Most of us used to have careers. Some of us still do. Whichever path you choose, it is riddled with potholes. I used to have metrics to judge myself by at work. After my first baby, I looked to find equivalent metrics in motherhood. There are none. You can’t control when you baby walks or talks. A lot of it is predetermined for you and your child. By the time you have a second, you have given up on that idea. So you start looking for another metric to judge yourself by. Weight is such an goal. You CAN change that number, and measure your success by changes in that number. No matter how strong your feminist background, it is easy to succumb to the desire of becoming a MILF. (Mother I would like to fuck.) Not for the men of the world, maybe not even for your partner, but for YOURSELF. Am I done with having babies? Will I have one more? I want something for ME! What could be more for you than your body?
And what about those working moms? One friend, who is incredibly lean and gorgeous, by ANYONE’S standards, said a co-worker asked her if she was expecting again- because she has a pooch. This co-worker is clearly a nasty hater. This woman could be in a fitness or fashion magazine. So working moms have to go out in the world and deal with co-workers, a group who are notorious for trying to take you down. Donuts or cookies that they bring in and try to push on you, backhanded compliments or random opinions, those women are not your allies. (I could write a whole other piece about “frenemies” and competition among women.)
Your body changed. For some of us, in ways we can’t even talk publicly about. I can’t control the things happened to my body during my first l&d. They changed my body forever. I can’t get my boobs back without surgery. But DAMN it, I can try and get my old stomach or ass back.
Before kids, I was pretty good at controlling what I ate, and therefor, my weight. I loved to exercise. Even though I had a FT job and a business that could add on another 30-40 hours a week, I STILL exercised. It made me feel good! Eating healthy made me feel good. I was unprepared for pregnancy cravings with my first baby… then the volume of food my body would crave while breastfeeding. By the second time pregnancy cravings kicked in, I was used to eating SO MUCH MORE. Things have settled down after the second baby, but I am almost to 4 years since I got pregnant the first time. Now I want to eat better, but sugar and beer have become my reward system. I survived another day! Let me have a treat– I earned it. Or at 4 PM, when you feel like you can’t make it three more hours, oh this sugar, it will get me through. Then there is exercise. My husband and I have to balance each of our exercise needs. In Phoenix where the temperature soars and I am battling skin cancer risk, this means we are fighting over 5 AM to 8 AM on the weekends. I joined a gym which has an amazing child care. But running on a treadmill is no substitute for the pavement. I want CONTROL. I want to be able to say NO to myself. That food is not a good choice for ME, not because of my weight, but because of this CRAZY emotional rollercoaster I have been on since I got pregnant. I want off. I don’t want to sit around wondering what to eat next… hmmm… french pastries! Or maybe a sub? You can never eat enough to satisfy all those cravings once you start living with them day in and day out.
When I tell you my number, which I know you don’t want to hear, and you tell me something about your body vs my body, etc etc., I will tell you my other number. 39.5% body fat. That is what I measured AFTER 6 weeks of dieting and losing about 8 pounds. My father died of heart disease. Heart disease and diabetes are rampant in his family. 40% body fat is not “love yourself” territory– it is heart disease’s holy ground. So when someone says “I need to get serious about this” I say YES, I am right there with you! Because my number sucks and scares me.
I started lifting weights last week. I gained 2 pounds. I put my scale away. I don’t want to be “skinny” but I do want to be smaller- much smaller- AND stronger. I want to be able to look in the mirror and say ROWR! I want to pounce on my husband, not suffer through low libido because I hate my fat rolls. And chase my kids, then my grandkids. I want to be those old people hiking with my husband of 40 years where the young people are saying “DAMN!” or whatever young people are saying in 30 more years.
So yes, I talk about my weight. But when I talk about my weight, I am really talking about so much more. The transitions of my body, the transitions of my life. Some things that I have lost, and others I have gained.