Loving Your Body Through The Seasons


Spring, like any transition, can be a tough time. Pulling out of winter with new expectations. Lighter days are filled with pressure to enjoy them. The opposite of what has helped me get through the first few months of the year. You see, to survive the midwest winter, the answer at the end of the day is to always go to bed. Make peace with hygge. Settle in. Go slow. You get in a rhythm of nothingness. At first, it feels lazy, boring, and depressing, but after a while, it's the new norm. That's all you know. Each time I walk through the front door after dark (4 pm) my body robotically pulls me upstairs, into my pajamas, and in bed with a book. I am an extroverted party girl, but this type of hibernation starts to suit even me. 


Then spring comes with chaotic energy. An unpredictability. Praise be for warmer weather! I start to dream of campfires and patio season. These ideas are immediately crushed by rain and sometimes a wintry mix of snow. A whole new responsibility appears as I shed the outer layers. Ironically, it weighs heavier on me when I take off the puffy coat with the snow’s departure and a neglected, weed-filled yard arrives out of nowhere. The lawn gives her a big, good morning stretch, after a winter's long slumber. Many whiskers have grown in inappropriate places; her morning breath is rancid.


What shoes are appropriate for Spring? Rain Boots aren’t right when it’s not raining. Winter boots of any kind are too heavy. It’s too soon for sandals. Bare legs and toes feel too exposed this time of year, like the neglected lawn in need of laser hair removal. 


Spring feels embarrassing. It’s humiliating to show that I have pale toes and a chippy DIY pedicure under these Smartwool socks. Winter’s fur is still covering my body, which will start to be seen, and I am not ready. There is a vulnerability to this. 


I haven’t minded an extra layer to keep me warm all winter while hunkered down by myself, but now I am starting to shed layers. The season of bed-laying hasn’t exactly brought forth what I envisioned as a summer body. The swimsuit ads are laying it on thin instead of thick, if you know what I mean. 


I have been home for a few weekends in a row. This feels like a rarity. I have been able to settle into some routines that feel good to me. My husband and youngest daughter recently joined my lux gym. The three of us have been going to a Sunday evening Surrender restorative yoga class. We end with the sauna, steamroom, and shower. This has been a very nice wind down to the weekend and start to the week. I took my husband to a spin class. It felt like a nightclub from our 90’s meeting in college to be next to him shaking my lil boo thang.


I had the capacity to prepare meals with intention for a few weeks in a row. With the warmer weather, heavier meals are fading. I am replacing them with fresh salads, all chopped and ready to go, at the beginning of every week. Cute baskets of fresh berries for overnight oats and snacking front and center in the fridge. Chicken and fish are the protein staples as the weather warms. The grill got cleaned and I love to give my little vegetables a bath too. 


I love to spend an hour in the kitchen on Sunday afternoon with my music pumping (Zach Bryan) and a glass of alcohol-free wine (list of favorites here). It’s almost an orchestra in itself to be prepping and preparing my weekly meals ahead of time. It's often deciding “what’s for dinner.” That’s the hard part. This ritual takes care of that for me. A plan. No decision fatigue. The knowledge that I am nourishing myself and my family feels good from the inside out.  


I fear no one will like my silly meals. Zucchini instead of noodles. Slaw instead of rice. To my surprise, they do. The spices, flavors, and homemadeness are delicious, even if the leftovers are a little gross (let’s be honest). “More bowls of mush!” my youngest daughter said, and she’s not wrong. Yet, everyone is hungry enough to enjoy my Thai-inspired veggie bowl for the first time around, when we get home late after high school sports. My full belly is just right and doesn’t keep me up at night the way heavier late-night meals do. I feel nourished in the right way. 


With all the talk about Ozempic Gets The Oprah Treatment I can’t help but wonder to myself, with my alarmingly hefty middle-aged roundness, is there something for me? Celeb photos look lean. A pill or a shot seems too easy yet so effective. It’s seductive and enticing. I want results without effort. Don’t we all? The magic bullet.  


My lifestyle has changed so much in recent years and it seems to be catching up to me. Working from home, I could take less than 1,000 steps a day. I do not want to measure my worth, my day, or my success by my productivity or my step-taking, but I do want to take steps. I want to move my body. I want the sun on my skin. My dog needs something new to smell. We both need sniffing walks. 


I listened to Megan Falley on Elizabeth Gilbert's Letters from Love,  her words were so powerful.


“i don’t need you to wake up bright eyed as a Barbie doll at 6am to begin your conveyor belt routine of productivity to love you. i don’t need you to never hit the snooze button, never take a rest day, never press pause on your big dreams to love you. i don’t need you to lose ten pounds, or walk ten thousand steps, or file your taxes on time this year to love you. i don’t need you to take hair growth supplements, or honor new year’s resolutions, or become a minimalist with a capsule wardrobe to love you. i don’t need you to solve the riddle of adhd, or never do anything embarrassing. i don’t need you to grow up to be joan didion, or toni morrison, or have whatever writerly equivalent of taylor swift’s eras tour to love you. that’s what you need. what you think you need.”


I heard them and felt a moment of shame. Surely not the intended outcome, but I had just posted a reel of my meal prep on Sunday. I was feeling proud and happy. Now I wondered if I had bought into the hype. Was I being a stepford wife? Was I buying into the patriarchy? Lord help me, I’m a sucker for perfection, appearance, performance, achievement, and affirmation. I want to be a bright-eyed Barbie doll. Have I been duped? 


I have started what I call my Commuter Walks. A walk around the block with my dog Rocky before and after work. I do this so irregularly I shouldn’t even be writing about it, but I like the idea. I like the idea of saying I do it. I like the intention. Maybe I will start to do it more regularly? More routine. More conveyor belt.


I read the master of change, Brad Stulberg say:

“So many “influencers” and “wellness” and “happiness” gurus don’t have actual jobs, partners, or kids. They can also be very challenging to be around. 


Yes, strive to be healthy and excellent and all that, but sometimes the key to adult life is that you’ve just got to chill out, order pizza, and move on.”

There are so many competing messages from outside sources. I could get whiplash from it all. Do this, no this, not now, ready now. Maybe I am spending too much time reading other people’s thoughts? This is my attempt to figure out my own. 


The one that felt right to me was finally from L. E. Bowman. She said 


“The Greatest Gift I Can Give My Daughter


To love myself so loudly that when someone tells her

that she looks just like her mother, there is no question how

beautiful I think she is.


To accept myself so wholly that there is no soon, after, when

I gain/lose/change.

There is only now, Skin exposed to the kiss of sunshine, 

body free of restrictions, belly fed.


To now dwell on what the magazines call imperfections.

Unkept and untouched.

Wrinkles. Sags. Stretches. Lines.

Who cares, aging is a fact of life.


To embrace my body as is, as is, as is.”


This felt right to me. And I was proud to turn down dessert and ask for a to-go box after dinner the other night, when I was full. I was happy to search the menu for lighter fare. I love my body and I want to take care of it. Coming out of the slump of winter, I want to feel lighter. I want to prioritize movement. I feel better. I want to feel better. I like feeling good.


This is not punishment. This is tender, loving care. This is noticing, paying attention, discipline, and respect.  When I eat healthy, my cells rejoice. My body responds with gratitude. 


The leftover rebellion from my youth was to order everything and still be skinny. I rejected diet standards by refusing salads and getting the deluxe bacon burger instead. I was skinny either way. That was always the goal. Be skinny. That is not my goal anymore. 


I grew up with a working mom, who did so much of everything, and spending time in the kitchen wasn’t always top priority. I often fended for myself. There was always healthy food available, but canned ravioli by Chef Boyardee was my go-to. Sometimes I’d eat it cold, as a dip for tortilla chips. A step up in nutrition from my elementary school self sneaking to the neighbors for sugar sandwiches because they had the good soft white bread and we had only a grainy wheat.


When I ate out at a restaurant, I wanted to gorge on whatever was the most indulgent. I brought that with me into adulthood. My husband jokes that I always order the most expensive thing on the menu.

"What’s for dinner?" is so annoying to me. Why is it always up to me? I assume my family doesn’t want to eat the way I do. I want olives and mushrooms. Ew. My husband's meals are delicious, but they don’t offer many plant points. I appreciate the burger, the pasta, and the ribs, but I can’t just eat like that anymore. It doesn't feel good to me. I want my plant points. 


Fellow sports families know that you can eat at 4 pm or at 9 pm. Neither of these are right. Meal time has equaled wine time for me and many of my clients. We don’t need wine but we need to not make dinner every single night for seemingly ungrateful families. It’s just too hard after a full day. Many of my clients' sober success plans include eating out, ordering in, and lowering the pressure. Speaking of many sober success plans, they include ice cream, Twizzlers, and chocolate. I am all for it. I swear hot cookie skillets were one of my sharpest sober tools in early sobriety. I might not be here, 6+ years sober without it. 


I need both. I need routine and productivity. I need rest and a break. I need a hot cookie skillet and I need 40 plant points a week. I need to hit snooze, and I need to get up and take my commuter walk. What I need more than anything is the wisdom to know the difference. 


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