One of my clients the other day told me about a conversation she had recently with her doctor. As the doctor congratulated my client on her recent weight loss, she also asked what her final goal weight would be. Before she could even answer, the doctor piped in with “why don’t you go for the weight you were in high school?”
Let’s all just pause there as we appreciate the absolute absurdity of this idea.
Unfortunately I hear it a lot in my line of work, and I bet you hear your girlfriends say it too. This idea of wanting to revert back to a body we had when we were teenagers just doesn’t sit well with me.
First, we are grown ass women, not adolescent teenagers anymore. As such, we must acknowledge that many of us have built careers through late nights and missed holidays, birthed multiple children who require more care than we ever imagined, been through some health scares that rearranged our priorities, and navigated a life with heavy responsibilities like mortgages, debt, how to get Fred from accounting to stop staring at our breasts, and how big of a glass counts as a single portion of wine. The body that gets me through all that can’t possibly be contained in my puny, untested body from my teenage years.
And don’t even get me started on the ickiness of an adult male or female thinking you’d look best as your underage self. Admiring photos of your child body in old pictures is really just a fine line away from child porn. Yep, I went there. Society has made it seem normal to want your teenage body back, but let’s be honest here and realize that it’s not normal or healthy in any way.
Secondly, why do we think that what we were in high school is the best it’s ever going to be? I’d hate to think the early 90’s sky-high bangs are the peak of my awesomeness. Our bodies tell the story of our lives. My high school body barely had a story to tell; where’s the interest in that?? Now, my body is a map of motherhood, divorce, marriage, health lost and regained, grief, purposeful growth, a thriving career, and most of all, love. Love for my body, my mind, my spirit, my family, my life, and my ability to always be changing, growing and curious about what that will look like in the years ahead. THAT is damn beautiful.
Finally, the entire idea of going back to the past and wanting something “back” that we “lost” is a hugely negative way to think about our future. I prefer to be of the mindset that everything is getting better and better every day. Who I was years ago is a mere shadow to the woman I am today. And my future self isn’t limited to the parameters of who I was in the past, thank god. It may seem like shame is a good way to motivate yourself into change, but I can assure you no one likes to be beaten over the head with images of a supposedly more beautiful woman, even if that woman is your younger self.
So go ahead and make health goals for yourself. You can even want to change your body, but let’s leave the teenagers out of it. They can be a grumpy, hormonal lot anyway (I’m kidding…kind of). Far better to like the body you’re in. It’s gotten you this far in life. I bet if you treat it right it’ll get you wherever you’d like to go in the future. You can be so much more than you were in high school, so much more than you are now. The sky’s the limit when you quit looking back and start dreaming of your future.