“Have I practically been loving this body well, and daily treating it the way I know I want to?”
That’s my question as I stand in front of the mirror.
In the past I’ve looked and analyzed, looked and condemned, or looked and celebrated. I’ve found that the only long term winning definition of the perfect body size and shape for me is the one that comes from loving my body well.
No, my perfect body size isn’t a number. Don’t be disappointed… A number is so static, simple, arbitrary. So demanding. And so unforgiving. My definition of ‘perfect’ has come come from years of learning me. Years of finding the two sides of so many coins. Years of forgiving mistakes, choosing my thoughts and actions, and discovering what makes me run well. But now I know.
The perfect size is the one I became as I learned to love my body. It’s the size I will see emerge when I live the life I want, treating my body with love.
It’s not that love for my body will come when I’m the perfect size, but the perfect size will come when I love my body.
But wait, what is LOVE for my body? I don’t (just) mean a feeling, I mean actions: the way I treat my body has to be love. Let’s stop. Look at love for my husband for a second, or my son: it doesn’t always look like a feeling. It looks like choices, determination, and sacrifice. But with huge reward. Occasionally I wake up and think, ‘oh I love my husband so much’, but really most days I wake up and think, ‘ok what’s for breakfast? wait, is that a dirty diaper?’ and then when the diaper is changed and the breakfast is made and I’ve done the things that love chooses to do, I look at my little family round the table and think ‘man, I love this little crew so much.’
It’s the same with my body. The perfect size for me, the size I LOVE, isn’t always a feeling. It’s the size that comes from choosing to love my body practically, with my thoughts, my words and my actions.
I know what I have to do to be 10lbs lighter than my usual (non pregnant) weight. I could get there in a few months easily, if I wanted. But I now don’t just see a 10lb difference, I see a loss of balance, a loss of either sleep or time with my family, a loss of healthy eating, and a total loss of peace. So do I enjoy that body shape? Yes, but only in a photograph. I don’t want the lifestyle and choices that takes, which means it’s not the body size I want.
Equally, I know how to be 20lbs heavier. But it’s a size I get to by not taking loving care of my body, not staying the level of active at which I thrive, and not making food choices that truly nourish my body and make me feel great, and not investing in my health. So it’s not the body size I want. Except… I was that weight when I walked out of hospital after birth and then, it was perfect. Perfect because it was then a size that came from caring for my body and family perfectly. 6 months later though, it would have meant something different. This is why I want to pay attention to the lifestyle and not the number.
So instead of a goal number, I have a lifestyle that I can define as LOVE for my body and myself. And when deviate from it – I come back because I know I’m not loving myself the best way I know how. When I look in the mirror and question this amazing body, I don’t ask myself if I’m still a certain size, or weight, or number. I ask myself: ‘Have I been practically caring for and loving my body lately?’ And if I haven’t, then I gently work out how to get back on course, but if I have been then I know my body is the perfect size. And this is what that size is to me: