Ten years prior, my feet clicked up and down on the StairMaster. My eyes were glued to the red numbers that blinked calories burned. I calculated my daily food intake, and I knew the number of calories I needed to burn each day until the start of vacation. I skipped meals, squeezed portions, over-exercised, and was cruel to the reflection I saw in the mirror. This is how I used to prepare for vacations.
But this vacation was different; I was much different now.
Months before my own trip, a friend casually mentioned she had 15 weeks to lose 15 pounds before her vacation. I looked up from my book and our eyes connected. She said matter-of-factly, “Sorry, Alice.”
Sitting there on the couch with my book folded on my lap, I knew what she meant when she apologized. I wasn’t offended. I didn’t muster a witty response or spin about the encounter afterwards. It was an acknowledgement that while she knew I was at a place of body acceptance, she wasn’t there yet.
Her goals were for scale numbers and clothing tags. My goals — while they certainly had for many years — no longer focused on those numbers. I wasn’t sorry, either.
Old habits are hard to break.
I didn’t feel above her or better. I didn’t feel enlightened; I was just choosing a different path to live in my body. It did feel odd though, preparing for this vacation. There was no desperation to fit in numerous workouts or reach a particular scale number. There was no deprivation of food. I bought vacation clothes that fit my body, including a swimsuit. A bikini, funny enough — swimwear I hadn’t worn in too many years to remember even.
I spent the time before my trip chasing my life instead of chasing skinny.
I am aware that many women deny or delay activities and events because of body size or inability to lose the baby weight. Some of us spend years refusing to get in a pool or even take family photos because our bodies “aren’t there yet.” These thoughts focus on what others might think, and we let these self-hating thoughts prevail. We miss moments that will never happen the same way again. I know. I was that woman.
It is not an easy path to being willing to live in the skin you are in. Much like hatred of your body must be fed with sabotaging thoughts and actions, loving yourself must be exponentially nurtured.
It is knowing that you are giving yourself grace, not excuses.
It is understanding that our minds have changed and our bodies have, too.
It is believing that body health and strength can be achieved in many ways and that defining what that looks like is solely owned by us.
On this vacation, I reclined in my lawn chair. Ribbons of plastic pressed into my bronzed legs. Brown sugar sand clung to my toes. Ocean water droplets from my recent swim still glistened around my belly button. I looked near my hips and saw stretchmarks I’d never noticed before. Without missing a beat, my mind raced in wonder at whether they were from my daughter or son.
Not ugly, not shameful.
This was the map of me.
I’m 10 years wiser, 10 years more beautiful, and I’m finally accepting the skin I am in.
PIN WHY I STOPPED DIETING BEFORE VACATIONS FOR LATER
This post was written by Alice Seuffert exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.
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