I was shopping with a girlfriend the other day, and I had a funny moment at one of my favorite stores.

As I was browsing around, suddenly one of those helpful female clerks caught me by surprise as she said, “Oh, did you know you are in the petite section, ladies?”

It made me laugh out LOUD and we scooted out of there quickly! “No, but I haven’t been petite in a long time–not since I was anorexic anyway.”

Then, I grabbed a medium shirt, walked back over to the mirror in the petite section and asked, “Is this a petite mirror too?” The clerk laughed with me and knew I was kidding–all in good humor! My friend was chuckling from a nearby mid-size section too.

That story, as funny as it was, just stands to reflect a much bigger change in my life. My menopause struggle hasn’t been with night sweats or hot flashes (although I’ve had a few of those firecracker-lit-from-within moments); it’s been with accepting my new curvier body. A bigger butt, plumper thighs, a rounder belly, and fuller breasts have been the change in me, and I’m beginning to make peace with it. I’m beginning to learn to own it. My daughters assure me that, after all, we are living in a time where “big butts are in.”

I recently cleaned out my overstuffed closet, relieving its shelves of the items that no longer fit. There was a catharsis in the purge, an authenticity in accepting–and rejoicing in–what is today’s reality.

I’m enjoying more flowing styles now. Whether formal or casual, my go-to is a higher waistband and a little more space to move and breathe. My dresses are just a little above my knee or boot-length, and yoga pants are preferred work clothes. Oh, and on many days, I’ve traded in the underwire pushup for a softer sportbra style.

I call this maturity, and it feels almost like an outward manifestation of aging gratefully with grace and comfort. (I just don’t pick out those skinny “suck it up and in and all around” jeans any more!) I want to move in my clothes and have my feet thank me from my shoes. I want to be kind to my body in the clothes I choose–to love it just as it is. I really want to be done with this long struggle of wishing I were thinner.

(Although, I still like some high heels now and then and always wear a hot pair at the podium. Women will always look at your feet when you’re speaking!)

In whatever season, my body is a gift. Though it changes age to age and year to year, fitness and health are still my goals and priority. I work toward being strong and flexible.

I want to own where I am in my body and step into its new shape with confidence and grace. I want to swing my hips just like a cat moving her tail–with self-assurance and joy.

Once and for all I want to give up this idea that I need to be a skinny bitch. (Please don’t take offense to that if you are thin—celebrate that that’s your body type. I’ve spent a lifetime wishing it had been mine!)

I repeat often my new mantra, “I’m not fat; I’m feminine.” (Again that is not to exclude the thinner, leaner women reading this; it’s simply to say there’s praise to be declared over every body type.) No matter what size I am, the best thing is, I’m on the descent of my sexual prime and not led by my hormones any longer.

I’m even-tempered these days, and my energy is super steady. I feel great almost all the time. There’s no fatigue or hostile PMS moods happening.

Despite the extra padding, I’m actually feeling more alive and vibrant than ever. Walking through the waves of change is never easy, but navigating this new body change has meant positive adjustments to my own perception of my outward appearance.

I’m not petite (not that I was ever built that way), but I am priming myself positively to embrace my body with a whole new form of self love.

This is how I see it: I’m doing what I can to build strength. I’m eating a healthy Paleo diet and a bi-annual cleanse (from the Clean Program), keeping my sugar and alcohol consumption down to minimum, and my “play time” almost every day is doing yoga, Barre method, Zumba, Soul Cycle, Pilates, hiking and intervals. Oh, and I take vitamins and use bio-identical hormones that help a lot.

So, it’s time to get off the scale and acknowledge that while I may not be eating many sweets (I cheat with Lily’s stevia sweetened chocolate), so far the 50s are a piece of cake!

Menopause is a welcome pause that’s turning out to be golden. And, if you’re a man reading this, just know all of this happens to you, too. None of us escapes hormonal changes—but we can welcome them.

Cheers to living our most vibrant lives, no matter the condition or age of our bodies! Cheers to enjoying where we are and the body that keeps us here.

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