I’ve been thinking a lot lately about body image. Like the classic meme I want to be thin, but I love food. I want to look good in my clothes and set a healthy example for my daughter. I’m still figuring out the right combination of acceptance, nutritious food, and exercise.

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Here are some random thoughts I’ve had about my body image.

Standards

By Hollywood standards I’m the homely, stout best friend character. According to Mindy Kaling’s first book we’re both a size eight. (Although, the shorts I just bought are a size ten.) In normal American standards I’m pretty normal and healthy. However, by European standards I’m a chunky American.

This is a broad generalization, but I think those who live in European urban cities have it easier than their American counterparts. Some Europeans have easier access to real food and are able to walk around their city. Whereas Americans drive everywhere and the quickest food options are not the most nutritious. Our American suburban hubs aren’t designed with meeting physical health goals for its inhabitants. Americans fight an uphill battle when it comes to eating nutritious food and getting exercise.

Fluctuation

My weight and size and fluctuates within 5 to 10ish pounds. I’ve heard this is a normal part of life. Some of my weight changes because I’ll stop focusing on eating nutrient rich foods or I’ll exercise hard for a couple of weeks. The change isn’t a big deal until my clothes don’t fit. I hate shopping and spending money on clothes. It’s disheartening when your clothes from last summer don’t fit.

What Matters to Me

I don’t really care about the number on the scale. I’ve always been heavier than I appear. What I care about is how my clothes fit. The clothes I pin on Pinterest don’t really look great on my body type. Anthropologie’s drapey clothes are a success, because their clothes look great on a lot of body types. My problem is I don’t like drapey clothes. I prefer the structure of a good pair of jeans and a stylish t-shirt without a muffin top.

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Bikinis

The internet is applauding women who decided to have a bikini body by simply deciding to wear one. Another post I read celebrated women who accepted their body and wore their two piece swimsuits with pride. I don’t wear a bikini, because I don’t want to stress about my bits falling out while I’m trying to make sure my children don’t drown. Bikinis are stressful.

When I see a thin person

I’m logical thinker. I know I shouldn’t compare, but I do anyway. So when I see a person thinner than me I go through this flow chart: 1. Have they had children? No. Well, that’s why. 2. They have had children. How many? Only one. That’s why. 3. They have had two or more kids, then what is their body type? They are naturally lean and they have good genes. That’s why. Not much I can do about my genes.

Genes

I once read one of those Cosmopolitan magazine articles explaining how most people fit into one of four different body types. I learned I’m not naturally a tall and lean body type. So many of us can’t do much about the genes and body type we have. My genes aren’t so hot. It’s an uphill battle.

Acceptance

This is the part where I’m supposed to write about how much I love what God gave me. Why I should love all the extra droopy skin and poochy belly that my three children gave me. Of course, I love my kids and I’m grateful for the privilege of having them. My issue is how my waist size easily fluctuates. Most of the time I look three months pregnant. That’s what bugs me the most. It’s difficult to find shirts that lay just the right way around my midsection. I’ve watched a lot of What Not to Wear and I know we all have some sort of issue we need to dress correctly. It’s not easy, but I am working on accepting this mama body.

Moving Forward

Diets and working out are great, but I’m on the hunt for stuff I can do forever. I don’t regret all the diets I’ve tried, because each time I added something new to my everyday diet. I don’t want to crash diet again only to gain it all back within a week of bad eating. Because sometimes life happens and you need to eat a giant pizza for your mental health.

I’m also working on finding a sustainable workout plan for the rest of my life. Doing an hour at the gym three to four times a week isn’t sustainable. Walking and some basic exercises like pushups and crunches are something I can do the rest of my life.

Finding the right combination of acceptance and healthy living is tricky. I love food and yummy beverages. I also like wearing cute clothes. It’s an uphill battle.