Redefining Our Ideal Body

Book Discussion

I thought that one of the most powerful messages in William D. Lassek, M.D. and Steven J. C. Gaulin's Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Make Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever was that our bodies are at their best when they feel healthiest, not when they were at a certain size or looked a certain way. What the authors were saying is that our thinnest point may not be our healthiest.

It maybe not be the body of your dreams, but hopefully it will be more like the one you were meant to have and one that can give you years of better health and satisfaction. P. 167

I've always been small. I'm not particularly tall but when I was a kid I was called skinny and scrawny. One thing I rarely felt was strong. As as adult, when I was at my thinnest I was also at my weakest. It's not a state, or a weight, to which I'd like to return. I want to feel strong

But what does strong mean to me? It's a hard question. Yes, I've felt the desire for those six-pack abs. I've experienced the Michelle Obama arm lust. I've seen women looked ripped and powerful and thought that I'd love to feel that strong. At the same time, the amount of dedication and motivation it takes to get to that point really doesn't appeal to me.

dancer's pose

Credit: Film_Fatale on Flickr

My ideal body isn't going to be ripped. It's softer. Squishier. I can't bench press much of anything but I can carry that box of books up two flights of stairs or my groceries to the car. I will probably never run a four minute mile but with some training I know I could run a mile. I could run several. I'll probably never run a marathon but I can do a 5k. The strongest I've felt in years was during a yoga session where I managed to hold dancer's pose balanced on one foot without falling over -- no small feat for someone who experiences vertigo. I'm sure I didn't look nearly as elegant or as strong as I did in my mind but it didn't matter because I held it and I felt strong.

I've come to accept that strong, for me, isn't about how I look. It's about how I feel. It's knowing that I am physically capable of doing the things that I want to do and knowing how to properly fuel my body to do those things. It's holding a pose without falling over. That feeling of strength -- that's my ideal body.

Has your definition of an ideal body changed? What does it mean to you to feel strong?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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