My husband and I recently decided we needed to make more of an effort to lead healthier lives. We set goals of eating better food (less pasta and meat, more veggies and fruits) and going to the gym twice a week (it’s located in our apartment building, so there’s really no excuse not to meet that bare minimum). It started about a month ago, so it was perfect timing for Hourglassy’s “Fit & Active October” series. And I was keeping up with that goal…until last week.

Unfortunately, a week ago, out of nowhere, my lower back was suddenly so debilitatingly painful that I could barely walk. Even now, sitting or standing for long periods is excruciating and it’s difficult (and painful again) to do much bending. For a few days, I actually had to have my husband help me dress because there was no way I could get socks on or tie my shoes.

I went to my primary care physician, and he thinks it’s a herniated disk. I have to go to more doctor appointments before anyone can really help me (physiatrist for an x-ray, then orthopedist for an MRI, then finally physical therapy if necessary), it takes several weeks to get each appointment, and I can only make each one if the previous doctor says I should. So it could be two months before I’m even able to start any course of therapy. The American health care system at its finest!

Anyway, the point is, my exercise regimen has been put on a major hold. I’m doing stretches every night and I’m on (non-narcotic) pain meds prescribed by the doctor, but I definitely don’t feel anywhere near ready to go back to the gym. So my contributions to this month’s theme may be a little slim.

However, there was one thing I was thinking about before my exercise plans went awry: How to reconcile positive body image with the desire to lose weight for health reasons.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever weighed, but also have the highest self-esteem I’ve ever had. On the other hand, after several months of hot weather and wearing nothing but dresses, I recently pulled on a pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn since the spring and discovered that I could barely close them. It was a bit of a wake-up call that even though I like my body, I could still stand to make better choices, and that includes losing just a few pounds—not enough to visibly change my shape, maybe 3 – 5 so my existing clothes will continue to fit properly.

Still, there’s something about the effort to lose weight that makes me feel like I’m giving in to societal pressure, or turning my back on body acceptance. I have to keep reminding myself that health is the most important thing, and I shouldn’t maintain bad habits just to be stubborn or in some misguided attempt to make a point.

It’s very frustrating. As a woman, I feel like we’re either told that we’re fat and disgusting, or if we try to make improvements then we’re vain and self-hating.

I guess I just need to tune out everything around me and do what’s best for myself no matter what!