This. It shouted at me and said “pay attention!”
So I did, and here I am.
I have always had a lot of body issues. No matter how much I worked out or dieted I still felt “fat”, So much to the point that I would stop working out and stop dieting, because what’s the point if you still feel ugly. Right?
I can remember the first time I dieted. I was a freshman in high school and I was somewhere between 150-160 pounds. I did the 7 day Cabage soup diet and I lost 12 pounds. I was so excited about my weight loss, I felt so accomplished, but I STILL wasn’t comfortable with my body.
There would be times when I felt great, and I would think it was just a really good outfit, or my hair looked really good that day.
I’ve continued to diet off and on over the years, losing less and less each time, and still feeling the same after.
I’ve developed a deep hate for clothes and clothes shopping because I have such a hard time finding anything that makes me feel good, and have you compared jean sizes lately?? I don’t have 2 pairs of jeans that are the same size in my closet. That’s how much sizes vary by brand.
One brand you might be a 10 and think “Gee, I’m really doing great!” But then you try on the next pair and need a size 16, and you back-slide right back into the ugly feeling.
But why does being a size 16 make so many of us uncomfortable, and why do sizes vary so much by brand?
I don’t have those answers. But what I do have is my story, and I hope that it might help someone struggling with their image.
I am tall and I always have been. I was taller than my mom by 3rd grade and I am now 5’9″. Growing up this was a target for kids, along with my big forehead (Which my Mom covered with big fluffy bangs).
“Hey how’s the weather up there?”
“Can you see us from all the way up there?”
“Jolly Green Giant”
“You could land a plane on that forehead!” (That last one came from my brother…)
So body image issues started pretty early for me, and then in 6th grade we moved.
I went from 6th grade elementary to 6th grade middle school, with no summer transition in between.
From chasing eachother around the playground, to sitting and eating lunch in a “quad” with no playground, and where boys asked you to Dances.
From one teacher, 30 of the same friends and the same desk all day; straight to 6 different classes, no desk of your own, and over 120 different faces everyday. It was a lot to handle. Plus, a new house, a new bus route and a hundred other new and uncomfortable situations. The, before 7th grade, they opened a new school, so I got tranfered AGAIN. It started over. New school, new friends, new bus route, new teachers etc. This set me up for failure.
Not to mention, we moved to a completely new demographic. We moved from a place where pretty much everyone was broke, to a place where everyone spent their weekends and holidays at “the river”. 16 years later, I still have not adjusted to it. (I guess im just not boujee? Haha!)
Being in this new demographic meant kids had different clothes, they had cellphones and majority of them had stay at home mom’s who picked them up from school. Oh and they charged you for bus passes. Like, A LOT! We moved from a neighborhood where the bus was free, so this became a challenge for us and meant someone had to pick me up. My Step dad worked nights, and was asleep when I got out of school. He was sometimes late picking me up and the school would not let me wait there for him, so I would wait on the corner across the street, in front of a nice house. This was a magnet for negative attention from other kids who would mock me for being on the corner.
So the kids in this new school had a lot of ammo towards me and I took it all to heart. It was all these kids, against just me. They must be right, because majority rules, right?
He made us in his image, the way he wanted us. How can that be anything less than perfect?
This was a hard lesson for me to learn.
When I got pregnant I was 175lbs. I lost 10 with morning sickness and loss of appetite, but by the end I was up to 248lbs. I had gained 73 lbs, and was told I should gain no more than 20lbs. I felt like a failure.
When I looked down all I saw was a flab of fat where a beautiful round pregnant belly had been and I would just cry. I felt like it was never going to go away and I tried so hard to love this new body of mine.
This body had made this beautiful child who I love unconditionally, why couldn’t I love myself the same? I was miserable.
But I wasn’t just miserable because of my image, physically I felt miserable. My knees and back ached, I tired easily and normal activities were too much for me to handle.
On top of this unexpected weight gain, I had agreed to be in a wedding just 3 months after giving birth. This meant I had to be Vegas ready for the bachelorette party AND Fit into my bridesmaid dress, in less than 3 months. On a super tight, New mom budget.
This alone brought on all kinds of body image issues and thats when I really started looking at other women.
I was going to Las Vegas with a group of 21, beautiful women and I felt like the odd man out.
I went to Instagram and I searched #postpartum and #postpartumbody
STOP!!!! DO NOT DO THIS! TRUST ME!
I was expecting to find other mom’s sharing their honest postpartum journeys, But I was wrong. I found Instagram models with the amazing 6 pack abs-6 months after giving birth and all the amazing “bounce back” images and comparisons; and you know what that did? It made me feel even worse!! I felt like I was failing!
I again came to that point where “what’s the point” became my go to.
No matter what I did I felt like a sack of potatoes, so forget it. I was going to have to accept the new me, and get used to it.
I gave it my all.
I went and spent way more than I wanted to on clothes to fit my new size. It was a struggle, and I don’t even know how many hours I spent, but when I was done I felt somewhat put together. I made it through the Vegas Bachalorette party (feeling like the super conservative chaperone, instead of the bridesmaid to one of my best friends) and I made it through the Wedding. I felt accomplished, and like I would start feeling good about myself. I didn’t put much thought into weight loss after that even tho at the wedding I was 226lbs.
I stopped weighing myself, and just started living. We started going to church regularly, and I started to pray for the things that had been hurting me, to be resolved. But I never specified what was hurting me.
One day, a few months later, My father in law brought home a doctor’s scale from a doctor’s office he had cleaned.
I jumped on it and was surprised to read “196” I looked at Jairo and insisted it was wrong. It’s broken that’s why they didn’t want it anymore. Surely, it had to be wrong. He went on YouTube, learned how to calibrate it and we tried again. Still, 196. We went to my mom’s house the next day. Her scale is always a few pounds off, but I thought if I had dropped 30lbs, a 2 or 3lb difference wouldn’t matter. I walked in and made a b-line for the bathroom. I pulled out the scale, took off my sandles (as if my paper thin flip flops are really gonna tip the scales) and stepped on.
I just stood there in disbelief. I still could not believe what I was seeing. I weighed myself 3 more times just to be sure, and then ran outside to find Jairo, because you know, witnesses!
Over the next week I lost 2 more pounds and decided I should try the cabage soup diet again. In the past I had lost 7-10lbs in a week on this diet. This time I was dedicated like never before, and I only lost 2 lbs. The same amount I would have lost if I hadn’t spent the money and time to do the diet.
I started to get discouraged again and fall back into the rut I had been in. Then I read a blog post by a friend and fellow blogger Erin, and once again I decided to accept myself and my new body. It had created a beautiful human who loved me unconditionally, I could learn to love it too.
I stopped dieting and I stopped weighing myself, and again I started losing weight. The smaller shirts and shorts I had recently purchased started to fit big.
I weighed myself. 181. I continued on.
Yes, you can argue that I eat less and have less of an appetite now than I did before because I’m a busy Mom, and yes, I run around like crazy some days, but that’s only some days. I’m also a stay at home mom, who let’s admit, gets plenty of down time to sit here and write this novel of a blog post. And when I eat, I can’t admit to always eating the healthiest of foods or getting enough fruits and veggies. I still need help in those areas, plus I rarely take time to “workout”.
But somehow my body has gone back to my high school weight, 165.5lbs, on it’s own.
That’s less than I was before pregnancy and I can only explain it one way.
If you are not religious, the following may not be for you.
I truly believe that is the power of God.
I only realized that this was his mission with me, after a women’s retreat this past weekend.
A Pastor named Adriana Bradley spoke about her husband’s passing and the loss she had suffered. She was angry and did not want to lose weight because she has lost too much already. But God spoke to her, telling her that she wasn’t losing, she was gaining the body that he had created for her. This is when I realized….
All this time I had thought I was fat, ugly, and needed to be fixed, all the diets and trying to lose weight, never accepting myself for the 165-175lbs I had been.
Then I gained that 73lbs and started to accept myself for what I was, and thats when the weight fell off.
When I stopped fighting God’s plan and started accepting it, that is when he showed me that I was perfectly made all along.
Today, I am down 83lbs, and I look back on high school and even more recent pictures and wonder why I ever felt bad about myself. I look back and think, “Man! I should have eaten a sandwich!” I think about all the things I could have done if I had accepted and loved myself along time ago.
Now that I have managed to accept myself and accept God’s plan, I am striving to eat better, live better, and truly care for the body that God has designed for me.
It is beautiful, It is perfect and it does deserve to be cared for, just the way it He made it.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5