Have you been seeing as many "before and after" photos on social media as I have lately? They seem to be splashed everywhere, with every smiling photo subject crediting his or her success to the latest seemingly awesome workout craze.
It's impossible to escape what's happening, and it's amazing. After all, as a nutritionist, I love when large groups of people feel motivated to get off their tushies and move in a way that makes them feel strong, fit, healthy, and empowered.
But at the same time, there's also a potential problem: These "perfect beach body" photos can breed a sense of inadequacy and failure in those who don’t have the long, lean body type.
I get it: At five feet tall, I’m short. There is no gap between my thighs, and there never has been. I have some extra softness at the hips and maybe the waist, too, depending on how tightly you hug me. And I'm OK with that. That's just me—or at least it’s just the "me" on the surface.
Weight is a tricky issue when it comes to health. Skinny does not equal healthy, but weight seems to be what drives most of our health-related decisions—whether to exercise, whether to order a salad, whether to celebrate with a piece of chocolate cake. The thing is, when we feel well and when we are truly happy from way deep inside, our weight becomes less of an issue.
I was once super-skinny. It was 10 years ago, and I’d managed to drop 20 pounds in one month. How? I had Crohn’s disease. I was so sick, I could rarely leave my apartment. At the time my hair was also falling out, my nails wouldn’t grow, and my skin seemed transparent in its lackluster paleness.
And then I regained my health. I began reversing the disease, and the weight came back. My bottom was fuller, my face rounder, my cheeks were rosy, my normally thick hair grew back. It felt amazing to feel amazing. I realized all of this mattered so much more than the size of my jeans.
Here's what else I did to finally discover self-acceptance and release my desire for the "perfect" sculpted beach body: