Ninety-eight point seven percent of women are dissatisfied with the way their bodies look. (I just made that number up, but I bet I’m close!)
I’m CERTAINLY no exception. I have a linebacker torso (which sort of works to my advantage because it makes my waist look smaller) and my birthing hips are so wide I have to turn sideways and sidestep my way through doorways.
Okay I’m exaggerating on the hips – but only slightly.
My face is crooked.
My nose is huge – and crooked.
I have a poochy belly that WON’T GO AWAY.
And the stretch marks on my butt? Have stretch marks.
And yet …
I think I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m finally, FINALLY okay with the way I look. I actually feel pretty comfortable with myself. Sure, I could improve and I will work on improving, but generally speaking, I’m FINALLY comfortable in my own skin.
But this level of comfort doesn’t come easily. In fact, I daresay, it really, truly doesn’t come until you reach, er, middle age.
I think there comes a point in every woman’s life where you just say – EFF IT. You’ve struggled with your weight your entire life by either starving yourself, exercising your ass off, or sucking in your gut so hard you actually see stars.
(Maybe that last one is just me).
Clothes shopping becomes the number two most dreaded activity that any woman can voluntarily participate in (number one being the ole trip to the OB/GYN). And what woman hasn’t felt compelled to either scribble out, or CUT out, the size tag from her clothing all in the name of not breaking the significant others’ illusion bubble that she’s STILL a size six.
(Okay, maybe that one is all me, too).
When I got married, back before the dinosaur age (or commonly referred to as 1990), I was a size eight. A tight size eight. And I had maintained that size by basically not eating, exercising every waking moment and walking around with a semi-permanent constipated look on my face because I was too busy concentrating on making sure I had sucked my stomach in as far as my gut muscles would allow. (My gut muscles WERE pretty strong back then, now that I think about it).
In short, I was not comfortable with myself, at all. Even though I was skinny, I had Debra Messing boobs and I thought I was way too tall to be that skinny and just didn’t feel attractive at all.
I didn’t have a shape, I was a walking toothpick.
How exactly is that sexy?
I remember OBSESSING about what I ate every conscious moment for years. And because I deprived myself of the simple pleasures, like a piece of chocolate, my cravings would claw my insides to shreds so that when it came time that I couldn’t handle it anymore, I would binge like you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t have an eating disorder, per se, but my guilt pretty much killed me so that life? Was not fun. I could never fully relax because *GASP*, I might get fat.
So, it shouldn’t come as any big shock to know that after I got pregnant with Dude? I went WILD. Finally, FINALLY, I could EAT! I had an excuse! It was for the baby!
And EAT, I did. I went so berserk that I ended up gaining a whole whopping 60 pounds with my first son AND he was eight weeks premature, so there’s no telling how much I might have ended up weighing if he had been full-term.
I was now at the other end of the spectrum – I was too fat. And once again, I HATED myself.
However, two positive things came out of my fat misery, my beautiful baby boy and … boobs. Oh yes. My pregnant boobs never really went away, even after my milk dried up.
And, since Dude was premature, I had a lot of stress worrying about him. And because I was stressed, I lost weight (I lose my appetite when I get stressed). So it really didn’t take me very long to lose a lot of that baby weight.
Twenty-eight months later, I had Jazz. But I was more careful with my weight the second go-around. I still gained about 40 pounds, but it was nothing like the crazy weight I had gained with Dude.
I went to work at Wal-Mart when Jazz was six months old. (Long story short – mainly because being a stay-at-home mom and my husband were driving me nuts. Yes. Selfish reasons, but there you go). And while I worked at Wal-Mart, sitting on my butt, in the cash office, keying in deposits, I ate.
As in, WHOLE BAGS OF CANDY IN ONE SHIFT.
So naturally, I gained weight.
And here’s where I went wrong – I made the mistake of buying bigger-sized clothes in order to accommodate my widening girth.
Don’t do that. Ever. It only encourages you to continue eating. Because those new, bigger clothes? Are loose. And comfy. So it fools you into thinking it’s okay to continue your poor eating habits. And then you get bigger. And you are forced to buy bigger clothes. And the cycle goes on forever until one day, you wake up and you’re a size SIXTEEN.
Like I was at the low point in my physical life.
It was when my size 16 clothes were starting to feel tight and I was seriously contemplating buying size 18 pants that I finally woke the hell up. “Wait a tick,” I thought to myself, “I’m seriously going to be a size 18?! What the … ???”
Though I was conscious of what was going on, I hadn’t reached the motivation level to actually DO anything about it yet.
It wasn’t until we went on our first beach vacation in Florida, arrived home and started looking through vacation pictures that I saw THIS picture (ignore the cute little boy – that’s Jazz):
That it hit me: Good Lord, I need to do something about myself. That’s nasty.
I learned several things about myself from this picture.
First of all, what the HELL was I thinking wearing short overalls like that. Overalls don’t flatter ANY figure, but I wore them because they were loose and I THOUGHT actually hid my body when in fact, they only served to accentuate the parts I was trying to hide.
I will work my butt off to look halfway decent for future vacation pictures because vacation pictures? Are forever. They never go away. And I will be forced to look upon my whale body for years, and years, and years …
I will consciously work on improving my wardrobe and wear clothes that actually flatter me.
And I will consciously think about my posture whenever the camera is out. Slouching forward only draws attention to my back ROLLS.
So yes. Whenever I start getting lazy about my body, all I have to do is LOOK at this picture and *POOF*, I’m suddenly motivated to get on that treadmill and start my workout routine once again.
This is my body conscience story; this is how it all started. I’d like to continue my story by explaining what I do, why I do it and maybe give you some eating and exercising tips that have worked for me.
Please understand – I’m NOT a physical fitness expert. I DO NOT have a tight little body to be envied – my body is quite flawed and as I’ve mentioned, could be better if I really punished myself. But I’ve reached that point in my life that I’m okay with the way I look. And maintaining this look is really all I’m interested in.
The tips and tricks I’m about to share with you in upcoming posts are mine and work for me. You’re more than welcome to try them for yourself, but I can’t stress to you enough that finding something that works for you is KEY to maintaining YOUR own physical health.
But for now, tell me – what does it take to motivate you into finally making those physical changes in your life? Is it a photograph? A comment? An upcoming event? A person? Or is just the way you feel?