It may seem like I write about food and nutrition just to show you how delicious healthy food is. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that you can veganize old favorites pretty easily, or sub goat cheese for cow cheese in pretty much everything.
But that’s not really why I write.
I write because I really want to feel amazing in my own skin, and I want you to feel amazing in your skin, too. I’m learning, and I want to share what I learn with you. I think we all deserve to feel great in our bodies, and happy to be alive.
Happy JUST to be alive.
This life we are living is everything. It’s the greatest gift.
I realize as I look back over the last few years, I haven’t appreciated my body. As much as I’ve wanted to love it and honor it, I’ve also wanted to control it and I wanted it to look and perform in a certain way that wasn’t always healthy or balancing.
This really got intense for me with pregnancy.
Don’t get me wrong – I loved my belly. But I gained a lot of weight with my pregnancy and my taste for foods changed so much in that first trimester that I felt desperately out of control. I had to venture out of my usual range of foods that I ate. I’m glad that happened, it was a great experience and overall I enjoyed the change, and it taught me a lot about myself. It mostly taught me that I still felt a lot of stress about my body, my appearance, and what people would think of me (such as OMG did the nutritionist REALLY gain like fifty pounds during her pregnancy?!?!?!).
I have a friend that I get together with a couple times each month. Her daughter was born a week after Alessandra, and we both went to the same birth center. This means that we saw the same midwives throughout our pregnancy. We both were given the lecture about eating too many carbohydrates and sugars during our pregnancy (this results in too big babies, according to some), but we both had very different reactions the these warnings.
My reaction was shame. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t handle my desire for starches and sugar. Of course I wasn’t going to eat chicken, cubed cheese (whatever that is!), or eggs for breakfast like they recommended, but I felt shame regarding my appetite. My friend, on the other hand, just thought the midwives were ridiculous. She said, “I’m a vegetarian, what do they expect me to eat? Of course I’m going to eat fruit and grains!” She was totally unapologetic about her choices, and she even emphasized her huge appetite with a smile.
My friend also has a great attitude about most things. She is happy almost all of the time, genuinely. Even with her labor she never doubted her ability to give birth. I had a lot of doubts. I was very nervous, and it came down to the fact that I was less scared of a natural birth than a hospital birth and all of the interventions that could happen in that medical setting. I constantly reminded myself of my body’s wisdom and that I had the innate strength and knowledge to birth my daughter without the use of drugs or unnecessary medical procedures. It took a lot of effort for me to believe this, while for my friend, it just seemed to be her natural belief.
I think about how this relates to me as a person. Throughout my life I have had a harder time being happy than most. I have a tendency to doubt myself, to not believe in myself. And I see how this spilled over into my birthing experience. It wasn’t just my doubts about my body’s strength and wisdom but about my ability to make a good decision. Was I making the right decision? Was I stupid for thinking I could do this? Were everyone’s warnings right? Was I foolish for not listening?
I was heavy with worry by the time my daughter was due. Much like I get heavy with worry over most big events in my life. I’m realizing now that I have a bit of an issue with making decisions. I have a really hard time making them, and when I do something that doesn’t turn out perfectly, I beat myself up about it. This is really silly if you think about it. We all make decisions, some good, some bad. You live and you learn from your decisions. Do we really expect to always be right? Why are we so hard on ourselves when we’re not?
This has been a huge dilemma throughout my life. But pregnancy simplified things for me. The cool thing about pregnancy is that your body takes over and you have to go with it. If you ignore the body during pregnancy and childbirth, things can become more painful, more invasive, and require more recovery time. You can’t be mental about something as primal as childbirth, not at all.
So how does this relate to my body being perfect? This is how.
I realize that when I was fifty pounds heavier than I am now at the time of my daughter’s birth, my body was perfect. It was perfect before I got pregnant. It was perfect when I gained fifteen pounds on a two week trip to Italy, and it was perfect when I was the thinnest I had ever been at my wedding, and even when I was a chubby fourth grader getting teased for being fat while I ate my Dannon yogurt and everyone else ate normal cafeteria food.
My body is perfect because it’s mine. It tells my story. It’s often heavier when I’m feeling heavier, it’s lighter when I’m feeling lighter, and it’s felt dry, barren and depleted when I feel undernourished in my life. There have been times when it was heavy because it felt right to eat more and get enjoyment from my life with richer foods (such as during my trip to Italy). I remember that first week after Alessandra was born, I was eating a french baguette (white bread! yes!) that my husband made for me with garlic, olive oil, and herbs, along with quinoa pasta with steamed cauliflower, spinach, and marinara. While this was out of the norm for me, it felt so perfect in my most incredibly tired state! It was so nourishing. Right now, that meal wouldn’t feel right in my body, but at that time, it was perfect.
Our bodies are complex. They are NOT rigid machines that can never venture outside of a box. The past two years have really shown me that.
If I didn’t have the experiences I have had in my body, my life would be completely different. I’m grateful for the the pain I’ve felt from being unhappy with my body, and from being a body type that easily puts on weight. Without my quest for health, my life would feel barren. I’ve learned so much because of it.
When it comes down to it, I realize that I regret nothing. I see how perfect everything has always been. The dark days and the bright days both had their place and served their purpose. When it comes down to it, I realize that my body is perfect just like the Universe is perfect – it’s always showing us what we need to see: where we’re holding on too tight, where we’re not trying hard enough, where we’re neglecting ourselves, where we’re not loving ourselves enough, where we’re not believing in ourselves and in the Universe enough. We just have to be willing to open our eyes to see the truth of what life, the Universe, and our body is telling is. The messages are always there.
I know what my body is telling me right now. It’s telling me that I need to make a decision and commit to it, that I have the strength and inner power to commit to what I want for myself and my family. It’s telling me that I can love food but my life can’t revolve around it, I have greater things to be a part of now.
Being healthy is not about having a perfect diet and lifestyle, it’s about seeing the perfection that is already there. It’s about living your life, being in the flow, not being governed or preoccupied with anything but your own joy, your own love, the bliss that comes with being in a body on this planet.
How do you feel about this topic? How does the statement “My body is perfect.” make you feel? My best friend wrote this once in a facebook post, after explaining how she had tried to hide her curves for years and wished she could lose weight. When I read it, I actually winced. Ever since reading that, I’ve been inspired to discover my own body’s perfection. Now I realize the perfection has been there all along: telling my story, being strong, being beautiful, never abandoning me despite how critical I’ve been of it, and most importantly, demanding I never lose sight of the truth, that I never settle for anything less than what my heart desires.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about your perfect body in the comment section below. What story is your body telling you?
Lots of Love,