Your Body Changes. That's OK!
Your body is working every single second to keep you alive and healthy. Your body also changes very often in appearance and mechanics. I wake up some mornings feeling groggy and sometimes full of life. Sometimes I go to the gym and sometimes I sit in my pjs all day. I am more active some days than others. I eat more some days than others. I bloat some days more than others. There is a never-ending list of reasons as to why my body looks and performs in certain ways.
This blog post is to tell you that every single day, no matter how active and healthy you are or not - your body still fights for you every single day. Your body will always change, it will always look and act differently depending on many factors like the amount of sleep you get, what you eat, side effects of your period, illness or sickness etc, your natural shape, some of which are out of your control. Your body fights the sickness, tells you when you need sleep, tells you when it needs feeding, bears your children, embodies your soul and much much more!
No matter how active and fit you are, no matter how 'clean' you eat or how much protein and carbs you eat and no matter the steps you make to ensure you live a healthy life - your body's appearance is not an indication of your health. I appear skinnier some days after an evening of take-out and I look bloated after a gym session sometimes. I can't control it and it doesn't control my emotions. We desperately need to rid the world of this idea that somehow our appearance indicates health. My younger brother looks the epitome of health - he has a six pack and not an ounce of fat on him, yet I have never seen him eat a single vegetable. He lives off sweets. Now, if you saw someone without a six pack, carrying a bit more fat on their body you would blame the sweets and criticise them for it. But as long as you 'look' healthy, that's all that matters to some people.
I like to think I live a pretty balanced life. I work out at least 3 times a week and I really enjoy it, I eat nourishing food and chocolate throughout the day, I skip the gym when I can't be bothered, I sleep well, I drink alcohol and I practice mindfulness. My body is fairly healthy! But sometimes my stomach swells up, my weight fluctuates, I get colds etc and I feel groggy. Even if you work out 5 days a week, eat nourishing food, sleep for 8 hours, take protein and do all of the supposedly healthy lifestyle traits, your body may still swell up, your weight may still fluctuate, you may still suffer sickness and you may still feel groggy sometimes.
Instead of thinking of health as something to make you look better, why not start to think of health as something to aid your happiness and well-being. Change your goals and perspective! You can still live a healthy life and enjoy chocolate, rest, alcohol and all of the things deemed 'unhealthy'. Health isn't just about what you eat and how much you run - it's a complex web of things depending on what you value and what makes you happy. For me, health is about self-love, making my body feel nourished, feeling at peace with my thoughts, feeling alive and motivated and being creative and working. Think of exercise as something to release endorphins and get you out of the house, but remember, if you don't enjoy working out, that's ok too! You can find other ways to stay active. Think of food as something to fuel and nourish your body to make your insides glow, but if you're craving a McDonalds or dessert then give into that desire. If you feel like you need to sleep for 10 hours instead of getting up and doing the housework, revising or seeing your friends, then that's also ok! If you'd prefer to stay in than going out drinking with your friends, that's cool too. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
The following pictures are to show that the appearance of my body changes. Even when I've been 'healthy', I still bloat, and I still feel really 'ugh' sometimes. If you depend on the appearance of your body to make you happy and make you feel like you have achieved health, then I'm afraid you will never achieve happiness. People and companies that tell you all your issues will go away if you're skinnier or have a bigger bum or a different body type at all, are lying to you. Your body will continue to try its best to support you and care for you no matter what body type you have. You must harmonise all aspects of your life to truly achieve happiness and well-being. Don't see health as something to benefit your appearance, rather, see it as something to aid your happiness and overall well-being. Don't criticise or hate your body for looking a certain way - embrace it and thank it.
This is my body after going for a run... (ignore the sunburn). Despite eating well and exercising, sometimes your body just doesn't feel happy. I like to put on comfy clothes so I don't feel restricted or uncomfortable and refrain from beating myself up about it.
This is my body after leg day... If I'm going to the gym I eat a lot more so that I feel energised and it allows me to lift heavier. Your body needs food to fuel your body. Food is not something to be feared. It was after I began exercising regularly that I realised how good food really is and how beneficial it is for my body rather than starving it.
This is my body after a bowl of pasta and ice cream (CARBS DON'T MAKE YOU FAT). I would avoid carbs at all costs because I convinced myself that they bloated me and therefore were evil. But, after any meal my stomach expands because it is supposed to! Carbs give you energy & they're bloody tasty. Don't be sucked into the health myths, find what works best for you instead and make your own decisions.
This is my body after a delicious meal made by myself for my grandparents followed by beer and profiteroles. I looked full BUT, I was still hungry!
As you can see, my body's appearance changes depending on a number of things but not always the ways in which we are told. I still bloat when I eat 'clean' and 'healthy' food and run. I'm still hungry despite stomach swelling. I still have definition in my stomach and strong legs despite eating tons when I want to.
Accept your body in every single way. No matter what it looks like or how you feel, don't hate yourself or your body. It's ok to make changes that benefit your wellbeing and happiness by eating good food, exercising, sleeping, resting, practicing self-love and peace - that's the difference between dieting and diet culture. Don't do those things because you 'should' or because you think it will make you prettier or more successful or better in any way. Make peace in your mind and your body.
"Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't known before you learned it".