I Feel Gross and Feeling Gross Feels Sad


Let me preface this post by saying I have not slept well the past week, mostly due to the heat.

And birds.  OMFG.  Do people actually enjoy their cacophony?  Because I do not.  Especially not at four or five in the freaking morning.

Anyhoo.  I feel gross.

I wake puffy and bloated from baking in a witch’s oven all night long.  My skin is a shit show of heat rash and acne.  I can’t seem to find any make up that makes me not look old, creased, and fluffy.  Everything is either too white or too orange on my skin.

Normally I present an aura of “I feel great about myself and I am practicing acceptance for who, what, and where I am in the world.”

Most of the time it works, in a sort of “fake it till ya’ make it” kind of way.

Look.  I’m a decent-looking woman (who used to be beautiful but didn’t know it) and I’ve learned to love myself.  So, that’s cool.  I also realize I am not interested in overhauling my diet or starting a new exercise routine.  So, I figure, it is easier (and more genuine) to be happy with what I have than to complain about it without desire to make an actual change.

Because I have a daughter, I think it is super important to project self-love and esteem about myself.  She has no clue that I’m fat or that my skin is shitty, which is cool, and I don’t want her to start worrying about her own appearance.  I started feeling ashamed about my body as a four-year-old ballerina and it was confusing and icky.  Emily still feels awesome about herself, and I figure if I can implant that self esteem early on, she will be the better for it.

As for my son, I want him to see beauty as something all-inclusive and holistic.  I want him to understand that beauty is so much more than shiny lip gloss, tight buns, and perky boobs.  I believe staying positive about myself is important for Jack to see, as well as Emily.

Fortunately for me, my husband does not seem drawn to women who have the qualities of taking excessive care of themselves.  Case in point:  I came trundling out of the shower and he asked me what was wrong.  I rattled off my list of complaints about my stomach, my skin, and the heat.  He replied by grabbing my ass and asking if I was trying to turn him on.  Because it was working.

And, no.  He was not being ironic.

Bless his heart.

Where I work, a group of co-workers are obsessed with their weight, fitness, and diet.  Most of the time, I either ignore it, or feel good for them that they are doing stuff that feels good for themselves.  Chatter about wheat bellies or crossfit don’t usually phase me.

But lately, I’ve felt vulnerable about it.

Some of the younger women started taking diet pills to shed that extra whatever, and it bummed me out.  I felt sad about women not feeling more confident and happy in their own skin.

Then I started feeling unhappy in my own skin.

I wrote a post a few years ago about my stretch marks which ended up getting published over at the former Offbeat Families.  The post was about my journey towards self-acceptance and how I was going to stop obsessing about my weight.  A woman commented on the post, something along the lines of, “I think all this self-acceptance stuff is an excuse women use to let themselves go and to get out of exercise or grooming.”

Ok.  I see her point.  Our culture is pretty unhealthy.  The state I live in made number one for obesity, which is terrifying since I live in the smallest state in the country.

But self-acceptance has not been an excuse for me to “let myself go”.  I don’t think I have done that.  My wallet would also argue I have not let myself go based on the cash I put towards makeup and beauty products.

IMG_8005And while we are on the subject, does wearing makeup and dying my hair make me self-rejecting?  Because if that is the case, then I feel extra gross and fraudulent about myself.

I’ve struggled with my weight and body image for my entire life.  For my teens and twenties, I was an underweight dancer who thought she was fat.  I restricted food, practiced vegetarianism, and would only eat a small selection of foods I considered “allowed.”

In my late 20’s I went through a phase of exercising to the point of passing out.  I’d go to the gym and take three aerobic classes a day, or stay in the weight room until it closed at night.

When I met my husband, got married, had children and my body changed.  I went from fit and firm to curvy and soft.  I realized I needed to knock that eating disorder shit off if I wanted to have a stable relationship with another human besides myself.  I was happy in my relationship and life, and it helped me to feel more happy about myself.

Then I got pregnant and had children.  I went through a series of harsh emotions towards my body after having my first baby.  I was totally disgusted with myself, and frustrated I couldn’t lose the weight quickly enough.

Four years later, the miraculous birth of my nine and a half pound daughter in three pushes with zero pain relief altered my perception of my body.  My perception shifted from being annoyed with my extra curves, saggy boobs, and stretch marks, to feeling a sense of awe about what precisely my body had accomplished with both of my children, in terms of growing, birthing, and nurturing them with my breast milk.

I would find myself gently stroking my silver stretch marks in the dark, praying they would never fade.


At this point, I am 30 pounds overweight.  I swear at least a third of that weight is postpartum boobage.  I eat healthily and drink tons of water.  I also love pizza and wine.  My blood pressure is low and I’ve never had a problem with cholesterol.  I don’t formally exercise like I used to, but I stay active, stretch daily, and walk as much as possible.  Since I am healthy, my doctor doesn’t hassle me about losing weight.

I’ve accepted this is my body.

Or so I think until I start to feel insecure and creeped out by people publicly and loudly dieting and weighing in all around me.  Since I am a heavier woman, I don’t think anyone would stop to think it would bother me in the slightest as someone recovered from years of disordered eating.

It’s not that I worry about going back to restricting, purging, or addictive exercise.  Frankly, I just do not have the energy to live like that anymore.  Plus, when I restrict I get really bitchy and bitchiness is not conducive to being an effective mother, wife, or social worker.

I also know if I did lose that 30 pounds, it wouldn’t make me “happy”.

I know this for a fact, because I have been skinny and being skinny did not make me happy.  It might feel nice to slip into a smaller size pair of pants, but feeling “nice” does not equal happiness, because it is a sensation balanced on the inner statement that “I am only good and I only feel good if I am thin.”  There can be no real happiness in that statement for me.  Maybe there is for you, but there is not for me.  I know because I’ve been there.  There was no satisfaction in it.  I’d never been so lonely or distraught.

In a reaction to all the weight loss frenzy at work, I decided not to weigh myself and see how it felt.  There is something reassuring to me about getting on the scale and seeing that my weight hasn’t changed.  But it can become obsessive.  I’ve gone though phases where I weigh myself ten or more times per day.  Before morning coffee.  After I pee.  After I shower. Before I poop.  After I get dressed.  It is exhausting, but most of the time these days, in my working-mommy-life I have no time for such narcissism.

Sometimes I get on the scale and if my weight has dropped a pound or two, I feel awesome all day.  So, I guess I haven’t come as far on that self acceptance shit as I’d like to think, if my mood and sense of self worth is still governed by numbers on a scale.

During the days I didn’t weigh myself, I felt fine.  I ate mindfully and no different than usual (except for those peanut m&m’s demanded by PMS).  Then I broke down and hopped on the scale.  I’d been feeling so fancy free, I thought for sure I’d lost some pounds.

But I didn’t.

I was five pounds heavier.

Suddenly, my mood crashed.  I looked in the mirror and called myself some awful names.

So, here we are.  I feel gross.  And I feel sad that I feel gross because it makes me feel fraudulent that I haven’t actually completed that goal of self-acceptance.

All this self-indulgent and neurotic rambling basically boils down to this:  it is a struggle.  Loving myself is a struggle.  Like anything else.  It is ongoing.  Sometimes it is genuine and strong, and sometimes it is fake and angry.  I would argue it is as arduous an undertaking as any crossfit session.

IMG_8006There’s a pitcher of minted lemon water in the fridge with my name on it.  And I bought some extra greens and beets at the market–  not because if I only eat lettuce I will lose that pesky five pounds, but because drinking naturally infused water and eating organic greens feels like a loving thing to do for myself.  I also bought goat cheese.  And chips.  Because that felt loving too.

I gave myself a mini-facial,went for a walk, and went to bed a bit early, so at least while I’m sitting with feeling gross and sad, I will maybe feel a little fresher and better rested.

It’s all a work in progress.

Maybe just because I have a day of feeling gross, it doesn’t mean all the progress I’ve made is lost. . .  What do you think?  Do you ever have gross days?  What do you do to show love for yourself?  

20 responses »

  1. Wow, this is an awesome post. You’ve hit on so many issues that I’ve dealt with, and on destructive attitudes held by so many people. Having kids screwed up any chances I ever had for a hot body in middle age, and I’m still trying to accept that. I try to eat healthily, but I really like eating delicious stuff. I really hate exercising, but I do my best to get in some kind of deliberate exercise most days of the week. And I’m trying to just be good with that and stop beating myself up for the size I wear and what I see when I accidentally catch a glimpse in the mirror. It seems to be a life-long task.

    • Thank. You. So. MUCH! I am so happy you read this post and commented. Really, it means so much to me. I really thought this was going to be one of those posts that I poured my heart into and then no one would actually read through the whole thing or “get it” because it was so self indulgent. It is nice to know other people/women like me are out there struggling and doing their best. I really think that some people don’t understand . . . so it is awesome when someone does. xoxoxo. Thanks and do something awesome for yourself today!

      • I know just what you mean about pouring your heart out and getting nothing back. That always seems like some weird kind of rejection. But you really hit me “where I live.” And it was nice for me to read that someone else is struggling in the same way.

      • One of the things I love about blogging are those moments when you do make a real connection with someone you don’t even know. It’s kind of like affirming for me that we really are all connected – and that’s an important piece of my understanding of the world. Sorry to get all existential. πŸ™‚

  2. Everyone has gross days! No matter what we look like, and no matter how good everyone else says we look like, they happen. When I feel a bit rubbish I like to have a good wash and feel clean and fresh, put some comfy clothes on and eat some nice food. I think looking after your body and appreciating it for what is, is key. Like you said, your body made your child, that’s pretty damn cool. Also, yoga is great πŸ™‚

    • Hi! Thanks so much for stopping by. And thanks for your kind words. I agree that the basic self-care stuff really does help. And YES, also yoga IS great. While I don’t have a formal practice, there are a series of poses that really help me feel more content in my own skin. What a great thing to remember. xoxo, thank you!

  3. This post was so fucking ballsy.

    Right now, I am struggling with the post-baby body I have. It’s different than any version of my body I’ve ever had, and some days I like it and some days I haaaaate it.

    I like the point that you made that your mood and how you felt about yourself and your body had little to do with the number on the scale. Even though you were 5 pounds heavier, you felt awesome. For that same reason, I stopped weighing myself on a regular basis. It just made me feel shitty and I don’t want to give that kind of power to my bathroom scale anymore.

    I also love reading this quote, even on days when I don’t quite believe it:
    β€œMy body is fucking beautiful, and every time I look in the mirror and acknowledge that, I am contributing to the revolution.” – Nomi Lamm

    • OMG, thank you so much for sharing that quote with me. I absolutely love it. Imagine how powerful women would be if they started a revolution of loving themselves and let go of all the societal bullshit?! I think that is the thing that bums me out about cultural expectations and assumptions of beauty– that it somehow steals a woman’s confidence in herself and her body. Women are so terrified of childbirth, and have been duped into believing that formula is “better” than their own breastmilk because of money hungry marketers. . . in the same way we are made to feel less beautiful or lovable if there is a larger number on the scale or if we haven’t bought the latest and greatest mascara or eye gel. The beauty and diet industry is all about money in the end. Dieting makes money– think of all the shakes and tonics and cleanses and pills and nutrisystems ‘they’ are hocking out there. It is imperative to business that we feel like crap and become dependent on gyms or specific diet products. Well, I could go on and on, but maybe that is another post for another time… Thanks for reading, resonating, and checking in. I love what you wrote. xoxoxo

  4. Hi Charlotte! Wow you’re beautiful and your post so resonates with me! I am in the middle of the bad week of the month and feels especially gross. I have to admit that I feel better since I use a menstrual cup, but still it is no cure again bad hair and bad skin… You know how my thyroid affect my weight and if it can make you feel any better, I am able to win or loose 6 pounds a day only due to water retention…
    It is difficult to go against years of learning how to loathe our bodies, against advertisement, against all kind of different messages… I specially agree with “I was good looking and didn’t know it”, because well I was, and I should have spend more time enjoying my body than martyrizing it. I try know, with a little exercise, good food, and trying to take care of me, and trying to tell me that “gross days” are just that, days, that will end, hopefully in a bubble bath with a glass of wine!
    Lots of love

  5. I love this! I have not been round for a while but I first found you from that post on Offbeat Families, and it was truly instrumental to me in my own body love journey.

    Thank you for your honesty. It is a journey, full of ups and downs, and we each have to figure out what will help us in the downs. For me, it’s making sure I’m eating fresh veggies and fruits, and moving my body. And now, I think I’ll be incorporating that quote about being part of the revolution. Self care helps a ton- when I feel stretched thin, I feel bad about my body. But when I make time to take care of myself, like you said, then I feel better.

    Hugs to you. We are all just doing the best we can for today. Tomorrow is a new day.

    • Thank you!! I Remember meeting through that post!! Thank you so much for stopping back by and commenting so kindly. It really does mean a ton to me to hear that someone remembers a post I wrote that helped them. Thank you from my heart. Xoxo. Hope to see more of you!!

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  7. Congrats on overcoming your eating disorder. I’m still losing baby weight from my last pregnancy. It weighs in me (ha!) but also the way my face aged the past 2 years. What can you do? Great job keeping positive body image in mind for your kids. 30 pounds doesn’t make you “a heavier woman” xoxo

  8. Pingback: Your Daughter Thinks You’re Beautiful | momaste

  9. Did you know you can burn calories just by thinking? ^~^ I found that really interesting and no wonder geniuses aren’t necessarily out of shape! You are a beautiful person and you shouldn’t feel this gross about yourself! Cheer up! ^_^

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