Women: Make Peace with Your Body Today (Two Effective Strategies)

peace goddess
image courtesy of brdonovan

Edited March 2017 to say: Wow. I no longer freak out about my body like this; it’s a bummer to read and remember I was once in this place. I’m keeping it up in case you’re currently it this mindset. Hope it helps.

I’m excited to report a seemingly spontaneous expansion of my thighs. I think the ultimate cause is stress. Regardless, really awesome. <3

OK honesty: I don’t take weight gain well at all. I’m terrible about it, in fact, and let even the slightest new poundage eff with my mood and ruin my day. I have a long history of this–complete with 5 years of anorexia and bulimia (which had much more to do with OCD than body image, but that’s another post. Or ebook!!!!!!!)–and although it will likely be an endless struggle for me, I’ve invested a significant amount of time into learning (teaching myself, really) how to change my mental state when the bummed-out feeling starts to get ridiculous. And I’ve had success.

I’ve found that, in general, there are two effective plans of attack for making peace with your body: Act or Accept. With my recent “WHERE did these thighs come from?!!!!!” discovery, I felt inspired to share those with y’all today.

Act

Make Healthy Food Choices

This is both obvious and boring, so I’m not spending much time on it. Personally, I feel a tiny bit better about my appearance when I successfully avoid eating crap and choose something I know is good fuel for my body instead (or, if I just manage to avoid overeating, which is a far bigger issue for me). And a tiny bit is certainly something.

Work Out

Also an obvious tactic, but a non-boring one. Here’s why: We know the exercise endorphin rush is experienced by the body as drug-like, and I’d argue some of the mind-altering effects of drugs are felt as part of the rush as well. Not much makes me breathe a sigh of relief about my disappearing abs than the aftermath of a workout. I think the fantastic post-exercise mood coupled with a sense of control over the situation (Shit. My stomach’s getting flabby. But hey! I just worked out! I’m taking care of this problem!) is what’s at work here.

Accept

You Can’t Change It By Thinking About It…

“All I can do is move forward.” I literally say this to myself in my head when I’m ruminating over dumb things like my three new extra pounds. Maybe it isn’t stress; maybe it’s all the wine, dark chocolate, fancy dinners with foodie John, and general bottomless pit-ness that I swear I was born with. But it doesn’t really matter what caused the weight gain; I can’t change the past. It’s there, so all I can really do is go on with my life, and maybe be a little more disciplined with diet and exercise moving forward. But looking at it, talking about it, hating it, etc. will not make it go away, so it’s wasted effort.

…Or Can You?

But listen, I think you (and I) need to get real about why the weight is there in the first place, especially if it’s on the lower body. Mark at Mark’s Daily Apple explains why loathing your ass, hips, and thighs could almost be considered disliking being healthy, which is whack, you know? Here’s his summary:

Women – don’t be concerned about a little (or more than a little) subcutaneous body fat, especially on your lower body. If you’ve been trying in vain to lose that stubborn jiggle on your thigh, consider that maybe, just maybe it’s there for a reason. Even if you’re not interested in having a child, it’s likely that the presence of lower body fat indicates good health. You don’t have to get pregnant, but the ability to do so is probably a marker of good health, and the research outlined above suggests that classically feminine patterns of fat deposition are healthier than classically male patterns.

(The full article linked to above has a lot great info. Check it out after you’ve read every single page on Alternative Badassery. All my tweets, too.)

So OK, you can’t change your body by thinking about it. But you can change your attitude by thinking about it, with the above information as your guide. And that’s immediate. And that’s awesome.

I’m never excited to see a larger version of myself in the mirror, but experience has taught me that acting or accepting are the only ways I can mentally move on. Give ’em a try.

***

Discuss

Would you say you’re at peace with your body? What else can we do to stop hating on ourselves?

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Your thoughts?
  1. Melissa says:

    I recently had a fitness “setback” in the form of my workout partner deciding she was not going to the gym a few days, to which I responded, “Awww! WE are not going to the gym?” I was also going through some “stuff” as I became the newest member of the Cipher of Culture/Freedom this past weekend (40 sounds cooler when you use Supreme Mathematics, lol, 4 being culture/freedom, 0 being cipher), allowing myself to have no discipline at all. After I stopped lamenting lost youth and began thanking GOD for more years to hit on guys that are not age-appropriate (not all the time, but yeah…), I have recommitted as of this morning to the gym and eating clean. Actually, it was last night, as I got excited about my workout playlist again ( I’m not sure, but I think my inner “hoochie” is the one getting me up to go the gym in the morning….as the kids would say, my workout music is “RATCHET!!” :oD ). Oh well, whatever (t)werks! Here’s to staying motivated.

  2. Cassie says:

    “I think my inner “hoochie” is the one getting me up to go the gym in the morning”–hilarious. And relatable–I totally become a rock star in my head when I’m working out to good music.

  3. Erika says:

    I think as women, true acceptance sometimes comes in the form of having to look at how far we’ve come and how truly amazing we are rather than focusing on how far we have to go or how many inches/pounds/dimples we have to lose. This became super clear to me after I became a mom to my little girl. I want more than anything for my daughter to love herself and to be healthy. She will never be either of those if I do not show her how, so I’ve really come to a place where I see that I’m awesome. I had a baby, I’ve nursed her and cared for her, I’ve lost 70 lbs since having her, and I am a triathlete! I also have stretch marks, and some parts of my body are permanently altered from growing a human (and how cooal is it that we can do that?!). Those are my battle scars, and I won’t wish them away. I’ll keep working at fitness and health because I want to LIVE, not because I want to wear a bikini. I want to run and play and swim and hike. And I love that you’re Paleo :). It has truly changed my life. Take care Cassie!

    • Cassie says:

      Erika, your comment almost made me cry, because it’s coming to me at a difficult time body-image-wise. You’re the kind of mom–the kind of woman!–that I want to be. Your perspective is exactly what I’m working really hard to adopt (I don’t have kids yet but they’re in the future plans, and I absolutely want to set a good example). Keep up the awesome; I’m cheering you on!

      Also, PALEO FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!! 🙂

      • Erika says:

        Girl, you are beautiful, obviously smart, and a great dancer. I admire your courage to share what you share here, and your commitment to getting better. Know that I am cheering YOU on too, and that you are in my prayers. We all have those moments, and your sharing that will make a difference in someone’s life. I really love your blog.

  4. Molly says:

    Hi, just read your article and it’s good advice. I am at the stage where I can’t bear to look at my body naked and don’t want my partner to either. Sometimes I feel like I’m at peace with it but I’m actually only pushing it to the back of my mind and it always comes back stronger. I keep gradually getting bigger and bigger and feel so out of control that’s it’s something that is just going to happen to me and there’s nothing I can do about it. However, I’m going to try my best to eat less and exercise more and start ‘acting’ as I know I cannot ‘accept’ the way that I look. I’m not very confident and to be honest even when I was a teenager and was only 7 stone (98 lbs) I had no confidence and had issues with the way I looked. I’m now in my thirties and was hoping that all the talk of ‘oh I really became comfortable in my own skin in my thirties than I ever have’ talk would be true, but to be honest, the older I get the more uncomfortable in my own skin and general self worth I seem to get. Jees, this has become a bit of a rant, anyhow, just wanted to say that I related to your article and fingers crossed I can put it to good use in my life, thanks.

    • Cassie says:

      Thanks for your comment, Molly. I’m familiar with the notion that as you get older you get more comfortable with your body, but like you, I’m as critical as ever. (Actually, now that I say that, I guess I am better than I was. But I still care a whole lot, whereas my peers seem to grow less and less concerned.) So you’re still uncomfortable–so what? Like, maybe it’s just something you care about and always will care about. I think that’s the case for me. And that’s fine. We’re allowed to care about whatever we want and find important whatever we choose. So yes, act! But also, accept. Accept that you’re still uncomfortable at an age when you “shouldn’t” be, and be cool with it. Then use your discomfort as motivation to get to a place where you are comfortable. I’ll be here cheering you on. Email me any time!

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