Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Getting Past The Woman in the Mirror (Loving My Fat Self)
Nobody really wants to be that. Just saying that word makes me feel a little uncomfortable.
But that's what I am.
I've got at least 60 lbs on this body that I don't need or want.
I look in the mirror each morning and adjust each outfit so it better hides my muffin top, and tilt my head downward so that my near-double chin is less obvious. Then I apply make-up and wear a bright scarf and hope that drawing attention to my face and neck will take people's eyes off my thighs.
But I also do something else:
Before I leave the mirror and go on with the day, I smile.
"There. That's better." I always think.
Why? Because I don't have to be miserable even though I'm fat:
I used to look in the mirror and think, "You need to eat only salad and work out for a month."
The thing is, that was 70 lbs ago!
I used to hate my body. I used to feel guilty every time I ate fries. I used to obsess, and pinch my little tummy bulge and hurl insults at myself to motivate me to just work it off, tone it up, to be better.
"I'll be happier when I'm skinny," I thought.
Then I got married.
I got married to Joseph, who told me how beautiful I was to him. I stood there in my wedding dress, feeling fat and unworthy.
Of course, I'd been hurling insults at myself in the mirror since I was 12, so it's no wonder it took me a long time to believe that Joseph actually meant what he said.
Then I got pregnant. I gained 50 lbs. Five, zero.
I knew I'd utterly failed in the body department. My induction of labour and subsequent c-section, then trouble with nursing my oldest child only furthered my hatred of my body.
This fat body that wouldn't even give birth normally or feed a baby like it was supposed to.
I spent the next year losing and regaining the same 15 lbs. My husband still called me beautiful, and said, "I just want you to be healthy and strong."
Diets were fleeting and exercise irregular. I was a full-time student, a new mother and overwhelmed.
Then my Dad died, and I lost it all. 50 lbs gone in 2 months. It was a combination of grief, stress and being pregnant with Carter, our second boy.
It was during that pregnancy that things changed for me. I had researched how to have a natural birth after a c-section. I got accepted to a great midwifery practice. Those women encouraged me to trust my body to do what it needed to, not only to sustain a little life, but to bring him into the world.
I gained 20 lbs that pregnancy, and had a long but wonderful birth. I fully breastfed my baby. I was satisfied, finally, with my body's ability to mother.
Before the birth of Carter, I started doing a weird thing.
I'd stand in front of the mirror and tell myself I could do this. I was a mama tiger, I was feirce, and strong. My body was amazing and wonderful. I could birth this baby.
It was in this process of acceptance and awe at what my body was capable of, that I began to realize that all those pounds gained and lost were not me. Well, they were a part of my body, but they did not define who I was.
They were just weight.
They didn't have power, I had power.
They did not have to mean misery and dissatasfaction.
I think marriage to Joseph and giving birth 3 times has played a huge role in my discovery that I am beautiful, and that happiness is possible even without my ideal body.
I wish though that I'd realized this a long time ago.
I wish I could go back to my 12-year-old self and say, "Hey there, you're not fat or ugly. You are beautiful and lovely, strong and capable, and all you need to do to be more attractive is just be you and smile more."
I don't have to hate myself because 10 months after our third baby, Zachary, I still look 5 months pregnant.
No, I don't really like when people ask if I'm expecting again. I also don't like not fitting clothes, or being everybody's fat friend.
But I love me.
I'm a work in progress, trying to find balance with a lot of things, including diet, exercise and wellness.
While I'm on my way to a better physical being, my soul is not dispairing.
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.