The Ideal Life Round-Up: Body Positivity and Health

The Ideal Life Theme of Body Positivity and Health is one I previously discussed in an article back in June, but to recap, here are some of the statements that define how I imagine my Ideal Life.

In my Ideal Life, I am a person who:

  • trusts my body
  • loves my body, no matter what size it is
  • takes care of my body by feeding it what it needs, not what it thinks it wants
  • never stops moving
  • listens to my aches and pains and respects them
  • is at peace with every. single. part. of my body
  • knows how my body works and never stops learning new things about human biology

Where have you been?

There was nothing particularly good about this year. I have made a concerted effort to speak kindly to and about my body, but in the convoluted ways we sometimes have to use to talk about a newborn baby. I’m not ignorant of the cognitive dissonance, but I would rather have dissonance than to break the seal and start thinking critical things about myself.

One lovely thing I noticed: when I can reach into my closet and only pull out clothes that fit me, I feel better about my body. I know this sounds obvious, but the fact that over the course of the year I decluttered clothes that had become too small meant that I had fewer occasions to be uncomfortable in my own skin.

Over the many times this year I covered this topic, I found that turning this subjective topic into measurables—like number of steps per day and liters of water and hours of sleep was helpful. I was able to correlate periods of negative body image to lack of sleep and dehydration: this is a huge discovery. If I want to love my body and feel good about my health, my greatest tool is to get enough sleep and drink water.

There is one specifically difficult area of my health I have zero control over: my increasingly erratic monthly cycles and the tremendously unpleasant consequences thereof. Continuing to love my body, in spite of its ongoing hateful treachery was a choice, one I had to make every three weeks when I covered this topic.

As I have watched people around me be diagnosed with serious illness, I came to understand that everything can change in a heartbeat. My little aches and pains and inconveniences are just notes in the margins, although because I am otherwise healthy, they can feel all-consuming. I have perhaps gained a touch of perspective on this topic, for which I am simultaneously grateful and embarrassed that it took so long to get over myself.

Where are you going?

Staying positive about my body and taking my health seriously in the new year is going to mean accepting that I cannot count on what I thought I knew about my cycles. This means I need to get over the feeling of having the rug pulled out from underneath me, and just concentrate on the basics: getting enough sleep, drinking water, moving my body and eating healthy.

This next year, I want to let go of the idea that there is anything predictable about my health besides those four little basic things. As I have said in the past about decluttering, self-love is not about grand gestures, but rather is about doing those little tiny things that make life better and easier.

This shouldn’t feel like as much of chore as it does, but let’s remember that I belong to the grand gestures school of love. Doing little things which I deem insignificant bores me. Sometimes I wish there was someone whose job it was was to make sure I was doing those four things right there, but in a fun way. Or, perhaps I wish that I was the kind of person who liked to work out and liked to cook healthy food. That right there would make a difference, too.

In any case. In the new year, there are two things I want to concentrate on: 1. I want to mother myself about the basic things, gameifying it if I have to, the way we do with our boys when we need to reinforce positive behavior. 2. Keep perspective about the little inconveniences, and a profound sense of gratitude for my good health.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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