While Ethan was in boot camp, I lost 10 pounds and weighed 155 pounds. The furthest to the left the needle has swung while I stood atop the judgmental face of a bathroom scale. I cannot explain how proud of myself I was – oh man, when I saw Ethan after the graduation ceremony, all I could think about was how impressed he was going to be with my new “super slender” body, however short-lived. The weight (literally) of winter in Illinois with no job and one car between us set in and my runs became shorter and trips to the corner store for candy became more frequent. My weight hopped up to 165, and when the little pink plus sign lit up on a pregnancy test, I relaxed even more, found that vegetables and fruits made me puke before I could finish a salad, and fried chicken with a swig of 7Up became my staple meal. I gained 65 pounds by the time that pink squealing child came into our world. 5 months later I was still trying to lose a final 20 pounds, aiming for 165 and feeling defeated among status updates from other new moms like, “Two weeks later and I fit into my jeans!” or, “Lost all 15 of the pounds I gained!” and we found out we were expecting another sweet bundle of joy. This time I forced myself to limit the sweets, walked every day and generally stayed healthier. So here I am, one winter, too many candies, and two babies later – reminding myself that a healthy weight is not just about vanity, but also about feeling good, being a good example for my daughters, and preventing future health issues. Keeping the only body I’ve got running well. I go around in this circle, wanting to fit into my pre-baby jeans, counting every calorie I eat, feeling guilty for being vain, and then telling myself, “Food doesn’t control me! Watch me eat this candy bar, stupid food!”
It’s great. In reality, I love the way I look. Most days. Everyone has bad hair days, and days that no outfit feels comfortable. Aside from those days, I do love my body, all that I’ve accomplished with what God gave me – carrying and birthing two babies, running a half marathon and completing a 4,000 foot elevation change foot race up Mount Baldy. But my brain is having this duel over whether or not how much I weigh is important, fighting memories telling me those numbers mean the world. I can remember being weighed in the gymnasium to be fit for 8th grade graduation gowns, being laughed at when I confided that number to someone I thought was a friend, wearing the largest sweatshirts I could find to hide what I was sure was an overweight blob of a body, being frustrated when family members continued to buy XL clothing as gifts long after I had stretched out (one inch upward) and leaned out running on the high school cross-country team. Charting my weight on a BMI graph at the doctor’s office, paling at the realization that I was technically in the “Obese” category. Many prayers, journal entries, tearful frustrations poured out to Ethan and a couple close friends have made miles of progress toward healthy body image and reduced self-image obsession. I don’t know where this post turned from light-hearted to brutally honest, but here we are. I know this is something that so many other women struggle with – reconciling how our bodies are with what the world tells us are bodies should be. Putting our image on a pedestal meant only for the King of Kings, who formed us and gave us the gift of our bodies. I keep saying this verse, over and over, trying to burn it into my brain: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,” from Psalms 19:14. And what better inspiration to create true self-confidence in myself than these cuties, watching my every move – may I show them a healthy role model so they grow up knowing their beauty, eating without worry, and focusing on more important parts of life.