Monday, September 3, 2012

I just popped my own personal bubble

Disclaimer:  I wrote this several weeks ago and have debated for quite sometime whether or not I should post this.  I even posted it and the unposted it a few hours later. It just seemed to go one step too far into my personal bubble.  It seems like such a silly thing to be writing about when there are such bigger things going on in the world. There aren't many other subjects more personal to women than this, but for some reason I feel compelled to write about it.  I apologize in advanced if this in any way offends anyone as it is surely not my intent.  This subject has an uncanny way of offending.  You are forewarned.

When people talk about their prime, I felt like I reached it after Luke was born.  I was 25 and feeling stronger and more fit than ever.  I felt like I had reached the pinnacle of self-mastery in regards to my body and what was best for it.  I was an itty-bitty size 2 but I felt strong and powerful.  While some people close to me told me I was too thin, I brushed it off thinking that while they might think I was too small, I felt great.  

After Lauren was born I instantly felt like something had changed.  The pounds didn't melt off like they had before.  I was tired and worn out.  I felt like I had aged 10 years. Three kids had sunk my ship. The thought of exercising seemed masochistic and food tracking was unthinkable. It seemed I just couldn't get those last 7 or 8 vanity pounds off no matter how hard I tried to work some sort of routine into my lifestyle without blowing up the ship that had already sunk.

Following Calista's birth, just two years later, is when things really changed.  I've struggled to get most of the pregnancy pounds off and I feel constantly in need of a nap.  While that may seem like a small and common thing for mother's everywhere, boy has it been a journey for me.  I've learned more about myself in the last year than I ever have before.  

At first, when the pounds wouldn't budge, I became angry and frustrated at myself.  My body and my own inability to be Wonder Woman had let me down.  I avoided public settings not wanting to show my face still wearing maternity clothes and feeling like the poster child of "girls gone frumpy." I had exercised my entire pregnancy and even ran a marathon during my first trimester... what was going on?  I had prided myself for so long in my self-mastering abilities.  I had always been my best drill sergeant and now that sergeant was MIA.  Not out on holiday, but out in survival mode.  Feeling unattractive both inside and out for not being able to kick this, I found myself withdrawing from everyone and everything.  I pumped a few hundred dollars into a naturopathic chiropracter (who ended up being a bit of a quack), had my thyroid checked, and even joined Weight Watchers.  Nothing worked.  I tried waking up at 5am to exercise which only led me into a cycle of fatigue followed by insomnia.  I tried exercising in the evening but found that the idea of going to the gym after the kids were in bed seemed like sheer torture considering how wiped out I was.  After just a few times of loading up all the kids to the gym to workout during the day, I decided the effort put into going and the cost of daycare seemed out of balance for what it was- just a workout.  I tried giving it a break and not exercising at all and I felt miserable.  I tried a 10 week training program in preparation for a triathlon with not even an ounce of results.  I tried working out with a heart rate monitor, working out on an empty stomach, increasing protein, combining it all... nothing.  

I think what bothered me the most was how much it bothered me.  Had I really allowed so much of my identity and self-respect to hinge on my the way I looked?  Was I really that vain and shallow?  Apparently so. To say I was discouraged would be an understatement.  I didn't feel like I could talk about it with anyone other than a few of my closest of friends since my weight was still within a healthy range for my height and age.   It seems so frivolous and superficial, but I felt so different- fundamentally different for some reason.

Calista is almost 15 months old and while I still weigh what I usually weigh at 7 months pregnant, I look back at the past year in awe and humbled at what I have discovered.  I can see the Lord's hand in this and I know that there were lessons, several of them, to be learned.

I hadn't realized how lax I had become about modesty.  I was slowly becoming one of those women that tried to dress like a teenager, forever pushing the limits.  

I realized how conditional my self-love was on my ability to be thin and athletic.  

I realized how I had gradually prioritized physical fitness over spiritual fitness.  

I learned that while some people are emotional eaters, I am a social eater (I don't know if that's even a real term).  

I learned that I have a dysfunctional "full sensor" (again, I don't know if that's even a real thing).  This girl can scarf down some very unladylike amounts of food and never even feel full.

I discovered how arrogant I had become, without realizing it, in my views of women who struggled with weight.   And now... oh my gosh, I get it.  I feel like I've joined an imaginary club of women who get each other as they struggle to love themselves as they are.

A few weeks ago I finally decided I had had enough.  Looking in my closet every morning with nothing that fit was only leading me into a downward spiral of discouragement and self-loathing.  So I packed away my "small clothes" into a box, went to the store, and bought myself some clothes that actually fit.  I had had it with muffin tops and trying to do the sausage squeeze into clothes that just didn't fit anymore.

No, I haven't lost the weight yet.  I've actually started training for a marathon and have put on five more pounds since I started training.  I wish I could say I had learned my lesson and that I am writing this in retrospect- but no.  I realize I may never reach my pre-pregnancy weight and I'm learning to be okay with that.  I have a feeling though that there's still more the Lord still has more He wants to teach me.

I want to learn to see food for what it is- not a friend, not an enemy or something that needs to be fretted over or manipulated- just a source of fuel.  Period.

I want exercise to become that unconditional friend that I go to because I love it and it makes me happy, not because I'm expecting something from it.

I want to look in the mirror and truly love this body, regardless of it's size or how fast it can run.

I still have a long way to go in all of those areas.

So no, this post does not have a smart little phrase to wrap it up nicely and to give some kind of closure to the subject.  It's on-going and may be for a while.  

All I know is that even when I'm feeling the most discouraged, I thank the Lord for the journey this has been.  It has been humbling, and wonderful, and frustrating, all wrapped into one pudgy little experience. 


Cher said...

i think this was a great post, mostly because it was so honest, also because how you detailed what you're learning through it and what you still want to learn. very cool. and something everyone at some point in there life probably has to deal with!

Rita said...

Hmmm.. yeah. Sometimes I wonder about my honesty. Maybe it's a little too much. I have learned a lot and I'm grateful for it. The issues is something I've always known I'd have to deal with at some point in my life, but for some reason when it actually came I thought it wasn't my time yet and that I was too young for all this. We're getting older faster than we think! (or at least I am) :)

patty said...

You're so hard on yourself! I look at you and think "I wish I could look like you". Your honesty is how most girls feel at one point or another. We do just have to learn to be comfortable in our own skin and happy with who we are.

Nashina and Nate Jagielski said...

I pop in for a "brain treat" to read and get a glimpse into another mother's world! I too have struggled at one point or another with these issues. I thought I would offer up a couple things I have learned tRita,
You are so incredibly beautiful!! I think you are such agreat writer too. oo. Another angle for you to possibly learn and grow from. So...question...if I were the devil and I wanted to wage a war and drag down an entire people, I would start first right in the little home and fill that Mama's thoughts up twisting beauty and what she see's in the mirror. I would confuse her relationship with food, making it seem top priority and always on her mind(or at least Oh I shouldnt have eaten that or Oh, if I could just have one more slice...) If I were the devil I would also misguide and trick her into thinking the natural curves and body that woman has are not what they "should' be therefore making it harder for her to feel sexy and beautiful and want to be intimate with her husband. All because Satan knows how a strong woman who knows her worth and knows her priorities will lead and teach and boldly serve her Husband, children, and those in her reach. Satan knows how smart, capable, and far-reaching our effects for good are...but if we're befuddled to even get past our bedroom door, let alone to stroll the kids to the park and run under the bridge while yelling "this is my bridge! Im the big bad troll, what will you give me to cross??!" or to run down the street to the woman who has just gotten in a fight with her husband, whose house is in desperate need of some help and she has a screaming baby on her lap....she needs you, you kids need you, your hubby needs you, and YOU need you! We have put Satan in his place and take our own control back. We have to look him square in the face and say "Im not buying it" I have this one mortal body and Im gonna rock it! You dont even have a body Satan!"
I am going on and on, but I just thought its nice to put in to percpective the BIG Picture of life. Our bodies work so hard for us. When you wrote of how you went through the grueling processes to get to the gym, whether with the kids or after they went to heart ached. I have been there. We need that "out", we also need the just helps us tick...but when your that exhausted somethings gotta give!
Here's to taking your control back of your body image. Oh wow lady...keep up the good work!!

(after I read my novel of a message I thought...hmm, should I send this, I dont even know you personally, but know Cristina, but I feel like I know a glimpse of your world from reading this...and isnt that what life is about- to feel and thrive and learn and grow from each other in the ups and downs of life?! I think so. So my two cents is exactly that, but it sure helped me in my own thought patterns concerning this topic.)

Rita said...

Thanks for the great perspective! I've never looked at it that way. I appreciate you sharing this with me! We have so much to learn from each other. Thanks for taking the time to write. Your advice is a little gem I'll tuck away to remember. Thank you!