When I work with women specifically, they tend to say things like “I want to look the way I used to.” “I used to have abs…. or I used to be thin…. Or I used to think I was fat, but now I just wish I looked like that”. Have you ever felt that way, or said something like that?
Well, let’s talk about it….. First, if you were unhappy with your body when you were thinner, what would change if you were that small again? You’d still be unhappy. Chances are the issue has nothing to do with your body. That unhappiness comes from somewhere deeper than your appearance.
Second, let’s pretend for a second that you could go back in time and have that body again…. You’re 21 years old. You have very little to worry about. You’re living it up. You have the body your future self has been yearning for….. and everything that comes with it: youth, naivety, innocence, lack of experience, all of it. Would you go back? What does having that body really mean to you?
Because let me tell you, I wouldn’t trade my knowledge, experience and life lessons for anything. I loved being younger. I loved feeling confident in my body. And I certainly loved not having to worry about anyone but myself. But damn, I certainly didn’t know what I know now. How could I? I hadn’t been through what I’ve been through. I hadn’t struggled and come out stronger. I hadn’t learned all the things I needed to learn to be who I am. I didn’t know at the time that my purpose on this earth was so much bigger than me. And I would never choose to erase that.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Let go of the idea that you can change your body overnight
- Look in the mirror and compliment yourself, out loud. (No, I’m not joking….)
- Take the time to dig and find out why you make the choices you do around food and exercise. Is it habit? Lack of information? Stress? Overwhelm? Trauma? Lessons learned in childhood?
- Choose one small change to make at a time: for example, focus on drinking more water every day this week. If that goes well, try focusing on getting 7-9 hours of sleep next week. Then look toward how to handle stress differently. Next, try adding in more fruit/veggies daily. Etc…
- Write down what it is you’re really after, because a pant size isn’t going to solve it all. If you reached your goal weight, how would you feel? Is it confidence you’re searching for? Is it comfort? Sexiness? Strength? What is it you really want? Focus on that!! Not the scale….
My point is, it’s not the body you’re after, it’s a feeling. You’re searching for a sense of tranquility, but you’re looking for it in the wrong place. The answers do not lie in your size. Put simply, you can’t get your body back, because you’re not that person anymore. You’ve grown, you’ve changed, and that is something to be grateful for. Can you lose weight? Of course. Can you be leaner? Sure. Can you gain muscle? Absolutely. Can you be 21 again? No! And I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be.
The next time you start thinking about the body you used to have, stop yourself. Instead think about the life you have now. There really is so much to appreciate, if you just stop and take it in. As for the body? Your goals will be met when your perspective shifts. Until then, take one step at a time, in full appreciation of the warrior you already are.
If any of this resonates with you, take a look at my blog post “Combatting a negative self-image with gratitude”.