What does it mean to be “in shape”?

One of my broad resolutions for this year was to get in shape. I mentioned before that after having Christian, I gained quite a bit of weight. Part of that may also be due to taking Zoloft daily – but I’m guessing it’s mostly due to grief-eating and my body changing as I get older. (I turn 30 this year! Hooray!) This is the first time in my life I’ve had to actually consider the benefits or ill effects of what I eat. I’m not a fan. I loved my old metabolism.

At any rate, I had to buy new pants. I donated too-small clothes that I wasn’t very attached to and boxed up the ones I love, as motivation to be smaller.

Many times I was getting ready to go out, even just to the grocery store, and ended up in tears because I hated my shape. It isn’t the shape I used to be. It isn’t what “attractive” people look like. I felt miserable because I needed to be smaller, and slimmer, and to weigh less.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. If I eat well and am active, do I really need to be smaller? Am I allowed to just be the size and shape I am? Aren’t there better things I can do with my life than struggle with body image issues? I’ve had 3 children. I’m almost 30. Of course I don’t look like a teenager. Of course I don’t look like a young twentysomething with no kids and no major stress. And of course I don’t look like a model – from what I’ve seen of retouching, even models don’t look like models.

That being said, I still want to change something. I don’t think the number on the scale is nearly as important as how I feel about myself. So my resolution isn’t necessarily “Lose 10 pounds” or “Fit into a pair of pre-Christian jeans” or “Do a workout every morning before the kids get up.” That last one is the most unlikely of the three!

Here’s the resolution I’ve made, at least for now:
Eat dessert only once a week (Monday night), with no sweets any other time; and take Ender on a 30-minute walk at least twice a week.

Now, I realize this won’t significantly change anything about my body. But it’s where I can start to form healthier habits without feeling like I’m being starved – or that I need to be starved.

I guess I don’t have a really clear definition of “in shape.” That’s more or less intentional. Instead of saying I want to get in shape, maybe I should just be trying to be comfortable with my shape while making healthy choices. What do you think?

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4 Comments on “What does it mean to be “in shape”?”

  1. Nicole says:

    I like this idea. I have a friend who has selected a word to work on this year, and that word is “content.” Which isn’t to say that she’s not looking to improve, but a recognition that change takes time, and an effort to be happy with where she is at the moment, while she’s there. I think that I’m going to try and alter my thinking about getting “in shape” to be more in line with that kind of thinking: small changes that allow me to live the way I want to (being able to play with the kids without getting out of breath, for example) and less focus on some specific number or figure that I imagine myself being.

  2. Deborah says:

    I think you absolutely have the right idea. Personally, I find it kind of creepy that an ideal body is that of a high school girl.
    I’ve always been somewhere on the chunky spectrum even when I was in 8th grade, ate much less than previously, ran 15 miles a week, participated in two different soccer leagues, a basketball league and worked out mornings and nights on my own. I’ve often looked back at that year and realize that’s what it takes for me to just be close to what normal girls my height weigh; there is no way I have time for that but I do have the ability to make better and healthier choices with where I’m at. I’ve started caring more about my energy level and stamina and some measurable things like blood pressure and blood sugar etc. When I go to the doc and see those are good, I feel good about myself. I’ve got a whole lot to say about body image issues, because as I mentioned before, I’ve always been in the ‘too fat’ boat (it’s a big boat, hardy, har, har) but what I am trying to live and what I am trying to teach to my kids and in YW is that how you treat your body and what it can do is what matters.
    ps-Have you seen BYU’s week long challenges called redefine beauty?

  3. I think that sounds like a great goal you’ve set — definitely more concrete than the very vague “get in shape” one. I feel you on the changing metabolism thing; it’s just starting to get me and I haven’t even had any kids yet. I can’t just eat what I want anymore and that sucks. I think changing our ideas about what beauty *is* might be a better new year’s resolution than anything else. It’s so easy (for me!) to just blindly accept what TV/media present as the ideal body…when in reality, I look around and see very beautiful, lovely women in all shapes and sizes. Anyway, I’m not good at putting my thoughts into words (in a nonfiction setting), but basically all this rambling means: I’m sorry you have to go through this struggle and I think you’ve picked an admirable goal. :)

  4. Sposita says:

    Sounds good to me! I think it would be good for me to do something similar. We have far too many treats in the house and we are eating far too much of them!


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