March 20, 2013

on my post-baby body, 18 months later...

I recently discovered I weigh more than I've ever weighed in my entire life. (Well, aside from when I was in my third trimester.) And you know what's crazy? It doesn't bother me. Not in the way things like this used to, anyway.

I went to the doctor last month, and suffered through the usual stand-on-the-scale moment that is always a little unsettling. I mean, why do they still use those old-timey scales that have all those little weights that move further and further and further until you're all like, "Can't you guys just start on the OTHER end and go lower and lower? This is like psychological warfare. Also, can I take off my shoes real quick?" I hadn't weighed myself in ages—something I'd given up soon after having Eisley, realizing that there really wasn't any reason for me to fixate on a number when there were more important things at hand.

The number on the scale has always been somewhat of a trigger for me, and I've realized how much more forgiving I am of myself when I'm not worried about fluctuating a pound or two within the week. (It may be worth noting that the battery went out on our scale months ago and I probably won't even replace it for this reason alone.) This year my goal has been to focus not on losing ten pounds or getting into a smaller size of jeans, but instead on how I feel and how my current clothes fit and whether or not I am being active in ways that not only challenge me, but also bring me peace and joy and a fit, healthy body (on the inside, too—not just collarbones of glory).

After finding out the actual number on the scale, I went through a range of emotions. The first being, WHAT THE FRICK. The second being, Get a hold of yourself, woman. The third being, How ironic is it that when I look at myself in the mirror now, I love what I see more than I did ten years ago?

I think that's what it comes down for me. As weird as it is to be at a weight that would have, at a certain point in my life, made me feel incredibly self-conscious and upset, it's kind of liberating to love myself in this moment. As cheesy as I'm sure it sounds, I'm okay with my body. I love it. As I near the end of my twenties, I've moved beyond the feeling that my body defines me. I'm starting to tell myself the same things I've told others for years, and actually believe them. Because, well…they're true, aren't they?

You look great! Seriously. Stop being so hard on yourself.

Someone once told me how important it is to fight the negative words that we mentally shower ourselves with on a daily basis. Not just by trying to ignore them, but by saying affirming things out loud or at least fiercely and confidently in your mind. I always thought that was a little new-agey and silly, and that there's no way you could ever shut those words off, or that they'd ever lose any of their power. But you can, and they do. I still have days where I look at myself and feel those thoughts start to creep in. Ugh, your stomach. Your arms used to be much smaller, you know. Good luck getting into a bikini this year. What's interesting, though, is how those thoughts are so easily brushed aside and shrugged off at this point. I have off-days, sure, but for the most part it's easy to ignore them. It's like after so many years of hearing those terrible voices, I just got tired of it all. I realized it's pointless. I'm done with that. I'm never going to look perfect, so there. Now what do you have to say, self? We're doing okay, so let's move on.

That's not to say it was easy, because nothing is. But it is possible to move forward. Baby steps, as they say.

I think that I was always slightly terrified of what I'd look like after having a baby. But I'm incredibly content with where I now am. I think it's a good thing that I carry my weight differently than I used to—which is probably why seeing the number on the scale shocked me so much, since overall I don't feel like I look much different than I did ten pounds ago (my pre-baby weight).

Since stopping breastfeeding, I know I must have gained at least five or more additional pounds, because my pants are getting to be a wee bit uncomfortable, and there is a good portion of my wardrobe that just doesn't fit right. That is frustrating, and that is why I do have a goal in mind. Because even though I am fine with my body, 90% of the clothes I own will fit me better when I am just a tad smaller. Not to mention how I am less tired and moody and such when I'm exercising regularly.

My goal isn't going to be determined by calories burned and pounds lost. At this point in life I realize there is no way I can completely restrict what I eat, but I can make small (lasting) changes and take it day by day. Most importantly, I know exactly how my body feels when it's at its best, and I'm looking forward to being there again.

I started running again for the third time since Eisley was born. I figure I can get away for a 30-minute run a few times a week, and I'm eager to get out there and to this for myself. It feels good to go do something alone without it being errands or laundry or something else that isn't just for me. And since we've been mostly-veggie (not buying meat to eat at home) for nearly two years, I'm trying to actually get creative with our meals…making more from scratch and relying less on processed foods.

In any case, I'm pleasantly surprised with where I am when it comes to body image and contentment. The shift in outlook seems almost impossible, but it happened. I am happy with myself today, and just because I haven't reached some elusive "personal best", I can still be okay. I can enjoy the process of working towards any sort of healthy goal, because I don't feel that panicky desperation to escape my perceived flaws and imperfections.

It feels good to be here, and I keep thinking that it can only get better.

9 comments :

  1. It's fantastic that you've made so much progress in accepting your body over the years. I think that's a difficult process for any woman (and for men too). I think that being beautiful isn't determined by weight, but by how you feel.

    Good luck giving running a go! It's sometimes hard to get into an exercise routine, but it's worth it!

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  2. THIS. THIS. THIS. THIS. every time. you said it better than I ever could have but this is EXACTLY what I think:

    "I mean, why do they still use those old-timey scales that have all those little weights that move further and further and further until you're all like, "Can't you guys just start on the OTHER end and go lower and lower? This is like psychological warfare. Also, can I take off my shoes real quick?""

    Well stated. Props to you for being in a happy place but not getting complacent. I'm guessing you'll find it easier to achieve your goals when you're not so hard on yourself and motivated for the wrong reasons. Keep going!

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  3. Great that you've started running again! I run and quit evey 5 months. lol I will be trying for my first child soon and I'm terrified of how my body will change. But, I keep in mind the reality that preganancy changes every woman's body. So there's that. Running is so much easier on the streets in public because there is always someone looking at you and that's silent motivation to keep going. I've been veggie eating (just blogged about it) for a couple of month but I haven't lost much weight. I think pastas, bread, snack, etc put way more weight on us than meat will ever do. So I'll prob try to cut back on those foods and keep eating lean meats from time to time.

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    1. I seem to have trouble keeping up with running, too—you're not alone! I want to say there was a solid year that I kept up with it, but since then it's been hard to do on a regular basis. I'm hoping that only running 3 times a week is a good goal for me, and something that I'll be able to keep up with without too much effort. (Fingers crossed…)

      And I hear you on the veggie thing! I've found it's very easy to be a "lazy" vegetarian, simply cutting out meat and eating loads of pasta and rice and bread and cheese. That's why I'm trying to eat veggies with every meal, and make an effort to get creative with things like black beans, tofu and salmon. (We still eat fish.) I hope that will help with our overall health in the long run!

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  4. Thank you so so much for posting this! I am dealing with trying to let go of the scale and weight right now and it is so hard! I related to a lot of what you wrote and I can't tell you how much your honestly helped and encouraged me :) I took a week off of weighing and it changed my mood so much! I am now trying to focus on just getting healthy things in my body and not worrying about the scale. Agian, thank you so much!

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  5. That's fantastic. I can relate. About a year ago, I was at a was at a higher weight than I'd like for sure. But I didn't hate myself because of it like I had in the past (most days!). Then I lost 20 lbs. in a healthier way that I'd ever done before, because it was for the right reasons!

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  6. I hope I can shift to this point. Right now I'm in the phase of hating my body. I hate this...it's a battle everyday!

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  7. Even though I'm only a little above my pre-three-kids weight, I still struggle with body image (it's a lifelong thing, and a hard habit to break)... so it's encouraging to hear that it IS possible to move past our own hang-ups and get to a place of greater acceptance.

    I think you look amazing, by the way--very happy and healthy. And most importantly, your daughter is very lucky to grow up with a mom who has such self-awareness and a positive approach.

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  8. I love everything you said!! :)

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