As we get older our bodies go through changes and adjustments. Yep, lots of them. So when we think about how to love your own body, a typical response from a women over 50 could be a little less than enthusiastic.
As women in midlife, when we look in the mirror we don’t automatically see self acceptance and self love. We see opportunities to lose weight, to get up and exercise, try to look like we did in the past, and even to hate the person we see looking back at us.
Hating your body is not something we want to admit to, but honestly, there are times when most of us have had those thoughts. If we say that we don’t like what is happening to our body that’s one thing. But turning that hatred into self love and acceptance is the goal.
So on this journey through life, how do we learn to love our body? In this post we’ll consider what we can say and do to know your body better and love your body more, including healthy actions like exercise, fitness, and nutrition, because they are all components that matter.
Your perspective is a choice. Let me say that again: your perspective is a choice.
Choose your perspective
How you look at the world, your surroundings, your home, and your body, is a choice. No one forces you to have a certain feeling, or opinion, or priority, about your individual life and how it is seen through your own eyes.
So when it comes to learning how to love your own body as a woman over 50, so much of that love, or lack of it, comes down to you and your perspective.
Of course, making a sincere, honest decision to love and accept your 50+ body (or 60+, 40+, 70+, etc) is just the beginning. But it is the foundation upon which the remaining elements of loving your body as you get older are built.
How we describe ourselves
Here’s an interesting exercise that can be quite revealing: How would you describe yourself in 3 sentences? Take five minutes and write down in three sentences or less, a description of yourself. It could be physical, spiritual, emotional…it’s up to you.
What you put down on paper can tell you a lot about your confidence, my friend. Look over the adjectives used to describe yourself. Are they positive, encouraging, motivating, feel good, and assured? Or do you see some negatives, some put-downs, or less-thans, coming out in those sentences?
We are very quick to criticize ourselves, to see the flaws, the shortcomings, and the imperfections. And it this is the self-talk going on in our heads every day, our confidence will take a constant beating. If you want to love your body, speak well of it to yourself and to others.
How we talk to ourselves
Here’s a tip for you that may help overcome the negatives: Talk to, and about yourself, like you would to a friend. I’m going to guess that your conversations with friends are not focused on what you don’t like about them, or how crummy they look, or what you think they should change about themselves.
No, we don’t do that as true friends. Are we honest? Yes. But do we encourage, lift up, and see the positives about those who are close to us? Most of the time, yes we do. And our friends love us for that.
So, the next time you begin the litany of your own shortcomings, talk to yourself like your own best friend. Use terms that make you feel good. Practice some body love with your words, with phrases like, “I love my body”.
What we choose to read about
If learning to love your body is a sincere goal, and I believe that for many women in midlife it is, consider the type of material you choose to spend time on, particularly on social media. Are you gazing at image after image of younger, slim, attractive women who embody what you are not? Doing things your body is not longer able to do?
Or, maybe they are women in your general age group, but the images are so perfect that you find yourself comparing and not measuring up. Remember that anyone can look perfect and perfectly happy in a photo. That doesn’t mean it is real.
Are you reading articles about achieving the perfect body, or the perfect weight, or the diet plan that you absolutely must follow?
Do you hang around with ‘friends’ who think of nothing else than how they look and their goal of achieving perfection in their life?
Here’s a tip: Let go of social media, reading material, even friends, that make you feel ‘less than’ or unattractive because of how you look. Stop reading the material, or scrolling through the Instagram feed, or reading the Facebook group comments, if they have a negative impact on your self-image and ultimately how you feel about your body.
Choose who you spend time with wisely, and if you leave that time spent with your head down and shoulders slumped because you’re feeling like you’re not worthy, next time choose to spend time with someone else.
Our understanding of our own body
Our body shape changes as we get older. This is a fact, girlfriend. It is an experience that we all share as we age, and feeling bad about the belly fat, the added curves, the midlife weight gain, isn’t going to achieve anything.
Take the time to get to know your body as it is today, and how to achieve the most confidence with what you have to work with.
When it comes to style and fashion, we struggle with body image and clothing choices. So let’s keep it simple my friend, and it will go a long way toward helping us love and accept our body as it is now.
Wear what fits you now, today
First, wear what fits you now, today, not 5 years ago, or 10 years ago, or maybe even 6 months ago. We have to live in the present when it comes to our clothing, and honor what our bodies are doing (or not doing!). It is what I want? Not necessarily, but it’s what I’ve got, and it’s not going to change, so I take the mindset of putting outfits together that are flattering on my body today.
Second, don’t buy something that doesn’t fit your body comfortably right now. Avoid the trap of making a purchase for your future body. Could it be a goal, something to work toward? Yes, possibly. But most of the time those clothes hanging in the closet seem to be smirking at us because we’ve not achieved the goal yet. And maybe the goal is not realistic. Then it’s really a problem.
Here is an example. I realized recently that I was living in the past with my…undies. Yes, the undies. For a very long time I remained basically the same size and similar weight, so when it came to purchasing the unmentionables, I would automatically grab the same size each time.
When I purchased some new undies recently and started wearing them, I was frustrated because they didn’t fit well. Finally I tossed them into the ‘donate’ pile. Then it dawned on me. Duh.
Even though I had acknowledged that my over 60 body shape had adjusted with more to love about the middle, my mind automatically chose the old size undies, not realizing that they would no longer work as well for me. It is a small thing, but it isn’t, really. Everything I choose to wear has to be the right choice for me, today. And today I need to select a different size of undies in order to feel comfortable and good about myself.
Just like moving up to the next size in shorts and pants, the correct size of undies actually makes me look slimmer and better, which increases my confidence as well as my acceptance of, and love for, my midlife body.
If it no longer fits, don’t keep it
Third, purge the closet of clothes that no longer fit. This can be tough, because we may have invested time and money into our wardrobe. So give this activity some serious consideration. It’s all a part of our evolving personal style as women over 50, as well as our love and acceptance of our midlife bodies.
One of the ways we can find acceptance and even embrace our changing body shape is through understanding our style preferences, and how they factor into our self confidence. If you’d like to learn more about yourself from a style and confidence perspective, have a look at The Fashion Cure, a simple yet eye-opening email series course I created for women over 50.
Wear clothes that make you feel good, confident, sexy, self-assured, or however you want to feel.
Our body looks different
Guess what, my friend? Our body will never look like it did when we were young. You might be thinking, “well, of course it doesn’t, I knew that!”, but did you tell your heart? Did you tell your brain?
I know for myself that when I look in the mirror and see what I see, the first thought I have (if I choose that perspective) is what needs to change about it. Because it looks different than it did when I was younger, than when I was 50, or even 60. At 66 things continue to change and adjust.
So what’s a girl to do? If you want to learn to love your own body and find peace with your self image, let it go.
Understand your body and what it has morphed into, then quit looking at it so much. Literally. Stop looking at yourself in every mirror you see. And you know what happens? It is quite liberating. I’ve been working on that because it is something that will drag me down quickly.
I’ve had a habit of checking out the side profile when I walk by a mirror in the house. Guess what? It looks the same every time. The rounded belly and rear are lookin’ right back at me. I honestly don’t know what I think is going to change with each glance.
So I have quit doing that all the time. Sure, I check out the outfit, front and rear, before leaving the house….normal stuff. But no more of the regular assessment and evaluation of the body shape. I know what it is and I am learning to embrace it.
Don’t put your life on hold until…
Let go of the thought that looking a certain way will bring happiness, or peace, or satisfaction, or contentment. “If I can only lose these 5 (10, 25, 50, etc) pounds then everything will be better. Really?
If you have a health issue or are seriously overweight, of course you want to address weight loss. Your life may depend on it. But if it’s weight that you want to lose because you think it will make everything better, it won’t.
Do what you want to do now, not “when I look better”. In other words, stop putting your life, your goals, your activities on hold until you change the way you look. That is the perfect scenario for NOT accepting and loving your body as a woman in midlife.
Live your life, enjoy it, be proud of who you are and how you look. Dress with confidence and hold your head high.
Get Over Yourself
On one hand, self-care is essential, and we need to be aware of the needs of our body, mind, and spirit. Keeping everything in balance as well as practicing moderation is part of a healthy lifestyle.
On the other hand, it’s not hard to get so caught up with yourself, what you need, what you lack, what you want, and more, that suddenly life is all about you. And it’s not.
We don’t always see life through these self-centered glasses, but if we’re honest, we wear them more than we should. Part of embracing our stage of life and loving our body (even though we may not like it) is taking the focus off of ourselves.
Compliments and gratitude
Take the time to compliment someone else, every day. Make it a point to find something nice to say, or perhaps to do, for someone else each day. Although there is no guarantee that they will appreciate your thoughtfulness, it will lift your spirits and boost your confidence.
Practice gratitude every day. Be thankful and grateful for each new day, for the health, the life, the body that you have right now, today. By thinking more about what you DO have than what you lack, or what you don’t like about yourself, you’ll take two steps forward in the quest toward loving and accepting your body.
Deciding to accept and love your midlife body is liberating for sure. But, for me, it comes with responsibility, too. Just like when I decided to step away from the scale and stop weighing myself, loving my over 60 body does not mean that I stop caring for it. Living a healthy lifestyle is still a top priority for me, and hopefully for you as well.
How can we have a positive impact on our body, inside and out? There are three areas we focus on to help us stay strong, fit, and with sustained energy, but also to encourage the feeling of loving your body. Because when you treat it well, you love your body more.
Wise nutrition choices
What we eat, what we put into our body, makes such a difference not only in how we look, but in how we feel. Loving your body means that you want to care for it inside and out.
A healthy nutrition plan doesn’t have to be a specific diet, although it can be if that’s what works for you.
Eating clean food with a balance of protein, healthy fats, fruits and veggies, will help maintain our metabolism as we get older. And we need that, my friend.
Here is a quick list of foods to eat as we travel through our 50s and beyond:
- Fiber – choices like whole grains, fruits, and veggies
- Broccoli – high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants
- Nuts – they contain fiber, protein, unsaturated fats and omega-3s
- Olive oil – use in cooking instead of butter
- Fatty fish – twice per week, choices like salmon, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna
- Blueberries – full of vitamins and nutrients, they make a great snack!
Our midlife body may not be perfect – that’s no surprise – but keeping it strong and fit with regular exercise is essential. Your workout should include both aerobic and strength training exercises. Whether you choose to step on the scale at this time in your life or not, regular exercise will always benefit your body, inside and out.
My daily goal is to take 10,000 steps, and most days I can get there between walking workouts and day to day activities. Walking makes you feel good, doesn’t it?
Other aerobic exercise is on my docket about 3 times per week. Getting the heart rate up through sustained activity, like LISS cardio, provides long term benefits, and my goal is 30 minutes per session.
Another way to love my body is through strength training, including functional fitness (the exercises that provide stability, strength, and mobility to perform daily activities as we age). My goal is 3 weekly sessions that last from 20 to 30 minutes each.
Mighty Health offers all of this and more, and I take advantage of the workouts almost every day.
The goal for me at this time is not necessarily to lose weight, although if that is your goal, all of these workout sessions will help you reach it. I am at the point of self acceptance and working hard to maintain what I have!
Learning to love yourself and your body includes regular time to maintain and care for it. We take time to care for the things that we love, right?
Consider a healthy morning routine as well as an evening routine to provide structure and help you remember to do the things that will support both inner and exterior natural beauty as well as a healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to taking care of yourself as a woman in midlife, and loving your body, there are 5 essentials of self care that I always want to keep in the forefront:
- Commitment to myself – because no one else is going to do it for me
- A morning routine – because how I start my day affects the outcome
- A mind and heart for learning – because it keeps me sharp and active
- Finding the balance with appearance – just like we’ve been discussing here with loving our body and accepting it, remembering when I’ve done enough with the appearance
- Always have a plan – moving forward, one step at a time
Conclusion – How to Love Your Own Body
Learning to love your body as you age is a process, a journey, that never really ends. Some days will be easier than others, but remember that each new day is a fresh start, an opportunity to practice self acceptance and maintain a positive perspective.
How about you? Do you love your body? Be kind to yourself, every day, and that love and acceptance will increase.
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