Self Image and an Ever Expanding Waistline...

4 years ago

Self imagine is a bitch. It's especially a bitch if you are a woman. Now, I can't speak for men in these struggles and I know that they have their own batches of them, but as an American woman we are scrutinized every day for how we look. The idea of what beauty is changes with the decades, the generations, and the fads. We are held to a standard of what is beautiful by the media and our peers. Unfortunately much of that standard is based on our body shape. And it's not enough that we feel bad about ourselves but we as a society have morphed into awful habits of feeling we need to ADVISE EVERYONE on what they are doing wrong and how they can do it better. It might be with arrogance, it might be with the best of intentions...but it's rarely received well and tends to just make us feel worse about ourselves and now utterly offended. I am not saying this is reasonable...but I have dealt with it myself. You might have too.

I was a wispy skinny thing as a kid. As I grew older and hormones started to do their thing, I started to come into my own shape. My family is a mixed bag of shorter folks and REALLY tall folks...broad shoulders, long legs, short torsoes, narrow feet, thick legs, and all sorts of genetic variations. My body type seems to have been created out of all of them. Like God threw all the genetic traits of both sides of my family going back generations into a paint can and hooked it into one of those mixy shaker machines they use at the hardware store to mix it all up...and then dumped me out. And here I am! I have always liked that about myself.

 
 
 

I never wanted to be super skinny, and my body was not designed that way. I have always had hips. My shoulders have always been a little broader. If I lose too much weight, I actually look really weird. As a mom I witnessed my metabolism slam to a grinding halt and my modest size B boobs explode into DD's that sort of deflated but never went away. I have struggled with yo yo weight and have dieted all over the map. All the while, I have tried to keep my head about my image...not caring too much about what the popular concept of beauty was. I have always been the type to stomp along to the beat of my own drummer, so I never had too hard of a time tuning out how society wanted me to look. My weight went up, it went down, it went up, it went down. But I never felt uncomfortable in my own skin. Until this year.

I don't know how it happened, but I gained a lot of weight. Fast. Out of nowhere. Over approximately 6 months I had put on 50 pounds. My level of activity had not changed. My diet had not changed at all. I decided I would go on a diet to try and curb the gain but nothing I did had any impact whatsoever. I know I was doing it correctly...I had done it before after my son was born. (I gained 80 lbs during my pregnancy...I was able to lose over 60 of that. Mind you, this was 8 years ago...)

Maybe my body was just no longer reacting to that diet, so I tried another one. After a year I had gained almost 70 lbs out of nowhere and it was not budging. The more I tried to lose, the more I seemed to gain. I tried low carb, no carb, Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach, and even a cleanse to try and clear at least some of the extra weight I was carrying. Nothing. I actually gained more weight dieting. Talk about a kick in the ass.
So here I am. I just turned 35 and I am a fat chick. And I don't know why.

 

I am not going to lie...I love food. I love beer. I don't spend my life counting calories or bouncing around a gym, and I won't ever pretend I do now or ever did in the past. But I do a lot of walking on lunch hours and free afternoons, I do yoga several times a week, and I make an attempt to do SOMETHING physical every day for no other reason than that it feels good. I don't eat excessive sugars. We don't keep much junk food in our house and eat balanced meals most nights. I know that we can be doing better than we are, but nothing drastic changed in my life that could have caused such a drastic change in my weight. Something has happened in my body.

Life is tough. For a million reasons. We struggle everyday to make ends meet, reach our personal goals, and all the while feel fulfilled. We spend more waking hours at our jobs than we do with our families. We struggle to maintain personal relationships amongst busy careers. We hit age milestones and we look back and wonder if we did alright with that bunch of years or if we should have been doing more or less of things.
At least, that's me.

But add into that a fast but still gradual HATING of how you look. Realizing that every day your clothes get tighter. And when they don't fit any more and you buy more and then THEY don't fit any more. It has impacted my life all over the place...from my relationship with my fiance to how much I leave the house. I hate how I feel about myself. I am disgusted looking in the mirror at myself. I have suffered from clinical depression since I was 12 years old and this has added gasoline to that fire that is at times completely debilitating.

I have to add in to this that I have a wonderful man in my life that I plan to marry this time next year. Our relationship grew as my body size grew and he tells me every day that I am beautiful, no matter how shitty I feel about myself. And I know he means it. Is it enough to keep the darkness in my head at bay? No. I wish I was. My hatred of how I look is not based in how others view me. It's based in how I view me. I am fortunate that I have someone in my life who loves me for who I am and not what I look like. I hate sometimes that I probably seem ungrateful for his praise. I'm not. But it's like someone telling you that you are a lovely shade of blue when you know you are a dismal shade of gray. You don't understand what they are looking at. Still, I value his attempts to cheer me.

Body image sucks. I know I am not the only woman dealing with this. Recently in the news, a woman by the name of Maria Kang posted a picture of herself, her three young children, and her chiseled body and tight abs with the caption, "What's your excuse?". The picture created outrage. Then the outrage created outrage. It became a big cafeteria food fight between gym rats and people with terribly damaged body image with the occasional rational human in between.

Now, I have seen a lot of pictures with this caption. And I understand that it is supposed to be inspiring. But when it comes to women who spend their entire life being physically judged and struggle to meet every one's expectations of them...it just feels like another societal expectation we can't meet. It feels like we failed. And at times it is not our fault. I will never look like that woman. Our bodies are completely different. If that's her thing, that's awesome and I applaud her for reaching a goal that was clearly important to her.

But to caption a photo of yourself looking a certain way with something that declares the rest of us somehow lazy couch potatoes eating cake icing from the can with our fingers just because we don't is kinda mean, in my opinion. But the reason why is that it's telling the world that THIS is how women SHOULD look, even postpartum, and you don't...so you must be making excuses.

It's telling us, and it's telling everyone else. It perpetuates the belief that there is a standard of appearance for women, and she is it. That the rest of us that maybe just want to be healthy and comfortable in our own skin are failing because we don't look like that, but that we should. That is where it bothers me. It applauds the idea that we SHOULD look that way. And if we don't...well, we are making excuses.

Her caption was not, "I did it, and you can too!"

Her caption was not inspiring. It was demeaning and judgemental. But it's also extremely common. This is the attitude we see every day in America. And then we wonder why we hate ourselves when we gain weight and struggle to lose it. Why we then deepen into depression.
I am going to lose the weight I gained. I have no idea how yet, but I am going to do it. Not because Maria Kang says I am lazy. Not because society says I am too thick. Because I want to like myself in my own skin again. Because I want to pull on my jeans and like how they fit me again. Because I have a wedding that I want to look fabulous for next year. Because when my fiance tells me I am beautiful, I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and agree with him..even if it's just a little bit. Because I am a mom and I want to be here for my son as long as I can.

So I am starting this blog for my weight loss journey. I am going to post meal plans, recipes, exercises, and any tips I discover along the way that work for me. I am also going to post my pitfalls, bumps in the road, and all done completely honestly. I know there are a ton of weight loss blogs out there. I read them!

For the next year, I will post monthly blogs about progress, tips, tries and fails. Commentary along the way. I don't know what is going to happen. Life is funny that way. So lets see...

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