello there. Are you looking for the magical pill that will melt away those LBs you’ve been dreaming, hoping, wishing (and lifting, running and clean eating) away?
Great. Open wide, because this pill is all kinds of sparkle! And it’s all kinds of real. It’s like a chia pet: just add water, stand back, and be amazed.
But there’s a catch (there’s always a catch). You have to do a few things to make it work. Thankfully it doesn’t involve starving yourself, liposuction, or going on a diet where all you eat is one blueberry for breakfast, a walnut for lunch, and a look-but-don’t-eat almond for dinner.
To hear how this works, let’s start from the beginning.
Once upon a time…
Let’s just go back to last week.
It was a Tuesday (or it maybe it was a Wednesday…or a Friday? I can’t remember. Doesn’t matter). I had just retrieved my daughter from her crib after her first nap of the day, and we were standing together, she in my arms (she can’t stand yet. She’s only 7 ½ months old. I know, slacker), both of us gazing out of the window at the mountains in the distance. She was smiling, grabbing my hair (she likes doing that. I’m almost bald.), and giggling her greatest giggle at the sheer joy of it all. Life. Unfolding. And her, catching all of its precious moments. I was giggling too, attempting to capture the grace of the moments with her, all the while trying to re-negotiate her weight that was tugging at my still very much separated abdominal muscles and the K tape that was pulling at my skin (I quite literally have taped my stomach back together).
I really wanted to ignore the cramping, I really wanted to be ok with the injury I had sustained from my pregnancy (see this post for the boring details). I really wanted to just be “normal” again, to be able to just engage my abs like a “normal” person and not have any pain in my stomach from holding my daughter (or anything heavier than 5 pounds, for that matter). I was trying really hard to just be in the moment with her, full of gratitude, full of grace. And I was, but also, I wasn’t.
I was beating myself about not having healed yet, and I really didn’t want to do that. I wanted to ignore the news I had received the previous week that told me my injury was worse than I thought, the news that almost guaranteed the surgery I was hoping to avoid.
I really wanted to push down the thoughts that came up, beating myself up even more for eating too much salad (yes, salad, but a very hearty one) for breakfast. For eating breakfast not once, but twice. And worse still, for wanting to eat it a third time. Because I. Was. Still. Hungry.
(I’m always hungry)
I really wished in that moment that I could practice the grace and radiance of a postpartum mother, completely ok with her new body, in love with it, in fact. Living fully in the gratitude of having miraculously produced the amazing little being I got to hold in my arms not only in that moment, but in all my moments from now on.
I felt ashamed that I couldn’t. I feel ashamed for even writing it right now. Especially because I don’t feel that way anymore.
Because in that moment, I made a decision.
Starting right then and there, I was going to be the woman who absolutely adored her postpartum injury, who absolutely adored her new curves, and even the number on the scale that was still bigger than she wanted it to be. No matter if there was more bad news about my injury. No matter if the scale didn’t move another LB, despite how many salads (or chocolate bars) I did – or did not – eat, or how many times I ate breakfast in a day.
No matter what. Because my body is a miracle, and so is the little body I was lucky enough to be holding in my hands.
Rather than shame myself for not being able to embrace my postpartum body (which is what I really feel like doing, because I’m so sick and tired of hearing myself talk about this), I decided to do something more productive. I decided to explore where my warped feelings about my body came from. Who taught me that it’s not ok to have a stomach? That I had to weigh a certain amount in order to be happy? That curves were only ok in the right places?
Where did I learn that behavior? I certainly don’t believe in it. But I buy into it.
It’s because the way we talk about health is broken. We talk about health in terms of losing weight. And we talk about weight loss as if there is something wrong with us if we don’t look a certain way, or if we don’t weigh a certain amount. We talk about weight loss as a basic equation that doesn’t allow for individuality (namely: eat less, move more and you’ll lose weight. And if you don’t, well, there must be something wrong with you).
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just get fit and be healthy, the landscape of the world of weight loss needs a facelift. A big one. It needs a sparkly, shiny new pill that shifts the wishers of weight loss to the beholders of their own precious jewel:
We need to support and love our bodies, praise it, in fact, for all that it does for us. We need to gain respect for it, to nourish it in ways that go well beyond what we put on our plate or how many times we get to the gym in a week (or a day). We should be bowing at the feet of our bodies for everything it does for us every day, not hating it because it’s not doing what we want it to do as quickly as we’d like it to.
Does that mean we should be eating more green vegetables than cake? You bet it does. Does that mean we should be moving our bodies every day instead of laying dormant on the couch vegging out in front of the TV? Sure does!
But we’re also allowed to let loose sometimes, to eat that piece of cake, to skip our morning workout and stay in bed on a rainy Sunday morning without making it mean that we suck, that we’re failures.
And if we don’t see the results we want to see as a result of living a mostly clean life, it doesn’t mean we get to shame our bodies. It just means that there is more to the situation than the eye can see.
My body is doing its thing right now. And I am an asshole for not giving it the full support it needs. I am like the overbearing parent who berates their child when they get off the soccer field because they “didn’t try hard enough” or “they missed that goal!” My body is a miracle. It has done incredible things for me.
Without my trying to control it. Without my hating it into submission.
Same goes for you.
And so here it is, friends. That shiny little pill with which I lured you into reading this post.
Swallow this pill and you will see things in a new light.
You will see that health isn’t about weight loss. It’s about trusting the process, yes, but it’s also about giving our bodies the tools to be healthy and to thrive.
I have been the same weight since a week after my daughter was born. Doesn’t matter if I eat cleanly (which I mostly do) or if I eat badly (which I did gallivanting around NYC in May in search of the greatest cookie on the planet, sampling every contender along the way. Spoiler alert: LeVain Bakery wins, hands down. I ate 8 cookies in one day. And some ice cream. Twice. It was epic.).
By the standards of the old paradigm, I’m a failure at weight loss. But by the standards of this new paradigm, this new shiny pill, I’m amazing. Because I’m giving my body the tools it needs to thrive most days. Eating cleanly most of the time, but also letting loose and being a self designated cookie sampler when the opportunity arises (and in case you’re wondering, I’m available for that anytime. I do cake too. And ice cream. And anything with chocolate in it.).
In the world of weight loss, of getting fit and healthy, we are in desperate need of a paradigm shift.
The one we have says: hate your body if it’s fat, hate it if it’s saggy. Eat clean and workout, and you will lose weight. Calories in, calories out. And if that doesn’t work, there is something wrong with you. So you should hate yourself more.
So what if you do all of those things and you still don’t lose weight? How empowered do you feel then?
Not very at all.
We need to shift our paradigm from, “I want to lose weight,” to “I want to give my body the tools it needs to be healthy and thrive.”
From there, we free ourselves from the bonds of the warped view of weight loss that has crept into my subconscious and robbed me of the ability to praise my body the way I should have from the get go. From there, we are free to love our bodies at any weight, any size, and any sag. In fact, we are free to celebrate our curves, to celebrate what makes our bodies unique.
If we give our bodies the tools to thrive, then we never lose! We never feel frustrated! We never have to hate our bodies. Because we know we are doing our best. We are doing our bodies good.
If you’re trying to lose weight, and you’re doing “all the right things” and not seeing any results, swallow this pill and follow these directions:
- Eat cleanly most of the time (say 90%).
- Give your body the movement it needs (read: working out, sure, but also moving more frequently throughout the day).
- Practice good rest and relaxation (read: a good night’s sleep, meditation, sleep, sex, etc.).
- Drink enough water (at least 8 cups a day) and stop the sugary crap except for on special occasions.
- If you’re going to eat dessert, which I suggest you do once in awhile, ingest it without that heavy side of guilt. Enjoy every bite – from broccoli to brownie.
- Dedicate yourself to creating and sustaining great relationships (with both yourself and others).
Do all of these things most of the time, and you will always be a picture of health. The scale may not reflect your desires, and your clothes may not fit the way you want them to just yet, but that doesn’t matter. Because you are giving your body the tools it needs to thrive.
Doesn’t that sound a heck of a lot better than the old paradigm?
It puts you in the driver’s seat, and it gives you the confidence to know that you are doing what you can, and trusting the rest, trusting that your body knows what it’s doing.
Because it does.
It’s smarter than you are.
You heard it here first, ladies and gents:
Healthy and thriving is the new skinny, no matter the size.
When you give your body the tools it needs, it wins every time.
It’s time to be a winner today – and every day.
So go swallow that pill, and give your fabulous self a big smooch. Because you’re awesome. Today. Tomorrow. And always.
Love, love, love,