Yep, this week we are going to talk about my thighs and why I refuse to be ashamed of them. In fact, I am going to present to you my argument that the lessons I am learning from my thighs are actually cause for celebration! Now if you knew me about two years ago, you would not think this blog post and podcast episode would be in my future. The fact that it is, is a testament to what coaching has done for me and possibly can do for you too. I am going to share with you how I used to feel about everything body image related and the three reasons why I am now grateful for my amazing and functional thighs!
Okay, first let’s talk about how I used to feel about my body image and how it has changed with aging. When I was younger, I always struggled with my weight. I am sure drinking Pepsi every weekend and eating lots of Doritos and chips did not help the situation at all (this was probably my first exposure to how fun is created by food and beverage). Anyways, I was always trying diets and launching workout binges to take the weight off. Needless to say, my weight went up and down and I never felt like I lost enough weight or that I was thin enough. My brain offered those thoughts about not good enough over and over again and I did not realize at the time that I did not have to believe them. At my heaviest though, I weighed about 160 pounds, so I did have some boundaries around how much weight gain I was willing to tolerate.
Flash forward now when I got a little older and I was able to get a better handle on my weight. In my early 40’s I weighed between 140-145 and pretty much maintained that over a decade. I felt really good at that weight, but this was the time that I started to worry about age related changes that have nothing to do with weight. I noticed gravity starting to take its toll and more wrinkles showing up here and there (my mom had sagging skin on her thighs that she hated, so I am pretty sure I manifested them for myself as well!). I just figured it was not a matter of if, but just a matter of time that everything would start to go downhill.
In my early 50’s I was still able to keep the weight down but by my mid-50s the scale started creeping up. This was about the time that I would look in the mirror and have to turn away. I was particularly self-conscious about my thighs and my arms. I started to question sleeveless clothing and dreaded having to put on a swimsuit. My thoughts about my self-image took up way too much of my brain energy and caused me a great deal of suffering. I really thought the problem was my thighs and my arms, not the way I was thinking! Therefore, since there was nothing I could do to improve either one of them to the degree I would like, I assumed I would be judging myself and feeling shame every single time I looked in the mirror( on a daily basis) for the rest of my life (that makes me sad just writing it!). I also anticipated that everything would worsen as I continued to get older which made it all so much more stressful. Wow, so fun being me!
After living that way for some time, I became so unhappy I had to make changes. I could not stand who I had become. I hated taking pictures and always thought my face looked fat. It was about then that I went for my doctorate in occupational therapy because apathy was no longer an option. I actually deleted my graduation pictures because I thought I looked heavy. Luckily for me, that was when I found the Life Coach School and figured out that thoughts create results. I was so excited to realize that I could age gracefully and still love myself despite my flaws and limitations. This was pretty radical after growing up to learning that looks meant everything (thank you Dad!) You can click here to access the 4-Step Guide to Deliberately Love Yourself that I created at this time, which highlights the process of how I was able to change the way I viewed myself. https://www.thebrainbs.com/ Once I changed my perspective of myself and tapped into some self-love, the weight started to come off.
Okay, so now we are back up to speed in 2021 and we finally have a swimming pool! I have wanted a pool my whole life and we finally got one after a year of outdoor renovations and construction. What does my brain want to offer me? Too bad you did not get this sooner when your body looked a lot better in a swimsuit. Yes, I lost the weight I gained and weigh between 140-145 again, but this gray mare ain’t what she used to be if you know what I mean. So here I am, finally have a pool and I am worried about walking around in my swimsuit for all to see as if I have done something wrong because the skin on my thighs is losing it’s elasticity! It also does not help that my young and beautiful stepdaughters are prancing around in their bikinis with their nice tight skin. Nothing like a little compare and despair to make the situation worse! 😂My goodness, it is frightening how good us women are at self- torture and wallowing in shame. Fortunately, these days I know total brain BS when I see it so instead of hating my thighs, I am learning how to find the gifts I am receiving because of them, which brings me to talk about celebration!
The first reason I am celebrating my less than perfect thighs is because I am learning to love myself despite all the brain BS that is triggered by them. If I don’t supervise my brain (and I did not for years), I can experience shame, disgust, and powerlessness in regards to my imperfections. I actually started out with calling this post My Cottage Cheese Thighs and I realized that was not kind, loving or respectful to myself, nor is it entirely true. While it is accurate that my thighs are not perfect, they could be much worse. Instead of labeling and being overly critical of them, I literally decided to love them instead because they are a part of me. How can I claim to love myself and not accept everything about me? Yeah, I know, it would be easier to love myself if I was flawless, but that brings me to my second reason for celebration.
The second reason to be grateful for my amazing thighs is related to honoring the present moment. While it would be great if the skin on my legs held its elasticity, it doesn’t and there is no remedy for that. No repetition of weights, deprivation of food, exercise or even surgery will replenish the elasticity of the skin on my thighs. If I don’t truly accept this and find peace with it the present moment), I would be judging myself as not good enough for the rest of my life. This leads to questions like, does it really matter what my thighs look like in the big scheme of things? Uuummm, no it does not. Or doesn’t it matter more how my thighs are functioning and serving me? They do keep me upright, permit me to walk, and get me everywhere I want to go on a consistent basis so that would be a yes!
The third reason I am celebrating my thighs instead of feeling shame about them, is because I now realize it is a choice and why would I CHOOSE shame? I am in a program for new coaches run by Stacey Boehman and received an email today that was perfect timing for this post. She reminded me that shame does not happen to us. The only way we can feel shame is by the way we are thinking. If we experience shame frequently, then we want to ask ourselves why we choose to feel that way so often? What is our brain offering us that we are buying hook, line and sinker? Maybe something like, my thighs should not look like this. Or maybe my thighs look gross. Let’s also not forget what Brene Brown has taught us and that is shame cannot live in the light of day. Shame likes to remain in the dark and hidden. Meaning if I talk about my less than perfect thighs in my blog post and on my podcast, there is no way I can still feel shame about them anymore. I am talking and the shame is dissipating. Hell yes I am celebrating that!
So bottom line, we don’t have to necessarily like some of the changes that take place in our bodies as we age, but we also don’t have to feel shame over them. Next time you are tempted to not wear a sleeveless dress or decide not to attend a pool party because of how you feel in your swimsuit, I am going to ask you to reconsider. I am going to ask you to put on that suit or dress and head out into the world and if the opportunity comes up to educate those around you on how difficult it is to be a woman aging in our society, seize it. Let people know the challenges we face as women when it comes to body image as we get older. Think about how valuable that would be for other women if you generated an open and honest conversation with them about aging and why it is so silly to place such an emphasis on what we look like. Both young and older men could benefit from that conversation also.
This blog post is my effort at doing exactly that; generating conversation and reducing the shame attached to being lucky enough to age (we no the alternative to not aging!). I offer you that nothing has gone wrong here with my thighs. They are exactly the way they are supposed to be and nothing has gone wrong with any part of your bodies either. Instead of feeling shame or not feeling good enough, stop hiding your insecurities and find a way to celebrate them and say bye -bye to the shame! Join me in the this week’s episode of The Brain BS Podcast to discuss this further.