TW: body image

When I was in university, a masters student said she outgrew her clothes. I liked that. You know, like a kid. But I struggled to accept the idea for myself.

As an female of Asian heritage, I grew up with the idea that I’m supposed to be tiny/slim or else it feels like I’m letting down the team. As a Westerner, I’m supposed to have big, sexy curves.

How to reconcile these two extremes? Starve yourself and get breast and butt implants.

I’ve always done a bit of exercise for fun. Inline skating feels like flying. Yoga’s emphasis on listening to your body and chilling out was a welcome antidote to the Go! Go! Go! attitude at school and home. But I have to admit that most of the time, I exercised because I didn’t want to get fat or to get osteoporosis later (too thin is a risk factor for that).

But I never pushed myself to exercise to excess, or even a lot. Medicine is a non-stop slog. Writing can feel that way too. My children need(ed) me 24/7, especially as babies and toddlers. I refused to add tons of exercise to my to-do list, and especially not a punitive regimen.

In elementary school, my son’s teacher drew a distinction between individual and group sports. My son and I like to do our own thing. I started the Couch to 5K in 2019, after Dr. Saroo Sharda recommended the NHS program, because I don’t have easy access to nice paved roads, but you can kind of run anywhere.

Joining Jake’s fitness community for female Canadian physicians finally got me strength training, which I try to balance with cardio Monday-Wednesday-Friday and yoga every other day.

However, I resisted dieting because it makes me crazy. My friends convinced me to log my diet and then add fibre and protein. I do like the app Chronometer, but my kids hated me monitoring every calorie. “Health nut. Mom is a health nut,” said my son.

Still, adding 10 g of fibre decreases all-cause mortality 10 percent, so I’m glad to add chia seeds and beans to my diet and let the rest go.

All that said, I still didn’t fit into my clothes and felt kind of miserable about it. The selfie above is one of a series of me trying to love my body even though my bigger, stronger glutes and quads didn’t work with my pants from residency.

Here are three comments that helped me:

“I’m too powerful for my pants,” said a friend’s little daughter.

“That’s a pants problem, not a you problem,” said Dr. Rshmi Khurana.

“The only point of exercise is to get bigger!” said my exasperated husband, Matt.

I finally bought new pants. And this picture below made me feel better. I’ve always had strong legs, but visible definition, not so much.

In yoga, we say, “Let go of the thoughts that no longer serve you.”

Trying to let go of pants and thoughts that no longer serve me, and to love myself and this body that has served me loyally for years without complaining.

Capitalism wants us to hate ourselves so it can sell us shapewear, creams, therapy, and surgery.

Give capitalism the middle finger.

Love yourself.