Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In which I confess: Body Image

I am going to admit this now. I weigh over 200 pounds.

Okay, so it's like 205 ... but still ... I've never weighed this much ... except for when I was pregnant. And I managed to lose about 40 pounds healthily in the space of a week that way.

I don't have that option right now.

I would say that I don't know how I've let this happen. But I really can figure it out.

I don't exercise. I never have really found an exercise program that I can make a real habit of, let alone one that I love. (And, when I DO manage to get into an exercise habit, I somehow get sick ... including where I cough enough to leave myself lightheaded. Yeah, fun. And not conducive to an exercise regime.)

I also really enjoy food. I like flavors, I like texture ... I love sweet things ...

I'm still fitting into most of my regular clothes, so I somehow missed when I jumped from around 180 to that last twenty pounds. ... Unless I just have access to only faulty scales.

I could joke that, hey, at least the earth finds me wildly attractive ... but ... yeah. It's not the most helpful.

So ... Here's what I'm asking:
How do YOU get motivated to improve your lifestyle?

I know that I have to make changes. Diabetes runs in my family. EVERY SINGLE GRANDPARENT OF MINE (including most that have married in) HAS/HAD DIABETES.

At the same time, being down on myself about the fact that I'm never going to be a size zero isn't helpful to ANYONE.

I really don't want Bucket to grow up thinking that she is fat or whatever.  That's not the legacy that I want my daughter to get from me.

I'd much rather that she KNOW that she's a little bundle of amazing. She's a beautiful and clever miss with a sense of humor and oodles of flair.


So, instead of longing for the body I had in high school (when I actually worked and had gym class and danced in theater class) and barely had time to eat, I NEED to come to grips that I am in this body.

The body I have is MINE. And it is worthwhile. 

So, yes, I am carrying around some extra insulation/padding. But, still, my body is a good body.

And here are some reasons why my body is good:

  • I have nice skin. It's soft and it heals quickly when accidents happen.
  • My bones are strong. I've only ever fractured one once. My bones are good. They support me.
  • My muscles are strong. I often take people by surprise when I jump in to help lift and carry things. Part of my strength does come from the fact that I'm STUBBORN. I didn't have brothers, growing up, to help lil' ol' me ... so I just got used to doing it myself.
  • I also am rather flexible. My joints are good. 
  • I am overall a healthy person. I have a good immune system. I'm not sick often.
  • I have a face that is unique and easily recognizable.
  • I have a more-than-decent singing voice and a pleasant speaking voice. I can project when I speak to reach a large group of people.
  • I can carry my children with ease. I can walk around without problems. I can scurry across the street. I am quick enough to kill flies. I am brave enough to kill spiders.
  • I have hair that is still healthy after the abuse that I heap upon it (bleaching and dyeing, really).
  • I have nicely-shaped hands and feet.
  • I have lovely ankles that look especially nice in heels.
Really, when I think about it this way, my body is amazing. It's carried two healthy babies at the same time. It's nursed those babies into healthy children. It allows me to care for my home and family. It's danced for Veterans and has held crying friends. It's a body that loves and lives. It's a body that laughs often. It's a body that bends and lifts and squats.

It's a good body.

It really is.

No, it might not be absolutely perfect. It doesn't look like a supermodel's or even like most of the pictures in the magazines.

But it's a good body. It's a body that is rather healthy. It's a body that works and carries out many duties each day.

And I'm really lucky to have it.


I was feeling down on myself earlier. Yes, Mother Nature is getting ready to deliver her lovely gift. *rolls eyes* And I was looking at myself and thinking about what a pink, puffy, BLOB I was ... and then I realized that THAT was the hormones talking. And I'm better than that.

My body is better than that. It deserves better.

And then I saw in the latest (September 2010) Glamour magazine an article about Operation Beautiful, which is an online movement to encourage people (especially women) to love themselves and their bodies, to rethink the definition of beauty, to "stop negative self-talk or 'fat-talk'."

Operation Beautiful began with Caitlin Boyle leaving encouraging notes in public restrooms for people to read. And she's invited anyone and everyone to join in (send a picture of the message you've left) or to share their experiences finding notes.

A few months ago, I was at the local Borders. And I had to ... go powder my nose. As I was in the stall, I noticed something written on the toilet paper holder. Just a scrawled "You are beautiful."
It made me smile. I hope that nobody ever repaints it. 

When I was living in the dorms at college, I often browsed in the college bookstore. There was a mirror that I SHOULD HAVE bought. It was a tiny little mirror in a BIG frame. And it was cute. The frame was red and black and had a couple little cartoony-stick-figure girls smiling along with, in big yellow letters, "HELLO GORGEOUS!" ... or was it "YOU LOOK MARVELOUS!"? Something like that. Completely adorable.


My point today is this: I propose that we all try to be a little kinder, a little more compassionate, a little more accepting .... of ourselves and our bodies.

If we don't love ourselves and value ourselves, we can't really love and value others.

As Christ said, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 19:19)
We are commanded to love perfectly, as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us ... and that includes loving OURSELVES just as much as we work to love, value, and cherish our spiritual brothers and sisters.

For me, it often seems easier to accept others as they are than to deal with my insecurities and issues. I don't know why this is. But I have to also remember that not only is everyone around me (everyone who has lived and will live, too) is a precious son or daughter of God ... but that I. AM. TOO.

I am a Daughter of God. I am precious. Heavenly Father loves me just as much when I am 200 pounds as He does when I was 135. He loves me regardless of how well I fit into a size 7 (or a size 16 or any other number). He wants me to be happy. He wants me to feel loved and accepted ... by Him, by my friends and family, and also by myself.

Like Christina Aguilera says in her song, I AM beautiful, no matter what they (or I) say ... And I am going to work harder at not letting words (especially my own words) bring me down. Starting today.


Eigelmommy said...

I understand completly where you are coming from. I have the same problem with my weight and I am trying but it is very hard to stay motivated. I will If You Will.

Robin said...

Personally I find it really easy to see all the great things about other people, I always notice everyone's best features. Then I let it get me down that I don't have that, Like someone cute small nose or that they are really skinny or their pretty thick hair, etc, etc, etc.

Your list of all the great things your awesome body has done was great! I think that I need to do that for myself, and notice the good things about me! that is such an awesome idea, thanks so much for that!

p.s. you are beautiful!

Allanna said...

Melanie - I'm sure game if you are!

Robin - Truly, it's not my original idea to list why my body does rock ... but I'm glad that it's helpful!

And you both are beautiful girls, too!! Thanks!!

Jocelyn said...

I always feel the same way when "mother nature's gift" is on its way. I start feeling like a clydesdale among quarter horses and hating my big fat gut. Then I look at the calendar and realize it's just my monthly I-hate-my-body week.

It is so hard to exercise with little ones. You have to figure out how to do it with them around or get childcare or wait until they're in bed. I exercised after they went to bed for a while, but that used up all my blogging time. Or I would just get sick once I got into a good groove and have to quit.

Anyways, I feel you. One workout I've enjoyed is Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. It works your whole body in about a 20 min workout, and once you know the routine, you can turn off her obnoxious talking. It really kicks your butt the first few times, but it's a great workout.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, I know I'm late in reading this... but you really are wonderful. You're good at so many more things than I am. :-)


(And to answer your question, going Vegan again is helping me a lot... and dropping gluten is helping my mom leaps and bounds.)

Megan Zimmerman said...

A- you are amazing!! And your kiddos are wonderful! I understand the issues are struggling with, and have struggled with the same thing, except I didn't do the kid part.

THanks for the reminder about self talk. All I can say to you is this, get sick. (not really, but you know.) I got super sick, and dropped 3 sizes really fast. Only lost about 2 pounds, but hey, size over pounds, right? I just hope when I finally get better that I won't put it back on. YOU GO GIRL!!

Allanna said...

Jocelyn - I have tried the 30-day shred ... I know that if I actually stuck with it, it'd work. Because, DANG, it makes you FREAKING SORE!!

Aubri - That's great! (about the vegan life and your mom!) I love you back!

Megan - You seriously made me laugh out loud. I could only think back to 'Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion' and the quote, "You were so lucky, getting mono." "I KNOW! Best diet EVER!"
(The only better diet, like I mentioned? Giving birth and getting over preeclampsia. I lost about 30 pounds of kids and whatnot. Then about another 20 pounds of water weight. ... Of course, I was left with excess skin ... I just try and think of it as my battle scars. :P)

Kari said...

I think this must be a woman's plight. No matter where I am in life, I'm rarely happy with my body. Post baby, I realize I should give myself a little slack. But I don't. And I'm not sure why. Exercising with children is very challenging. I crave having a gym membership so I could go to a workout class and have someone else motivate me once I'm there. But, we can't afford that. Nor do I really have time around my teaching schedule if I want to spend any of my time with my children. There's so much guilt to go around with body image. I hate it. I wish I could accept myself for where I am. Not sure if I'll get there. It is a goal. Thanks for airing your thoughts. It takes courage to admit to disliking yourself. I think you're beautiful. :)

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