Hello Spring! It is that time of year again where the sun sets later, bugs emerge from hibernation, and everyone seems to be talking about bikini season. As someone who struggled with body image, I personally always dreaded the warmer seasons. If you look at my wardrobe you would think I live in 20-degree weather. I’ve always wanted to hide it under the covers and wear everything I owned hoping no one including myself would ever see my body. I didn’t want to be sun-kissed or hang out by the pool. Instead, I wanted to be in the air conditioning reading a book! It took me a while to accept that my body and the warmer seasons aren’t going anywhere.
I dreaded Spring.
Instead of focusing on how to cover up my body during Spring and the hot months ahead, or becoming fixated on getting to a certain weight, I’ve learned to integrate some new practices that have assisted me in not only building a better relationship with spring but also with my body. Below, I want to highlight the three R’s. Reflection, Reassess, and Relax!
The first R (Reflection) is about taking a moment to pause. Think of your thoughts like a movie playing and you get to hit the pause button. When I watch movies with my husband, I have to hit that pause button a lot because he asks a lot of questions throughout the entire movie (it’s really annoying). However, it’s also really helpful. He wants to clarify and makes sure he didn’t miss a crucial piece of information. Despite me pausing more when we watch movies together it really creates space to absorb the material.
Oftentimes, we get so busy looking ahead that we forget to look back on the progress we’ve made. I am referring to the type of progress that you are not the person you were yesterday, 3 weeks ago, or 3 years ago. We are constantly evolving whether we are aware of it or not. This Spring (and going forward), allow yourself to pause and reflect on how far you’ve come. Perhaps, you are able to speak up at work, in your relationships, or order something on the menu without looking at the calories.
Let’s reassess the relationship with our bodies. Personally, my relationship is complicated. There is external pressure, especially during Spring and Summer on getting back to the gym in order to get a ‘bikini body’, or mothers having to ‘bounce back’ to their pre-baby weight. The external pressure is strong and everywhere.
I was at dinner not too long ago eating my delicious meal and minding my own business. There was a couple in their 70s having dinner not too far from my table. The older gentleman stood up with extreme pride to make a speech to his wife on their 50 year wedding anniversary. It was beautiful until he proudly announced his wife was the same weight she is at 70 that she was at 20 years old.
His thin frail wife nodded and smiled in appreciation as if being presented a trophy. I don’t know this couple but after 50 years of marriage, I would hope my weight isn’t the most interesting thing about me. My head was spinning with questions, does he weigh her? Is this all they talk about? Why didn’t she stab him with a fork? This outing was a reminder of the external focus and highlighted my own reassessment with my body.
Oh man, did I struggle with this my entire life. In my early childhood, I was taught to be up before the sun rises, even if I didn’t have anything to do. Someone should not “waste the day” or “be lazy.” As a result, I received perfect attendance in school and at work. As a child, we went to school sick and I internalized that belief into my work.
Once upon a time, I refused to take sick days. I have left jobs with tons of sick days. I had a master’s degree at 23 years old because wasting time in my family was a mortal sin. Resting and relaxing is something I truly had to learn and embrace. It was a skill that I personally didn’t have. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn. We forget how ‘productive’ you can be when you are well-rested and relaxed. Consider this new season as a fresh start in which you allow yourself to take time to Reflect, Reassess, and Relax!