These are the words I whispered to myself last week in the midst of my frustration with my pants fitting too tightly. Too tightly being defined as quite uncomfortable to wear, despite the supposed stretch in the denim.
During the last 3-4 months, I have gained 7-10 lbs., and I don’t know if it’s water weight due to the inflammation from the Hashimoto’s or actual fat gain. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, as the end result feels the same—I’m uncomfortable in a few pairs of the jeans I fit into quite easily a few months ago.
As I stood in front of the mirror, confused and frustrated as to why I happened to gain this weight despite remaining active and eating as I usually do, my inner voice chimed in and said “I have more important shit to think about.”
I then proceeded to do a mindset calibration to re-center myself, put on a different pair of pants that fit more comfortably, and moved on with my day.
It’s easy for us to proclaim self-love and confidence when we feel comfortable in the bodies we’ve become accustomed to, and even more so when we fit society’s ideal of thin, white, straight, and cis-gender (as I do). The latter point is a topic I will cover in an upcoming blog post, but the former is a testament to my current experience and those of the women I work with.
It’s easy to neglect our maintenance work of not defining ourselves based on our appearance when we look a way in which we feel comfortable. Or when we fit into the same clothing sizes we’ve become accustomed to for years.
The true test is when our bodies morph into something outside of this realm of comfort—into something that feels foreign.
The reality is that our bodies are absolutely going to change throughout our lives, and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it. Additionally, there are times when our bodies are going to change based on factors within our control. These typically include a deviation from our usual habits in response to an adjustment in priorities (travel, holidays, weddings, work, family, etc.).
The changes within our control can be easier to accept, as we understand we’re willingly participating. The changes outside of our control, such as health issues, pregnancy, and aging can be more difficult to accept due to the lack of control.
When we find yourself in a situation where our bodies have changed, or we’re overwhelmed with the need to control our food and exercise due to fear of our bodies changing as our priorities do, we must first accept and acknowledge the situation.
Don’t run from it, and don’t go down the path of distraction with destructive habits. Sit with it, say it aloud to yourself, and ask yourself the following:
1. What are the things in life that provide me with the most meaning right now? These may include family, close friends, being active, new experiences traveling or with eating/drinking, pursuing a meaningful career or hobby, time in nature, self-development, a spiritual practice, our own health or that of a loved one. Your appearance may be on the list, and that’s completely fine. However, you need to be honest with yourself about where this lies within your ranking of priorities.
For me, my health, family, friends, career, and time in nature are the most important things to me at the moment, and these define the “more important shit” I refer to above.
2. Am I willing to sacrifice any of my other priorities in pursuit of changing my body? I’m not simply referring to time here, as mental and physical energy are major resources that are diluted by constantly thinking about our bodies and food.
Last week, I asked myself, “Am I really going to spend my precious energy thinking about these changes to my body when I have creative and professional ambitions and a summer to enjoy with my loved ones?” The answer is no. Especially, when I’m focusing on treating my body with respect via nourishment, rest, and movement already.
3. What do I contribute to this world that is of the greatest value? Creating valuable content to help others, general creativity, being there for family and friends, providing entertainment, uplifting others, being a teacher, acting as a confidante—these are all worthwhile attributes that begin a laundry list of items people can ascribe to. The way our bodies look is at the bottom of the barrel—they don’t actually contribute anything to the world, and the constant pursuit of changing our bodies detracts from our time and energy being spent on these more important items.
4. How can I make my body and mind feel supported right now? This might be eating less inflammatory and processed foods, drinking less alcohol, eating more food, more rest and self-care, more alone time, more time connecting with others, time outdoors, meditation, yoga, weightlifting, journaling, reading, wearing clothes that fit. It can be one or all of these things, in addition to a plethora of others.
The point is, focus on what you can do to better serve your body and mind, not go to war with them. Remember, we’re on the same team.
5. What am I grateful for that my body does for me right now? This is especially relevant when dealing with health issues or experiencing changes that are outside of our realm of control, as it’s easy to believe our bodies are betraying us. Admittedly, I subscribed to the victim mindset upon hearing of my Hashimoto’s diagnosis, and it was tempting to throw my hands in the air and play the blame game.
I eventually acknowledged the unhelpful and soul-sucking nature of this mindset, and I began to focus on what my body can do and how it shows up for me every day. Our bodies are just trying to survive and, dare I say thrive. Sometimes we need to give them some breathing room to do their thing.
Turning our frustration into gratitude
These body changes can be alarming initially, but they’re incredibly valuable. They force us to look inward and assess our alignment with our truth and where we’re placing our value.
The universe has a funny way of giving us lessons that still need to be learned, and it’s evident that I needed an internal “tune up”, if you will. For this lesson, I am grateful, as I needed the roots of my worthiness to be planted further within myself—not in anything external.
I’ve been doing this internal work for years, yet this caught me off guard and forced me to acknowledge that I have been functioning on auto-pilot for some time.
This isn’t anything to be ashamed of, as it’s common for us to settle into a new “normal” and label that as our relative zone of comfort. However, as we know, we don’t grow in our comfort zones.
Our bodies and lives are not static, and they’re never going to be. The more we can learn to accept and move with these changes, the better off we’ll be. And the more time and energy we’ll have to focus on the more important shit.