Today, I sat in the dressing room of my favorite store, surrounded by lovely dresses that I had tried on. Beautiful bold colors and lovely silhouettes. However, I wasn’t excited or delighted by these lovely frocks. Quite the opposite. Instead, I felt disappointed. Not in the dresses but in myself. Here I am, at the height of my purposeful activeness, and yet when I slipped on my favorite style of dress from my favorite store, in my usual size, I found myself going, “Umm…I don’t know how comfortable this feels. It’s a bit tight here and I thought I had more movement there before.” In other words, I had to go up a dress size today. Again. That was devastating for me. The number the on the scale has gone up rather than down, so much so that I have removed the offending appliance from the bathroom. I am doing all that I can outside of outright depriving myself, or at least trying to: eating better/more healthily, drinking more water and fewer sodas, and exercising regularly as well as increasing my overall activeness. Yet there I sat, utterly disappointed and not wanting to leave that tiny room even though I felt mocked by the dresses hanging on its walls.
All I could think was: Is this what hard work gets me? I understand that bodies have fluctuations and balances and blah blah blah. But I’m TRYING. I’ve been trying for the past year and a half. My weight has gone up almost five pounds since March and, when you’re 5’2, five pounds can make a real difference, believe me. What the $@#&?! I’m working out every day, cutting back on the stuff I enjoy but know isn’t wholly good for me, for what?!
I was (and still am) pretty frustrated because all of this feels like a poor return for hard work. Since having my daughter 3.5 years ago, I have gone from 122lbs. to 139lbs., from a dress size 6 to an 8 to a 10 (today). I won’t lie. I am ticked off! And here’s the part that makes me even more upset. I had a wonderful workout time this morning. I pushed myself to heavier weights on the machines and I ran hard. I was sweaty but strong and I felt good. Then I went from warrior glorious and feeling proud of myself to wanting to hide behind hoodies and pajama pants and the walls of my house.
Now, I know a few things. I know that feelings are irrational most of the time. I know that going up to 139lbs won’t seem like much to some people, might still even fall into the “skinny” range in some minds, but it’s a big deal to me. I know that working with weights build muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. I am a human being who can think and reason and, rationally, I know all of these things. But I was devastated today. You are more than welcome to consider me overly-emotional, vain, basic, fishing for compliments, whiny, what have you. And, if that is what you think, here is something that you need to know.
I DO NOT CARE.
Part of the reason that I write this blog is because I am wanting to be more honest about how I approach and write about life. So here it is. I really don’t care if you think I am making a fuss over nothing. I am not asking you to fix this. I am not here asking you to make me feel better. This is just where I am right now, the place that I am trying to fight (and write) my way out of. One of the things that is sitting pretty heavily on me is that I will be visiting my childhood home in a month and, if I have gained weight/inches/whatever, I can guarantee you that someone in my family will notice and comment on it. My family members are experts at throwing out seemingly innocuous comments that bore right down in the center of me. As a dear friend pointed out, “There is a reason they [family] know how to push your buttons. They are the ones who installed them.” Jabs about weight and physical appearance have always been a thing in my extended family, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt. It did. It still does.
It’s times like this that I try to recall the words of favorite authors, lessons that they have taught that I have tried to weave into my own life and mental/spiritual/emotional practices. Both of the quotes that came to mind today are from Lysa TerKeurst. The first is one that is threaded throughout most of her books and one that I hold close to my heart during my processes, particularly those physical and emotional. Getting healthy and strong is not something that happens immediately. It takes time and work and is often fraught with stumbles and failures. Perfection is not a thing that happens but progress is.
A year and a half are definitely “slow steps”. Many days when exercise and healthy eating are accomplished through determination over motivation. Slow transformations of my mind/thinking as well as my body. Imperfect progress is the perfect terminology for this, I think. I am not being very gracious with myself, I admit. I have had thoughts and ideas flit through my head that are definitely not healthy and could lead to a myriad of problems if I attempted them, which would only destroy everything that I am endeavoring to build in this (albeit temporary) temple of flesh and bone and blood. But I won’t do it. I won’t. I will keep going, step by step, day by day, decision by decision, small victory by small victory. Stones build a wall, not boulders, after all.
The second quote that I found popping into my head today was this one:
So I decided to give myself some encouragement today, to try to shift my perspective from one of disappointment and criticism. So this is what I posted, sans all the details that I gave you above, because that wasn’t the point. This was:
Because the brain weasels are on a rampage and I’m feeling rather low on the body image spectrum today, it’s time for a perspective shift:
*My strong body can get me out of bed at night when my daughter needs me.
*My strong body can walk around all day and play with my girl with less back pain than it used to have.
*My beautiful body can hold and cuddle my daughter and husband close when they need me.
*My strong body can bend, stretch, stand, lift, and carry to help keep my home in order.
*My strong body can push itself to be stronger and better and has gotten to a point where I find myself saying, “I can do a little more.”
*My courageous body can help my girl avoid the pitfalls that I am constantly climbing up from and learn to love herself unconditionally, whatever shape/size/silhouette she is.
So, while I am disappointed, I will keep working. I will keep getting stronger. I will keep doing what I can to build up my healthy in body, mind, and spirit. I will keep the tags on my dresses for now (as they were bought for a specific occasion in a few weeks) and we will see if things change. If not, though, I will still wear those gorgeous colors and beautiful silhouettes and determine to strut my stuff as proudly as I may.