First off: an exercise.
Let's look at these photos side by side shall we:
What differences do you see?
I'm wondering if you see what I see. As you may have guessed, these are from 2013 & 2014 respectively. This week, I dressed in the exact same outfit I did last year to see if my body dysmorphia and my perception that last year I was way thinner and prettier could be challenged by side-by-side photos.
Here's the differences as I see them:
- My face looks a little rounder this year. Though, that could be that I'm angled a little more to the side in the first photo (I learned this trick to make my jawline look more defined. I have a really round face, which is why you'll see me angle it in photos.)
- My stomach isn't as flat. Could be that I'm carrying more weight in my stomach this year, or that I'm leaning forward a little more in the second photo.
- My arms look bigger. That is definitely a thing. My arms are way stronger this year.
What do you notice?
The biggest thing I noticed is that the differences aren't nearly as extreme as I thought. I really did believe that they would be vast, that I would look totally different this year. But I don't, not a ton.
Here's the breakdown of how my body has changed:
Weight: up 12.5 lbs
Inches: down 5.1 inches
So even though I weigh more, my overall size is down. Mind-boggling, isn't it?
And what's even more funny is that certain parts of my body have shrunk while other parts have gotten bigger, and I don't care. I like that my shoulders and arms are getting bigger. My neck, hips, and calves have stayed the same, my waist has been on a downward trend, my bust and thighs seem to change with my cycle. It's interesting to watch, but it doesn't have the sting it once did. Measurement day for Precision Nutrition used to make me really anxious, but I've skipped the last couple altogether, because I am not a number. I am more complex than that.
Don't even get me started on how inaccurate most measurements are anyway, given our cyclical lady changes and the subjective nature of human data collection. I've given up on calipers and scales altogether. I include my own measurements here to prove to myself with hard data that my flawed perception of my body ballooning up because I'm not rigorously exercising and restrictively eating is false.
My body has changed, certainly. I can see that I'm not quite as angular as I was in 2013. That's cool. If I want to do another Whole30 and be strict Paleo again, I can. If I want to do intense cardio and CrossFit 6x a week again, while restrictively eating, I can. It's just - that's not my goal right now. I don't want to dedicate my life to the temple of svelteness right now. And that's a more than acceptable choice.
But I did this exercise to show myself that I am acceptable when not eating restrictively and goose stepping through my self-enforced boot camp. In fact, I think I look pretty rad, especially for having been injured for 3 weeks, eating comfort food because of lady times, and being off my normal meditation and yoga practice.
What's more, this way of being feels like a breath of fresh air. It feels sustainable. I get to ask myself every day, "What will nourish me most?" and then do it. It feels like spring, and sunshine, and a deep, full breath. It feels badass.