Maybe it is just me who asks myself this question, usually once a day. I try to keep that tiny voice in the back of my head at a whisper as I try to get dressed for work or to head out for a night on the town. The reality is that my current lifestyle has drastically changed from my earlier years.
I used to be an ‘athlete’ and I use this term because I really believe I was for some time, as I participated in serious physical activity for at least 2.5 hours a day. I was never going to be a pro soccer player, but throughout the end of high school and beginning of college, I was EXTREMELY active, which I felt placed me in that category.
Then life changed. I was no longer on any organized sports teams, I was no longer working at a yoga studio or recreation center. Being ‘active’ became something I had to schedule into my day. I try my best to get my daily activity in because I do think it is important to strive to be healthy. I believe trying to be healthy is a lifestyle. I don’t want to lose my boobs or ass, but I am surrounded by chronic illnesses brought on by poor health almost every day at work. This is really scary, and has helped curb my cravings for things like fast food, but not eliminated them.
However, I go back to the same question, am I fat now? Or is this just how I see myself? I try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day, and eat as healthy as I can. I don’t own a scale so I only ever really weigh myself when visiting my parents, but the numbers continue to increase. The change in my body is reflected in my tightening pants and these new feelings about my body image, but are they really justified? By any medical standards I am healthy and with age comes a slowing metabolism, so should I really be steering clear of that full calorie beer?
Being healthy does not equal a number on a scale. Being healthy to me mostly means living in moderation. I believe anything in excess can be dangerous, so the plan is to eat healthy, exercise a reasonable amount, and try to feel the best about myself I can. But why then does a number on a scale make me feel like I should only be eating broccoli and hitting the gym twice a day? Why does my changing body make me worry about others changing their opinions about me?
I am constantly toeing the line of having a healthy body image, but feeling like I should be restricting myself and feeling guilty when I don’t put in time at the gym. The increasing numbers on the scale have certainly had an impact on me, but does that have to be a negative impact? If I am healthy why can’t it be accepted that I am just living a different lifestyle then putting in 2 a days for a specific sport really putting my body through hell?
I think it should be acknowledged that with time, change occurs. I think with this new change, acceptance is hard. However, I do not think a changing lifestyle should throw a monkey wrench into my somewhat stable mental health. I think the energy should be turned towards self-acceptance instead of self-change, and I feel this is something other twenty-somethings may be struggling with as lives drastically change with or without control.
To better cope with this I have combined the advice of two of my favorite ladies: My mother and Amy Poehler. Poehler remarked in an Ask Amy segment that whenever you are having negative body image thoughts you should really stop and have some gratitude. This mimics perfectly a remark I remember coming from my mother as I complained about my pants not fitting anymore. She said, your pants may not fit, but be glad your legs work well to get you from point A to point B. I can complain about having to spend some money on new pants, but I should really stop and be grateful for everything my body does for me every day. My body allows me to type my thoughts with my fingers, think the thoughts to type with my brain, and it allowed me to get to work today to contribute to society and eventually buy new pants. So tomorrow when I am getting dressed for work and thinking, my arms look kinda fat in this top, I am going to remind myself that I should be thankful to have these arms to drive to work and live a functional life, and continue to lead a healthy lifestyle.