Stones in My Belly


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.

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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:

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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.

Talking Sense to Myself – #MadetoCrave


Conversation with myself this evening –

Me: I should have made better choices with my food today.
Me: What?! All you have eaten today is a baked potato with cheese, bacon, and sour cream and a strawberry lemonade for lunch. What are you on about?
Me: Yeah, but it was more calories than I thought and, if I eat that apple pecan chicken salad for dinner AND make cookies like I promised Bizzy, it’s going to put me close to, if not over, my intake for the day.
Me: Listen to yourself. You’re doing it again. This is what drove you crazy and to tears before. Let it go. You are doing what you can, as much as you can. You are making much better food and portion choices, on the whole. You exercise every day, sometimes multiple times. You have cut back on your snacks or you grab fruit instead of junk. You’re doing well. So…cut yourself some slack and give yourself some [God-encouraged] grace. Eat the damn salad and then BAKE THE DAMN COOKIES, for crying out loud!

This was an exercise in me being totally honest when I have struggles. I have been MUCH better on the sweets and not just baking cookies or grabbing ice cream when I feel the “I want it” tickle in my brain. And I was honestly starting to get to a very stressed out place…over TWO MEALS. Not good! So, I ate the salad (until the chicken was all gone, yummy!) and then I set it aside. And now cookies are cooling.

Hide It Under a Bushel?


Something has been on my mind lately and I have, again, debated back and forth whether or not to discuss it here. The reason being that it might cause more harm than good, at least that is what I fear. Granted, my view of it may not match up with the actuality of the situation. Yes, I have considered that, too. It’s one of the reasons that I have been reading up on self-discrepancy theory lately.

The self-discrepancy theory was first developed by E. Tory Higgins in his work Self-Discrepancy: A Theory Relating Self and Affect in 1987. Self-discrepancy theory is an attempt to understand the different types of negative emotions experienced by people who hold conflicting self-beliefs, or a discrepancy, about themselves.

The theory is composed of three domains of the self, which are actual self, ideal self, and ought self.

The actual self consists of the attributes that the individual believes he or she possesses or the attributes that a significant other believes he or she holds.

The ideal self consists of the attributes that the individual or a significant other desires or prefers for him or her to acquire.

The ought self consists of the attributes that the individual or a significant other believes he or she should or ought to possess. An example from literature helps distinguish between the ideal self and the ought self in the sense of a hero’s “personal wishes,” or ideal self, versus his “sense of duty,” or the ought self. –   Self-Discrepancy Theory

I will say that I struggle with the “ought self” fairly frequently but my current conundrum is a little more…reversed than usual. So, as Inigo Montoya would say, “Let me ‘splain. No, is too much. Let me sum up.”

Almost fourteen months ago, I gave birth to my daughter. I had spent nine months being pregnant and dealing with all the body image and self-discrepancy issues that came with pregnancy: the loss of my figure, the changes in my body and emotions, the raging hormones, the cravings, the lack of activity, the being told “you can’t”, etc.  I spent this past summer working very, very hard on getting fit again, walking and working out every day, counting calories, and all of that. My progress was slow, at least to me it was. But now, after almost two years, I am within two pounds of my average pre-pregnancy weight.

Until now, until tonight and a very specific conversation with a friend, I never would have posted that. I never would have let myself celebrate that, not in private and most certainly not in a public forum like this one. I have been very scared of posting my progress with weight loss because I fear people thinking I am bragging or that I am shaming them, or, ever more the worse, them feeling badly about themselves, for whatever reason. I’m no worrying about what I am not. I am worrying about what I am. I feel like I ought to keep my weight loss to myself. I ought to do it to protect those I love and keep them buoyed up, give them no reason to be down on themselves. I ought to not be…well, me. But my friend pointed out, “But by doing that aren’t you doing to yourself the very same thing you’re afraid of them doing? I imagine if they knew that you were internalizing your sense of self-love they’d be sad. Does my loving myself make you feel down on yourself?” And, the truth is, no, it doesn’t make me feel down. It makes me smile to see my friend happy and doing well. I guess I can only hope that expressing myself can encourage others to do the same thing, to celebrate their accomplishments, their triumphs.

So here I am, honest in my accomplishment. After almost two years, I am within two pounds of my weight goal, I am getting stronger, getting my figure back, and feeling pretty happy with and proud of myself.

Thank you for listening. I leave you with this quote from Marianne Williamson that my friend also gave me to ponder.

Me and My Body: A Love/Hate Story


As I have read back through my musings over the years, I find that I go in spurts in this love/hate thing called me and my body image. Not too long ago, I loved my body. I loved the way I looked and felt, and I think that I was finally content with my figure, my muscle tone, my strength, and my weight.

And then I got pregnant.

Now, understand this: I AM NOT saying that I regret being pregnant or having my child or any other absolutely insane, ridiculous context you wish to infer upon what I am writing. I AM NOT saying that.

But I am saying that 9 months of pregnancy undid and ruined years of work and mental and physical struggle. It was ridiculously difficult to watch myself getting larger and larger, all my working coming apart at the seams, and not feel like a failure in some way. I wasn’t one of those moms who did yoga and pilates all the way through; certain health concerns just didn’t allow for it. So I lost my strength, my stamina, my muscle tone, all of it.

I want to feel like me, again. I want to look in the mirror and like what I see. I want to be stronger, more energetic, for me as well as for Elizabeth and Ben. So I am currently working to lose 16 lbs. by early September and tone up my body. While I lost my pregnancy weight fairly quickly (which made me happy), I also put on an extra 10 lbs. rather quickly again (which appalled me), being home with Elizabeth all day long. Admittedly, I drank way too many sodas and snacked on anything that was quickly at hand when I could. Not the best habits. So I did some research, figured out an appropriate weight for my 5’1 height, and set to work a week ago. I have never dieted before and I kind of refuse to, for personal reasons. So I am NOT dieting. What I AM doing, however, is trying to eat smarter and exercise more. I walk daily with Elizabeth, at least a half-mile round trip, and have been adding more blocks to that walk every few days. We’ll be walking the length of our little town before you know it. And I also try to work out after she has gone to bed for the evening, which, thankfully, is fairly early right now.

So far, so good. I have lost 4 lbs., I feel better about myself and my food choices, and I am starting to feel a difference in my body. Now don’t get me wrong; I still want to scarf down half of a cherry creme cake from Marsh, but I won’t, because I want this more. I want to fit into the beautiful dress that my mom bought me for Christmas two years ago that I have never worn yet. I want to make all of my fit-and-flare and pencil-line dresses look fabulous. I want to feel and look as strong and sleek as I was and did when I bellydanced on a regular basis.

I will admit, though, that my self-esteem is still fragile. For example, right now, I am struggling with whether or not to go to a bellydance hafla being held fifteen minutes away from my house by my first bellydance teacher and all the girls that I started dancing with.  It would be fun to see everyone but I’m a little scared about what it will do to my self-esteem. Yes, I’ve lost 4 lbs. this past week, but I no longer have the strength, fluidity, grace, skill, etc. that I did when I danced regularly. I’m a little afraid of watching other ladies who started dancing when I did and have kept up with it do exceptionally well (which they will) and how that will make me feel about myself. I know, it sounds silly but…that’s how I feel in this moment. We’ll see what happens.

So it’s a constant back and forth, love and hate, and, hopefully, I will get back to that nice place where I was content with myself. But, for now, it’s work, work, work.

Body Image Posts:

My Skin

Morning Body

I Love My Legs

Unpretty