Let me start off by saying, I am not a doctor, or registered dietician, and I don’t consider myself much of an influencer anymore with my decision to live a semi-private life with as little outside influence as possible. So what I’m about to say is just me making a human observation.
Matt took Ollie for the day, so I spent some time doing something out of the pandemic norm: window shopping at an outdoor mall. I noticed that a major athleisure retailer changed their mannequins to include strong female sizes over US a size 12. It was a beautiful sight to behold, and I think I exhaled a little sigh of relief. The mannequins looked strong! The store sent out a public message that I believe could not be louder these days. We should aim to be strong, without focusing on size.
(Thought bubble…)How many years have I exercised to get a size smaller, five pounds lighter, or out of guilt for indulging or imbibing too much the night before?
Over the pandemic, I have seen and heard about too many people dying and getting sick and my heart just breaks. Friends with children getting diagnosed with cancer. A girlfriend experiencing ACL surgery with two children to take care of with schools shut down. Parents passing away. Another friend coming out of chemo with four boys at home. There’s just so. much. shit. going on right now. And in the shit, sometimes we find meaning, purpose, or blessings. (And sometimes we just curse, kick up dirt, and fight.)
All the pain and death makes me have a whole new appreciation for my body. Over the pandemic, I have been lifting weights and focusing on my physical strength. And I am almost stronger than my college softball days. I feel physically in union with my body. Alas, my love for health and well-being sometimes marries itself to my love of control–and then I find myself looking up things like, “Best Paleo books,” on Amazon, reading the reviews and thinking, “I could lose 5 pounds this month!”
As I accumulate more years of life, I have learned that good is better than perfect. While I was walking around shopping, I treated myself and bought this beautiful, cozy, sleeveless romper for all my home “lounging.” Is it still called loungewear when I’m chasing my toddler in it all day?
When I got home to try on the romper, I thought about those mannequins in the athleisure store window I had passed earlier. I thought about how beautiful it was to see such diversity in women’s strengths (notice how I didn’t say sizes) represented in a window. I never used to prioritize strength. I never used to prioritize well-being, even though I may have categorized my habits as such. To be honest, my priority was always size, even when I was a plus-size model.
So when I stepped on the scale today–something I rarely do–wearing my new romper and feeling stronger than ever, I weighed more than I did before I started my strength training regimen pre-pandemic. For a tiny second I thought, “Shoot. All that work and I gained weight. Maybe I need to do better with my diet.”
For a second I scrolled back through Amazon, searching for a book to guide me through a 30 day “clean” food reset. And then I looked at all the things I’d have to cut out of my diet in order to achieve that goal nutrition and weight loss and remembered that real life, the kind that I want to live, doesn’t look like that. The life I want to live prioritizes good over perfect. Strength over size. Enjoying moments over control.
I am sending you this message because like most of us, you probably have a lot of stress in your life right now. Financial, Physical, Emotional…You name it. To expect ourselves to be “perfect,” even for 30 days, can add more stress to the equation. I would rather weigh an extra five pounds than sacrifice my glass of wine, homemade bread with Ollie, farro and white beans in my soup, dark chocolate, fresh fruit, homemade birthday cake… And I just think that that freedom to enjoy what we want to enjoy is such a powerful, beautiful, liberating lesson. Life can change in the blink of an eye. Enjoy the good moments. Savor. Be grateful. Practice Epicureanism (pleasure as the highest good). Let the little things go.
I often take for granted the days I feel strong and well. And I find myself fixating again on the things that culture and media has influenced me to believe need fixing. I’ve come to believe that those little fixations, as normal as they might seem for our culture, would be something I regretted at the end of my life. However long that may be.
With my departure from much of new media, I have found myself less influenced by picture perfect snapshots of pretty peoples’ lives, and more inspired by the people in my social(-ly distant) circle. Normal, beautiful, strong, resilient, badass women and men. Unapologetic. Positive. Solution-oriented. Facing the hard shit head on and confident enough to stop and celebrate themselves and loved ones on the good days.
How many good days do we have left?
How many days do we have left?
Instead of seeing other women of all strengths (notice how I didn’t say sizes again) in a window as beautiful and then questioning my own image because I weigh more than I did pre-pandemic, I have decided to extend myself the same grace. I truly look and feel as lovely as those mannequins–and as my friends in flesh. I feel strong, and strong isn’t always a size. It’s also a mindset.
If you’re going through a tough time right now, pause and take three deep breaths. Take up space. Give yourself the grace to get through this pandemic feeling strong, physically and mentally. You do what you need to do to get through this time. And that courage and commitment to yourself might just inspire someone else who needs it.
If this message resonated with you, please share it with someone you love.
Meanwhile, you can always connect with me here:
- Subscribe to Brave Talks on Apple podcast (please leave a review if you have a spare minute).
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Lifting you up,