The other day, while doing some work at the local coffee shop down the road from my house, I overheard a conversation between two women in line. It looked as though they had both just gone for a long walk or run together – complete with kids, sippy cups, and strollers.
After complaining a bit to each other about the heat and some reoccurring knee pain, one of the women said:
“I’m so annoyed. …I can’t believe I still looks this way after all this work. Seriously, I just want my body back.”
Frankly, when I heard this, I continued on with what I was doing and tried my best to block out the conversation.
But as I watched them walk outside with their kids and coffee, I couldn’t get the comment out of my head. Not because it was unique or new – but because it was something I had heard multiple times in the last month from other women.
The concept that our body must retrograde back to what it once was prior to exposure to change is something more and more women are buying into. Thinking back to the body that existed in high school, prior to pregnancy, or before a major life event, injury, or stressor, many women perceive that the body they once had is gone, and the body they have now is no longer worthy or acceptable.
But, I have exciting news for you.
Your body never left.
It’s always been with you – on your team, working to keep you moving, functioning, and breathing. It was there for you before, during, and after the change you experienced, and will continue to do everything it can to keep you alive and well in the future.
Your body is on your side.
Being in the mindset that you need to “get your body back” puts you in a position to fight your current body to make it what it once “was.” But, the body you once had and the body you have now are the same – the only thing that sets the two apart is experience.
This experience has most likely made you more capable right now than ever before. And perhaps one of the most beautiful things about your body is that it is capable, and allows you to do all the things you want to do in life.
The belief that your current body is no longer worthy, acceptable, or attractive as the one you used to have is a lie. It’s a lie perpetuated by diet culture, the media, and a whole host of companies that want you to think you have a problem so they can sell you a product to fix it.
In fact, a simple Google search will show there are numerous programs, DVDs, books, health articles, Pinterest boards, and incredibly sketchy diet and fitness products that use marketing to make you feel ashamed for having the body you do now, so you will buy whatever it is they are selling to help you “get your body back.”
There is no “wrong” way to have a body.
Understanding these truths will allow you to pursue improvements to health and fitness from a place of self-love, empowerment, and personal revelation. You will be able to make decisions about the food you consume and the fitness you perform based on the feedback your body is giving you, and what is going to nourish your body and make you feel energized, strong, and fulfilled.
Having the mindset that you need to “get your body back” often means changes are pursued from a place of self-hate or shame. Feeling shame or guilt for the way you look, what you ate, or the workouts you didn’t do typically results in trying to make your “wrongs” right with punishing actions, like food restriction, overexercising, or mental chastising. Often times, these behaviors are damaging to both physical and mental health, and come with incredibly ugly consequences.
Happiness is not a weight or shape, and the body you “had” is not superior to the body you have now.
Knowing that you are worthy, right now – in this moment, gives you the freedom to work with your body when pursuing health. It means giving yourself the flexibility to eat more or rest when needed, and doing workouts that you actually enjoy – not just doing the ones you think you “should” do.An Open Letter to Women Who Say 'I Just Want My Body Back'
So, from here on out, pursue the things that make your body more capable of doing the things you want to do in life, and ditch the things that claim you must “go back” in order to be worthy.
Because let’s be honest—time has made you a total rockstar.
What things do you love that your body allows you to do? Interested in writing a letter back? Please do so in the comments below!