balance and health and bikini bodies and happiness.

I’ve been writing this post in my head for days. For weeks, even. I suppose ever since I tried to put on a pair of pants that I could effortlessly slip on a year ago and they didn’t make it past my hips I’ve been writing this post. I’ve been going over the differences in my body from when I could put those pants on and to this point in time, when I cannot.

The problem is, is that I don’t see any.

Maybe it’s not a problem. Perhaps it points to a level of self-confidence and comfort in my body that is difficult to come by. But we’re in the middle of “bikini body ready” bombardment from advertisers and bloggers and general pressure of the world. I’m trying to figure out how I could have gained approximately fifteen pounds and still feel bikini body ready despite what the world is telling me.

For the last few years I’ve become much more conscious about what I’m putting in to my body, on my body, and how often I’m making my body move. I’ve found a love for exercise, vegetables, balanced meals, and using natural almond oil to wash my face. I read motivational, level-headed blogs that promote wellness from all sides. I surround myself with people that encourage not only me but also themselves to be happy. Last year I was in the gym approximately five days a week for months at a time, motivated to get that body I always wanted. Last year I was also in the middle of a tumultuous, drawn out ending of a relationship that was wreaking havoc on my mental and emotional health while I was doing everything in my power to take control of my happiness and well-being.

Apparently I got the body I always wanted. I was wearing size eight pants and shorts. I was able to slip into size six dresses with no muss, no fuss. People kept saying, “Wow, you look great!” and “You’ve lost weight, amazing job!” And I was all, “Yes, yes, thank you, thank you.”

But I couldn’t see it.

I saw no difference between the body I started with, the body in the size six dress, and the body I have now (which is closer the former, to be honest). When I looked in the mirror I saw a body that needed to change. I saw hips that were still too big, thighs that still weren’t toned, skin that was still too dimpled, a stomach that was still too round. While everyone around me was applauding my success I was struggling to understand what they were talking about. And as I slowly gained weight back over the winter I still saw no difference.

Full disclosure: even after the concrete evidence of not being able to wear half of the pants I own, I still don’t see a difference.

Wellness sites and blogs talk a lot about your “happy weight”. It is exactly as it sounds: it is the weight at which you are healthiest – in all ways. You’re not obsessing over your gym sessions lest you gain ten pounds. You’re not feeling the crippling guilt of having had a cupcake at a bridal shower. You are still relatively active and eat fairly well – but you are truly balanced in your life. You have found the weight at which your body, and your mind, can say, “Yes, I am happy. Good job, me.”

I thought my happy weight was twenty pounds lighter and two sizes smaller. I was happy with how far I could run without feeling like dying. I was happy with how strong I felt in warrior sequences during yoga class. I was happy with the fact that everyone noticed I had lost weight. But I wasn’t happy.

I was going to the gym to avoid being at home. I was going to the gym to make myself more attractive to someone who didn’t want to be with me. I was going to the gym because it was easier than noticing the glaring gaps in my mental and emotional health elsewhere in my life. I was going to the gym because it was easier to do than go out with friends and lie to them about how amazing my relationship was. I was going to the gym because I felt strong and capable there.

When that relationship ended and I moved out, my deep-rooted need to work out lessened. I still enjoyed going for a run and riding my bike, but the gym wasn’t the sanctuary it had been. My home was. I could walk through the door at the end of a work day and feel welcomed by my room, my books, my music, my own existence. I didn’t need to worry about what was greeting me when I came in. I started to watch the shows I wanted to watch. I started to listen to what I wanted to listen to. I started to connect with the people I hadn’t connected with, open up to them about the things I had hidden.

And I’ve been happy. So, so happy.

Happy even as I gained fifteen pounds and lost the definition I had worked towards.

Happy as I ate dessert without worrying about someone making me feel bad about it.

Happy even as I was sad, because I knew I was in a better place.

So is this my happy weight? I don’t know. They say that life is about balance and I can fully admit that my scale has leaned a little too far to the “enjoyable but bad for you food” side in the past couple of months. But it’s also leaned to the “works out by doing what she enjoys rather than what will get her the ultimate body as soon as possible so that she can finally feel complete” side pretty hard, too. So I guess what I’m saying is that I should eat a little less sweet stuff and a little more of my veggies again, and maybe then I’ll have the balance I’ve been searching for.

Maybe I just need to admit to myself that I’m always going to be a curvy girl and my natural size is not where it could be but where it should be, you know? Because I look in the mirror and see the same person I saw six month ago. Apparently she’s bigger but she’s also healthier and happier in so many other ways. And she’s bikini-body-ready, since she has a body that a bikini can go on.

I’ll let you know in a couple of months how it’s going. I’m biking to work again (a measly sixteen kilometres round trip), doing yoga, and even started horseback riding again. I’m excited to see how my body changes in the coming months because I know that where it settles, while I’m living the life I want to live, is where it’s going to be happiest.


2 thoughts on “balance and health and bikini bodies and happiness.

  1. Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen says:

    Ah Caitlin I so love reading your words. You’re definitely not alone in this. It is a struggle to figure out both your happy and healthy weight. I feel like I’m in the middle of the same journey. But compared to this time two years ago, I am not putting the same pressure on myself as I once was. I go to the gym and do my workouts because I always feel at my best and healthier overall, not because I’m afraid of gaining weight if I miss a workout. Still a balance and mindset shift that I continue to work on in order to not go backwards and lose progress in my mental happy health. Self-love is a huge turning point for sure. 🙂

    • Caitlin Gregory says:

      Thank you! It’s true – it’s a struggle to find that balance and your happiest self when it comes to exercise and health. Especially true with so much information and guilt trips coming at us from the shitty side of the fitness industry. Thanks for sharing, dear 🙂

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