I love myself today, and you should too. Yourself, I mean, not me. I won’t argue if you’d like to love me too, though. To warn you, this is a really long, drawn out story of my own little body image journey. It’s kind of blah de blah blah, so feel free to just hit ‘next’ in your blog reader.
I haven’t always loved myself (and don’t many of these tales start this way.) I considered myself fat as early as grade one, when an astute classmate pointed out that me and another girl were bigger than the others. I wasn’t actually fat, looking at pictures. I was quite normal sized. But perspective does a number on you, and after that I was never athletic either. Fat girls are not athletic, and as such, I was not. It became a self-fulfilling prophesy (and doesn’t it always.)
Fast forward through this little sob story, and I was engaged to a man who loved me, curves and all. He almost never encouraged me to lose weight. (we’ll get to the almost later.) However, I couldn’t afford food, I was getting married, darnit! I lived off of oatmeal and coffee for a few weeks there, and walked everywhere instead of taking the bus. I was paying for a low budget wedding on a low budget. I slimmed down from a XL/1X to my junior high size, a Medium. I felt pretty self-satisfied in that wedding dress.
Then I got pregnant. I felt beautiful all through my pregnancy, and for the first time in my life, I was incredibly focused on being as healthy as possible. I ate right, I went for lots of long walks. I took good care of myself.
A few months after my first daughter was born in July 2007, I had eaten right and exercised right down to just five pounds over my prepregnancy weight (in September 07). However, while some people have that mummytummy skinflap thinger just melt right away, mine didn’t. I hated it. As time went on, I felt chubbier and chubbier. It became a self-fulfilling prophesy (again!), and this was me in August 2008. I didn’t love myself one bit, and it really, really showed.
I remember that camping trip so vividly. I didn’t enjoy it at all. I was out of breath and tired the whole time. I blamed it on the heat, the humidity, being under the weather… anything but the basic truth that my body was not being cared for, and couldn’t run properly as a direct result. My husband was trying to suggest to me that maybe I was getting a bit on the unhealthy side, which as I’m sure you can imagine, went over quite well. Still, it took until April 09 for me to really catch on. I took a trip to visit a girlfriend, and then when I got home, looking through pictures of what should have just been deliriously happy memories, I was horrified. Photos told a truth that my face-level mirror and I had been in denial about.
200 pounds of love for you, right there. Even now, looking at that picture, I see my bra roll first and the scenery second. Booooooo.
I talked to my doctor. She wrote me a prescription for weight loss pills. I put it on the fridge with a magnet. It stayed there for about a year and went from being my biggest shame – to be prescribed that! At my age! – to my pride – I did it without.
I buckled down. Wii remote in hand, I started doing Wii Fit daily, stopped buying junk I knew I’d just eat if it was in the house, drank one million bottles of water. For a while I did it because I knew I had to. If I skipped a day, I shrugged it off and just did the next day instead of beating myself up. (I truly believe that this is the key to longterm success.) Then I started doing it because those numbers were dropping. Then I kept doing it because I felt amazing. (Wii Fit was a great stepping stone, I mostly did step and yoga. When I got to a point where that wasn’t enough, I did other kinds of exercise as well.)
This is me in September 09. I felt great. (I know I look crabby, but there was a giant dog pooping in my yard when this picture was taken, hahaha.) Then in February 2010, after trying to get pregnant for one year and then stopping trying for another year, I got pregnant with Olivia. I was elated. I was also terrified about what would happen after she was born. I knew no amount of healthy living would prevent the onset of that dreaded mummy tummy again.
However, something happened after Olivia was born. Something very, very important.
I cut myself a break.
I said “Good grief, woman. You pushed a 9lb 5oz baby out of your body; You look fabulous.”
Yup, that’s me at a waterpark five weeks after having that baby, mummytummy and all. And did I hide in the water the whole time, yanking at my bathing suit? No. I cut myself a break. I shoved that post-pregnancy skinflap into my tankini bottom, shaved my legs, and played with my three year old. And then I posted pictures of it online.
Now my baby is nearly seven months old, and my mummytummy is slowly going away. s-l-o-w-l-y being the key word. But you know what? Who cares! If the occasion calls for it, I’ll shove on some utility undergarments. I joked to my friend the other day that date night these days calls for more equipment than any sporting event ever could. Other than that, I just dress carefully to flatter – not hide – my figure, chase my kids, try to take care of myself (when I remember) and cut myself a break. I do plan on upping my game soon and adding in regular exercise to our (attempts at) healthy eating. But I try not to hate on my love handles (those were some gooooood cookies, nomnomnom) or stare at my butt in the mirror.
I think it’s easier for me, though, just because I’ve been down and back again. I sure as heck look fab compared to August 08, eh? Ehhhh? Yup. (and no, apparently the photographer doesn’t make it into many pictures, because the shots of this dress are the only recent full-body ones I have.)