I’m Determined To Embrace My Body In My 40s

What if, in the new year, we all tried to embrace how our bodies have changed?

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Mixed-race woman resting, doing exercise at home, close up.
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I’ve spent 86% of my life disliking my body — I did the math. It started around 7 years old and has continued to the present day. I’m almost 42. Will I ever love my body?

My dislike has ranged from self-deprecating jokes to spiteful hate and abusive behavior. I literally cannot recall a time when I looked at myself naked and had something positive to say, even during both of my pregnancies. This is especially heartbreaking looking back at old photos, because all I see now is youth and beauty. But at the time, I completely missed out on appreciating any of it because I was so busy picking myself apart.

Society seems to think the answer to my problem is a different body entirely. “New Year, new you!” the adverts read every January 1st. When I was a young yoga teacher in my 20s, I desperately pushed against this messaging. “New Year, Same You” I shared through gritted teeth in classes and newsletters. Meanwhile, I wanted nothing more than to have the same body I had in my teens. The same body I had despised a decade before. I would literally slap myself when clothes from high school didn’t fit. Then, of course, I spent my 30s wishing for the body of a 20-something.

I’m still doing it, really. Just the other day I was pulling my belly like taffy while scrolling Instagram, a “foolproof” system I designed as a kid to see how much weight I’ve gained, except back then I’d be comparing myself against supermodels in Glamour magazine instead of influencers who live a few miles down the road.

I’m tired. I’m a middle-aged mom of two boys who still considers myself postpartum, even though my youngest is nearly two. What am I doing wishing my body still looked like it did in my teen years? I carried and birthed two children, FFS. I’ve been teaching fitness for over 15 years. I can pick my kids up without pain. I can chase them around the park. I don’t want to miss this moment of health and wellness because I am too busy wishing things were different or how they once were.

This new year, I’ve decided that maybe those marketing executives have it partly right. It actually is a new year and a new you. But what if rather than seeking to become someone else, or someone we once were, we use this time to embrace how our bodies have changed? What if it’s a new year and a new version of you?

Most people think yoga is a way to get more flexibility in your body, but I have a secret for you: it’s really about being flexible with your body’s ongoing changes. It’s a practice of presence, gratitude, and self-acceptance. It’s on my yoga mat where I am finally learning to softly explore and accept my changing body, and let me tell you, approaching myself from kindness and acceptance has been a heck of a lot less exhausting than constantly shoving myself into some old or unrealistic ideal.

I know not everyone is going to find their way onto a yoga mat (even if it’s one of your “resolutions”), but all of us can set an intention this year to approach ourselves from a place of kindness, compassion, and appreciation. I’m not even suggesting we love ourselves. We can simply learn to accept where we are at through practicing gratitude with how far we have come. Let’s take all the time and energy we spend trying to look different and reroute it into radical self-acceptance and self-compassion.

“New year, new version of the same, amazing you.”

Sarah Ezrin is the author of The Yoga of Parenting. She is a world-renowned yoga educator, content creator, and mama based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sarah loves guiding people along their wellness and parenthood journeys. Her words, classes, and social media are supportive, healing spaces where people can feel seen and heard. For more information on Sarah please connect with her on Instagram and TikTok.

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