Fat Footsteps

Ever since I had Isla, I’ve made a conscious effort not to talk about my body in a negative light, talk about dieting or get on a scale in front of her. I NEVER say the F word (fat, not the other F word. I say that a lot)

I do this in hopes that she develops a healthy body image, unlike her mama who struggles with body image and weight on an almost daily basis. 

I don’t want Isla to suffer the way I have. I have an eating disorder — Binge Eating Disorder. I’ve been a size 10 and a size 20 (and everything in between), I’ve gained and lost the same 30 pounds over and over. I even had gastric sleeve surgery and had a tummy tuck and breast reduction because I was so unhappy with my body. And still, I suffer. 

But here’s the thing — if I know I shouldn’t do those things in front of Isla, why do do I do them at all? 

There’s no reason to talk to myself any way but kind. My body carried and birthed two beautiful babies. And even though I’ve had some struggles with my weight, my body has been good to me. It’s not my body’s fault that I haven’t always treated it right. My body is deserving of love and appreciation. And it needs grace and patience.

Sometimes the way I talk to myself isn’t the nicest — and I’m trying to change that — but I would be heartbroken if I ever heard Isla say these things about herself:

You’re fat. 
You’re ugly. 
Your stomach is huge. 
Nobody will love you if you’re fat. 

It’s not going to be easy undoing all the damage (physical and mental), but it’s time for change.

Last month, my parents came to visit for Isla’s birthday and they stayed at our house. I have no idea why, but I was embarrassed that I had gained 15 pounds. I felt guilty and shamed even though my parents are so loving and supportive. They would never mention my weight gain.

Here’s the scary part of the story — we have wood floors in our house and I noticed that while they were here, I tiptoed around the house.

I TIPTOED AROUND THE HOUSE BECAUSE I GAINED WEIGHT AND MY FOOTSTEPS SOUNDED HEAVIER (in my head).

I literally thought my footsteps sounded fat — crazy, I know. So crazy.

I’m a little embarrassed telling this story, but I’m more bewildered. Even my therapist was bewildered. How can I be that damaged about my body?

To reverse the damage, I have to silence my inner critic. She can be so mean and hateful. When an ugly thought about myself pops up, I simply say, “Stop,” I tell myself that thought doesn’t serve me. That I’m doing my best to be healthy (I quit Diet Coke and started eating healthier), and that’s all I can do. I say something positive about myself. I don’t know if the negative self talk will always be there, but I can’t let my inner critic gain control again. If I tell myself negative things all the time, I’ll start to believe them. I’ll slip into a depressive episode. I’ll stop taking care of myself. I can’t afford any of that. And I have to remember that Isla (and Eli) are watching and listening. They need to see me taking care of myself and loving myself.

Also, my voice will become their inner voice. How I talk to them is how they will talk to themselves, and that alone is enough to make me walk the straight and narrow. I want them to love themselves, because they are amazing, and I hope they never know any different.

It’s not easy, and I have a long road to undo some of the damage of hating myself but it’s worth the work.

Below are some body positive affirmations that help me:

My body deserves love and respect
Food is not the enemy and I thank the food I eat for nourishing me
My weight isn’t tied to my worth
I am beautiful
I love myself
I love my body, as it is today
I accept my body the way it is

I hope those help. Stay in the light, my friends.

Love The One You’re With

I really liked what I said in my previous body positive blog and it felt so freeing. But I’m far from being more than just OK with my body. It’s a hell of a long way from being happy with it. 

In the past week I’ve caught myself two times feeling shame about my weight and appearance. First, I was in my bathroom, and against my better judgement, I got on the scale. It was just as I expected — 180 pounds — which is 10 more than when COVID started to spread and 30 from my goal weight that my gastric sleeve surgeon set for me. Anyways, Isla came in just as I was stepping off the scale and for some reason I yelled, “I need privacy!” and became flustered. It took me a minute to realize that I was embarrassed by that number. I didn’t want her to see it. It took another minute for me to realize that number doesn’t mean anything to her and shouldn’t mean anything to me. Just to reiterate, we’re going through a pandemic and it’s OK and understandable that my stress eating has led to a weight gain. It’s not an excuse to discard healthy eating habits, but I can give myself some grace. I should, anyway. 

It’s also important for me to say, and for me to hear, that my worth is not tied to my weight. My worth is not tied to my weight. I’m still beautiful and smart. My hair still curls the way I like it. My husband still loves me and tells me I’m beautiful every day. I still have amazing friends and family who have my back no matter what. My kids are still amazing and have hearts of gold. My small community still respects and supports me. My weight shouldn’t dictate how I feel about any aspect of my wonderful life. So, why does it? 

What I have learned in the past 20 years or so is that the flawed thinking surrounding women’s — and girls’ — bodies is deep seated. Women are bombarded with the notion they should be thin and to be beautiful, that they should fit a near-impossible mold. This is done through TV shows, advertising, social media, magazines, etc. According to http://www.centerforchange.com, young girls are exposed to 400 to 600 media images per day. That same site says a study found that 63% of female participants identified weight as a key factor in determining how they felt about themselves, more important than family, school or career. While it’s a bit comforting knowing I’m not alone, it’s also very depressing to hear.

That’s why we need to keep exploring this issue. There is a body positive movement but we need a body positive revolution, to discard these very dangerous bullshit ideals that only fuel eating disorders, depression, anxiety and body dysmorphia disorder.

Body dysmorphia can lead to unnecessary plastic surgery. Personally, I’ve had a “mommy makeover” which included lipo, a breast reduction and tummy tuck. I also had the gastric sleeve surgery in an attempt to control my weight and eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder).  

But I’m here to tell you that didn’t help my self image, except maybe the breast reduction. I just didn’t feel the need to have size HH breasts. Let me also say I don’t mean to knock anyone who does get surgery. I’m all for supporting anyone’s decision to change their body, so long as it makes them happy.

I’ve canceled plans because I’ve felt fat and ugly. I’ve hidden in baggy clothes. I’ve dieted too many times to count. I’ve convinced myself that people don’t like me because I’m ugly and fat. I’ve ducked out of photos or refused to even take them. I’ve fed my body nothing but hate and junk and expected it to be healthy and perfect.

But no more. I don’t want to be boxed in by impossible standards. I want to have wild hair, wear crazy bright colors and patterns. I want to show off my tattoos. I want to take all the photos. It’s cliche but I want my little light to shine and not be dimmed by a little extra weight. I want — no, need — for my children (especially Isla) to see my live unapologetically, with confidence and love. I want them to laugh in the face of anyone who dare criticize their body or appearance. I want them to be everything I am and everything I’m not, all at the same time. I just want them to be happy and that starts with self love and care.

I’m going to stop hiding in photos and nitpicking about “bad angles.” I’m just going to live. Freely. That scale means, and measures, nothing. My children are watching, so I am morally responsible to let my light shine and shine brightly.

Please do the same.

If you or a loved one struggles with an eating disorder, I urge you to visit the National Eating Disorders Association.