Tag Archives: stretch marks

I Feel Gross and Feeling Gross Feels Sad

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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.

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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?  

Stretch Marks

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One of my all-time favorite posts that I’ve written for this blog was published today at Offbeat Families.  I really like their site, which is geared towards non-traditional paths in life as parents, partners, and people.  Check it!

You can read my post here.

They changed the title of my post, which was initially In Celebration of my Tie-Dyed Stomach.  Other than that, it does not look like they edited too much of it, which is cool, because like I said, I really liked that post.  It is another post about self-acceptance, particularly about my stretch marks from pregnancy.

My pregnancy with Emily was really uncomfortable.  Not horrible, just achey and exhausting.  I remember walking around in my third trimester with my forearm hooked under my belly, because it was so big it felt like it would just fall to the floor if I let go!  It was impossible to imagine she could get any bigger in there, that my body could stretch to accommodate another ounce.  And yet, it did.

When I fell pregnant with Em, I was so enamored with Jack that it was hard to fathom my heart would stretch enough to hold love enough for two babies.  And yet it did.

After each maternity leave, it felt utterly unconscionable that my life would make sense as a working mom, that the time of each day could expand enough to get everything done.  And yet, somehow at the end of each day, we are all okay.

We all have stretch marks of one kind or another- whether physical, emotional, or psychic.  It may not be sheik, but I feel infinitely blessed to have a visual representation on my stomach of the progression of physically becoming a mother.  We women have to practically stretch ourselves to the point of no return when we bear a child, and this says nothing of the transformation we endure mentally and spiritually.

Motherhood has changed me.  It has made me better for this world, but not without mammoth effort on my part.  Mindfulness has been my saving grace.  Without it, I think I would have gone totally mad.

I want to take a sec to thank Offbeat Families, and everyone who stops in here at Momasteblog.  Thank you, especially if you take the time to comment, like, or share.  It means so much to me and makes my day.  I truly am very, very grateful that I have found a little niche blogging.  It is like yoga for my mind and soul.

Namaste.

Momaste.

And big love to you all.

In Celebration of My Tie-Dyed Stomach

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Vanity Fair ran an article about Marilyn Monroe, in which she was quoted as saying:

“There isn’t anybody that looks like me without clothes on.”

I don’t know if she was being existential, ironic, or just plain silly, but I thought about this quote for months.  I’ve adopted it as my new motto of empowerment on those days when I feel not-so-awesome.

I have obsessed about my weight since I was eleven.  I’m not going to get into all of the years of disordered eating and self-loathing in this post, but when I look back on photos of myself, I can’t believe I thought there was anything wrong with me.  I was a fox–  long, lean, lithe, and curvy in just the right places.  I could shimmy into tons of really cute clothes, and heads would turn.

These days, you could describe me as “pillowy” rather than “willowy”.  I’m not one of those lucky women who lost all their baby weight breast feeding.  My body feels the need to hold on to all its fat stores until after baby weans.  Also, I was not one of those women who’s breasts shrivel up to half their pre-baby size after nursing. Mine remained a DDD cup, which would have been awesome if my husband were a boob man, but he recently said to me, “Don’t be gross; boobs are for babies,” when I asked him if he noticed the unholstered rack on a woman who passed us by.  It is good that my hips and ass are in proportion to my gigantic jugs, because he likes those just fine.

My pregnancy with Jack passed with nary a stretch mark, but in my last trimester with Emily, I looked in my mirror to see my belly button surrounded by a spiral of stretch marks.  The pink whorls were hideous, fascinating and hypnotic.  Since having Em, they have changed to a silvery shadow around my navel, a translucent tie-dye.  I could slather vitamin oil onto them to make them fade into obscurity, but I actually contemplated having them tattooed.  I’ve grown to love these delicate fingerprints of my final pregnancy.

It’s normal for women to grieve the loss of their pre-baby body.  I went through all the stages of grief–  denial, anger, depression, bargaining–  before I got to self-acceptance.

While watching me button my jeans the other day, Jack stated, “Mama, you have a big, big belly.”  Then he wrapped his arms around me and nuzzled said big belly.  At 12 months, Emily is still passionately nursing, and worships my body as a shrine of sorts.  I am a place where my children snuggle, snack, and climb.  To them, I am warm and safe, a place of comfort and sweetness.

So, if my husband and children can accept and love my body, why can’t I?  I would like to have a bit more core strength so that my back didn’t feel quite so elderly, and I always want to make sure that my heart and body are in good health.  But, ugh, I really would rather go for a brisk walk with Em in her stroller than pound it out at the gym. I see moms who spend hours in the gym and they look ahh-maze-ing for it.  I really respect and admire their discipline, but I’ve gotten to the point where firm abs and buns just aren’t a priority for me.

Marilyn died alone in a nearly unfurnished room.  By most accounts, she was unhappy and lonely, despite being the most admired sex-symbol in the world.  She fought a war within herself of depression and was reported to have wild weight fluctuations because of anti-psychotic medication.  From these facts, I deduce that fame, fortune, and a 20 inch waist can’t buy you love or joy.

My body is ahh-maze-ing in its own way.  It created two gorgeous, perfect babies, then nourished them with warm, sweet milk.  Mine is a body that is loved, cherished even.  There isn’t anyone in the world who looks like me without their clothes on, and I have the stretch marks to prove it.