Today’s post comes to you straight from a conversation with a friend. We were talking about getting “softer” during this time at home, laughing ruefully about not exactly loving what we are seeing. Have you joked about gaining a “quarantine-15” or stress-eating your way through the shut-downs too? It feels like everyone is itching to shape-up these days. That’s not what this post is about though… Rather, it centers on giving yourself a bit of grace during these challenging, unusual times. It’s about appreciating where you are right now, allowing yourself to love your body without changing it.
Improving your health and wellness is a wonderful goal. I’ll be the first to cheer for those of you who may be on a mission to tone up or lose weight. However, I also firmly believe you should feel good in your skin during all phases of that journey. Happiness should never be tied to a dress size or a number on the scale.
It might have taken me 20+ years to realize that, but I discovered some really effective ways to re-frame negative thinking in the process (I talk more about finding a healthier relationship with my body in this post). These methods were hugely helpful for me and I hope they can help you appreciate and love your body (as it is now) too. Whether you’re carrying extra weight, postpartum, in perfect shape, pregnant, or are recovering from illness or injury—you are uniquely beautiful. There should be no qualifications… No “I’ll love myself when I’m 5 lbs lighter” or “I’ll be so happy when this flab is gone.” Why wait for joy?
Some people find the scale a helpful monitoring process and health check. However, for those feeling unhappy with their bodies, it can actually be quite detrimental. Our bodies have natural swings in weight that don’t necessarily represent our overall health. The time of day you weigh yourself, the scale you’re using, and your period can impact your weight. Even the amount of salt you eat can lead to fluctuations because sodium causes fluid retention, according to the American Heart Association.
If I weigh myself daily, I get obsessive. If I don’t like the number, it could sour my mood all day. Consequently, I swapped out the scale 10+ years ago and now use clothing as my sole measurement tool. The only time I can tell you my exact weight is immediately after visiting the doctor’s office.
You can use a pair of slim fitting jeans, a dress, a pencil skirt, anything that gives you a really accurate sense of fit. I pull on a yellow pencil skirt with no stretch. It works because I know exactly how it should fit. When it gets overly tight, I pay more attention to my exercise and dietary choices. However, I don’t stress about it. By eliminating numbers from the equation, I can think more objectively about my body and make smart choices.
Haya Romper (Petite-friendly!)
Similarly, you will also love your body more if you begin to ignore numerical sizes. The fashion industry is global, so there is no standardization in sizing. I’ve worn everything from a 00 to a size 6. Crazy, right? Does that mean I’ve gained and lost significant weight? Nope. It all depends on the brand. This is especially true for formal wear like bridal gowns or bridesmaid dresses. Anyone else freak out a bit internally when you think you’re a certain size and find you need to go up two sizes? I prefer to focus on measurements (hip, waist, bust) now. It’s the only true “size” you can find!
Nearly every month, I have a stretch of three-four days where I feel heavy and bloated. The “old me” would immediately think I was gaining weight and “punish” myself with exercise/restrictive eating. Now, I call those days out for what they truly are. I pop a Midol, drink lots of water, and feel at peace with my body knowing it’s a cycle and those feelings will pass.
Negative thought triggers are different for everyone. It might be a spurt of unhealthy eating or the pressure of an upcoming event you are determined to look your best for. By recognizing your patterns, you can treat yourself with added compassion and begin to love your body without feeling the need to change it. I also find it helpful to reflect on the amazing things our bodies allow us to do each day.
Before I started this blog, I remember reading other blogs/browsing Instagram and wondering how so many people could look perfect all the time! Everyone was tall, slender, impeccably dressed, beautiful—just like models in a magazine. Or so I thought. I didn’t realize that Instagram (mine included) is a highlight reel. Why? It’s human nature to publicly share only the images you love. As a result, Instagram is a highly curated, intensely edited version of reality. Don’t compare yourself to what you see on the internet.
Models, photographers and bloggers know plenty of tricks for getting a flattering photo. Angles, proper lighting and poses make a huge difference (as this fitness blogger shows). Additionally, pros might take 30 shots before they get the Insta-worthy image they will publish. Consequently, comparing yourself to online images is like equating the selfie you snapped on the beach to a magazine cover of Gisele Bündchen! It’s apples to oranges. For instance, I’m under 5′ tall, but you probably wouldn’t know that from my photos. The shots that make my blog are the good ones. My camera roll is equally filled with horribly unflattering ones.
For every graceful leap, there are dozens of Cousin Itt disasters. Similarly, take a look at the next set of images. Subtle changes in pose can visually add or remove weight. For example, in the shot on the left, I’m half-sitting/leaning on a post and slouching. This widens my thighs and waistline. On the right, I have proper posture. By standing up tall and striding forward, my short legs look much longer. Same girl, same outfit, but a clear example that image does not always reflect reality.
Have you ever bought an article of clothing just because you could squeeze into your “goal” size? Then you get it home, find it uncomfortable, feel awful in it and let it languish in the back of your closet. I’m guilty! A proper fit—even if it’s larger than you anticipated buying—will flatter your body infinitely more. In fact, it will boost your confidence. If the size still bugs you, go ahead and cut out the tag! You will love your body and your look.
Look for quality fabrics and silhouettes that skim rather than clinging to your body. This is one of the reasons I keep partnering with Peach, an athleisure company focused on elevated everyday styles. Peach designs versatile gear that flatters a wide range of shapes and sizes. You can choose your size based on detailed, measurement-based charts and know you will get a thick, supportive fabric. I’m wearing the Haya Romper, Ginzu Tank, and Kristina Seamless Capri Leggings in the photos above. These are those wear-everywhere comfy pieces that will quickly become go-to favorites.