The process of accepting your changing midlife body stings

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I just switched my closet from winter clothes to spring clothes and I have noticed that a few of my shirts are tighter and shorter…and it’s not my dryer! I have become “thicker” everywhere. I went out clothes shopping and am at that critical point where I am just on the cusp between sizes.

If I would lose a few pounds, I know I could comfortably wear the smaller size. But to lose weight will require my lifestyle to become more of a focus in my life. I already eat good quality food, I enjoy running and go to group fitness classes, I practice mindfulness and actively work to manage my stress, I (mostly) sleep 7 hours a night… I already do focus on my lifestyle – and am not willing to add in any more time. Working out and prepping good quality food is not my full-time job!

In all the discussion about accepting our bodies is a flat space that I think we need to acknowledge…the process of letting our previous bodies go and accepting our midlife body is a challenging process – it has been for myself and the many people with whom I work. Can we have a *real conversation* about what this has been like?

 

Why did my weight go up?

Over the last few years, my weight has continued to creep up. With working more, being busier with my boys, traveling more for work and for fun…having more social occasions that involve good wine and cheese pairings (and the snacks that go with it). I have my version of a midlife lifestyle.

Based on my priorities in my work and personal life, I am not willing to change much. My lifestyle is not my full-time job. Which leaves me with a choice:

  • be miserable fighting with my body, trying to stay at a weight and size that I am no longer meant to be…or
  • accepting that my body is changing.

If you need to focus that much on your diet and lifestyle to stay the same weight and size, your world is too small.

 

Accepting our changing bodies is not easy when we live in a diet-centric culture

Knowing that there are biological reasons that explain why my body is changing doesn’t make it easy to “accept”. We live in a diet-centric culture:

  • The unsolicited comments we all get on our bodies (including “you look great”– these comments are not helpful)
  • The discomfort we feel when we notice other people “checking out” our bodies
  • The compare and despair that we all do in our lives
  • The social pressure to discuss our current diets or to participate in a lifestyle challenge (which can be so triggering for poor body image)
  • The lighting in stores that makes us feel even worse about ourselves
  • The sting of shopping for new clothes…

Magazines do not adequately portray what do REAL mid-life bodies (and skin) look like. The diet industry tempts us with empty promises – could I really make my body change? Our co-workers who do the keto diet leave us with doubt – should I really be eating this jar of overnight oats? Is this bag of carrots really okay? Can I really eat these grapes? (Spoiler alert – yes, they are okay!).

We need to accept our bodies where they are right now, and we need to provide our bodies with self-care not abuse. I If I only evaluate the success of my lifestyle efforts by my weight and size, I am getting stuck focusing on an outcome that I do not have total influence over. I am also missing out on the benefits of my self-care that I am gaining.

Accepting our changing bodies is not easy when we live in a diet-centric culture.

 

How can I be a healthier version of myself at this age and stage of my life?

Accepting your changing body is a process. Here is where I can focus my health and lifestyle energy. I can:

  • eat a less-processed diet with good-tasting “fuel foods” while still having some room for “joy foods”.
  • add in supplements to support my unique health profile.
  • limit my caffeine intake each day.
  • be mindful of how much alcohol I regularly consume.
  • set up meal-planning systems in my house to help me thrive nutritionally.
  • focus on staying active in ways that energize me (I still need to do yoga more consistently).
  • buy clothes that fit me properly and make me feel good.
  • make time for important relationships in my life.
  • spend time with people who light me up and fuel me.
  • focus on all that I do have in my life.
  • make sure I am rested in both my body and my mind (I have more work that I can do in my self-care and spiritual health department).
  • and more.

As you go through the process of accepting your changing midlife body, ask yourself – how can you be a healthier version of yourself at *this* age and stage of your life?

 

Image credit: by Pexels from Pixabay

Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD, Food, Nutrition & Culinary Coach, Registered Nutritionist and Calgary Dietitian, Calgary, AB.

5 Comments

  1. Sue Ward says:

    Thanks so much! I am there right now too. Even a bit more traumatizing because I am a dietitian and therefore think everyone around me expects me to have it all together in this area!

    • Kristyn Hall says:

      Thank you Sue for sharing this vulnerability. We dietitians are living in the same diet-centric culture as our clients. To expect our clients to embrace health at every size without honestly acknowledging our own personal challenges in this journey seems inauthentic. Having an open conversation about this feels really important in being able to shift cultural attitudes about youth, beauty and health.

  2. Kristyn,
    This is such a great article! There are so many changes in our life as we grow, start (and end) different stages. I love thinking about what I want to look back at in each stage and remember (and it is never ‘a better body’ me)!

    I totally agree with your comments above as well. Being a dietitian in this world doesn’t mean we have it all figured out!

    Thank you for such a great post.

  3. Christy Keillor says:

    Wonderful article Kristyn thanks for writing this. It is information we need to share and live out well and role model well ourselves as dietitians and even more importantly as woman and mothers to help society embrace aging as a good and appropriate wonderful thing. Aging being a gift some people don’t even get to have as I think of a beautiful friend who died at 40 of cancer and would have delighted to get old and be there for her kids. I agree though it’s a tough thing to accept the changes bravely with integrity and kindness to self. Great reminder and challenge for me. Thanks

    • Kristyn Hall says:

      I love your perspective Christy. And in my mind, part of being a role-model as a dietitian is to acknowledge that this process is challenging. People perceive that we have all of this figured out – and yes, we are very knowledgeable. We are also humans having our own experience living in this culture. Digging deep into our own doubts and challenges and acknowledging that they are there I hope can help “normalize” and reduce the shame that people feel about their changing bodies.

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