Tag Archives: weight

Recommitting to MySelf (Acceptance): For Better of Worse

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Last week, I had an upper respiratory infection.  After struggling with sinus pain and cough for about five days, I decided to go to my doctor.

The medical assistant, who I never particularly liked, weighed me in, checked my blood pressure, and pulse. She asked about my symptoms.  

Then, as she was leaving the room, she said, “We are implementing some new things,” she reached into a folder for a pamphlet.  “Here is some information on Body Mass Index.  It’s for patients who are uh, slightly above on their BMI.  It will teach you about portion sizes.”

I was sick and exhausted from coughing, so I didn’t even bother to conceal my angry bitch face.  “Yeah,” I grumbled.  “I’m not taking that.”

“Oh no?” she said and slipped the informative leaflet back into the folder from whence it came.

My doc came in, examined me and prescribed some antibiotics, which is what I was there for in the first place.

I’d not gone there for a lecture on my weight.

This little exchange has stayed with me over the past week.  I’ve wrested with it.

I know that doctors have a responsibility to address obesity.  I know that it is a problem in our country.

I also know I am about 30 pounds overweight.  Possibly 40, depending on which fucking chart you look at.

Additionally, I know that I struggled for the better part of three decades with eating disorders, poor body image, and self loathing as a dancer who was very underweight for most of my life, though I thought I was an orca.

So I know just about all there is to fucking know about fucking “portion sizes,” thank you very much. (And yeah, those were sarcastic air quotes.)

Of course the number on the scale did not tell the whole tale to the medical assistant that day.  Nor did it tell her that I generally try to eat a healthy diet of whole foods.  It also did not tell her that I try to get at least 30 minutes of activity into each day, and that I set goals for myself every week on my Apple Watch to burn calories and keep moving.

The number on a scale tells so very little of the whole story.

Why, then, do we give it so much credence?

Health is so much more than a number. Had I been struggling with other issues related to my weight, I might have been more appreciative of this lady’s gesture. Anyway, last I read, doctors weren’t even favoring the BMI any longer.

Regardless, the situation kind of threw me into a tail spin of anxiety and concern.

I kept coming back to the number on the scale and bending it into weird equations of how much I weighed in college at the height of my dance career and anorexia + how much I weighed when I met my husband and finally stopped vomitting after every meal + my wedding weight + the weight I’d gained on my honeymoon + my pregnancy pounds – weight lost breastfeeding + weight gained breastfeeding + sedentary job weight = fatty fatty fat fat.

It’s amazing how casually mean we can be to ourselves, isn’t it?

Why the fuck is that, anyway?  Why can’t we just shut up and be nice?

I always find myself circling back to the Pema Chodron quote about how “some of the most difficult times we have are the times we give ourselves.”

Truth!

I can go for weeks on end thinking that I look pretty smoking hot, or at least halfway decent, or not really giving a tiny rat’s pooper about how I look. But that whisper of self recrimination is always at my ear. It’s a strenuous effort to tune it out.

My first reaction to that med ass (yes, I’ve taken to calling her the med ass. . .) was, Who the hell does she think she is?  I am glorious and fantastic and she can suck it!  But as my defenses started to dissolve, I caught myself slipping back into those old cycles of wondering if I will ever be good enough.

It’s an insane, inverse equation in which the higher the number on the scale goes, the lower my self esteem and pride drop.

The whisper grew louder one morning when I was in the shower soaping up my flabby stomach–  the stomach under which I grew two perfect humans, BTW.

My first impulse was to be defensive, like I had felt toward the med ass.  I wanted to tell the whisper to go screw.

But I tried to talk back to that negative side of myself with respect and patience.  I tried to let it know it was okay.  Somedays we don’t feel so great about ourselves.  Somedays we weigh a little more, or forget a lot more things, or lose our patience and lash out at someone we love.  No one is perfect.  That’s just how it is.

I tried to talk to the voice with as much compassion as I would talk to a dear friend, or a client, or one of my own children.

Self acceptance isn’t a state you get to and then are all set.  It is a constant process of reflection and mindfulness and good humor.  It is kind of like a marriage in that you are frequently needing to remind yourself what you actually enjoy about yourself and recommit to YOU even when you are feeling crappy and plump.

It also means accepting the parts of ourselves that put us down and make us feel less than.

We need to love, respect, and appreciate ourselves – our WHOLE selves – regardless of numerals.

For me, this looks like stretching, walking, eating lots of leafy greens and drinking about 80 ounces of water a day.  I don’t count calories.  I don’t have the energy to diet fastidiously anymore.  I eat pizza once a week, and I occasionally enjoy cookies, Twizzlers, or chips.  If everyone at the office is eating cake, but I don’t really want it, I check in with my body and make a mindful choice about eating or not eating it.

At the end of the day, I guess I have to say thank you to the medical assistant for giving this opportunity to recommit to self acceptance.  Although I might still take a moment to write a letter to the head of the practice to suggest a bit of sensitivity training regarding how they go about offering their helpful information.

What are your favorite ways to accept and appreciate yourself?  Have you struggled with body image issues?  Please share!  I love to hear from you in the comments below!  xoxo.  

Trying, Trying, Trying To #BeReal

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“That I would be good, even if I gained ten pounds.”  —  Alanis Morrissette.

Last night I read a post on Sister Wives Speak that could not have been more timely.

It was about a movement they are trying to start where women post real photos of themselves, unedited, unashamed, to celebrate their own personal beauty.

Whether it is with make up, with natural lighting, with fancy clothes, or in sweats.  Whether it is after the gym, or while feeling sad, or when just sitting around channel surfing.  We have been challenged to #BeReal.

At first I thought, I could NEVER do that!

Firstly because I do not post personal photos of myself or my family on my blog or Twitter (PS, you can find me @Momasteblog  just saying’).

Second, I did not consider posting a “real” photo of myself because I am in, shall we say, a state of lacking confidence at the moment. I’ve gained about 8-10 pounds this summer.

I’m not sure if I am bloated from the heat, if it is the gelato, stress creating belly fat, or my aging metabolism slowing down.  Whatever it is, it sure is making it hard for me to feel good and loving towards myself.  And feeling icky about myself makes me feel like a failure at self acceptance.  And that sense of failure makes me want to go hide and eat more gelato.

Round and round we go.

So, fuck all that. Challenge accepted.

This morning I put on a dress in which I felt beautiful last summer, minus 8-10 pounds. I adore the color and it is super cool and comfortable, but I’ve not been wearing it this summer because it makes me feel exposed and chubby.

I stood in front of my closet, waffling (mmmmmm….  waffles……) about putting it on.

Then I stood in front of the mirror and told myself I would wear this dress and fucking rock the shit out of it.

So here it is.

Here is me being #BeReal.

  
And YES, those are snotty nose, tongue, finger streaks from my precious daughter on the mirror, who for some reason loves to paint on my full length mirror in her spit.  Could I have wiped them off for you, sure.  But would that have been as “real”?  (Hah!  I’ll take any excuse to get out of cleaning first thing in the morning! Plus they hide my cellulite a little…)

I considered the photo and thought, I should have posed differently or I should have stood at a different angle.  But I did not retake the photo.  It wasn’t even that hard to leave it at the first shot, but it felt amazing!

Off I drove to work feeling like a badass, in the best way you can possibly feel like a badass. Liberated!  Confident!  Rebellious!

I was reminded of the health and strength of my body.  I reminded myself that my body has grown two amazing children from scratch, nourished them of my own miraculous DNA.  My body birthed a nine and a half pound baby in three pushes.  My body is the place where my children feel safest, comforted, content.  They haven’t a clue that I am 8-10 pounds heavier this summer.

It was a pretty cool exercise to #BeReal because it totally shifted my focus from feeling hyper-aware of that 8-10 pounds, to being gently aware of what a Righteous Babe I still am.  And at the end of the day, if I am super focused on a number on a scale, it does not lead to overall health and well-being.

What are your thoughts on the movement?  What do you look like when you are real? 

As an aside, you should check out the Sister Wives (not to be confused with the train wreck poly fam on the TLC reality show). These ladies (and sometimes a gentleman or two) have created an amazing site geared towards helping people process and accept the “Big Uglies” in their lives.  They also were gracious enough to publish a post I produced in January, in which I told for the first time the most difficult story of my life.

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?  

Thursday Truth- Self Acceptance

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“Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.”

–Pema Chodron

Kwan-Yin, the bodisattva of compassion

Kwan-Yin, the bodisattva of compassion

It seems like every other Facebook status I read is about someone’s fad diet or insane exercise regimen.  Paleo diets where all you eat is bacon fried bacon.  Crossfit exercise sessions where you do sit ups until you vomit.  So many people seem desperate to shed pounds and are willing to do anything to meet their weight loss goal.

I can’t help but wonder, why?  Are we giving too much weight to weight-loss?  Is it really about health and fitness or some bizarre obsessive compulsion?

I realize I am over-simplifying both Paleo and Crossfit, and if you are participants in either of these and take offense to my scrutiny, I apologize.  If you are happy, I am happy.  But, damn!  I am sick of hearing about  shake diets, juice fasts, cleanses, epic bowel movements, and the like.

Since I gave birth to Emily, I have been working away quietly on my weight loss.

I am proud to say I lost 15 pounds in the past five months doing nothing other than eating mindfully and trying to stay moderately active.

Dairy, carbs, and the occasional greasy fry are still things I enjoy in moderation.

Sure, I am still probably 30 pounds overweight by conventional standards, but I am strong, healthy, and my vitals are beyond reproach.  More importantly, I am more at peace with myself where I am right now in this  moment than I ever have been in my life.

I could easily slip into berating myself for not being “swim-suit ready” or having a six pack.  But when I really think about it, these are not even close to being my goals or priorities right now.

It is not something about which I talk frequently, but when I was in my teens and twenties, I struggled with highly disordered eating.  I would starve myself for months and drop down on the scale to the point where my hip bones were jabbing anyone who dared to hug me.  I never binged, but was no stranger to purging.  I was emaciated, but I felt fat.  And because I felt fat (for some supposedly deep-seated-subconscious reason) I was not happy.

Diet and dance consumed my life.  I did not talk about it.  I lived quietly on a handful of animal crackers or half an apple.  Then one day, I just got bored of being that way, and I changed.  I got married and I had kids.  I gained weight.

Those last two paragraphs are the story of two decades of eating disorder in a nutshell.  There is a lot more to the story, with which I will not bore you (weird body fur anyone?).

I did not shed my food/body image neurosis easily.  I am sad to say for a while, I actually regretted giving birth to my son because of the havock it caused my body, and the profound sense of loss I experienced of my pre-pregnancy shape.  That was a painful time.

Pregnancy and parenthood made me work harder on myself than anything else in my life.  When I say working on myself, I mean my whole self– body, mind, spirit.  I have worked to become more calm and centered.  I have prayed to become more sane so that I might help others become more sane in this troubled world of ours.  Not that I was ever insane.  But there was a horrible unhappiness that came with my inability to accept myself.

I am not a perfect wife, mom, or person.   That is okay.

Pema Chodron talks often about accepting our own neuroses, being mindful and accepting of our own flaws and foibles so that we can be accepting of others.

In her book, Start Where You Are:  A Guide to Compassionate Living, Chodron says, “Although it is embarrassing and painful, it is very healing to stop hiding from yourself.  It is healing to know all the ways that you’re sneaky, all the ways that you hide out, all the ways that you shut down, deny, close off, criticize people, all your weird little ways.  You can know all of that with some sense of humor and kindness. . .  Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.”

Kwan Yin with a baby

Kwan Yin with a baby

It makes me really sad that it took me so long to love myself for who and what I am in this moment, rather than who or what I would like to be in some future moment.  My mom used to tell me I should enjoy my body while it was young and lean, but I never did.  Now, I am aging.  It is much harder to lose weight.  My back hurts if I wear any shoe other than a clog.  My memory is impaired from lack of sleep.  My plate is so full that I get stressed and I  lose my temper with my husband and children in ugly ways that mortify me from time to time.

But it’s all good, and getting better and better all the time through the practice of mindful awareness and self acceptance.

All I can do is be here now, with myself.  The fact that my self is 15 pounds lighter is nice, but it is not everything.

The fact that I can be here with my self and not compulsively need to starve, eat bacon, do Crossfit, Zumba, Shakeology, or be the Biggest Loser-  THAT is everything.