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Yeah…Immaeatthat

Apr 15

“This body doesn’t feel like my body.”

I had a thought the other week about my body that brought me some peace, so I wanted to share.

The thought was: it’s going to take a while (months? a year? years?) to feel like this is my body…for the body I have now to feel like me. 

With the…

  • lower belly stretched-out-ness
  • boobs that sag and remind me more of tube socks than my breasts (I’m still confused as to what kind of swimsuit will work now…I just ordered one with underwire to see if it’ll do)
  • structure of my ribs being wider
  • different mid back fat distribution that leaves a crease where two pockets of fat come together

Most of my life was spent with a body that didn’t have those things, so this body is new. I’m not used to seeing it in photos or dressing it. This is the first time in my life I’ve experienced stores not having my size in stores. Recently at Madewell I needed a bigger size of shorts than they carried and when I asked the sales associate for it and was told they didn’t carry it I said, “well, crap. That sucks. I would’ve bought them.” And then, because I was annoyed, I decided not to order them online because I was pissed off I couldn’t try them on before buying them. But then I realized that it makes sense that demand for that size online would lead to them putting extended clothing sizes in stores, right? And some stores have done this…including Madewell making efforts to offer extended sizes, which is great.

The same thing happened when shopping for a sports bra recently (well, not that recently lol with covid-19 life). The circumference (I really hate the word “girth”, so we’re using circumference) of my ribs is bigger than the bra I was interested in so again I said to the sales associate, “well, crap. That sucks. I would’ve bought it.”

I can’t control stores not having my size. But I can and have controlled certain spaces. For instance, I’ve created a home for my family and this blog which doesn’t think poorly of you or me when we take care of ourselves and don’t have one of the values we pursue be “have an aesthetically pleasing form” or “become smaller”.

If Jo’s eyes look red it’s because when we were in the shower she really wanted some conditioner so I gave her some and said, “don’t put it in your eyes” and she immediately put it in her eyes. Like both palms filled with conditioner straight onto her eyeballs. It was ridiculous.

A question on my mind often (relating to body and non-body topics) is: how gracefully do you let go of things that aren’t meant for you? Some of you may be thinking, ummm, not gracefully at all because our culture hates fat…and I hear you on that. It’s frustrating to not be able to buy clothes at the stores I’m used to buying stuff at. But I believe to my core that my body is a good body. One that I care for and care about and it is not the thing that needs to change.

A comment on an instagram post of Fiona’s recently said (or here is a paraphrased version of what I got from it), “body image healing is a relational process, not a linear one.” I imagine some of you have experiences being in relationships with people you find difficult but who you’ve decided you love and want to care for regardless. It made me think about how perhaps that’s how it is to be in our body sometimes…difficult, but you’ve decide you will care for it regardless.

Even as my worth and okayness is found less and less in my body size, the body changing takes getting used to. If I dyed my hair blonde, it would take some getting used to. As my body changes shape, it takes some getting used to. I don’t believe that it taking time to get used to something means that thing is bad, I’m just learning to expect to need the time to adjust.

Caring for your body is almost like taking care of something, but being detached from the outcome, or being detached from certain outcomes.

Outcome I’m detached from: size my body ends up.

Outcomes I’m after: modeling to my children a woman who cares for her body even as it has fat on it / being an intuitive eater and all the ease and peace that come along with that. Ultimately, I’m not willing to do anything that will make it harder for my daughters to be in their natural body size and, it’s my opinion, that me not being in and caring for my natural body size would make it harder for them to be okay being in their natural body. One’s natural body size = the body one ends up with when she takes care of herself.

I have the expectation of letting my body size evolve as I care for my health. I just realized that it’s gonna take a while for this body to feel like mine and that’s okay.

What do you think? What have you found is hard about this for you?

51 comments on ““This body doesn’t feel like my body.””

  1. I think you really hit the nail on the head with “not willing to do anything that will make it harder for my daughters to be in their natural body size”. Reminding myself of how I felt as a young girl dying for thinness is major motivation to accept and love myself as is now. The times when it is is hard to put in the work for myself, remembering those coming up behind me sets me back on track for radical self-care and acceptance.

  2. I think the modeling peace with your body as it is for your daughters is so important. My daughter is only 7 months old, so she isn’t noticing anything yet, but I think about my own mom and how her relationship with food has impacted me. She has been a restrictive eater for as long as i’ve been aware, prefers not to go to restaurants, and makes comments about “being bad” when she eats something like mashed potatoes. Having come out on the other side of my own food journey, it makes me sad for her, and I don’t want my daughter to have the same experience.

  3. So needed! I’ve never been totally at peace with my body, but especially so after 3 kids. “I workout all the time but I still have all this belly fat!” It takes a lot of effort to focus on what I can DO vs how my body looks. I can lift a lot of weight. I can sprint really fast. Ultimately, not being able to DO things impacts me more than my weight or body size. Thank you for putting these thoughts into a thoughtful post!

    • Hey Kendra, Focusing on what a body can do vs. how it looks can be very helpful! And to build on that…I have a post coming up at some point on living within the limitations of our bodies. That is, when we want to do something but can’t due to pain/typical changes due to aging. Not being able to do things is hard and I feel like could use its own post. Thank you for commenting<3

  4. After having my daughter, my body shape has changed regardless of weight and that was really hard at first. Such a silly little thing, but I had a favorite dress before becoming pregnant. I wore it on dates with my husband when we were dating, wore it to present at conferences, to weddings. It was the dress. After having my daughter, she’s 10 now, my waist/hips are different. At first, I kept my dress and would try it on occasionally only to experience deep regret and longing. Eventually I came to embrace my new body shape. I grew a child in my body and gave birth to her. My hips changed to make room for her. She is such a cuddle bug and tells me often how much she loves how soft I feel. I love being able to cuddle and comfort her. I love the fact that I grew a human being. And now I think of these things when I see my hips. I donated my dress and found a new one that I love. I think it’s really cool that our bodies adapt. I hate that we think we need to be the same size that we were in high school or that you are giving up if you’re not. That’s not true at all. Choosing to be nurturing, confident, cuddly, gentle, strong, flexible and adaptable. I think that is courageous and something I try to model for my daughter. We have conversations about how grateful we are for what our bodies can do. 

    • Hi Jennifer! Yes! The structure of my body has changed as well. Baby growing/birthing will do that haha. I have a younger sister I pass down all the clothes I love but that don’t fit anymore but I don’t want to part with yet to and I love seeing her wear them. It’s hard to part with the clothes that have so many memories wrapped up in them!

  5. My grandmother is 83 and has been in a larger body my whole life. Every time we talk, she reports on how many pounds she’s gained or lost. The women one generation older than me in my family are not fat but basically follow the same thinking patterns and judge each other when they gain weight or overeat. I can’t think of a single time we went shopping growing up that my mom didn’t say something about how she had eaten too much at lunch or was just a little on the heavy side and planning to lose 5 pounds soon. IT. IS. EXHAUSTING. Finding blogs like yours saved me from extreme dieting followed by periods of binging about 5 years ago. I continue to read and follow your journey to remember I never want to return to that old, weight-focused lifestyle no matter how attractive it seems, and it does seem attractive sometimes. Your vulnerability in this space has meant the world to me, and I just wanted to say a huge thank you. This entry, in particular, will be one I return to often as I process through bodily shifts in years to come.

    • I relate to this so much. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m sick of being exhausted by this too! And it’s all the motivation I need to start letting it go. 

    • I love your comment!. The example of your grandmother and mother – that is my family! It helps so much to see it is also the experience of others. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And congratulations on taking yourself in a different direction, a truly commendable accomplishment especially given your family dynamic.

    • This was such a nice comment to read, Caroline! Thank you for sharing! Weight loss and dieting can be so attractive. I get it. It’s more sensational than Intuitive Eating and I think that can appeal to people even if they know dieting always fails/have seen generational yo-yo dieting up close and the mental side effects of that. I want to write a post on how I think many people are unwilling to give up something until they know what they’ll get in return. Like helping those stuck in the yo-yo dieting life see what they’ll get if they give up dieting. But I also get that change and loss travel together and when giving up dieting there will be some unwanted returns, like grieving the body size you were never meant to have and more.

    • Wow. My mother-in-law is the same way. The last time we visited, I found a home video from 1989 when she had JUST come home from giving birth to her second baby, and in it she said “the next time you see me I promise I will have lost weight!” She never did, but she’s spent 30+ years devoting herself to trying and beating herself up for failing. Like you said, it’s exhausting. Seeing that video was the moment I realized that it really does NOT matter how my body ends up, I am not going to spend my entire life hating it. It’s hard to navigate body size and body changes, but I still think accepting your body the way it is, in the long run, is so much easier than constantly fighting.

  6. “How gracefully do you let go of things that aren’t meant for you?” Helpful. Thank you!

  7. So well said Kylie. Thank you for your honestly and vulnerability. Your perspective is such a support for me. ‘Holy heck this slice doesn’t exist’. You made my day/week/month!!

  8. As always, thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in your posts. They encourage me and help re center my focus during these testing times!

  9. I think the hardest part for me about letting go and letting my body “be” was the fear that I would feel awful — like more anxious/depressed/frustrated than I already was. But the outcome was really paradoxical for me, in that once I let go of my eating disorder behaviors and really worked through them, I actually felt more positively about my body. I gained fat and went up in my pant sizes but it was I think the decision to stop seeing my body as my enemy.

    There are still times that I feel particularly self-conscious about certain areas of my body, especially if I feel like they’re a different shape or size than they used to be. It makes me feel like I’m not in control, but what helps me the most to cope with those thoughts is actually by affirming them. I say, “Alexandra, that’s right. You AREN’T in control…really of anything. God is in control of your life.”

    The patterns of self-doubt and insecurity towards my body are mirrored in other areas of my life. I worry about my work performance, my 5-year plan, and all that sort of thing, but realistically NOTHING in life ever works out exactly how I want it, but ALL of it brings more glory to God and more joy to me than I ever could have imagined. So I try to focus on the fact that not being in control is a good thing, and that it’s actually a blessing that I don’t need to have the responsibility of micromanaging my weight. Because I already have enough to worry about as it is…lol!

    • Yes! Was my experience too that “once I let go of my eating disorder behaviors and really worked through them, I actually felt more positively about my body.” And I love the point about not needing to have the responsibility of micromanaging weight, but also so many other things in our lives that are outside of our control. Thanks for commenting, Alex!

  10. Love this and thank you for sharing. I can’t say enough how much your writing has helped me navigate body changes postpartum. 

    Question for you and others- what brand of swimsuit did you get? If anyone has a good brand recommendation for bathing suits that have good support I would love to know. I love swimming and am excited to introduce my baby to the water :) 

  11. I am experiencing so many of these same thoughts in my second pregnancy after starting at a higher weight. My body looks so different than it ever has and I have a really hard time not calculating in my head how many weeks I have left and how much bigger I’m going to get. In addition I have pregnancy related pelvic pain that makes even low impact activities (walking, yoga, rolling over in bed…) super painful so it’s hard to accept those new limitations. Not to mention the difficulty in carrying around a toddler and the guilt involved with that! I definitely need to work on appreciating my body for everything it CAN do like grow a baby and maybe even focus on all the body parts that don’t hurt. :) One benefit to being socially isolated right now is I’m avoiding all the annoying comments in public about “how big you’re getting!” my least favorite part of pregnancy for sure.

  12. You have the most beautiful wisdom and insight. Reading this post and how you are making it a priority to model healthy behaviors for your girls brought up a lot of things for me. My parents were deeply ashamed of me and my eating disorder, like it reflected poorly on them that their daughter wanted so much to disappear. The irony of that is that my father also had an eating disorder. For decades he gained and lost the same x pounds. He was an emotional eater. He would criticize my x pound mother regarding her weight. Is it any surprise that I developed an eating disorder? I have two daughters. I have prayed their whole lives that they would be spared falling into that trap. We never discuss weight. Ever. We discuss health and health building behavior. Their dad would get so upset with me when they didn’t clean their plates growing up. I had to tell him over and over that we don’t force food on anyone. When I’m feeling critical of my body I have to stop myself from ever verbalizing that in their presence. Your daughters are blessed to have a mom who loves them so much and models for them listening to their inner wisdom about feeding themselves.

  13. I have been thinking about this topic a lot. My first child, a daughter, was delivered stillborn at 40 weeks. My body definitely wasn’t the same after that pregnancy, but it was close enough that it didn’t make me feel like it wasn’t my body. Also, I saw the changes in my body as marks that my daughter had made — proof of her life. Fast-forward three and a half years, and I’m now a little over a year PP with my son. This time, my body changed much more. I gained more weight while nursing than I did while I was pregnant, and the whole time I was thinking that something was wrong with me because everyone says that nursing makes you lose weight. I don’t look or feel like “me,” and I’m daily reminding myself that this *is* me, and that these changes are proof of both of my precious children. Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us. Your Instagram feed is one of the few feeds on social media related to motherhood and food that doesn’t make me feel gross.

    • Hey Laura, losing a child is something that makes my heart ache for others like nothing else. I’m so sorry. That idea of viewing changes as marks of life is so powerful.

      Also, glad my Instagram account doesn’t make you feel gross! I wish there was a way to completely turn off the explore page!

  14. Love this entire post and that graphic is gold. <3

  15. This post is so good, Kylie! Postpartum bodies are wild and foreign beings that take time to befriend and settle into.

    Regarding raising daughters: My daughter is 7 years old and fat. (We have ditched the fear and weight of this word!) It is her natural size to have a larger body – at 7 years old she is 4’5 and 80 or 90-something lbs. I am fiercely protective of her innate ability to eat and feel comfortable in her body without judgement. I have never heard her second guess anything around her body other than the waistband of a pair of too-tight shorts, opting for the larger size so she “can kick higher.” She moves her body freely and takes great pleasure in eating. The number of times I have had to enforce HARD boundaries around size negativity is astounding and exhausting – with my parents, babysitters, pediatricians, well meaning friends…exhausting! It’s also deeply unsettling as a mother who has spend more than a decade feeling my way through trauma via bulimia and downright painful body image. The ugliest truth is that sometimes I want to change her body for my own peace of mind – I want to coax her into a more narrow shape because it would make the commentary stop, and because of my own comparisons. Other little girls are little. My daughter is not. We are not. (I’m 5’9 myself.) I spend a lot of time worrying that she will end up struggling with her weight and body just like I have. But the truth of the matter is that her foundation is internally solid and built on trusting herself. She is less likely to develop a complex as long as I stay out of her way and keep filtering those societal messages along with her. Doing my work and keeping my issues mine, letting her body be hers. Parenting is nuts!

    • Thanks for this comment, Aly! It sounds like your doing a great job caring for your daughter and her health! It’s so good that you’re aware of that “ugliest truth” so you can continue focusing on health promoting behaviors rather than body size…even though it must get exhausting with the commentary from everywhere. Sounds like you’re doing a great job.

  16. I absolutely love the image you created. I see women at the gym who I’m envious of their bodies and it looks effortless. But one day I heard them talking about how hungry they were all the time and it really made me think. It’s so encouraging to read this from a momma who is recovered too. Thank you for your voice! Once I am done having kids, I’m doing a major wardrobe overhaul and getting clothes that make me feel comfortable. I’m currently pregnant, so that time will have to wait, but I can’t wait! I love that you’ve done that. It is hard to get rid of things I love though.

    • I wouldn’t give up the peace and simplicity I have around food for any body size! How distracting it would be from what is important to be hungry all the time! Thanks for reading and commenting, India!

  17. I am giving you a standing ovation in my living room. THANK YOU for being a trail blazer in this space. I am so grateful and I know my daughter will reap the benefits of your words one day too. Thanking God for you, Kylie!

  18. Pingback: WMMHTW 2020.04.16 – Dinosaur Zealot

  19. Hi! Thanks for this post and all of your posts that help steer me towards a life of body tolerance and living out my values. You are wise.
    I just wanted to mention something that might just be me, but since a lot of your readers have struggled with disordered eating, I thought it was worth a go. When you list all the attributes of your body that you are getting used to, it can be triggering. I know you are trying to adopt a neutral attitude, but many of us have similar body characteristics. Instead of trying to embrace them in a world that loathes them, I am trying to take care of myself despite my body challenges and to be grateful for its function.
    I know a lot of body positive blogs try to pretend that stretch marks are beautiful. I personally disagree, and I’m not going to tell myself an untruth. I will care for my body even though it might not be beautiful to others. And the motherhood and aging and memories that have made my body as it is are in fact beautiful, but perhaps not physically so.
    What do you think?
    Thanks for everything- your content is beautiful. I just thought I’d share this thought 💞

    • Hey Emmaline, thanks for taking the time to comment and for commenting here instead of emailing me. I think commenting here really helps other people who may be feeling the same about something I post feel heard even if they don’t decide to comment. So thanks!

      I’m glad you let me know that listing certain body attributes is unhelpful, because (and I don’t want to put words in your mouth here) by saying I’m getting used to certain body parts it appears that I feel those body parts are bad and if others have those body parts they feel judgement and like their body is wrong? Is that right? That wasn’t my intention. My intention of the post was to say it’s hard to be in a body that’s changing and at times doesn’t fit into the clothing options sold at stores, but even with these body attributes I’m getting used to I will continue to care for myself because my body is good. I’ll refrain from listing the body attributes again here, but all the body attributes I listed are part of me and therefore good. That’s what I was going for.

      Would it have been more helpful to leave specific body parts out and leave it a mystery as to what body changes I’m still getting used to? This blog is more personal than some clinicians in the ED field tend to be and I enjoy including specifics because I feel it makes me more human and that is the kind of content I prefer to read. I felt like adding the body attributes into the post could help others relate and feel more understood and encourage them to care for their body. It’s good to know that wasn’t the experience for you, and I imagine your experience was shared with others even if they didn’t comment. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to comment here!

      • Hi Kylie! Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply; I’m so touched by your concern to make this a safe space for your readers. It might just be me, but to answer your question: I would prefer an omission of certain attributes and would rather you give us your wisdom to deal with them, as you do so skillfully. As you said, ” Would it have been more helpful to leave specific body parts out and leave it a mystery as to what body changes I’m still getting used to?” Since we all know our insecurities well, I do not think this would be considered a mystery, but rather the reader can fill in the blank with her personal challenges and take in your beautiful message without feeling triggered. You understood my message perfectly. You are amazing, Kylie! Thank you <3

  20. KYLIE!!!! This post!!! Thank you!!!!

  21. This post came exactly when I needed to hear it; thank you for writing it. I’ve spent the last couple of years working physical jobs in parks, walking 5+ miles at work and moving heavy things, and hiking the entire weekend. I recently went from that to being a student again (yay!) and my body changed very, very quickly. It feels weird to have the body that I currently have, and now that I don’t get to walk around campus or go lift, I feel overly sedentary and I’ve been translating that into negative body thoughts. I very much needed your words about accepting that the acceptance will take time, and just because you can’t accept something immediately, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

    I mentioned elsewhere on this thread that I recently ran across a home movie my mother-in-law made over 30 years ago when she talked about how she was about to start losing weight; she never did, but she’s spent every day obsessing over how to do it and beating herself up for failing. My mom has been on the diet roller coaster since way before I came along, and even now she’s fixated on her scale at the expense of actual health-promoting, life-giving behaviors. That is a life I am not willing to live, and if accepting this body is the price I pay, I stand proudly by that choice.

  22. Such a great post. I can definitely relate to the idea of a body that doesn’t feel like your own, as I am 36 weeks pregnant with my first child. I have always been in a smaller body (not that that stopped years of body dysmorphia and EDs/disordered eating). I look at pictures of myself from tent months ago and think, did I really look like that? It’s hard to believe! The rapid weight gain from pregnancy has made me feel a little unsettled, because as soon as I think I am used to this new body, it changes again. I have definitely had some tough moments, but I am grateful that I am recovered enough to be able to take a deep breath and recognize the wisdom of my body to do what it needs to do to support the life and growth of my son. And my body isn’t me, after all. There’s so much that makes me who I am. The physical body is just one piece of the puzzle.

    I know it will be a whole new adventure in body acceptance as a new parent who is going through yet more body changes and breastfeeding (hoping this goes well for us! I know so many women who have had issues and it makes me a bit nervous). I am just hoping that I can continue to have compassion for my body through that process so that as my son gets older, I can model body acceptance for him. I am very committed to preserving his intuition around food and treating all bodies as good in our home. So I know it has to start with me and my feelings about myself. I accept that it’s a work in progress- it has been for half my life! But it’s so worth it.

  23. “This is going to be hard, but what we are doing is already hard. We don’t get to choose hard versus easy; we get to choose freedom vs. fear.” Geneen Roth

    I was in the diet world for over 25 years and had no idea a different way existed. I have found so much freedom in intuitive eating and I am so very grateful to Geneen and to you Kylie and to all others who are leading us to this new way of living.

  24. Hi, I’m here via Hey Nutrition Lady. I love this post. The best thing for me, is the kindness with which you speak about your body. That’s what I’ve been working through. I’m looking forward to exploring your site. Thanks!

  25. This is truly beautiful and so what I needed right now! My body has changed a lot in the last couple years since embracing intuitive eating and letting my body find it’s natural set point, and to be honest it’s hard to feel comfortable in my body, but this is super helpful….and honestly just comforting. Thank you! Question, do you have any book recommendations for helping with body image healing?

  26. Like most women, I’ve gone through multiple phases and feelings about my body. I’ve been thinner (though never quite thin enough), I’ve been bigger, I’ve eaten healthy foods, I’ve eaten unhealthy foods, I’ve worked out a lot, I’ve worked out not at all. With different stages and different demands and different mental health statuses I’ve done different things. I loved being thin, but it was hard. Eventually I just got tired and decided to let that go and just eat healthy things that I liked and made me feel good for a while.

    My husband and I are going to start trying for a baby very soon, and I find myself terrified of all the body changes to come. I know this period of unfamiliarity is coming. And since we plan to have multiple babies over the next 6-8 years, for most of the next decade of my life I’m going to be pregnant, nursing, or just about to be pregnant and nursing. I wonder if anyone else worries about these things even before they begin?

  27. I love your perspective on bodies changing. This is something I’ve been going through over the past few years as I’ve gained a lot of weight beyond my “recovery goal” weight. I think the hardest part for me is being concerned about what others think of my body changing and that they will think less of me because of it. Also this may be too personal of a question but is your husband supportive of the way you are able to accept your body at any size? I’ve never been in a relationship but this is something I think about often.

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