I’ve been thinking about this post for quite some time and wondering how to word it without it seeming…whiny, I guess? I’ll give it a try. I’ve been off my game for the past 5 or 6 weeks and that has sort of put me in a downward spiral when it comes to body image. Specifically, I don’t feel good about myself lately since I haven’t been able to work out on a regular basis (not to mention an abundance of s’mores and other such yumminess.)
Perhaps I should start at the beginning.
I was always a husky child (not big, not small) and always had a huge appetite. This caught up with me in junior high and high school and it felt like I spent probably ten years wishing I was smaller and more in shape. I didn’t know how to be healthy or how to lose weight, I just figured I shouldn’t eat as much and when does that ever work? Not for me anyway. I ate my breakfast pizzas and warm pretzels and wore xlarge tank suits at the beach and wished with all my heart I could look like the skinny girls in magazines. I don’t think any teen girl can understand how magazines and models and the like are not the realistic woman, but at that time I thought it was terribly unfair. Why couldn’t that be me? I had crooked teeth and huge breasts and stretch marks from growing too fast and horrible, frizzy hair. Oh thirteen, you couldn’t pay me to go back! Not until my last two years of college did I regularly work out and like magic I lost weight and finally felt good about myself. Little time, even less money and all that meant I was thinner then than I’ll ever be again and for a long time I sort of stayed at that level.
I got pregnant with my daughter in 2007 and it was wonderful. I gained about 20 pounds and didn’t have a lot of problems taking off the weight after. I had worked out that whole pregnancy and I think that helped afterwards. Who knows. Then I got pregnant again 9 months after Molly and that was trickier. I was on bed rest for a bit and really liked my strawberry ice cream and even though I didn’t gain as much I think my body just plain changed after that. Bigger hips, bigger feet, larger thighs, more cellulite and all that nonsense a childbearing woman learns about a body that has given birth. After Brady was born I had lost most of the weight within a year or so, but I was not fit or toned or feeling that wonderful about myself. I was scale obsessed and fixated on a number. You know, that number that seems to mean that today is a good day, or today is a bad day based on what that scale says?
When Brady was one I joined the Y and things changed for me, for the better. I started taking classes (Body Pump, Spinning, Boot Camp) and in a short amount of time my body changed. I was fit and muscular (in a good way!) and felt comfortable in a bikini (is there anything better?) I felt strong. Being able to be the fastest in Boot Camp, or one of the strongest in Body Pump made me feel amazing. Pushing myself became important. I didn’t want to slack off or do anything halfway, I wanted to do it for me. For the past three years I worked out hard 3-4 times a week and during that time I really didn’t care about the scale or what that number was. Working out made me feel comfortable in my own skin and feeling that way freed me to not worry about silly things like pant size or numbers on a scale. I just plain felt good. For the first time ever.
Fast forward to now. Travelling across the country, moving, settling into a new home and getting my children adjusted mean I haven’t worked out in five weeks. It’s funny how this short time away has sort of spiraled me down to the same feelings I used to have years ago. I feel sluggish, fat, untoned, jiggly. I feel like the scale matters again. I feel like I have to stress over food more and my intake as I’m not exercising. I feel very much not like the person I was just a short month or so ago. I guess I’m surprised how quickly this came about? How can this short amount of time make me feel like I’m fifteen again and out of control and not enough? I edit photos and think of all the things I want to change and things I don’t like. Baggy knees and untoned arms and all that a girl can think of when confronted with high resolution images of herself on a daily basis.
I’ve started up at the Y in my new town just this week. It’s a lot different than my old one, with older equipment and a depressing sort of atmosphere. But it is free, and the childcare there is welcoming and they have all I need to feel better. Next week I can start my classes again and regain some of the confidence I lost these past couple of months. I never realized how much I link working out and body image/self esteem/self worth in my head. I haven’t changed that much on the outside, maybe a little bit of lost muscle and endurance, but I feel different on the inside. I can’t live like that. It is so important to me to feel good about myself, so Molly will feel good about herself. I want her to see a strong mama, a mother that feels comfortable in her own skin so she will (hopefully!) feel comfortable in hers.
Here’s to feeling better in my skin, and feeling better about myself on the inside. I realize that I am not obese, or even overweight. I want to say that despite a certain image that I put out there I am still a woman who doubts herself daily, inside and out. I’m working on it. One day at a time.