Why Do I Only Feel Pretty When I Feel Thin? (& Why Do I Need To Feel Pretty?)

Just before the New Year, I wrote a post called 10 Body Acceptance and Anti-Diet New Year’s Resolutions for 2020.

True story: I accidentally published that post well before it was ready. I was still learning the ins and outs of scheduling posts on WordPress, and I *meant* to schedule it for Jan 1, 2020, but what I actually did was publish it dated Jan 1, 2019, which meant it instantly went live but looked like it was old. Ugh.

So anyway I just went with it even though it wasn’t polished.

Anxiety and perfectionism progress?

These were the resolutions

  1. I will not track or restrict calories.
  2. I will not eliminate food groups.
  3. I will not fast or follow rigid feed/fast schedules.
  4. I will not track or hack macros. (I can think about roughly how much protein I’d like to get in a day, because powerlifting, but I will not obsess over it, because in the long run that always backfires.)
  5. I will not have “cheat days” or “cheat meals” because I don’t want to feel like it’s “now or never” with certain foods.
  6. I will not weigh myself. (One area this might become challenging in is if I decide to try a powerlifting meet. There are weight classes in meets. I don’t know how I would navigate that one yet.)
  7. I will not measure myself. I don’t do this often, and when I do it’s usually in my low moments. And does measuring improve those low moments? NO. Never. So why?
  8. I will not take “before” shots or “progress” photos, or think of my body as a “before” body or “work in progress” body. I will just think of my body as “alive.” And “human.” (Radical, I know.)
  9. I will stop waiting to feel like my body is good enough. Whose permission am I waiting for, anyway?
  10. I will stop believing the bad things I think about my body.

So how’s that working out for ya?


I’ve been following the resolutions.

So… good.

Except I don’t feel good.

You see, I’m all or nothing when it comes to a lot of things. (My husband will certainly attest to this at length if prompted.) So now, instead of being all-in on tracking and counting and planning and measuring, I’m just… all-in on not doing any of it.

  • I’m not prioritizing protein intake (for powerlifting) at all.
  • I’m only powerlifting once a week, because my trainer’s availability has changed and I’m struggling to lift without him. (More on my powerlifting story here!) This is becoming problematic because now I’m losing strength and my lower back is hurting A LOT after each session. Partly my struggles are due to gym anxiety, and partly they’re due to a fear of getting “sucked back in” to a fitness frenzy.
  • I’m not really paying attention to what I’m eating at all. I’m trying to listen to my body but, look, my tongue is part of my body, right, and sometimes always my tongue wants fruit gummies and cake.

And that would all be fine if I felt fine, but I don’t. I miss feeling strong and feeling good in my clothes.

But this is the cycle I get trapped in:

  1. Go hard on exercise and nutrition regimen for a while. (Fitness frenzy.)
  2. Get results and feel good about my body. (FITNESS IS LIIIIIIFE/GAINZZZZZ BEEEEEITCH!!!!)
  3. Burn out and realize that I was being extremely obsessive. (How the hell have I eaten so many protein bars this month? Protein bars taste like flavoured sidewalk.)
  4. Completely swing the other way and drop all former habits. (COUUUUCH. PYJAAAAMAAAS. CAAAAAAAKE.)
  5. Feel liberated. Embrace intuitive eating and body acceptance as the new key to happiness. (I WILL NOT BE CONTROLLED BY SOCIETY’S EXPECTATIONS OF BEAUTY!!!!! THIS IS WHO I WAS MEANT TO BE!!!! I KNOW MY TRUTH!!!! MY TRUTH IS CAAAAAAKE!!!!)
  6. After a while, feel blah and not so good and not so strong. (Oh god. I’m so aware of my tummy rolls right now.)
  7. Repeat 1-6. Ad infinitum. (Tears.)

Why does this keep happening?

The problem with my body acceptance and anti-diet resolutions is that I make them when I am feeling “good” about my body—because I’m still in stage 1 and 2, and I don’t yet accept that I’m going overboard.

It’s easy to make all those resolutions when I’m riding a neurotic fitness and restrictive eating high.

It’s a whole lot harder when I’m in stage 6 (like now), and feeling like my resolutions were bullshit and I am a body positivity fraud.

Okay, self, let’s get these negative thoughts under control

What would kind, compassionate Sadie say to the Sadie who is calling herself a fraud?

She would say:

  • Progress over perfection = even the intuitive eating gurus you follow have hard days/periods
  • Try to avoid all-or-nothing thinking = it’s not a case of EITHER you feel amazing about your resolutions and your body OR you’re a bullshitting fraudster
  • Give yourself a break, lady = you are way too hard on yourself and damn you can be self-mean
  • Look at what you HAVE accomplished = you’re not tracking calories, you’re not measuring yourself, you know the signs of returning to restrictive/obsessive patterns and you’re watching for them and trying to figure this out
  • You’re doing the best you can

More on negative thoughts here, and on how to work through them here and here. xoxo

In other words

I’m still human. Still an overthinker. Still trying to figure out this whole “how to take good care of my body without being a crazy lady about it” thing.

But doing an okay job at keeping things in perspective for a change. I think? Yeah. Yeah.

It’s just…

Will I ever get past only feeling attractive when I feel thin?

Will I ever get past only feeling confident when I feel pretty?

Will I ever untangle my self-worth from my appearance?

Questions that can’t be answered today but that shouldn’t be stuffed down and forgotten.

Thanks for reading, you. ๐Ÿ™‚

24 thoughts on “Why Do I Only Feel Pretty When I Feel Thin? (& Why Do I Need To Feel Pretty?)

  1. I enjoy your writing and can identify with it. Someone suggested to me one time to change my statements from โ€œI will not do….โ€ to โ€œI will do…โ€ So instead of focusing on all the things youโ€™re not allowed to do focus more on positive things that contribute to your goals such as โ€œI will exercise more often, I will drink more water, I will eat more fruitโ€ or whatever it is you want to do. I donโ€™t know how much this helped me achieve my resolutions but I was happier in the long run and I think thatโ€™s important. ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’œ

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Very real, Sadie. Your vulnerability makes it very easy to connect with you. We feel compassion, admiration, understanding, love.

    The honeymoon period of any new cycle or endeavor can be addictive, and tricky. So relatable.

    We respect your efforts on a middle way. You wouldnโ€™t buy cake unless you expected someone to consume it. Itโ€™s a matter of who eats and how much at a time?

    We hope youโ€™ll revisit this topic so that you can keep learning. Wow ๐Ÿ’•

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for this love and encouragement! It’s a scary topic to write about in a lot of ways, but like you said before, that may make it perfect for unpacking through writing. (Paraphrasing what I understood!)

      You’re so right about the honeymoon period. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms.

      Thanks for reading and commenting xoxo

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Here is something from our Technosport Swim Team Facebook page which is relevant to your quest for forming healthy habits. I found it quite powerful. It can be helpful for anyone, whether they are dealing with social anxiety or not:

    Healthy habits–how to build them and keep them.

    Itโ€™s not about willpower. Good habits happen when we set ourselves up for success.
    Weโ€™re all creatures of habit. We tend to wake up at the same time each day, brush our teeth, have morning coffee and commute to work, following the same patterns every day.

    So why is it so hard to form new healthy habits?

    Behavioral scientists who study habit formation say that many of us try to create healthy habits the wrong way. We make bold resolutions to start exercising or lose weight, for example, without taking the steps needed to set ourselves up for success.

    Here are some tips, backed by research, for forming new healthy habits.

    1. Stack your habits. The best way to form a new habit is to tie it to an existing habit. Look for patterns in your day and think about how you can use existing habits to create new, positive ones.

    For many of us, our morning routine is our strongest routine, so thatโ€™s a great place to stack on a new habit. A morning cup of coffee, for example, can create a great opportunity to start a new one-minute meditation practice. Or, while you are brushing your teeth, you might choose to do squats or stand on one foot to practice balance.

    Many of us fall into end-of-the-day patterns as well. Do you tend to flop on the couch after work and turn on the TV? That might be a good time to do a single daily yoga pose, or even start with a few situps or pushups.

    Start with tiny habits to make the new habit as easy as possible in the beginning. Taking a daily short walk, for example, could be the beginning of an additional exercise habit. Or, packing your lunch every day could lead to better eating habits.

    Here’s an example: An athlete wanted to start a daily push-up habit. He started with just two push-ups a day and, to make the habit stick, tied his push-ups to a daily habit: going to the bathroom. He began by, after a bathroom trip, dropping and doing two push-ups. Now he has a habit of 40 to 80 push-ups a day๐Ÿ’ช

    2. Do it every day.

    The lesson is that habits take a long time to create, but they form faster when we do them more often, so start with something reasonable that is really easy to do. You are more likely to stick with an added exercise habit if you do some small exercise โ€” jumping jacks, a yoga pose, a brisk walk โ€” every day, rather than trying to get to the gym for an hour three days a week. Once the daily exercise becomes a habit, you can explore new, more intense forms of exercise.

    Make it easy. Choosing an exercise that doesnโ€™t require you to leave the house โ€” like situps or jumping jacks โ€” is another way to form an easy exercise habit.

    3. Reward yourself. Rewards are an important part of habit formation. When we brush our teeth, the reward is immediate โ€” a minty fresh mouth. But some rewards โ€” like weight loss or the physical changes from exercise โ€” take longer to show up. Thatโ€™s why it helps to build in some immediate rewards to help you form the habit. Listening to audiobooks while running, for example, or watching a favorite cooking show on the treadmill can help reinforce an exercise habit. Or plan an exercise date so the reward is time with a friend

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Best thing for body acceptance….go to a naturist camp and look at all the other women and men! Took me a few days to get naked. Avoided looking below the eyes initially. Now? Who cares!? It was only me…I’m healthy (ish) and take no medication at 81. I feel free. Lifes too short I’ve discovered to worry about what others think ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰ You look beautiful btw!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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