My big mouth gets me in trouble again!
I recently wrote a blog titled “You Got It Going On” about my desire to love my body as is, regardless of the number on the scale, as well as a hope for other women to do the same. I generally write whatever is on my mind on a particular day, doing my best to stay honest in the moment. I also try to keep my posts to two standard pages. That means what I think one day may very well change upon further reflection, or that I am not always able to cover a topic in depth.
My friend, Dale Howell, took issue with some of the opinions I wrote in the piece, and wrote a response. With her permission, I am posting the piece she wrote. I am actually very happy to post it because I think this is an issue that plagues a lot of women, and the more we openly talk about it, the greater likelihood that we can find positive ways to create healthy bodies and mindsets.
Dale is right in pointing out sometimes the numbers (lbs, body fat %, BMI) can be used as tools to help us make necessary changes to focus on better health. I am certainly not saying ignore the numbers, sit on the couch and eat cheeseburgers with a dopey grin on your face. My point is that I have a hard time with the obsession to always be thinner, thinner, thinner and to hate your body if it does not fit into a specific mold.
At my heaviest pre-pregnancy weight, I was 176 lbs. I am 5 ft 5 inches tall. I was constantly on some kind of diet- shakes, high protein, 7 day diet, juice flushes, etc. I took ephedrine because it sped up my metabolism. I chewed nicotine gum for the same reason. I even tried bulimia but found I had a difficult time getting myself to actually vomit- I just dry heaved a lot. I thought if I can just get thin, I will feel good about myself. When these crazy plans didn’t work, I would cry and binge and hate myself a little more.
For me, when I quit focusing on the numbers is when I started to get healthy. My focus changed to what my body could do instead of how it looked. My kids also played a major role in changes to my lifestyle. When I became pregnant, I wanted to put healthy food in my body. I started eating more fruits and vegetables. I began researching the differences in grains, and why protein is so important. When it came time for my kids to start eating solids, I made all their baby food fresh. At one point I thought, if I’m willing to do this work for them, why not do it for myself? I always thought what you ate was not nearly as important as how many calories you ate. But I did find that if I ate the right things, I didn’t crave the bad stuff so much, and my mental attitude was actually better.
That was my journey and that’s why I have such issue with numbers. Numbers have not served me well. But that doesn’t mean every woman has the same journey. I have a close friend who has had a lot of success with Weight Watchers. Like Dale, she needs to feel control. It is too easy to be tempted and stray from the numbers. So she counts calories and measures food, but for her, I don’t see this as unhealthy. She was overweight, and has used the numbers to create a healthier body. I think it’s fantastic and I am so happy for her.
I feel that sometimes women are our own worst enemies. Dale described a woman being asked if she was pregnant because she had a slight pooch. If this happened to me, I would feel horrible about myself, instead of just chalking it up to an inconsiderate person. I would put pressure on myself to try even harder to get rid of that pooch. We can be so catty in discussing another person’s appearance, instead of just seeing that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
There is so much pressure to look like we did when we were twenty. Dale discussed wanting to be a MILF, and while I understand her desire, I cringed a little when I read that word. I don’t know. I want to look my best and feel attractive, but I have no desire to struggle to be my pre-baby self. My boobs sag- so what. My stomach is flabby. Maybe I am romanticizing a past that I wasn’t even old enough to remember, but I feel like there used to be more acceptance of the physical changes that age brings. I’ve earned my stretchmarks and wrinkles. Why should I feel pressure to get rid of them? Is it weird to see them as beautiful?
And I’m not saying that is what Dale meant by her comment. These are my perceptions of the word MILF. In talking to Dale, I was reminded how personal this weight issue is for each of us, and how we each approach it differently. My discussion is not meant as judgment. I would just like to get to what is going on beyond the weight, beyond the numbers. Why is this such a huge topic for women?
I still struggle. Dale described leaning on beer and sweets as rewards and stress relievers. As she knows, I relate to this only too well. My healthy will power is strong every day, right up until about 4pm. By then, I’m tired. I’m ready for Daddy to be home to help with the kids. I need something to get me through that last hour until he arrives, and that something is usually beer. We get the kids to bed after dinner, and I feel like I deserve another beer because I made it through the day. By the numbers, that’s 300-400 extra calories every day. That’s one extra drink than a “healthy” person is supposed to have, every day. How can I learn to quit relying on food and drink as a means to celebrate and cope?
I’d love to open this discussion to other women. What do you have to say? Write your story and I’ll post it on this blog.