I know, I know -- it is always changing, mostly in mundane ways: hair falls off; skin follicles shed; my hands gain calluses and my legs, bruises; wrinkles form in unusual places; I age. I know this. I know that these changes are part of the human contract: we agree to them in living these fallible lives. We cannot be perfect.
But, I want to say in response to my wiser self, My body is different. See? It hasn't changed a wink in over two years, and now this! These new pounds, right there! What is going on? It feels disorienting to face a new body in the morning, even if there's nothing objectively to dislike about that body. There was comfort in having things stay the same these last few years, especially as my eating learned to take care of itself; the last thing I needed was a body that went willy-nilly. For a while, I had even learned to trust my body, and to trust that it would tell me what it needed. This recent spurt of weight gain has called into question some of my trust.
Nevertheless, although I am uncomfortable with some of the changes that I feel in my body, there is nothing that I want to do to change them (unlike in the past). I don't want to eat less -- I know where that road leads down, and I don't like it one bit -- and I don't have the energy or the inclination to exercise myself into oblivion.
In fact, I am quite resigned to not doing anything, in particular, to fight or mold my body. These attempts are mostly futile, anyway. Both scientific research and my own experience shows that restriction sets one up for binges, or worse, and that most weight lost on diets is quickly gained back. So there goes one more myth, one more attempt to be someone or some body I am not. It is sad, in a way, to see that myth go: to recognize that I can't touch it again, or it might kill me.
And yet -- with what can that myth be replaced? For it needs a replacement, or it won't die easily.
Where do I learn to be a woman who loves her body no matter its shape? Where do I learn to surrender to the changes that occur, those monthly and yearly fluctuations that may or may not mean anything larger?
Right now, I am trying to look for meaning in the rest of my life, to reassure myself that there are better things worth worrying about than whether or not my pants are tight. It is interesting how life, right now, has presented me with so many more worthwhile endeavors than body sculpting. I hardly have time to be fretting about my waistline, and so it has turned into a series of conscious choices:
- I can envy that other woman on the train for her pencil-thin legs, or I can dedicate myself to memorizing neuroanatomy while traveling uptown.
- I can question my lunchtime decisions, or I can pay attention to my professor's lecture in my afternoon class.
- I can worry about whether I am dressed attractively, or I can listen to a patient's concerns.
- I can spend my evenings exercising, or I can eat dinner with my husband.
- I can hate my body, or I can love and appreciate it.
I would love to know: what is your replacement for the myth of the perfect body?
How do you stay sane in the midst of constant change?