Getting into Shape

Body Expectations – Get Real

I have a rather unique problem, I think. Whenever I look into a mirror, I see a better body than my flesh and blood body. And I’m always shocked and disgusted whenever I see pictures of myself wearing something that I thought looked good on me or flattered me, only it didn’t.

At all.

It’s like I have the reverse of this body image graphic you see – I look into the mirror and see something beautiful. It’s only after I’m slapped in the face with reality that I realize – I’m NOT all that and oh my gosh! Where did that gut come from?! And are my hips REALLY that bad? And look! My arm fat is flapping in the wind – again.

It’s so depressing.

I’ve gotten to the point where I loathe Thanksgiving. And it’s not because of the food or my family members, it’s because of those damn family pictures that my mother-in-law insists on taking.

Don’t get me wrong, I think taking family pictures is a great idea – we all change so much from year to year, but it’s the fact that I have to stand next to “the beautiful people” that really gets me down.

I look so BIG compared to all the skinny, shorter people in my in-law family. And seeing that comparison and being confronted with all of my physical flaws just depresses me. For days afterward.

I go to gatherings feeling good about myself, I see pictures of those gatherings and feel like a complete whale later. And that starts the whole “why do I even try” pity party that I throw myself that last for weeks – which only makes it worse because the holidays roll around and I see Christmas pictures of myself looking pasty and bloated and I feel even more guilty as I stuff that fifth piece of fudge into my mouth.

It really isn’t a pretty cycle, people.

Luckily, I snap myself out of it when January rolls around. But more on the whole exercise thing later.

For now, suffice it to say, my body image? Predictably alternates depending on the time of year.

All this to say, I have a healthy body image, but there are times I succumb to outside influences.

Let’s back this up a bit …

I was a skinny size eight when I got married. And though I felt good about the way I looked, I hated every single minute of it.

I couldn’t eat what I wanted to. I had to constantly deprive myself of the simple pleasures of life. I had to. I’m the sort of person who gains weight really easily. (I also lose it pretty easily – more on that later). So any kind of junk food or anything calorie laden made me balloon outward faster than you can say Willy Wonka.

Forcing myself to stay away from the foods I loved only made me crave them that much more so when I caved and actually ate them, I felt guilty for days. That guilt transformed into anger and I started resenting myself and other influences that I felt were trapping me into this vicious cycle.

But I continued to watch every single thing I ate in order to maintain my size because in my mind – you weren’t beautiful unless you were skinny.

I remember walking around with my gut sucked in all the time. (I didn’t want Kevin to think I was fat). In fact, I sucked it in so much that my stomach muscles would ACHE by the end of the day. (That did help me though when I had Dude – the nurse was all like, “Wow! You have great stomach muscles!” and it wasn’t because I worked out, it was because I sucked them in).

I was so self-conscious back then. And I think part of that self-consciousness stemmed from the fact that Kevin had been married before and his first wife? Was quite pretty. And quite skinny. I think I was competing with her on some weird level.

In short, I was miserable. I mean, truly, truly miserable. I looked good (in my opinion), but I paid a high price for looking like that.

Then I had babies. And suddenly, I was given permission to EAT. Anything I wanted! At any time I wanted! Because the baby needed nourishment. And I was happy because for the first time, I didn’t have to watch what I ate, or feel guilty about what I ate.

I gained a lot of weight. And my body changed. Not just weight wise, but now, I had boobs. I went from a size A to a size C, and I LIKED that. (So did Kevin). My hips were fuller and I had a new thickness around my waist.

The hips and waist? I wasn’t so happy about.

Again. I struggled with my body image after kids, only it was a different image this go-around – it was a more mature and well, for lack of a better term, USED body. It was stretched out and more maternal. For years, I longed for my pre-baby body. I wanted that tight little body back. And though I’ve worked on my body over the years and I’ve certainly dropped the pounds and even got close to my pre-baby weight (though not quite), everything was proportioned differently.

I had curves that wouldn’t go away. No matter what I did or how early I got up in the morning to try and get rid of them.

I was me – only fuller.

My weight has fluctuated a lot over the years. One month, I’m a size 10, the next month, a 12. The next? Back down to a 10. Half a year later, I’m a size 16 … and when I reached that size? That’s where the madness ended for me.

I hadn’t even realized I was that big, body wise, until I could no longer fit into my jeans anymore and had to buy a bigger size. And when it really dawned on me that that size was a 16? I suddenly woke up from my self-imposed stupor.

I did not WANT to be that size. I felt sluggish. I felt awkward. I felt BIG. And I didn’t like myself too much during that time period. It was that realization that motivated me to get my butt in gear and start losing weight (again, later on the whole exercise thing).

Many, many, MANY gallons of sweat later, I’m down to a more reasonable weight. I’m currently a fat 10, or a skinny 12, depending what I’m wearing or what time of the month it is. My goal is to whittle my body back down to a comfortable, and solid, size 10 before summer hits.

Why ten?

Because I’ve learned, through years of trial and errors, that that is a comfortable size for me. I can eat what I want (within reason, of course), my body feels good and I think I look pretty good in my clothes. I feel like …. me.

And I think that’s key. You have to pay attention to your body. It’s constantly “talking” to you, the problem is, I think most of us don’t listen. It’s so easy, so very easy, to just give up and go crazy with our diets, or not make the effort to exercise or even MOVE. It’s so much harder to maintain a weight, it really is.

But for me, it’s all about habits. It’s all about discipline. It’s about having the desire to keep my body in good shape – I want to live a good, long life. I want to physically be there for my grandchildren and even great grandchildren. And I know I can’t do that if I don’t take care of myself NOW. Longevity is my motivation.

Society’s idea of beauty is so unrealistic, isn’t it? These impossibly thin models … is it even normal to be a size ZERO?? Really? And what kind of life is that? To be constantly deprived of life’s simple pleasures, like food. Why would anyone want to live like that? I suppose, if one is willing to live like that, that’s one thing, but for me? I prefer to enjoy life while at the same time, find a happy medium that works for me.

And though I will continue to work and improve myself, I will no longer kill myself to dip under my comfort line just because society has deemed it superior somehow.

I think everyone has to reach that point where they are finally comfortable in their own skin. It doesn’t happen overnight, often times it happens as you get older, and sometimes, it can’t be reached without outside help, but eventually, there has to come a time when you put your hand up to the world and say “ENOUGH ALREADY.” I am who I am – take it or leave it.

I’m not saying that you can’t be improved, or that you should give up trying, oh contrare. I’m simply saying that there comes a time when you have to stop trying to be something you’re not. I can’t tell you when you reach that point – it’s different for everyone. But that limitation is there and the sooner we accept the fact that we will never look like that size zero model on yesterday’s cover, the happier, and better off we’ll be, I think. You just have to find what’s REAL for YOU.

And then don’t apologize for it.

Personally? I’m DONE trying to fit into society’s definition of beauty. I am strong. And I am okay with my body.

I can, and will improve it, but overall, I. Am. Me.


Weekend Recap

(I realize these types of posts are pretty boring. But I like to record the boring things … it gives me a sense of what our lives were like at the time).


Kevin came home about 1:00. He had gone to lunch with his soon-to-be ex-boss. In fact, he did this last Friday and will probably be doing that this Friday and next Friday, too. I find myself feeling a bit annoyed that he comes home early, which is stupid because I love having him home with me. I think it’s the break in my routine that annoys me.

I need to get used to this, though. The lease on his office runs out March 31st, which means, beginning April 1st, he’ll be home with me full time.

I’m still getting used to the idea.

He went with me to pick the boys up from school. They were happy, but not surprised to see him. Our lives are changing and though we’re okay with these changes, we’re still coping with these changes. I think the boys will really be watching Kevin closely throughout his job transition. He has talked so much to the boys about how they need to grow up and get good jobs so they can support their families that I think this makes them specially sensitive to the change.

Kevin went grocery shopping with me. Actually, he goes with me most times. We do even the most mundane tasks together. (In fact, my brother-in-law needed his help in loading up a heavy garden tool he had rented over the weekend and Kevin tried to talk me into riding along. Even though I knew it would only take him 10 minutes to help and then they would be done [they were] – I refused. I think he was a little hurt by that because as he said, “But we do everything together.” And he’s right).

We always spend more money whenever Kevin goes with me. Not so much on groceries, but other household items that I either put off buying or didn’t even know we needed.

We make a good team.

We watched Zodiac together that night. It’s a movie based on a real serial killer based in California in the early 70’s. He remembers hearing about the case – he spent the first seven years of his life in San Diego. In fact, his family arrived in Missouri the day of the second killings. Creepy.


Kevin made arrangements for the Boys / Girls Club Thrift Store to come pick up our old refrigerator and microwave. We had thought we might want to keep our old fridge, but it was taking up too much space and we have really never bought food in large quantities so we didn’t see a reason to keep it. Kevin cleaned them up for the guy. The fridge wasn’t that bad, I had just cleaned it, but the freezer was a mess. Which is really weird, it’s a freezer, food is frozen. We’re thinking it must have been crumbs from the Eggo packages.

Kevin said there was an embarrassing moment when the fridge was being loaded (the guy put the fridge on it’s side in order to put it in his trailer [I thought you weren’t supposed to do that??], there was a HUGE ball of dust stuck to the bottom of the fridge. But then again, who cleans the underside of their fridge?)

We bought some grout sealant. It comes in a spray bottle and it’s as easy as spraying it on the grout. We hesitated in doing this – the last time we put sealant on our grout, it left a sticky, plastic-like residue and made portions of the tile look shiny. We didn’t like it. But our tile guy actually recommended this one to us and we’ve been happy with the results so far. It’s more like scotch guard. We’ll likely put another coat on it next weekend and THEN I can finally mop the floor.


I taught Dude how to do laundry. And he did laundry all day. Even though he was uber annoyed at having to stop what he was doing to put another load in, it was good for him. Every time we treat him like an adult, he acts like an adult.

Go figure.

The problem is ME. Treating him like an adult. I baby these kids WAY too much and it’s starting to come back and bite me in the butt. I’m on a mission to teach both boys boring, mundane household chores AND we’re all going to take turns doing these chores every weekend.

Cleaning bathrooms should be fun. And I’m betting after they learn, they aren’t as sloppy when they go pee.

Kevin cleaned his office out. He has to make room for three more file cabinets from work that he will store for three years. That’s the time frame that they are legally liable for any residual paperwork. He spent a lot of time this entire weekend reorganizing the garage and his office and both look really nice now. I’m so blessed to be married to a man who likes to organize. There’s no telling what sort of shape my house would be in otherwise.

A light bulb burned out over our bar – it’s one of those fancy-smancy Halogen lights – so we headed up to Home Depot to buy one. While there, we finally found a ceiling fan for our kitchen. It was one that we could both agree on and it wasn’t too big for our space. Our kitchen is more long than wide.

I was so excited to see it mounted that I talked Kevin into putting it in.

Only, he ran into problems, naturally. The box wasn’t big enough and this fan? Is HEAVY. Like there is no way we have enough support heavy. So, he had to crawl into the attic to add a brace to the joint (look at me, acting like I know what the hell I’m talking about) and in doing so, a portion of our ceiling crumbled away. Apparently, our roof leaked at one time and rotted that portion of the ceiling out. Now he’ll have to put some mesh up there and replace the sheet rock.

Naturally. Nothing is ever simple, is it.

We made a trip up to Home Depot, but we were too late, they were closed. We went to Wal-Mart and even though they had more of the popcorn paint (because our light fixture was bigger than our ceiling fan we have a section that we have to fix up, OF COURSE), they didn’t have any light boxes.

Kevin tried to monkey-rig it (he’s so good at that) and though what he was going to do would have worked, he didn’t feel comfortable doing it that way, so we’ll have to buy a box for it today.

Hopefully, he can get that in tonight. Every time we mention putting a ceiling fan in our kitchen, we get raised eyebrows. I don’t know, is that weird?

We were too tired to cook last night, so we bought Taco Bell. All I had were the plain nachos (chips and cheese). I’m back on my eat-a-light-dinner kick.

The weather is warming up. It’s time to shed my fat rolls..