In the picture on the left, I had just lost 70 lbs, down from my high of 210 lbs at only age 13, 5’2” tall. I was so happy. I felt BEAUTIFUL. I felt proud of my weight loss journey. And I saw not an ounce of fat. That pink jacket fit like a rockstar. I could wear juniors styles for the first time in ages. People would see me and my mom and finally see me as the child, not the larger parent. My cheeks were rosy and my smile shining.
The picture on the right is also beautiful. I am 27 in this photo, 5’7 and wise enough to know my weight doesn’t matter. I’m more than a number. My beauty on the right has absolutely nothing to do with fitting a societally accepted size. It has to do with the confidence in the woman posed for the camera.
But society told that preteen she was fat.
And fat was bad. And weight loss was good. Society showed that teen in small, probably unintentional ways that losing weight was good. Doctors shoved health under the more easily explained heading of weight loss because it was a clearer goal to offer.
And as a doctor, I admit doctors are wrong to do that.
Weight loss is never the goal. Because that smile is not from losing weight. That smile is from walking for the first time since an chronic illness; it’s from feeling confident in who I am as a new bat mitzvah; it’s from a feeling of health and joy, not at all from a number on a scale I didn’t even step on that week.
So let’s agree to stop congratulating weight loss.
Let’s stop evaluating beauty by a size standard – in my eyes, these before and after photos show two equally beautiful ladies.
And let’s emphasize the beauty in a healthy smile. (A dentist’s tooth plug 🦷)
Photos of that new leggings feeling start this post, because the smile these photos capture is real. It’s strong and authentic.
But now for the real talk, my friends…
Have you ever planned on a gym day and then… life happens? An injury, work commitment, party or family medical emergency and 💥 plans go out the window. It’s hard when you get in the flow of going to the gym to break that cycle. You don’t want your fitness journey progress or your fitness motivation to suffer!
So I have two pieces of advice:
You found that motivation before and you WILL find it again. Remember, at one point you weren’t even going to these gym workouts and classes. That drive that got you through the door hasn’t gone away. That drive is in YOU!
And most importantly,
Why do you want a fitness journey in the first place? If the goal of feeling healthy and building muscle is to live in a gym, then you are either quitting your current life to be a fitness trainer – all the power to you – or you are doing these workout routines for the wrong reason! Fitness helps build your stamina and strength to be a confident and engaged protagonist in your own life. The life lessons you learn reaching a top speed on a treadmill and the cardiovascular health you gain over time help you take long walks with your friends through Boston and help you navigate workplace turmoil. They help you be best engaged in the life you already have OUTSIDE the gym… so by necessity, you have to allow space for that ‘outside the gym’ life! Unless your goal is to be that trainer or athlete, the gym should never BECOME your life. ((And even then, your networks outside the gym matter.)) So if missing a day or week of workouts for LIFE is going to get you down, re-examine what your workouts are really about.
Fitness can encourage a strong mindset and sense of self. AND a healthy fitness journey requires checking in with yourself along the way to re-examine your motivations and whether you maybe do need a fitness break… just to prove to yourself you can take that break and jump right back in.
I believe in you, and I want you to see how strong you are, too!!!!
Newsflash. In a room full of healthy ladies in leggings, maybe one will have a thigh gap, one a healthy dose of cellulite, one a shape in between the two. And all those ladies will be smiling, because beauty isn’t that physical lack of weight or flab or cellulite but the willingness to be completely, unapologetically you, the willingness to use the kick a*% body you do have to let your inner self shine through!
My dog doesn’t care about your thigh gap or shape, size or weight, (in fact, the softer the better for his sleep 😋) and I hope you, too, don’t waste a precious moment caring about the silly details of your body either.
Health at every size is real, and possible for you!
Great West Financial asked the dental community a beautiful question:
Who do you love?*
*And, of course, what a life insurance policy from Great West Financial means to you in the context of love.
Well, dentists and dental students across the nation answered, pouring their hearts across the digital screen in 100 words or less. And I am honored to share that my Valentine’s response was among the 22 winning responses!
“I haven’t yet found the love of my life – other than my little morkie puppy, of course! But I love the idea that one day I will be in love, and one day I will be able to share with my love the serenity of knowing we are in the reliable hands of Great West Financial. If that’s not an ”I love you” gift, I don’t know what is!”
So there you have it: the latest quote to decorate life insurance policies everywhere 😂
But now, I have a challenge for YOU:
In 100 words or less, tell us about the person you love. He, she, it, or just the idea is such a gift in your life.
P.S. Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, and more! What a perfect time to give yourself and your loved ones a gift. Head on over to A Smile Blooms on Etsy to pick out your very own inspirational magnets, and to get your very own Values Journal with engaging exercises and meditations that guide you on a valued life.
We have all been there: ten minutes before a party, throwing every dress on the floor trying to find the magical one that doesn’t make our backside too large or our stomach too prominent. Yeah, so we bought a dress for this occasion just last week, but suddenly, it doesn’t fit right.
And it’s not because our bodies have changed! Rather, it’s because our mindset has changed.
Maybe we are a bit more tired this evening. Maybe we had a rough day on the job. Whatever it is, we lost sight of how drop-dead gorgeous we are inside and out! And it’s time we get that body confidence back.
So I went straight to the experts — the women in my life — and compiled a list of the 10 Things Body Positive Women Do EVERY DAY!
On Psych rotation, I asked a woman with Anorexia Nervosa, how do you do it? Every day, you fight back. Every day, you bite back. Every morning, you wake up choosing again to recover. And that choice has made you stronger. Every day you grow stronger!
The woman, though, wouldn’t answer. Not immediately. Instead, she took my hand, and she looked me in the eye, and she said, “Dear, I hope you never understand. I hope you never know. I hope Ana never steals the years of your life that she took from me.”
But then, she did share, and described aloud a list of 68 Thoughts in the Head of Someone with Anorexia Nervosa, specifically 68 thoughts from her life as a newlywed, 68 thoughts she shared with her spouse. She told me to process the experience slowly, because it hurts – anorexia hurts – and it’s hard – the isolation is hard – but she also told me to remember: my friend, her joy, is still in there. And boy is she strong, stronger than she may even believe!
I received a call recently. From an old friend. In tears. Contemplating . . . everything.
Take a deep breath. She is safe.
But she said something to me in those moments of turmoil. She called herself weak. And, really, I couldn’t argue, because it was 2 a.m. And she was overwhelmed. And we were both tired. And she was depressed on top of that. Surely, if only from carrying that burden, she was weak. But, I couldn’t just agree.
Because, the thing is, her weakness – the weakness of exhaustion, the weakness of fear – was real. AND it was temporary. It was something we have all experienced – in moments of panic, in nights of exhaustion. Yes, her weakness was at an extreme – and she is now safe – but her weakness wasn’t foreign, and it wasn’t innate. It was natural. And transient.
And by the strength to hang in there, her weakness is something she’ll beat.
This letter posted with permission of a dear friend. ‘Because you are a writer,’ she says, ‘and today, I am a muse.’