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This weekend a number of my running peeps ran the Army Run half marathon. Since I was thinking of doing a half this fall, my heart ran with them. And lately, I feel like I’m running a marathon myself. It’s not the pregnancy per se – which I am now halfway through (gulp). It’s the new school year, lack of routine, loose ends, 3yo tantrums, chaos in the house, etc etc etc, all leading to an unsustainable level of stress and exhaustion. Maybe I’m too preoccupied now to be obsessing about my weight, but I think I have finally arrived in a reasonable headspace about that. That’s good, because I really did worry for the first few months. One turning point was when I read a newsflash from my phone’s pregnancy app, which said something to the effect of, “Are you hungry all the time? Waking up ravenous in the middle of the night? Well, you’re screwed, because you’re not actually using that many extra calories here at the end of the first trimester!” Sigh. And yet I am indeed eating whenever I feel hungry, and eating pretty much whatever I feel like (or is convenient) at that. But then I realized that it took me about 16 weeks into this pregnancy to gain until I was back to my *pre*pregnancy weight from my first child. So clearly I’m in better shape now than I used to be. The choices and habits that got me there haven’t just drifted away. And then my doctor remarked to herself that I hadn’t really gained that much weight in between appointments – the first time I’ve ever heard words like that from a medical professional. I could feel my anxiety starting to ease. And finally, a couple more weeks later, I got another update from my app: “From this point, you’ll probably gain a pound a week til the end of your pregnancy!” Finally, I feel like my weight is out of my control… and that’s ok. I trust myself to stay smart and healthy and I am going to be ok. If only I felt that way about the rest of my life…
I read something a little while ago that stuck with me.
Why is it that we use the word “lost” (or any form of the word lose) when talking about weight.
In my opinion, to lose something goes hand in hand with the ability of it being found. I don’t WANT to find the weight I am seeing come off me. I want it gone.for.good.
Instead of losing the weight, I want to drop it…
the kinda force that breaks something into enough pieces that it can not be put back together (a-la-Humptee Dumptee).
AND I want that weight to be unique to me – so that it can’t be replaced.
I am so very tiered of “losing” and “finding” the same weight over and over again. I know it is common. I know MOST women (and men too!) struggle with this very same thing. This is (and will continue to be) such a money maker. But that doesn’t distract from the fact that constant up and down is bad for your body. And I am really REALLY trying to break the cycle.
Last Monday, I stepped on the scale to a pleasant surprise. I weighed 1.5lbs less than I did the week before.
This week; I can’t get myself onto that scale – knowing I went to 2 (yes; 2!!!!!!) seperate buffets in the span of 5 days and afraid of the consequensces.
I am well aware that these things will happen. LIFE will happen. The most important thing for me to rememer is it is not the short-term results that are important here. So long as I don’t become lost in some sort of back and forth cycle; so long as I am able to see more weight dropped than gained, I am doing it right.
In addition, I am stronger physically than I have been in a long time – even IF I am currrently weighing in at one of my all time highest.
My endurance has increased substantially and I FEEL better.
About myself and about what I have managed to achieve. As a mother (and role model), and as a woman.
I just wish – with all my might – that I could say all these great things and ALSO be proud of HOW I look. After 25 years of heavily engrained beliefs on what it takes for me to like what I see in the mirror it is hard for me to believe I can shake my perception of what MY “beautiful” looks like. But I know it HAS to happen. Becasue those little eyes looking up to me and watching how I see myself can’t grow up with any cast of a doubt that they arte beautiful no matter what.
So I guess it is time for me to start thinking it too, huh?
I had a post all set to go this week, talking about how I need to get back to yoga. I’ve never practiced regularly really, but I like it. It doesn’t really matter because I’m re-writing to say this:
This week I took the dog for a long walk through the woods, and it felt good. I love the Fall, I love the breezes and the sunshine, it’s my favourite season. Then, later that same day, feeling good from my walk and fresh air, I discovered I was out of eggs, which I needed for a recipe. It occurred to me that I could take my bike to the store to get said eggs. Why not? It’s been too long since I took a bike ride with vacations and rainstorms and humidity. Why not take my bike?
And that is why I am now sitting here, covered in sweat, legs of jelly feeling every inch useless and out of shape.
I am so fucking tired of starting over again.
I let myself get away with it. I let myself fail my body over and over again. I start and I stop and then starting feels like this.
I fail over and over again at taking care of myself. I take my bike out and wonder why it’s so hard. Why is it so hard?
Well Amy, you haven’t been exercising, you don’t eat very well, especially in the mornings. How many days has it been dinner time when you realize you haven’t fed yourself?
There’s no one else to blame here.
The time has finally come for me to admit I’ve got weird feet. Well, actually, I seem to recall needing to compensate for supination when I ran in high school, so it’s time for me to re-admit I’ve got weird feet.
I have running shoes that I love for running. Well, almost completely love. If I wear them long enough the outsides of my feet fall asleep, but they don’t cause horrible pain or cramping. They aren’t too tight, they aren’t too…anything that I can tell, they’re actually the best shoes I’ve had in a while in terms of the length of time I can run before my foot is extremely painful. Unfortunately that applies only for running. Walkng is a whole different kettle of boiling feet. The same bearable running shoes feel filled with daggers after about 1km of walking. And unfortunately walking is what I’ve been doing lately. They seem to serve up foot cramps with a side of heel blisters as well. Blisters so bad they’ve been scabbed over for a week now (part of that, I’ll admit, was my own stupidity for trying to remove a blister cushion which only served to make matters worse).
I often jokingly blame my 2007 pregnancy for my foot woes. (It was also the last time I had a great pair of walking shoes, I just wish I could remember what they were!) Aside from them growing 1/2 a size, I’m now no longer able to wear any decent heels without the bones on the top of my foot feeling like they’re grinding together. Proof that V was plotting to take my shoe collection from me before I was even born! But then I remember that the three years before I was pregnant I was not able to find a pair of ice skates that didn’t cause insane cramps in my feet, often to the point of having to remove the skates part way through a lesson! And even before that my feet would fall asleep if I tried to use a stair master or elliptical. And those I know I tried with different shoes as well as barefoot. No difference.
Before I talk myself in to never walking or running again, tell me your foot woes. How did you find comfy foot gear?
Coreen is a geriatric mother living with her husband (Bill) and 5.5 year old daughter (V). She works in IT Security but doesn’t yet know what she wants to be when she grows up. She also blogs at One Day this Blog will have a Snazzy Name (and is open to naming suggestions because really.)
If someone walked up to you today and asked you what you loved most about your body, could you answer them?
What would you say? I think most of us could come up with at least one part we like. Eyes. Hair. Those delectable little pinkie toes because damn they are cute and “wee-wee” piggyish. *wiggle*
Now, what if they asked you what body part you hated? I know. Loaded question, just like asking your significant other if a dress makes your butt look big, or if you look fat in the pants you have just put on.
Answer: Nope. Wear what makes you happy. Who cares what others think. If you are comfy, and feelin’ good, then it is perfect.
If asked, I could give them a list. A whole freakin’ list of what I dislike about my body. I could also give you reasons why said body parts suck. I’ve had this list for years. I keep it tucked away for low moments where I should know better than to dwell on crap like this.
I think there are many women (and men! Don’t want to leave the fellas out…) who have much in the way of heavy body-loathing baggage. We may not always think about it, or ferment on it, but it is there.
We all have bad days, I am sure, and it is ok. There is nothing wrong with you for having these feelings. There is absolutely, 100% no reason why someone should chastise you for not being upbeat and happy about your body every minute of every day (not everyone is going to be Mary Freakin’ Sunshine all the time, right?), just like no one is allowed to shame you into hating the body you have (skinny, fat, tall, short, athletic, chunky, weird… You get the point.).
In the end, we all have different journeys, right?
I don’t want to diatribe into the reasons why we, as a society, have this issue of body-hate. That is a huge conversation best left for now, since they are expansive and controversial. I will not lambaste society, popular culture, fashion, magazines and TV, or talk about insidious marketing of products intended to create feelings of inadequacy in our own beings.
I don’t want to over-examine why I have this list, the meandering path of lowering down to not loving my body. The mental and emotional response of having a body that does not fit into that picture of what a body is supposed to be. This blog is therapy, but not that kind of therapy.
Moving on. *ahem*
This year, my motivation word, as I have mentioned, is Strong. I have spent the year thinking on just what this means, how it applies to me and my journey to fitness, health, and yes, weight loss. The question of “How can I be strong?” evolved into this recently:
- What do I need to do to love my body? Lift big weights? Run really far? Wear things that make me feel good? participate in things that I like? Eat properly?
- What does it mean for me to love my body as it is now? Allow proper acknowledgement of my strength, achievements and abilities? have the confidence to be a sexy beast? Forgive myself for the past and look forward to getting stronger using my awesome skills?
These are mostly physical things, of course, and all are valid. For example, I realized, for the first time that when I work out, and I think “You are getting stronger!”, it motivates me better than focusing on how my body will sculpt, or how much I hate the way my body looks right now. In the end, I came to this realization: Who cares what my body looks like as long as I can lift that big thing over there? Will it matter if I am a size 4 or 14, as long as I can run that 10k race with ease?
But… The hitch in the thinking. These physical things that help with body image happiness? I haven’t been able to do them as I rehab from injury, and as I said two weeks ago, it has been tough on my positive self-image and body love. Super tough. That list came out a few times. it’s kind of tattered and tear-stained now.
So, I have looked inward, to find Strong in different ways. To be stronger as a parent and wife. To have a sense of what motivates me to make changes emotionally and be stronger. To make better food choices that strengthen my health.
Today, through a Facebook exchange, I burst through the thinking. I mentally ripped up the body hate list and threw it away*. I may dot it out on paper and burn it, to be ceremonial and such, but I realized I didn’t want to have it to fall back on when I wanted to point out failures. It did not help me to have this list floating around in my head as I work towards health both physically and mentally.
*Note: there are likely copies of said list still in my memory banks, and likely I will access them in the future. A work in progress, right?
I am going to replace the list with one of Body Love. Where I celebrate what my body has done, can do, will do, and treat it with the respect and care it needs to be awesome in all the ways I want it to be. I’m already doing that, with some new clothes to flatter me, physio to heal me, and better food choices to fuel me.
So circling back to my question at the beginning of the post. If someone walked up to you today and asked you what you loved most about your body, could you answer them?
Yes. Starting today, I can.
Here’s my list.
After my post last week, I decided to step on the scale to preserve my own sanity. I needed to know where I was to give myself a baseline. I gained 2 lbs over my holiday but was okay with that. I was confident with my ability to lose the “holiday gain” and continue seeing losses on that scale.
And then I started my period;
And had a long weekend of bad eating decisions;
And got some pictures sent to me from camp;
And now I feel fat and ugly and yuck.
I am fully aware that this is likely the results of hormones but I am just telling it like it is.
I see pictures like this one…
and this one…
And I cringe.
I see all the things WRONG with myself in the picture. The double chin, the larger than I like chest, the swollen legs, the squishy belly (as the boy calls it)…
Instead of what I SHOULD see which is a loving couple still smiling and snuggling together after almost 12 years of marriage; and a picture of myself enjoying a campfire with in a line of family and good friends.
I (stupidly????) stepped on the scale again today. Trying to stay positive, I have not GAINED any more weight (but have not lost my RPC gain yet either).
But I am trying to be true to this blog. I WILL have these days – and some times these days may melt into longer. But the important thing to remember is to not let THOSE days take over. Have more GOOD days than bad and things will swing that pendulum back the way I want it.
I am trying to focus on the good things for this past week.
I went running in some stupid humidity with a coworker who had not run in 3 months. I was a motivator for her!
I went to the pool and swam laps for 30 minutes all by myself.
Not only did I get a road bike from my brother; but I also went to the store the very next day to get back brakes and pedals installed AND to buy a bike lock (incentive to bike to work) AND I went biking on Monday with the boy.
I got up early on Monday to meet up with a friend at a gym – to weight train for the first time in what feels like forever.
I am getting strong. No matter what that darned mirror tries to tell me.
I love to swim. I never swim. I used to have major problems with the whole locker room thing, but now there’s just a mental block about all the logistics – driving and changing and wet hair in cold weather etc etc etc. Then my friend Sasha of ramblingnotebook.com made a comment on the LIO Facebook forum about how she went swimming despite her own kicking and screaming, and seeing those words in print struck me like a bolt of lightening. Kicking and screaming was all I was doing. So the next day I did it – I went to an aquafit class at the Kanata wave pool.
Here are a few random observations about that experience. It was awesome. I lucked into a good instructor. Driving ten minutes “the wrong direction” into the burbs put my house on the way to work, and psychologically, that felt way better than going to the pool that’s “on the way” from home to work – too much pressure that way. I was by far the youngest person in the class, and finally pregnant enough to embrace my “special needs” identity right alongside those elderly exercisers. I was by far the oldest person in my row in the locker room, and made a conscious decision to simply undress and redress in front of those little girls as if my body was just another body, not some unsightly fat thing I needed to hide. The whole thing left me feeling like a mom – ok with my pregnant self, experienced enough to “mother” random young women by setting an example, and strong enough to mother myself into the pool despite my kicking and screaming.
Meanwhile, my three year old son Very loves to swim, and I am totally willing to take him to lessons despite the logistics, though I admit we don’t go to public swims as often as we should. He’s done “seaweed, starfish, duck” or whatever the infant through 2yo class is called a couple of times now, and is really ready to move on to the next level. But at three years of age, it’s time for the kids to go into the pool without their parents. When I’ve explained this to him, he complains, “But I can’t swim!” I can’t argue with that. But after getting past my own kicking and screaming to do something I love, I decided to register him for a class – to get him past the kicking and screaming to what he loves too. It is a max of three kids at the JCC (someplace we’ve never been, but the customer service so far has been exemplary) and starts at the end of the month. I haven’t told him yet.
Then last week, we had a family vacation at a friend’s house on a lake in Quebec. We swam almost every day. Very swam like a fish, and while I wasn’t exactly doing laps, I had my work cut out for me as the train, the cargo, the turtle that gives rides on its back, or whatever other role I was assigned. Registering for that class was clearly the right decision. Let’s hope I make the right decision and get back in the pool soon myself.