Start Today

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There have been times in my life when I’ve postponed change or celebration or reward because of my body. I’ve said to myself, “I’ll do that once I’m happier with myself. Once I’ve lost weight/toned up/changed my shape, I’ll allow myself this activity or thing. I’ll should wait until then and reward myself.”

I know I am not alone. So many of us buy into the idea that we should motivate ourselves by depriving ourselves. If we don’t book that vacation or buy that new wardrobe until after we’ve changed our bodies, the pent-up excitement created by anticipation will fuel our body-changing efforts. Which may be true to some small extent, maybe, probably at the very beginning of a body-change journey. But there’s a darker side to this internal bargain: The belief that we don’t actually deserve change or celebration or reward until we look “different” or “better,” which usually means “smaller” or “thinner.”

And when I say “belief” I really mean “fallacy.” Because we are the same people on the inside no matter how we’re shaped, no matter how much we weigh, no matter how we look. We are just as deserving and worthy at one weight as we are at another. There is nothing about body change that impacts our inner selves. NOTHING. And to set up false bargains that reinforce the idea that goodness is linked to thinness is to tread on dangerous ground.

Each of us is in charge of her own body, and that includes undertaking changes. Although plenty of people will try to horn in with their opinions about your size or weight – typically leaning on health-related concern as their motivation – you’re the decider. You’re the queen of your own body. And if you want to lose weight, gain weight, tone up, alter your diet, exercise more or less, or do anything at all to change your body, you absolutely can. But I hope I can convince you that attempting to drive that change by dangling a long-desired reward off in the distance can create some unhealthy undercurrents. Embrace change if you feel so moved, but try not to tell your self a story about how you’ll only deserve certain things if you achieve change.

I’ve talked to so many women who’ve told me, “I tried and waited, and tried and waited some more, and eventually realized that this is my body now. And I might as well accept it and make it my home.” Much of this is in the context of personal style, because when your body is in flux or you’re hoping to shift its size or shape, the idea of investing in new or better clothes seems wasteful. Since you’ll look different soon, why allow yourself to buy and wear gorgeous things now? And the answer is twofold.

First, you may or may not achieve the change you envision. And I say that not to be discouraging or negative, but instead to shift perspective. If you don’t or can’t make those changes, does that mean you never get new clothes? Never get to revise your style or update your wardrobe? This thinking pattern can trap you in a perpetual limbo of buying cheap or boring items to “tide you over,” which means you end up stuck in a state of waiting for the day when you can really splash out.

Second, you are still a wonderful, worthy, deserving person right now. Today. Just as you are. And if you treat yourself as such, doing so can foster self-confidence and build energy, which can actually fuel the actions you take to make changes. Being kind to yourself, taking vacations, buying and wearing clothes that make you feel stylish and polished may help you feel happier in the present moment, and may also help you achieve the changes you desire.

So start today. Even if you want to change, allow yourself to feel good in this moment. Remember that you will be amazing then, but that you’re also amazing now. Unless you’ve got the single functional crystal ball left in the universe, you can’t know when or if change will come. And limbo sucks. So start today, and lavish your today-body with care and patience and kindness and love. No harm could ever come of that.

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9 Responses to “Start Today”

  1. Brigitte at the zoo

    I realized not long ago that I’d fallen in that trap again. I spent most (all?) of my teenage years thinking I would deserve happiness and better friends once I got skinny, and I worked really hard in my twenties to fight that, and learn to love myself as a plus-size gal. I embraced my shape and learned to dress it well, and never felt I was less deserving… until now, and additional weight gain after I had a baby, and I find myself contemplating new purchases and thinking “No, I need to lose 15lbs before I buy that- or maybe I should just get it in a size smaller so I’m motivated to lose the weight!”

    And of course that’s a vicious circle! I’m already hating myself for the enormous closet full of clothes that don’t fit, and adding to the pile of stuff I can’t wear isn’t motivating, it’s depressing. Let’s-have-another-cookie depressing. And so I’m fighting back! I’m wearing the pretty things I own that do fit, and will be forcing myself to wear my pretty shoes (those always fit!) I deserve nice things NOW. And since I’m in a place where I can afford to replace too big items when the time comes, why not get a pair of nice fitting jeans and a pretty dress?!

  2. Jennifer

    I’ve gained about 25 lbs over the past year, and it’s been so hard to not beat myself up about it. While the gym is now a regular point of my life (wasn’t before), I haven’t lost a lot of weight over the past two months. It’s frustrating, because I still like clothes I can’t fit into. I was pondering getting some spring clothes in my one-size-bigger size. Think I will~I’m working to improve my health, even if the numbers on the scale don’t change much.

  3. vlg

    You beautifully articulated something that has taken me a very long time to realize. Doing good/fun stuff now, fuels motivation for improving health (diet, exercise, body shape, whatever). For so many years I fell into the trap you describe. Then I just quit beating myself up and started doing all those fun things/buying the pretty clothes, etc. And I felt so much better about myself, that I WANTED to eat healthier and I WANTED to exercise more to increase my strength and endurance so that I could enjoy more of those fun things. It’s always easier to do the things you want to do rather than the things you feel you “have” to do. It takes self-care out of the chore category and puts it in the fun category.

  4. NewFarm

    A caveat on “NOTHING”: I had some cosmetic surgery in my twenties. 20 years later, I now realize I didn’t really “need” to, and part of me regrets giving in to those voices (scary, painful, expensive, and I.let.them.win.). BUT…I am not sure at all that I would have become the current stronger me who knows now she was pretty already then, if I hadn’t had the surgery. The nosejob answered the voices with “ok already, here it’s changed. Complain about something else.” I got lots of immediate and ongoing positive attention, a very different scenario from your otherwise well-supported “NOTHING”. Poof, people looked at me (ok, even after the black eyes went away.) That attention was the boost I needed at the time to start believing I was pretty, and thereby strengthen my self-esteem. Chicken and egg.

    I guess what I learned is, that sometimes we need a crutch for a short time, to heal the limb that will carry us in the long run. And that surgery is not a short-term fix – I would have been possibly better served with styling help, but I would have still wondered about what I would have looked like with a straight nose. (Argh.) At least I seem to be immune to the tummy-tuckitis that is starting to spread among my friends…but I do understand why it can feel so important.

  5. Sue

    I have always been a huge fan of thrifting through garage sales, thrift shops, and ebay. Thrifting has especially been important as I gained weight going into my 40s. I went from a size 8 to almost a 14 over the last few years. As my size increased I refused to purchase any retail clothes except shoes and undergarments. I had the mindset that one day I would lose the weight and therefore could not justify spending extra money on potentially transient sized items. I hated feeling like I was in limbo and did not deserve full priced clothing. These feelings forced me to seriously think about my diet and lifestyle choices. It was then that I decided to adopt a healthier eating plan and pick up running again. I did not put myself on a diet where I could only eat certain foods. Instead I just kept track of how many calories I ate and utilized portion control. In the last six months I’ve lost 22 pounds and am back to a size 8. Physically, I feel much better at this weight and running is easier. I never purchased a “victory” retail item for losing the weight. I did not want to feel like somehow I had won because I was now a lower size, like that other sized person was something to defeat. I did, however, get rid of my larger clothes because I have no intention of going back to my old lifestyle pattern. I will keep the thrifting!!

  6. loubeelou

    Fantastic! Been there for sure and am feeling more “in the now” at this stage in my life. I have found that if I’m doing good and healthy things, that I actually feel good and healthy (imagine!) – for me this includes walking, cooking with lots of vegetables, meeting new friends, trying new hobbies, taking vacation time and wearing pants that fit.

  7. Leah

    Sally, thank you so much for this post. It really resonated with me. Lately,I have been doing this to myself. I went through a period 2 years ago where I lost about 25 lbs, and now I’ve gained almost all of it back. I have been telling myself not to buy new clothes, (even though almost none of mine fit anymore!!) because I want to “Wait until I can fit into my old clothes again”. And it’s not fair to myself, because it might not ever happen and squeezing myself into clothes that barely fit only make me feel worse about myself. So, time to buy clothes that fit the size I am now because I deserve it.

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