Thursday, June 23, 2011

This Body: Will I Ever Be Happy?

"When in your life have you most liked your body?" my co-worker asked me.

I had no answer, at first. I thought back of the many versions of my body over the years. Me in high school, insecure and sure I didn't have a boyfriend because I didn't have a teeny waist. Me in college, packing on the weight and then picking away at it with Weight Watchers and hour-long sessions on the workout bike while watching Paradise Island. Me now, so uncomfortable and ungainly in my body that I sometimes find myself standing talking to someone and realize my hands have subconsciously gone in the pocket of my jeans and are pressing into the fat on my hips. Me, in junior high, lying on the floor on my back and feeling how my tummy still jutted above my hipbones while noticing that didn't happen for some of my friends and feeling jealous of their concave bellies. Me, freshman year of high school, awkward and chubby in my ill-fitting one-piece, swimming with my tall thin friend in her bikini and my curvy friend in her Speedo with the very high cut legs.

"Never," I answered her. And instantly I felt like a failure. For never loving my body. And for never doing something to really change it. "I came close, once," I said, "around the time I got married. I was ok with my weight, but I needed to tone up. It never happened."

Me, 3 years after our wedding and about 15 pounds over wedding weight. Honestly? I'd settle for being that size right now, and at the time I thought I needed to lose about 20 pounds.

How sad is that??? How awful is it that there's not a single point in my life when I can remember really, truly loving my body. Aside from the few months around my wedding day when I was almost to my goal weight and working out 3-5 days a week, the only other time I liked my body at all was when I was pregnant with Luca. I was a bit self-conscious as my boobs grew a cup size in the first 6 weeks and my belly looked more 'too much burrito' than 'cute little baby' for the first half of my pregnancy. But I also really, really loved being pregnant. I loved that belly, and I felt pretty good about what my body was capable of doing.

Just about done with my pregnancy with Luca. This was probably about 37-39 weeks, and other than looking super exhausted I feel good about that body.

The thing is, this co-worker? She's 5'6" and a size 4-6. She is adorable and has almost no fat on her body. And when I posed the same question back to her, her answer was almost the same as mine. "Never," she said to me. "When I was skinnier I wanted more curves. When I was in high school I hated being pale and flat chested. Now, I wish I could get rid of my thighs and tone up."

I guess I forget, that somewhere deep inside most women have body insecurities. Sometimes I struggle about talking openly about my journey to get healthier and lose weight. I worry what people will think of me. I worry I am opening myself up for other people to criticize and analyze. And then I remember: I'm no different than the average woman, whether that woman is a size 4 who longs for more womanly curves, a size 14 who wishes she was her high school size 10, or a size 24 who just wants to be able to ride coach in an airplane without feeling the armrests pinch into her hips and the scorn on the faces of the people in her row. We all struggle, in our own unique ways.

This week, I decided to do something just for me. Something that will make me feel better about my body. After everyone is in bed at night, I spend 30-60 minutes working out (THANK YOU streaming Netflix on my hubby's X Box!), and then I spend 10 minutes or so just reading quietly, in a quiet house. It's only been a few days, but already I'm remembering how much I really DO enjoy spending time caring for my body and waking up the next day feeling it in every muscle group I forgot I had.


Anonymous said...

I just had this same conversation with Pat. I found a picture of myself on our honeymoon and pulled it out to use as motivation. I remembered thinking that I still needed to lose weight right around our wedding - my thighs and hips were big. I would give anything for that body now. I realized I've never been happy with my body and I'm trying to find the balance between being happy with me, but also not giving up on being the best me I can be. I felt like you wrote that post about me! You're definitely not alone! ~ Tiffany

Muffin Cake said...

See, Tiffany, and I'd LOVE to look how you look now!! It's all about perspective I suppose. My biggest challenge is using that as motivation, not as something that makes me feel defeated.


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