Current Happenings

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yo-yo Weight and Self Perception

In my blog reading this morning, I read through a post by Mel, about how she has always perceived herself as fat, no matter what size she has been. Boy, I can relate to that. Hey, I grew up spending a large percentage of my time at my Grandma's house, and she alternated between using me to clean out her fridge and fussing at me for eating too much. I think it went something like, "If you don't quit eating so much, you're going to be as big as the side of a barn!" That still didn't stop anyone from asking me to finish something up for them, so they could get rid of it. *shrugs* So, I spent some of my childhood tugging at pants and wearing sweatshirts. I didn't start slimming down again until I began working with ponies and horses.

When I was a teenager, I always thought that I was unbearably fat. I could see some good things about how I was made, but it always came down to my disappointment with the wideness of my hips, and the slight roundness to my lower belly. No matter how many miles I ran, nor how many grueling aerobics or weight training classes I went through, that never went away. I did end up with some pretty beautiful legs though, if I might say so myself. No matter how hard I worked, I was always unhappy to be putting on my size 12-14 jeans.

"Someone tried to tell me that maybe my body liked being at 170 and that striving to reach 150 pounds might be unrealistic, but I did not listen. I did not listen because I knew what they did not seem to understand--that I was fat. Fat at 170 pounds, fat wearing size 12 jeans, fat, fat, fat. Honestly? Who even cares? I am pretty sure that I am the only one who cares deeply about the size of my pants and about my chubby face." Mel from 'Diet Naked'

In my adulthood, after being pregnant a couple of times, I started losing some of my extra weight that I had been carrying around. At one point, my sister came over in having not seen me in quite a while, and she said in an astonished voice that I looked as though I had nearly gotten to my goal weight. She thought that the differences were readily apparent, but when I looked at myself in the mirror, I just saw the flaws. It wasn't "good enough" to have lost 50 lbs. and have my clothes literally falling off of me. I saw all of the soft parts that would never be the same again, and I didn't allow myself to simply be happy with the freedom of greater health.

One of my greatest struggles with losing weight isn't the losing of the weight! I know how to eat right, and I enjoy exercising most of the time. My problem is that I have a hard time loving myself enough with my flaws to be happy treading water for a while. My problem is that I eat when I'm unhappy, and it is counterproductive to eat food while pouting about back fat.

This time around, I am happy. When the times come when I'm not feeling so happy, I sit down and work through it. I remind myself of how far I have come, and how good it feels to jog, lift heavy weights, and play soccer with my daughter. Instead of concentrating on the number on my pants, or the letter on my shirt tag, I want to always remind myself of how much I love having the freedom to spend hours and hours walking around the zoo, or how much I love the feeling of running down the street with Pumpkin and hearing her giggle about how we are beating Daddy. I may have a hard time loving the roundness of my belly, or the wideness of my hips. I may sigh over the stretchmarks on my stomach and breasts, but they aren't going away no matter how much weight I lose. There are always going to be things about my body that remind me that I'm not 17 any more. That's ok. I need to make peace with that.

My body will always be changing, and that is a reality that I ran into when I noticed a "laugh line" at the corner of my eye, and my husband began pulling out the bright white hairs that keep growing out of my head. Sure, I'm not that old. No one else would notice these tiny things like I do. The point is just that we aren't static creatures, and I need to understand that I can't hang my happiness on a clothing size or a number on the scale. Instead, I just want to look at those as barometers, telling me when I am in a comfortable place of freedom, and warning me when I am shackling myself with a prison of extra weight. I don't endeavor to be one particular number on the scale. I used to. I just measure things differently these days, and it's good for me.

It's very good for me to be talking through this stuff, so I am really glad that Mel was thinking about it first. :) It's no big secret (since I've been posting about it. lol) that I've been struggling a little, and have put a little weight back on. It's not a real big gain, and I'm heartened by recognizing it, and still having the desire to work at it instead of eating cookies to kill depression.

I'll probably never be able to 'borrow' my husband's 32" pants, even though I used to wear that size. Hey, this was back in the day, before they started making low-rise pants for girls. The right pair of jeans from the men's department could be real sexy when snug and low on the hips. I used to really enjoy them. It's ok that I won't be wearing them anymore, or at least that I don't plan on pushing myself like crazy just to get into them. It's ok if I wear a size 12 pants for the rest of my life, and my butt is always a rather dominant feature. Hating the shape of my body is about as foolish as being ashamed of the shape of my teeth, which I admit that I have been in the past. I am me, just the way that I am. God made me with big teeth, fuzzy hair, rather poor eyesight, and a perpetually big butt. It's all good. *grins* I'm finally old enough to own it, instead of being ashamed that other people might find me ugly. Beauty is such a relative concept anyway.