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      The body image black hole.

      a shadow finger points at a woman's belly

      I’m going to dive into this one right quick today:

      I’ve been thinking about my body a lot lately. Like, kind of non-stop. Like, way too much.

      And definitely more than I would ever advise a client to do.

      The truth is, it’s changed. Quite a bit. For quite a while now. And I haven’t quite gained a full handle on how I feel about it yet. I’m getting there, but naturally, I’m overthinking it.

      Part of that is the trauma of being in the fitness industry for a dozen years. Part of it is the trauma of a mother and grandmother who are still – still – critiquing these changes my body is going through in my head. (And I don’t even actually speak to either of those people in real life!) Part of it is the trauma of a lifetime of general diet culture, now “wellness,” continuing to bombard me from nearly every angle. (I’m *thisclose* to quitting Instagram again, I swear.)

      Put all that stuff together, and even with all the myriad tools I have learned over the years, I’m not above the body image struggle. For all the high-level ideas I had about it before, I’m in the weeds now.

      I take it day by day. Some days are sweatpants days. Some days aren’t. Some days, I’m able to gain perspective. Some days, I get stuck in a hole.

      Frankly though, it’s annoying. I’m tired of myself and my shitty self-talk.

      The other day, I got the kickstart I needed to get out of my body-image funk. (Thank goodness. The Universe knows!)

      I was scrolling Instagram and a dear friend of mine posted a story of himself on vacation with his beautiful family at the beach with the caption “in my dad bod era.”

      Now let me paint a picture here that includes visible abs, defined pecs, and huge biceps. This is a guy who, like me, goes hard in the gym and takes pride in his appearance. There was maaaaaybe what we miiiiight be able to call a sliiiiight layer of fat over the top of a super ripped body.

      I immediately DMed him and launched into my soapbox speech.

      We’re 40! Not 25! I said.

      We’re still in ridiculous shape! I said.

      Priorities change! I said.

      I…mostly believed what I said.

      No, that’s not true. I believe it. Wholeheartedly. Sometimes, it just takes me a minute to find a way to internalize it.

      Of course, I thought more about it in the days to follow. Spent the week back and forth between reviewing that conversation and the truth of it, and being mean to myself and in a down mood. Analyzing and calculating and pinching and staring at myself. Getting all sad and taking it out on my boyfriend. (It’s not his fault he’s perpetually hot and doesn’t have to think about these things.)

      And then I came out the other side.

      Like I told my friend – there are so many more important things in life, ie: how great a dad he is and how much fun he’s clearly having in his “dad bod.” For me, it’s how much more peace and joy I feel in my life these days, more authentically derived than from just being super lean, and mostly having other people take notice and/or comment on how super lean I was.

      I’ve put in enough work recently, spurred by the evolution of my own body and life, to understand that my joy in life doesn’t really come from any of that.

      Sure, I freaking love working out. I still love running. I love riding my Peloton at the end of a work day. I love hiking mountains more than any of it. I like good food that comes from the earth. I love vegetables! And yes, I still like looking pretty good in a swimsuit or tight clothes. I will absolutely still take a compliment on my appearance. I do still work hard in the gym.

      But the deep, deep in my heart and soul happiness and joy I feel today, every day these days, comes from looking over and seeing the guy I’m in love with sitting next to me. From laughing at fart jokes with him or walking the dog and downloading our days. From knowing I’m safe and loved authentically by the people in my life, that I don’t have to protect or hide myself. From getting excited about the next trip or an upcoming concert or building a future. From meeting up with friends or trying new things or restaurants.

      I don’t need to be 12% body fat to achieve any of that. I never, ever want to be dependent on that again for my contentment in life. I know too many people who are, and they’re actually miserable. (Again, I know, because 1) I’ve coached many of these folks, and 2) I was also one of them for a long time. Took me a long time to figure it out, but it’s true.) I don’t want us to be miserable anymore.

      Anyway, all of this not at all to say you care about my body and how I’m feeling about it. But all of this to say, “body stuff” has been on my mind in a way that’s very different than it has been before, especially as a coach. It’s got me thinking so much more about how much better I can show up and support people going through it, from a closer experience. (More to come here, and soon. If you took my recent IG stories survey, you might have an idea.) It’s got me thinking, once again, about what really matters.

      It’s got me thinking I want to encourage you to be thinking about what really matters. (I’ve been a broken record here for years, I know, but the truth of this as the core of it all just doesn’t change.)

      And y’know, I realize, you might actually already be there. You may be miles ahead of me. If you are, I’m celebrating you!

      If you’re not though, I just want you to know you’re not alone. And I don’t mean that in some chintzy, I’m-trying-to-influence-you kind of way. You know by now that’s not my style. I’m saying it in a genuine, I-get-the-pressure-you-feel and it’s-OK-to-let-that-go kind of way.

      And then, I want to invite you to do a little exercise with me, too. You can keep thinking, overthinking, analyzing, letting your inner meanie bully you for a minute. But then I want you to just pause. Pull out a piece of paper or a journal or your notes app on your phone. Write down one thing that brought you joy today. And then keep writing all the top things that matter to you in your world right now, your top priorities. (To be clear, even if you’re totally cool with your body image, this is still a great exercise!)

      If you’ve been in a body image black hole (or even some other kind of black hole) like me lately, that list will allow you to instantly gain some black and white perspective. A couple pounds of body weight, or a little bit of bloating, or some cellulite or jiggle, what size your clothes are – none of it matters even half as much as who you are and all the amazing things you’re doing in this world.

      It’s hard out there and life is short. The clearer I get on what makes life easy and full, the more I want to focus on that. I’m not here to spend the second half of my life being even harder on myself for stuff that doesn’t contribute to my well-being and priorities, the mark I want to make in the world.

      Easy to say, harder to do, but I’m here for it. Kinder, gentler, less rigid, more meaningful living. For real this time. How about you?

      P.S. That IG survey I mentioned? It’s mostly about whether you’re able to get in workouts that meet your goals as a full-time working/”corporate” professional. If you want to participate here in this online survey, that would be super helpful! Something good is coming out of the results, I promise 🙂

      P.P.S. If this is resonating with you right now, I do have one coaching seat available starting in April. Here to help, if you need some outside perspective. Send me a note, and we can chat more about it.

      Coaching can be daunting, so let’s ditch that and just talk about what you need.

      Book your (completely free) call to see how this feels in your guts.

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