I suppose this one is a bit more geared toward baby girl. (spoiler: name announcement post coming soon!)
Body image issues and I have a history. And strangely, though I remember WHEN they started, I can’t really remember WHY.I’ve always been an active person starting at a young age: I took gymnastics classes, played softball and soccer and spent many hours running around outside. And I ate horribly. I chuckle as I recall some lunches in late middle and early high school – cheese fries, a HUGE chocolate chocolate chip muffin and a can of Frutopia (anyone remember Frutopia? Oh so good but absolutely nothing but sugar). I once calculated that the muffin itself had nearly 600 calories and the can of Fruitopia nearly 200. That doesn’t even include the cheese fries and that was only for lunch! Now don’t get me wrong, I love junk just as much as any of us but the thought of consuming that and calling it a meal now makes me shudder.
Great, now I’m craving cheese fries.
Don’t even get me started on the whole model thing – why they use women who look like they’ll break in half if they trip down the runway to showcase latest fashion I’ll never understand. I’d rather see women with some freaking muscle tone telling life stories of their involvement of sports stomp down the runway with their soccer balls and running shoes any day. And we wonder why women have body image issues.
Anyway, somewhere around my Junior year of high school, weighing in at a whopping, like 112 pounds – I was fat.
What? Hindsight is 20/20.
At that point my days of cheese fries, muffins and sugary drinks were over. I started packing my lunches, trying hard to avoid eating any fat. A previous color guard instructor told me I once refused to put dressing on my salad, and though I have no recollection of this, I can’t say I’d be surprised. Later on it became less about fat and more about calories. I become obsessed with calorie counting. This lasted through high school, through college and into my first marriage (which I am sure did not help matters much as it eventually ended). I could tell you the calorie count of practically anything, and I’d walk around campus mentally calculating calories consumed vs calories burned. I based what I was “allowed” to eat on how much I had worked out that day. It never got so out of control as to call myself anorexic, but I definitely had an disordered eating habits for many years. It was mentally distressing for me to figure out I had eaten more than I planned or didn’t burn as much as planned.
It was tiring.
The lowest weight I remember hitting was 117 once after I had the stomach flu and was excited to learn I had lost 3 lbs. I was obsessive about it but somehow kept myself from falling so far in that I reached unhealthy weights. I was always in a healthy weight range, and that frustrated me to no end at the time. In the end it isn’t about the weight, though, its about what was going on in my brain – telling myself I weighed too much, feeling like I had to count calories consumed vs. calories burned. Although my working out was healthy, I wasn’t doing it for healthy reasons. At my lowest point I remember looking at a girl who was clearly sickly anorexic and feeling slightly jealous. She couldn’t have weighed more then 80lbs.
All through college and into my first marriage I probably weighed in the low 120’s.
At some point around my late 20’s something clicked and I finally had enough. I was tired worrying so much about it. I was tired of counting calories. I started eating more, and more of what I wanted. I think this was about the time I started getting more into running races – maybe that had something to do with it. In order to have the energy to run long distances, you have to eat. It just won’t work any other way. I was finally able to let go, and you wouldn’t believe how freeing that was. Prior to our IVF cycle when I was running regularly and particularly while training for half or full marathons I was in the best shape of my life. I had muscle tone. I had abs. I had definition. I wasn’t super skinny, but I was strong. Most importantly, able to live without obsessing. For the first time I loved my body. I was proud of it. I felt confident. I’m tooting my own horn a bit here but I looked good!
My weight? 128lbs – my highest weight ever. All those years fretting and worrying and I found myself feeling the most confident and strong weighing the most. That confidence is what attracts people – not how skinny you are or the number on the scale.
Clearly a twin pregnancy has taken away muscle tone and my ability to be involved in intense exercise. Its added 25lbs (and counting!) and made the number on my scale higher than I’ve ever seen it. But that is ok because even though my body probably won’t be the same, I will get my strong back. At this point at least I am able to try to guide these babies into strong adults and hopefully avoid learning the hard way.
Eat healthy, splurge sometimes, exercise regularly, but not obsessively. Find the middle ground – moderation. Be strong.