Learn to Make Peace with Your Aging Body
About a year ago I put on my favorite black pants (you know, the ones that look good with everything, casual or dressy) and realized they just didn’t fit the same. Too tight, pinching at the waist.
I’m sure this has happened to you before—it certainly wasn’t my first go ’round with jeans getting tight. Of course you don’t need an aging body for that to happen… but these were the stretchy, elastic-waist kind. One of the reasons they were such a go-to!
I was like, WTF??!
And it wasn’t just pants… my shirts suddenly began to pull across the chest, the hems riding up higher and higher. Blouses that used to fall to my hips now hung a couple of inches higher.
Suddenly I had the big breasts I’d longed for since age 15. And, it seemed, shoulders to match.
How did I not notice that my body was slowly morphing?
I could think of a few explanations—including a phenomenon that I have dubbed ‘the boyfriend effect.’ Or maybe, I reasoned, my clothes were shrinking in these Mexican washing machines.
But, deep down I knew, I just KNEW, that this was more than simply a wake-up call to cut back on the muffins for a while.
This was about hormones, and a new post-menopausal body.
Embracing a New Life Phase
My very last period had occurred a couple of years earlier—right after my youngest daughter graduated from college and just days before my other daughter’s wedding. (The irony of that was not lost on me… although it took almost a year to realize I was officially done.)
That was it. No more cramps, no more PMS, no more wondering if my moon would show up during some big event.
Sure, relief…. but also, grief.
I’d left my Maiden years and my Mother years behind. I was embarking on that third phase of a woman’s life: the Crone years.
When I started Holistic Hot Sauce, I was still in the throes of menopause, transitioning to Crone. I realized that this is a powerful time of spiritual awakening, an opportunity for transformation and I wanted to share that potential with others. To rewrite the cultural story about aging.
My message was about ageless living—looking and feeling radiant and beautiful no matter what year you were born!
As in, yes let’s take care of ourselves so we are strong, flexible and glowing… AND, let’s enjoy and accept what is. Let’s stop trying to diet and botox our way back into our 18-year-old bodies.
And then… a couple of years post menopause, here I was, totally freaking out because …. FAT!
Rewiring From the Cultural Messages
If you’re a woman who grew up in western culture you likely were inundated with messages about the horrors of being fat. Our culture glorifies thinness—especially for women. (And that actually really pisses me off! But it’s a subject for another blog.)
As an impressionable adolescent I drank the Kool-Aid, and I yo-yo dieted my way through my teenage years.
And, despite even after I learned how ridiculous it is, for the past 4+ decades the number one criteria with which I’ve measured the viability of every outfit is, ‘does it make me look fat?’
I don’t want to be that woman! I know better.
But the narrative is planted so deeply in my brain wiring that I must devote Intention and Attention on a daily basis to change it.
And… I DO know it’s possible. With a different mindset I can make peace with grandma boobs, I can look at my rounder body and see a wise goddess… instead of a paragon to be ostracized because she doesn’t look like a waif.
And it’s not just weight that—well, weighs on me about my 56-year-old body. There are other changes too. Muscles that groan at me upon awakening. The way getting up from a meditation cushion has become an exercise in pain avoidance. Joints and bones that are less resilient and yell at me after too much walking on working out.
We don’t want to just give in as say, ‘oh, that’s just the way it is now…”
Yet, at the same time denial and resistance don’t work. After all, what we resist persists.
For me, it’s about accepting what is, while making choices that feel authentically good from the inside out. Not just the sort of choices that feel good because they satisfy cravings or artificially fill a void. (Hello, chocolate chip cookie with my coffee!)
This is a tricky balance—this being in acceptance…. yet also taking action steps and making daily choices that support living agelessly, with radiance, vitality and vibrant health.
So, how DO you make peace with an aging body?
1.Acknowledge and Accept what is. This always has to be the first step before any lasting change can happen. Stop fighting it, take a breath and simply allow that this is what is.
2. Be present with whatever emotion arises with this acknowledgment. Most of us do anything we can to avoid unpleasant emotions. It seems to make sense – they hurt! Yet, when allow ourselves to be with that emotion, feeling it in the BODY rather than amping up the panicked and painful thoughts, then it passes through in an amazingly short time.
3. Forgive yourself for any actions from the past. It’s much harder to be present and make choices from the present point of power when you are caught up in recriminations and regrets! Let them go. Begin again.
4. Interrupt unhelpful thought loops. When you catch yourself starting to bemoan your wrinkles, your belly rolls, or your aching joints, make a conscious decision to turn your attention to something that IS working, or that you are grateful for. Or, simply turn your thoughts to another subject completely.
5. Give yourself a compliment every day. If you can’t quite (yet) bring yourself to celebrate and love your Goddess-like crone body, look for aspects of yourself that you truly to like. It could be your eyes or hair, it could be your cooking prowess, or perhaps your intelligence. Look for little and big things and say something nice to yourself. Bonus points if it’s out loud!
6. Remember who you really Are. We are naturally so identified with our bodies. And yet, we are so much more than that. Stillness, meditation, inspirational reading are all activities that can tune you back into your true Divinity. Remember that this body is just a vehicle that moves you through this current life. You HAVE a body (and they are wonderful vehicles). But you ARE much more than a body.
If you’re able to engage these tips, you’ll find yourself naturally making healthier choices on a day-to-day basis. I, for one, am setting an intention now to be more mindful of each and every one of these.
But—if you’re noticing that it’s difficult to accept, to interrupt unhelpful thought loops, or engage these suggestions, reach out to me. We’re only scratching the surface here!
You may need some additional support. I can help with coaching tools—like EFT tapping and many others—and set you up with an individualized protocol to make peace with aging and find the vitality and courage to reinvent yourself! Click here for your individualized free consult if you’re feeling ready to discuss some options
And, if you’ve got some additional tips for making peace with your aging body, please share in the comments.
Hey Sarah, I’m a little conflicted about this post. There seem to be 2 extremes out there re getting older: 1 is to get plastic surgery and fight all signs of aging tooth and nail, and 2 is to give in, embrace your crone, stop wearing makeup or dying your hair, and just generally let yourself go. I’ve seen both. I think there is a balance of looking at what you really can’t control, like wrinkles and cellulite, and what you can control, like weight and grooming. And in my nearly 20 years of life coaching I have never once met a woman who was happy with being overweight. So i’m into balance…not stressing about the aging process, but not just giving in to cronehood!
Hi Margaret, thanks so much for this comment! It opens up so much to discuss and gives me ideas for some more blogs!
I am absolutely not suggesting embracing the opposite extreme… unless that feels good to YOU. (The comfortable spectrum between the extremes is different for each woman. Some are fine letting that grey hair grow, while others of us are grateful we have the option of that bottle of hair dye!)
What I was trying to convey with my story in this blog is that I’m wanting to find ways to accept and enjoy my body—which right now is a bit bigger than I’m used to. That certainly doesn’t mean that I’m just ‘letting it all go’ and stocking up on the pints of ice cream. In fact, I’m fine tuning my exercise program and taking a hard look at what foods might not be agreeing with me anymore. But all that was too much to write about in this post.
Mostly though, I’m trying to practice self kindness when I look in the mirror. Instead of scowling and telling myself I need to be different, I want to accept what I see while at the same time taking the best care I can of this precious body!
There’s definitely a lot to your idea of accepting what you can’t control, and taking action on what you can control. But I don’t think accepting, and taking action are mutually exclusive. Can’t we do both?
Thanks again for giving this a read and taking time to comment!
Such a great post, Sarah! I recognize I am not alone in this aging process – I am a baby boomer, after all, so there are a lot of us – but it’s reassuring to read other women’s perspectives.
Yeah, I’m not keen on the sagging boobs or the weight around my middle, or the silver hair coming in odd patches (bless my hairdresser who says my hair has “character”), but I still feel pretty great. But one thing thing has gotten my goat. And that’s the word/name “crone!” Definitions such as witch-like, withered old woman, and hag just perpetuate that old notion that women of a certain age have lost their importance in the world. I want a revolt! Or at least to change the “definition” of what a crone really is!
What about a vibrant woman who has gained great wisdom with age?
Hey Kamala, I’m so glad this post resonated with you.
And, I can see from both your and Margaret’s comments that I need to blog about the alternative meanings for the word ‘Crone” and how we wise women can reclaim it! In many pre-christian traditions there is a triptych of the seasons of a woman’s life: maiden, mother, crone. The crone stage was thought to be the most powerful, wise, and revered stages of a woman’s life.
Unlike in our modern culture, when a woman passed through the motherhood stage, and her bleeding stopped, she became someone to be honored, revered, looked up to. This is because the menopausal passage can be time of great spiritual opening and awakening. Of course all of this is ignored in our culture now and women who have passed their fertile years are considered (and consider themselves!) ‘invisible’, ‘dried up’ , ‘no longer useful’ and worse.
You are so right! It’s time for a Revolt. And that’s actually what a great deal of my work is about. A revolt and a reclaiming of the spiritual awakening that is available at this time of life. I understand that words can carry a heaviness, so for some women the word “Crone” is just never going to work. … But we CAN reclaim the honored status of elder women.
I can go on – and probably will in a future blog. Thanks for opening up this important conversation in your comment!
I post about this regularly myself – either on social media or on my now defunct blog. Love the skin you are in. When you are comfortable in your skin, when you are confident in who you are – that is sexy. I had a partner that hated my curly hair and kept trying to get me to change it. My current policy is love me – love my curly hair or GTFO. I read this in article eons ago on appreciating a plus sized partner and I adapted it to loving your self – instead of pinching or poking or gods forbid punching it – love on it. When I put on lotion I spend a little time massaging my belly and noticing how nice it feels. I do this with partners to – I usually date men and I find men with a little meat on their bones dead sexy. If you are with someone that keeps trying to get you to change your appearance – kick them to the curb. (Now someone that lovingly encourages you to lose weight for health reasons – exception to the rule).