Sunday, February 13, 2011

the one where I say I'm not skinny, and it's gonna be ok

Sometimes I'm not funny. I apologize. If you struggle with weight or body image, please read on. If you don't, please stop reading and email me immediately, I need to know your secret. If you're just not interested come back tomorrow. We are going to talk about hair.


I used to blog over here. This is Blog to Lose, if you don't know it, it's a great site for weight loss support and I blogged almost daily there when I was losing weight a few years ago. I lost, in fact, 60 pounds over the course of about 7 months. (Reader's Digest Version: I was depressed. I worked nights. I ate to stay awake. I got fat. I felt bad. I lost weight. The end. Well almost the end. Read on.) Anyway... not so much. I weigh about 10 pounds from the weight I was when I started that blog and my life isn't the same.

For the better.

Confession: In those days of weight loss I obsessed over my weight to the point of weighing not just daily, but multiple times daily. I weighed before the shower. After I peed. With clothes on. With clothes off. I measured myself weekly (if not more). I obsessively stared at my stomach waiting for it to remarkably become tighter, have less stretch marks, look different, better (hello. I had been pregnant 4 times). I worked out 6 days a week. Two or more hours a day.

It was an ugly ugly time. I'm ashamed of that behavior.

But also, I recognize that many women I was cyberfriends with were doing the same thing. I can't completely explain why but you go ahead and apply whatever psychological knowledge you have.

So now I blog for a different reason (because I'm not actively losing weight), but it's no surprise that the thing that seems to get the most positive response (or any response) is posts about body image. I can't tell you the number of emails I got after the Victoria's Secret post (well I mean I could, but that is meant to suggest that I got a lot, which I did). I got email from anorexics, bulimics, food obsessed people and people who just plain ol' hate their bodies. This isn't necessarily something people like to publicly share, but I know you're out there gals (and guys). So this one is for you...


I know it's not that easy. Oh believe me. I knooooow. But here's the thing.

You are the way you look.

But the way you look is not *you*.

I know this doesn't apply to everyone. I also know that skinny people have body image issues too. I used to be one.


I'm on the left (the one on the right is my little sister. She's 22, single and in grad school if anyone knows any nice guys). This was taken less than two years ago. I can give you a laundry list of things I don't like about my body in that picture. (I'll spare you, but use your imagination. If you're a lady, you know the hot spots.)

Anyway now I'm not skinny.


And I could still give you a laundry list of things I'd change. (I'd put on a swimsuit if I thought it would illustrate my point better but I don't have one. Also I apologize for the poor quality of this photo. I had the 15 year old snap it quickly, because it's rare to get a photo of me without a baby attached.)

So, why am I smiling? (Besides the fact that it's sunny and beautiful outside and I did yoga.)

I should be crying my eyes out right? Because I used to look like that other girl? And now I don't.

Well I refuse. I will not cry over my thighs. Or butt. Or stomach.

See we went to the beach this last weekend and I sat in the sand with our sweet little baby, watching my Big Kids play in the surf and I people watched.

Mostly I just kept seeing girls in bikinis and thinking to myself, "Welp self. Your body is just never going to look like that again. Ever."

And I was just a little sad.

Ok I was a lot sad.

But just for a minute.

I'm going to be honest... I was trying really hard to enjoy the sound of the ocean and the smell of the salty water (both things I big puffy pink heart) but I was intermittently thinking horrible things. I was imagining how my husband must surely find me hideous and wondering how many women on the beach he was looking at thinking he wished I looked like them. (He wasn't. Just to clarify. He's not that guy.) I was thinking about how it's only going to get worse because I'm only getting older, and saggier. I was thinking about having another baby and what that might do to my body. I was thinking I'd never ever wear a swimsuit again. Ever. Never.


I wasn't having a very good day emotionally speaking. I'm blaming PMS.

I was sad. Also PMS.

(Also I wanted a chocolate bar. Bad.)

Then I was sad that I was sad, and sad that I was sad that I was sad. Did you get all that? And I talked to the Man about it. Because that's what I do. And he did like he does. He told me he loved me and that he wanted me to be healthy and happy and not worried about the scale. Or my stretch marks. Or my pants size. Or. Or. Or. He told me I am beautiful and he loves my body the way it is. Round. Shapely. Soft. Curvy. And I thought, why can't I love myself this way too? Or any way I am? Oh this makes me mad at myself. Just mad. MAD. And so I consciously decide to I love myself. Yay. I'm smart. I'm beautiful. I'm a good person. Phew.

(Then something happens to make me critical (pick ANYthing) and thus begins the cycle again.)

But you see it's not about being skinny or fat (or whatever), it's just about loving who you are, how you are. However you are.

It's gonna be ok.

I wish women would tell each other things like this.

You look how you are.

But you are not how you look.


Staci said...

Do you remember how a year ago I made up reasons not to meet you for coffee because I didn't want you see how much weight I had gained? And then one night we just told each other everything...the truth. It's incredible how liberating the truth can be. I can't imagine how different this last year would have been if we hadn't reconnected when we did...I could have missed your wedding and Ella's birth and Peyton would have missed out on being loved by you. Take it from me, Joni was right when she said the people who love you will love you no matter your size. That kind of acceptance is a remarkable gift, one that I cherish. It allowed me to see that I am so much more than how I look.

Renee said...

I have been feeling the same way lately! I have never been comfortable with my body, except for when I was pregnant! I LOVED my body when I was pregnant. I want a better body but find I lack the motivation to exercise or eat right. I know I avoid looking at myself in the mirror or taking pictures. I am not ready to deal with my body image issues....there are so many others that need to be dealt with first :)

Lizzie said...

I am hard on myself. But I don't see my friends size. It doesn't register. I still see them as how they were when we first hung out. I am not happy at all with my body, mostly because of health issues that extra weight has given me. Sore joints, heart junk, etc. I would like to run again. Maybe I will some day.

Stef said...

This is something I have thought about a lot so it might be long. Apologies.

I have felt heavy nearly my whole life. I am actually heavy now - as opposed to just when I *thought* I was heavy. When I was at my skinniest I was about 21 or 22 and I weighed 112 lbs, barely squeezed into a size 4 (naturally big hips & boobs), and was the UN-healthiest I have ever been due to ephedra-based appetite suppressants that I used to starve myself. When I did eat it was mostly junk food. Then my situation changed and I lived a few years between thin & fat - just kind of normal, I guess - and then I got married and had my boys and that was it.

I sometimes feel like my weight is the elephant in the room. Like maybe I could be so much happier, more successful, be a good role model for my kids, turn up the volume for sexy times, etc, if I just had the willpower to lose weight - and everybody knows it, and are whispering about it, behind my back. It feels like such a personal failure that I can't seem to do it.

I know I am loved by my family for who I am. But, for me, everyday is a struggle to love myself completely. Love the whole package - my brain & my body.

I do need to lose weight for my health. Plus my 20 year class reunion is in 2 1/2 years and, holy hell, these things are only done to torture us, I think. I need to find the motivation & willpower to change my daily routine. I wish I had someone here to work-out with.

That's my very long-winded way of saying that I struggle with the same feelings of sadness, madness and acceptance every day so I can completely empathize with how you've been feeling. I think you're on a great path - keep supporting your inner self and the outer self will work itself out. Your beauty shines through no matter what the stupid scale says.

(Oh, and btw, my husband hasn't always felt this way (that's another story) but now he is strongly in the curvier women are sexier club).

Joni said...

I love this ladies.

Staci... You know. You just...know. We were meant to be.

Renee... Yes. I relished the roundness of the pregnant form. Seems a shame.

Liz... I know what you mean because the truth is, we are our most harsh and sometimes ONLY critics.

Stef... "I sometimes feel like my weight is the elephant in the room. Like maybe I could be so much happier, more successful, be a good role model for my kids, turn up the volume for sexy times, etc, if I just had the willpower to lose weight - and everybody knows it, and are whispering about it, behind my back. It feels like such a personal failure that I can't seem to do it." Wow. You took the words right out of my mouth. I mean like right out. <3 this. and you :)

The Great Quiram Adventure said...

I love all of this, the self evaluation and the supporting comments. I as women we always do this to ourselves. Right now I am writing a research paper for my history seminar class about the impact of advertising on women from 1945-60 (ish) and it has made me even more conscious about myself. I have had 4 children and my body is all curves. I was always a slim girl and now I am a size 5. My shape is not the shape I know to be me. I am fortunate to have a husband who loves me and tells me all the positive things and how I am "nuts" to think I am over weight.

I must address Stef on this: I have known you since Junior HIgh and I never thought of you as heavy. I have always viewed you as that girl with the great shiny long hair and winning smile! You are so smart and well spoken...something I have always admired in you. That 20 year go as you, cause that is all your friends want to see anyway. If you feel your health needs to shed 20 pounds than I will support you everyday on FB and your blog as encouragement in your efforts for health. We all need encouragement.

Miss Joni...that elephant you and Stef refer to needs to go are two of the loveliest ladies (you both have hair to ENVY!!!!) Matt, your kids and your friends all see that beauty that shines from inside of you. I do envy that tan skin of yours! Your right about you look how you are...and you are amazing! Keep up the blog (recipes and all)!

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