No fancy intros today, friends — we’re cutting straight to the chase.
I’ve put on a few extra pounds this past winter. I’m not sure how many, since I don’t weigh myself, but my clothes are definitely feeling a little bit more snug and parts of me wiggle that never used to wiggle before. Some of it is probably muscle (thank you, snowboarding), but some of it probably isn’t. And with summer and bikini season in full swing, you might be wondering what I’m planning on doing about this conundrum that I suddenly find myself in.
My answer? Not much. I’m not going on any strict diets; not taking up any elaborate fitness routines; not doing any crazy cleanses. Not doing much aside from maybe going shopping and investing in a few pairs of bigger jeans so that I no longer have to perform complicated dancing/shimmying/cursing rituals whenever I want to put on the ones that I currently own #yogapantsforlife.
Is that crazy? I feel like it might be. We live in a society that’s obsessed with achieving the “perfect body.” It’s been a while since I’ve glanced at the fitness magazines while standing in line at the grocery store, but I’m willing to bet that most of them are [still] trying to sell us the secrets on how we can achieve a bikini body or lose 5 pounds in 5 days. It’s basically insanity not to want to change your body in some way, shape, or form… Or is it?
If Mr. Einstein can be trusted, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” and by that definition, my current choice is actually one of the few sane decisions I’ve made in life (kidding… sort of).
See, I’ve been there… I’ve done that. I had the bikini body, the 6-pack abs, the super lean figure. And to be perfectly honest… it didn’t make me happy. I thought it would, which is why I pursued it so doggedly at different stages of my life, but I never found the happiness and satisfaction I was looking for. If anything, I only became more and more miserable. I never loved (or even really liked) my body. At best, I simply didn’t hate it. Or, most of it, anyways — I always seemed to find something to criticize and obsess over.
And that right there is why I won’t be actively trying to get get the oh-so-coveted bikini body this summer — I just can’t justify devoting so much time and effort to something that never actually made me happy to begin with… especially when there’s nothing really wrong with the body I currently have. I mean, sure… I have days where I b*tch and moan about my jeans fitting differently than they did the day before, or the fact that I have extra dimples on the wrong set of cheeks… but those days pass, and for the most part I feel pretty darn good — the best I’ve felt in years, actually. That’s not to say that I felt bad before, but this is a whole new level of good.
Recovering from an eating disorder is a funny thing… You constantly think you’re 100% better because you honestly feel tonnes better than you did before… never really realizing that “better than before” doesn’t necessarily mean “as good as you should.” Oftentimes it’s been so long since you felt “as good as you should,” that you honestly don’t remember what that’s supposed to feel like, making you think that any shift closer to that direction is finally it… especially when everything looks perfect on paper. Does that make sense? Allow me to explain.
I was at a healthy BMI; my body functioned the way it was supposed to (ladies, you know what I’m talking about); my blood tests always came back perfect; I got high-fives from my doctor after every check up; I didn’t obsess over or restrict food… but I guess there was still room for improvement. I guess my body wanted a little more oomph… which I guess makes sense considering I was hovering around a similar weight to what I was before I got sick, and I’m no longer a wee little lass in my early 20’s (sorry… I recently watched Brave). Time has passed. My body has changed.
I don’t know… I’m still trying to work out the logistics of it (not really). All I know is that I feel pretty darn great (with, let’s be honest, the occasional crappy day thrown in the mix too), and if that means carrying around a few extra vanity pounds and more dimples on the wrong set of cheeks, then I can deal with that… Weight and pant size are too flimsy a thing to tie your happiness up into. It’s taken me years to finally internalize that, but there it is… extra pounds or not. I’m not the same weight that I was at this time last year, and I probably won’t be the same weight at this time next year — does that mean I should be any more or less happy? I don’t think so. There are other things going on in life that require my attention.
I eat the way I eat because it makes me feel good and I exercise the way I exercise for the same reason. I don’t get too caught up in the details because I honestly don’t have to; and that’s not to say that my way is right or wrong — it’s simply what works for me. So there you have it… Why I won’t be working for a bikini body this summer in approximately 1000 words and no pictures. Thank ya for listening to my rambles 🙂
No questions today — I’d just love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences.
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Very interesting point of view. We workout in order to be happy and healthy, not in order to please other people.
Claire @ Flake and Cake
Just stumbled on this brilliant, relevant post – one I’ve been trying to put into words myself. I lost a lot of weight a few years ago and definitely had an unhealthy relationship with food, got myself back to a number I was before I lost the weight and now I’m 10lbs heavier. I have to buy bigger jeans, bigger tops, bigger bras (yippeee). It’s taken me a while to get my head round it but you’re right – it’s unrealistic to expect the body not to change from late teens/early 20s to mid-late 20s. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post and saying what I’ve been struggling to articulate for months.
Jen @ Chase the Red Grape
Great post spoons!
It helps me as I know that one day I will be able to accept me for who I am – my recovery is getting there but it still has a long way to go. But I am moving forwards and that’s the main thing, no matter how long it takes.
You are giving so many of us hope, and that is amazing 🙂
Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut
So late to the party, but better late than never!
I was/am thinking of posting something similar this week since I also put on weight over the winter (damn long winter) and I’m not in any hurry to get rid of it. I’m actually quite enjoying having some curves up top! 😉 PLUS I feel stronger and I got a couple of compliments on the guns from people who haven’t seen me for awhile…so you never know…it may be muscle weight! (but really I know it’s not soley muscles that are preventing me from fitting in my jeans haha)
Thanks for sharing, Amanda!
[email protected] Life Is Sparkling
Love this 🙂
Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
This post is so refreshing and honest. I enjoyed reading it, so thanks for sharing!
Tears because I relate SO much.
I’ve put on quite a bit of weight over the past year or so. How much? Not sure. But I know there are clothes that don’t fit me anymore and lots that are snug. But you know what? I don’t care. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and I feel…healthy.
Getting to this point has definitely been a journey for me and following yours was one of my biggest inspirations. But I can finally eat without giving it a second thought, take rest days whenever I feel like it, and go out with friends free of anxiety. That’s living…and it feels a hell of a lot better than any ‘perfect bikini body’ ever could.
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
You’re doing amazingly, girl 🙂 Your writing has changed a lot over the past little while, and it’s easy to see that you’re happier now <3
Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves
I totally get this and LOVE this. I completely understand what you mean by ‘never really realizing that “better than before” doesn’t necessarily mean “as good as you should.” ‘ Last year, I ate a lot more, but I still exercised religiously, so I wasn’t eating quite as much as I needed. This year, I’ve rested a lot more, eaten even more, and I think I’m genuinely THERE. That is, where I need to be.
This summer is not gonna be about bikini body for me either. Rest and eating what makes me feel good is the name of the game.
Love ya, Amanda ♥
Good on you! I have never had a hot bikini body, and I admit I’d love to be able to flaunt it on the beach when I go on vacation next week. But instead, I have the body that I have, which is pretty alright, and this is more or less the same body I have whether I’m dieting like a crazy person or not…so I am really trying to spare myself the grief and love myself no matter what my body is looking like at any given time.
Brooke: Not On a Diet
I’m up about 15 pounds from my goal weight. I’m really struggling with it because my clothes are feeling tighter, but also because I don’t feel my best.
I’m not doing anything drastic though to lose those 15. I’m just doing the best I can when I can. And focusing on doing the things that make my body feel good, not because I feel like I HAVE to do them.
Oh and maybe not drinking beer every night of the week. 😉
I like your approach and totally agree that doing things that make you feel good is the answer.
Tatum | EATS From The Oil Patch Blog
yay team #antisummerdiet 🙂 100% agree, who even decides what a bikini body is suppose to be?
What a wonderful post! Totally agree with everyone else saying, “WTF is a bikini body, anyway?” I also loved that you brought up that you’re not in your early twenties anymore, that our bodies are supposed to change as we do! God, when I was in my early twenties, I was in an unhappy relationship where I felt emotionally undernourished, and even at the time, I was aware of the physical manifestations—very happy to be where I am now instead!
Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
LOVE this! It reminds me of my post from last summer “Embracing the muffin top”. It feels so nice to just accept my body for what it is and focus my energy on loving life rather than fighting my body. I’m so glad you’ve found that peace too! 🙂
Jen @ SavedbytheKale
Love this post and how real and honest you are Amanda! Move to Ga so we can hang out! 😉
Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli
Thank you for writing this. I’ve been thinking recently how frustrating it is to have all the magazines in life, as you said, pushing us to look a certain way. I’m headed to the beach in a few weeks and had just been thinking that yeah…I’m definitely not the media’s interpretation of “bikini ready”, and that I highly doubt most people are. We’re all people with lives that require energy and focus beyond just what we eat – essentially, ain’t nobody got time for that! It’s great to aspire to be healthier but I wish our society would quit with the notion that we always somehow need to be striving to be better than we already are right in this moment.
I found myself nodding along with everything you wrote… I too am heavier than a year ago, but unlike you I am obsessing. Obsessing over why it is so hard to lose weight now, when back with ED I could bat food away like flies.. obsessing over the fact that I have never been this heavy although everyone says I look great.. obsessing over whether to go vegan/paleo/raw/insert newest trend here to see if it works..
This week however thigs took a turn for the better. I am getting stronger in fitness which makes me feel great and almighty and powerful.. and in turn it shows me I am in control of my happiness and should not let body image dictate me. I could never have done the sports I do now when I was at my skinniest, and honestly, being where I am now, and able to the things I love make it all ok. Sure, I also have my days where I wished I looked differen, but my body has been stable at this weight whether I eat or didn’t and I think I’m just going to go with trying to be the best and happiest I can be and see how my body reacts to that. Being obsessed is generally such an avoidable stress that our bodies truly don’t need…
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Honestly? I couldn’t even imagine trying to cut back and lose weight… I think both my body and mind have had enough of it by this point, and neither will be very happy if I try to do something that stupid. The extra few pounds are so worth the freedom and health that come along with them 🙂
You are absolutely right. My overall happiness is so much higher now and I also cannot stand the stress I put my body under…one that I once thought was totally normal. But still those off days haunt me and make me wrongly idolize the days where I didn’t have to own fat pants..As I mentioned in my own post however, I am so grateful for the strength and endurance I now have which also cheers me up and shows me how much better off I am 🙂
Arman @ thebigmansworld
I am tempted to be rude, immature or cheeky here but nope. This is so well written, I’m glad you didn’t second guess yourself. We are all growing and you are living proof that with age, comes a more succinct mindset…..most of the time. 😉
Incredible. I just love absolutely everything about this post. It is so inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to write this and share it with us all. I know it hit me a lot. I love eating and I love working out, society just makes it easy to want to place emphasis on one over the other.
ellie @ fit for the soul
This is just–awesome, sista! I totally relate to those days when I feel like something is more “unflattering” than it should be, and so on (and on and on), hah! And I honestly don’t even know what the normal bikini body is supposed to be…because everybody has such a different opinion in the end, and no one can please everyone. Although I do try to stay fit all the time while allowing wiggle room in the way I eat and live my life, I really hate to stress on getting _________ type of body for different seasons in life. I say, let’s try to be consistent with the things that benefit us and those around us, instead of doing crash (diet) lifestyle habits! Of course, there is also nothing wrong with wanting to look better and fitter for some occasions (like I tried for my wedding), but I know that personally, it’s too hard and too risky to do crash diets.
Kelsey @ Ramblings of Change
Your words are so beautiful. This is something I definitely need to remember and put into perspective for my own life. Love “a-ha” moments at 11:40pm when I can’t sleep (seriously!)
I wish I could just fly over and come give you a big hug. Thank you for speaking to my heart and for such an amazing post! You are a true insiration and someone I look up to and admire SO much!! I totally agree with this entire thing…and wow, oh wow, are you ever incredible! THANK YOU!
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
xoxo <3 🙂
That post was inspiring and with having an Ed to be able to think like that is amazing. I’m a middle aged lady and don’t ever see myself feeling like that, because it’s hard enough to deal with old aged skin so I feel the only way I can look attractive is to be thin and as fit as possible. If any other middle aged woen are reading this and have any suggestions please post!
Spot on. SPOT ON! Why does society get to decide what is beautiful? I guess the better question, is why do we go along? You are right (and I am speaking from experience) looking that way is utterly miserable. The appearance is good according to pop culture, but there is no joy. I love how you put it – a clothing size is too flimsy to attach our happiness too. When our worth is wrapped up in something that unpredictable, it is no wonder there is so much depression. Freedom to be oneself is worth the extra pounds. But, one could argue, are they really “extra” I’m heavier than I was last year and yes, buying the new swimsuit was a little hard, but I would rather be strong, have energy, and be involved, rather than be thin, exhausted, and sitting on the sidelines. It isn’t worth it. Amazing post Amanda!
Thank YOU on behalf of strong, beautiful, healthy women everywhere (regardless of their size or number on the scale). As a dietitian, the more I can get people to stop focus on the calorie, weight, size…and more on making healthy decisions and being comfortable in the skin, the better their life will be. Thanks for being such a great role model and preaching the importance practice of self-acceptance.
What a wonderful, well thought out and well worded post. How’s that for wordy?
Back in the day, I used to covet a bikini body hardcore and now when I look back at pictures, I want to bring my palm to my face because I had it, I just didn’t realize or appreciate it. These days I’ve learned to accept my flaws right along with the things I love about my body, and I’ve also come to realize happiness is not defined by the number on the scale or the size of your jeans. It’s all in how you feel, physical and mentally. I will be going to the beach this summer and I will be rocking my bikini because I feel great, even if I’m not the same weight I was back in the day. I’ve learned to love myself for myself and for how I feel.
Love this post, love you. Lots of love, all around. Must be the yoga making me all serene. 🙂
This is such an awesome post. I’m sure it will help loads of people, even me, hopefully making them see that true happiness is not what number appears on the scale