Showing posts with label Weight. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Weight. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2013

About Time I Got It.

I had a revelation the other day. I had just sent a message to my good friend, whose weight loss journey I greatly admire. She lost over 125 pounds with Weight Watchers and is now a WW leader. So amazing.

Anyhow, the message was this: "Took the kids to Culver for a shake and got myself a scoop of vanilla custard. Before I ate it I tracked it and it's EIGHT points. It's going in the freezer for my husband."

I mean, NO WAY I'm downing 8 points worth of frozen custard, right? The scoop was tiny, too. Instead, I went home and had 2 chocolate covered pretzels (5 points for 8 of them) and 2 spoonfuls of the kids' shake. And I felt good about it. I mean, right? Go me.

And then I remembered that I'd also turned down cherry cheesecake one of my staff brought into the office AND banana chocolate chip muffins. Pretty much, this was a golden day of self restraint.

And all that is good. It is. I am losing weight and so it's good to avoid those foods.

But then I realized something. Kind of like how what you hold your tongue about and DON'T say to people is really good. Like instead of telling this one guy that I think he sucks at his job, I bite my tongue. And I can congratulate myself inwardly for not speaking. But what matters more is this: what I DO say. Instead of patting my own back over keeping silent with complaints, I should be trying to find something positive and constructive to take its place. It's not what I DON'T do that ends up making the biggest impact. It's what I DO.

And so...with food. I should be proud that I skipped cheesecake, muffins, and frozen custard all in one day. But what my body knows is not the things I didn't eat, but the things I did.

Lightbulb moment, people. And it only took me 34 years on this earth. But I swear it made a difference. Since I had this epiphany (a rather dull one at that) I've seen things with different eyes. Because my body will NEVER KNOW that I skipped the frozen custard and cheesecake and muffins. Skipping those things won't be the key to losing the rest of this baby weight. It's what I DO eat that will make the difference.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 9

Tonight marks the start of C25K, Week 9. Also known as the last week. Or, alternately, "Holy crap in less than 2 weeks I need to be able to run 3.1 miles!"

It took some talking-to-myself to get out there tonight and brave a 30 minute run. I know it's only 2 more minutes than I ran all last week, but it seemed big. Monumental. Scary.

At 6 minutes into it, I was feeling good. "Ok, you did that. Now just do it 4 more times." I told myself.

At 12 minutes into it, I was still feeling pretty good. "My legs are burning, but I can do it. 3 more times."

At 18 minutes into it, I was starting to unravel a bit. "Ok, Katie, keep going. It does not matter if you're slow as long as you finish. But why is your butt jiggling so much? Do you feel that?" :::feels with hand and butt is indeed jiggling::: "What the hell? You've been running for 8 weeks and your butt just NOW starts jiggling like that? That's it! No more snacks for you! It's time to buckle down and stick to salads!"

At 24 minutes into it, I just tapped out, mentally. I went to that dark place no one wants to talk about, where the only thing going through my mind was numbers as I counted my foot falls and tried to predict how close I was to done.

At 29 minutes, when the podcast I used this week (which, by the by, I definitely recommend in terms of better music for running, and which came from here) notified me I only had 1 minute left, I was resolved and determined to finish it running. "You can do this. So what if your butt is jiggling and your time probably really super sucks. Just. Finish."

At 30 minutes, when I stopped running and started my cool down walk, I took back all the promises of salad and daily whippings to myself if I ate bad foods and felt nothing but sheer relief and accomplishment.

If I can do 30 minutes, I believe it's really possible I can finish this 5k running.

And to top it off? I logged my run when I got home, and I've finally, after 9 weeks, broken my own personal goal for speed. It's a pretty pathetic goal, really, but I truly don't give a shit. My goal was to get under a 12-minute mile, and tonight I finally did!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Success In All Measures.

I thought I'd start running and hate it. I thought I'd keep running and learn to deal with it, even if I still didn't like it. I thought I'd keep going a few more weeks and run a 5k and smile and feel proud. And I thought, somewhere in the middle of it, that I'd be melting away pounds like nobody's business.
Well, technically it IS nobody's business, but that has not happened. I did start running and hate it, then keep running and learn to deal with it. I kept going, and in just over 2 weeks I'll be running a 5k ON my birthday, which is all kinds of amazing and pride-inspiring. And yet, 8 weeks into this new goal of mine, I'm down half a pound. HALF a pound is not exactly melting away, you know?

Shit, at this rate it will only take me 508 more weeks to hit my goal weight.

So there you have it. And this morning when I stepped on the scale and saw that I'm barely floating half a pound below my start weight and I'm running 3 days a week, I went into self-sabotage mode in my mind. For breakfast I was good, but by lunchtime I was tempted to scrap my healthy low-point lunch and run out for something delicious and indulgent. I wanted cookies and chocolate bars. I contemplated wine with dinner and an ice cream cone after.

But I didn't do it. I stuck to my planned breakfast and lunch and opted for a salad with dressing on the side for dinner. I even skipped dessert and went for a run.

And I guess it paid off, because while I was logging my run tonight I discovered I HAVE made progress. I log my miles and minutes, so an easy math calculation can tell me how fast I'm running, and it has been pretty underwhelming so far. I mean, I knew I was slow, but I didn't know I was running around a 14 minute mile until I found the map my run site. But tonight I did something different: I ran on main roads. Usually I run in my neighborhood, up and down residential streets. I prefer it that way because I almost never see anyone while on my run, so I don't feel self-concious about my speed or how I look while running. Tonight, though, I did about 80% of my run on main streets around my neighborhood. It not only made me keep going a bit faster than usual, it also felt a little safer to me.

And the results are real: my running time was just over a 12 minute mile today. That means that while I've barely shed half a pound in 8 weeks, I have managed to increase my run time by about 2 minutes per mile in just over 2 weeks. At this rate, I might just finish that 5k in under 40 minutes!

And, yes, I promise I will be happy with that!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Did It.

Tonight, I finished Week 5 of C25K with a 20 minute run. No breaks to walk. No slowing. No giving up or giving in to the voice telling me that my calves were burning and my lungs were tired and anyways no one would know if I really ran all 20 minutes, would they? I won't lie about it, to myself or anyone else who cares: it sucked. This week's podcast has all 3 days overlapped, so that you download one podcast for 3 completely different runs. At one point, I was almost to the end and all I could think was, "You are so close. Just keep running." And then, on the haedphones came that damn voice saying, "If you're on Day 3, keep going! You have about 4 minutes left." At that moment I was thankful I'd decided to finish the last of the runs at 10:30 at night rather than waiting for tomorrow to do it in the daylight. Because, in the daylight, I would have needed to look around to be sure there were no small children in earshot before exclaiming out loud, to the universe, "Fuck you!"

Oh yeah, I said "Fuck you!" to the podcast. To my legs, on fire and lead-heavy. To Robert Ullrey and running and the universe in general.

But then, there was the moment at the end, when I got to celebrate completing 20 minutes of running. When I walked the neighborhood listening to Mumford and Sons and felt my legs tingling and my heart pumping and my face, flush with sweat. When I said to myself, "Fuck YOU, and your doubting. You did it. YOU did it!"

Five weeks ago, I couldn't even run 90 seconds without feeling like I needed to go home and ice my shins and sleep for 14 hours. Five weeks ago I dreaded every run. Six weeks ago, I wasn't even trying. And now? I did it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week 5.

Tonight I started C25K week 5, and as much as it pains me to write this, it wasn't as bad as I'd expected. And maybe...just maybe...I was hoping it would be bad enough to justify quitting? I'm not claiming it was easy by any stretch, but I walked out the door this evening expecting to want to quit, and that never happened.

My week 5 day 1 routine was a 5 minute warm up then 5 running/3 walking/5 running/3 walking/5 running, then a cool down. And while I ran two 5 minute stretches all 3 days last week, doing it 3 times tonight was quite a workout. But I did it, and I didn't struggle nearly as much with it this week as I did last week. I think I actually find the routines with less intervals but longer ones to be a bit easier to manage. Just like with walking, I get into a groove and am not anxiously counting down to when I get to stop or when I have to start again.

This week is unique in that each of the 3 run routines is different. Day 2 will be 8 minutes running and 5 minutes walking, twice. And day 3 is the scary monster at the end of the road with a 20 minute run with no breaks. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dreading those days, especially the last one. But at the same time I look at where I started, barely able to run more than 60 seconds straight without feeling totally winded and really sore, and I feel amazing and strong.

My coworker and I have talked quite a bit about the struggle to keep going, and the battling voices in our heads while training. The voice that says, "You are a fucking idiot and should just walk home right now, pour yourself some wine, and not get out of bed for the rest of the weekend." is just barely drowned out by the voice that says, "Bitch you are DOING this and you're amazing and you keep those feet RUNNING!" When it comes to motivation, I'm only mildly embarassed to admit that when I'm struggling to finish a run I've said to myself more than once, "You had a baby. In a plastic pool in your living room. If you can go through labor and deliver a human, you can do anything." And then, other times, I zone out on problems or issues I need to work out in my own head and have practice conversations with 'the enemy'. The only problem is that I'm not sure either of these tactics is going to work for 3.2 miles!

I should also note that I haven't weighed myself in 2 weeks. After 3 weeks of running I hadn't lost anything, so I sort of gave up on the scale. I'm giving myself permission to avoid the scale and focus on the non-scale victories until I hit the end of my training program. I'm about halfway through, and as long as I can maintain my routine through the holidays, I'm going to consider it a victory whether I lose weight or not.

But I can't lie: It would be nice if I stepped on the scale at the end of this and saw a loss.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Three.

I started week 3 of C25k tonight. This week is a 5 minute walk, 90 seconds each of walking and running, 3 minutes each of walking and running, repeat both intervals, then cool down. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 90-second  runs were not hard at all. Last week I struggled quite a bit with those runs and with pain in my shins and calves after they were done. I expected tonight to be much worse since the 90-second runs were now the short ones, not the long ones. But it really was not as difficult as I'd feared. The 3 minute runs were pretty manageable too, though they did seem to take forever! I couldn't believe how much ground I covered in 3 minutes, which made it feel like I had run much longer.

I know this is a tough time of year to start this kind of program because I keep hoping the running 3-4 nights a week will make some weight start to melt off me, and it's just not happening yet. I know I need to try to look on the bright side, which is that I didn't gain anything over 4 days off work and Thanksgiving food galore. But it's hard not to get discouraged that the scale it not yet moving. I'm trying to be optimistic and believe that in the next week or two it will happen. I can already feel some difference in my legs - most specifically my calves - so I'm believing it will show everywhere soon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weak, Too.

Tonight I started Week 2 of training for January's 5K. Technically, I was supposed to start last night, but my husband wanted to take me to see Breaking Dawn. And when one's husband offers to take one to see a decidedly teenie-bopper chick flick when one and her husband are decidedly NOT teenagers, one must agree. So i skipped night 1 of training last night and did it tonight instead.

Week 1 was a 5 minute walk, then 8 intervals of 60 seconds of jogging followed by 90 seconds of running, then 5 more minutes of walking. By the end of the week, I was definitely comfortable witht hat routine and in no rush to change it up at all. So I was not looking forward to this week, which shifted my routine to 5 minutes of walking, 6 intervals of 90 seconds running and 2 minutes walking, and another 5 minutes of walking.

It wasn't fast. It wasn't easy. It sure as hell was NOT graceful. But I did it.

I think, however, I may be the only poor soul in the world who could GAIN 3 pounds after a week of cooking healthy meals at home and starting a running routine.

Either way. I'm moving forward.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Forward.

2011. I knew from the start it was going to be a pisser. Shooting in Tucson. Vomiting up everything but my pancreas on my birthday. An IRS letter telling us we owed over $500 in unpaid taxes we didn't know we'd missed paying to kick off summer break. Not to mention hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis worldwide. I think 2011 had it in not just for me, but for people all over the world.

But 2012? I predict a banner year. Already, the tide has started to shift for not only my little family, but several people I know and love. And I couldn't be MORE excited to usher in a new year very, very soon.

To kick it off right, I'm going to celebrate my birthday next year by completing my first 5k. Now, please not, I DO NOT run. As in, hate it. As in, would rather do pretty much ANY other type of exercise. As in...guuuuh. But I've always wanted to be the kind of girl who DOES run, so in honor of that dream I agreed to joining a team when my friend invited me. She promised I didn't HAVE to run it, but could walk part or all if I wanted, but I'm always up for a challenge. So run it I will. I began my training this week, and I'm optimistic and also scared entirely shitless about the prospect of completing the training and getting my big old butt out there on my birthday to run. But what has really inspired me, more than the idea of finally getting myself motivated to run a 5k and more than getting older and wanting to accomplish this one little thing to ring in a new year of life, is how the people around me have rallied. My friend invited me to join her team. And when I told some co-workers about it, they decided to run it too. When I told them I'm doing Couch to 5K for training, they agreed to do it at the same time, so we could compare notes and commiserate. My husband is cheering me on and encouraging me to train.

And then, there was the first night of training. We got to the park with the plan being I would run to the podcast while my husband took the kids to the playground, then we'd meet and eat our picnic dinner. As I settled in to my warm-up walk, I realized that (a) I'd somehow deleted the podcast AND all the music except one album and (b) the battery on the iPod was almost dead. Not willing to give up, I put the one album (thankfully one I enjoy) on shuffle and used the iPod stopwatch to time my walking and running intervals. And then my iPod battery died, just as I was about to run past 2 teenaged girls. In the sudden silence, I heard my labored breathing and my loud foot falls as I jogged past them. And I also heard them. I couldn't pick up exactly what they said, but I can only imagine it was something in the vein of "Hope that fat chick doesn't die before she gets back to her car." Or perhaps, "Look at her big old ass jiggling while she tries to run." Or even,  - - -

But then I decided to change my outlook. My ass isn't bouncing, it's clapping in appreciation of my efforts. This body made two beautiful children and sustained them well beyond the womb. It's not perfect at all, but in 10 or 15 years those cute teenage girls will probably look in the mirror and see a reflection more like mine than like the one they see today.

I finished that night's training and moved on to day two. I have one day left and then :poof: like that I am on to week 2. And before I know it, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then the new year, our anniversary...and then the run. And I am excited to start 2012 in that way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Snapping Out Of A Funk.

Ever had a moment of clarity that you really didn't want to face? Mine was last week, when one of my biggest professional achievements was married to one of the biggest hits to my ego.

In my line of work, I interact quite a bit with a national group that does a lot of research and public policy issue analysis. They frequently release reports with state or local level data, and last week was no different. They released a report, and I initiated the process of having a press release sent from our agency regarding the local/state impacts noted in the report. It wasn't pretty, and it needed to be shared. The press release got immediate coverage from local radio stations and even local news stations, which chose to interview families impacted by the issue covered.

And then, there was a request from our local PBS station for someone to appear on their evening 'interest' program where current issues, politics, economy, etc. are discussed with a host. We got the email inviting us and my heart sank into my stomach. I can write 100 press releases and talk to radio interviewers, but ask me to be on TV and I am instantly 13 all over again.

I worry about how I will look in general. I wish I'd had more warning so I could do my hair and wear my most flattering outfit. I cross my fingers that someone will do our make-up before we go live. I want to run far, far away. I am afraid of saying the wrong thing, sure. But more than that I am afraid I will look horrible and my voice will sound horrible.

It shames me to write that paragraph, by the way. To admit that instead of feeling proud of this moment I was vainly worried about how I would look. But there was no time for my 13 year old self to get out of going on TV, so within a few hours my boss and I were taping the segment to air that night. We taped at 5:45 and it aired on our local PBS affiliate at 7 p.m. In a way, I was relieved that it happened so quickly because it meant less time to worry and obsess and stress.

I got home just as the show was starting. Knowing we were the final segment, I set my DVR and turned off the TV to have dinner with my husband and play with my kids. An hour later we decided we couldn't wait to watch it any longer, so we hit play and sat back.

"Oh no. OH no no no!" <--- my reaction to the first screen shot of me on TV. I couldn't hear a word I was saying because all I could think about was how my cheeks looked huge and my hair looked awful and my shoulders could easily get me a spot on the high school football team my husband helps coach. The world went into slow motion as I wondered how many people I know had seen it and whether they thought I looked as horrible as I thought I looked. And then I started to cry.

Meanwhile, my husband didn't know what to say to me. Luca had already lost interest and gone in the other room. And just as Darrick tried to convince me that I didn't look as bad as I thought I looked because really I didn't look like that in person anyhow (no, really...he was trying to make me feel better...) Rohan turned to the TV. Smiling, he ran up and put his hands on the screen and said, "That's my mama!".

And I cried some more.

The next day I went to work and couldn't remember anything I'd said on the show the night before. Within an hour of getting to work, I had over a dozen emails from people with whom I work, applauding the show and our success in covering such an important topic. And while I should have been basking in the glory of all the accolades, I just kept thinking of how all these people had seen me on TV looking like THAT. I cringed when I realized the link had been sent to our entire Board of Directors and posted on Facebook.

I made self-depriciating jokes. Because it's better to be the one to make the first crack than to be blindsided by others, I made fun of myself. My favorite joke below the link on Facebook when my sister posted it:

"Do not be alarmed, friends! It only LOOKS like I am planning on eating Ted. No hosts were consumed or otherwise harmed during filming."

My sister deleted the link. Apologized for not asking me if it was ok to share first. And it finally hit me: Shut. The fuck. Up.

My boss has been in her position for over 8 years, and this was her first appearance on this show. And she was there because of my press release inspiration and my knowledge. The host? He interviews everyone from politicians to leaders in business to non-profit executives. And he didn't once doubt that I belonged there, right beside them. And when I dared listen to the audio without watching the video I had to confess: I kicked some major ass. I was knowledgeable. Fast on my feet. On message and on point and a pretty awesome advocate for people who normally don't have a voice. Hell, I didn't even sound OR look nervous.

And then a text from a good friend sealed the deal. She knew about my insecurity and she said just the right thing to remind me of what's important. And most of all, this friend who I admire and look up to so much said she was proud of me.

So why couldn't I just be proud of myself????

It took me a few days to move past that visceral reaction to seeing myself on camera. Honestly? The me on TV must have 30 pounds on the me I see when I look in the mirror. It was a wake-up call, but at first I didn't take it as such. At first? I was defeated. I've lost nearly 20 pounds. I eat well. I work out 4 days a week. I see THAT girl in the mirror. On TV, I saw the girl 20 pounds and years of couch-potato-ness past. So I gave up a little. I couldn't seem to get off the couch or step away from unhealthy snacks. I let myself wallow for a few days.

Then I thought of my daughter. My son. Myself. I thought of what it said to them that I couldn't stop focusing on how I looked for long enough to celebrate this professional victory. I thought of what it said to ME that I was letting my perceived shortcomings overshadow what was not ONLY a professional but also a personal victory. So I didn't look thin and gorgeous! I sat my butt in front of a camera with my boss and held my own on TV. I knew my shit and I knew it well.

I had to make a decision, and though it was a struggle I decided to use this experience as inspiration, rather than letting it derail me entirely. I got back on track and back on the wagon with my healthy eating and exercise. I promised myself there WILL be a 'next time' I'm on that show, and that I'll be proud of how I look AND what I have to say that time. I even shared the link with a few people and tried not to do the self-depriciating jokes and cringing.

I'm a work in progress. If I've learned one thing through the years, it's to try to be as kind to myself as I would be to a friend. And that's often the hardest lesson. Patience isn't always my forte and neither is kindness to myself.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Wagon

I not only fell off the wagon this past week, I got run over by it and then dragged for a few days. It was a combination of feeling defeated by slow progress (or no progress?), getting sick, and a schedule at work that hasn't given me any kind of break.

But those are all excuses. Because the truth is I may have had obstacles in the way of best-laid plans, and I may not have been able to work out as much as I wanted to, but there's no reason I couldn't have at least stayed on that damn wagon.

But the week is done. And so are my excuses. I started this morning with an awesome healthy breakfast and worked out during naptime and snacked on fruit. And I'm ready to take on a new week.

This week, I plan on dragging the wagon behind me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Abusive Boyfriend In the House

I have a confession to make. I have an abusive boyfriend. He lives with me. He has for years. He takes up both physical and emotional space, and no matter how many times I promise to quit him, he whispers sweet-nothings and makes empty promises and I go back to him. Sometimes several times a day.

He's an asshole. Mostly because he tells me lies, but sometimes just because he tells me the truth I don't want to hear.

And yet, I keep going back.

It's time for me to admit the truth: I have no intention of quitting this relationship, even though I know it would probably be best if I did. Instead, I let him live with me, and I depend on him to tell me everything from what I should eat today (or shouldn't have eaten last night) to how I should feel about my body and what my mood for the day will be.

It gets worse, though. I think my abusive boyfriend is having an affair behind my back! That's right, the cad is a jerk AND a cheat. And the culprit is a lady I know well.

My abusive boyfriend and his lady like to team up against me, confusing and confounding me on a monthly basis. They tell me one day that I look great ("Your butt is SO getting smaller!") and the next day they chastise me and call me a fatty ("Dude...put down the trail mix and ice cream, chubs!"). And then, a day later, they lure me back with skinny promises and those darn sweet-nothings ("I'm sorry, I didn't even SEE you there. You're getting so skinny!!").

My abusive boyfriend is my scale. I love him, in spite of his one missing foot and his bad attitude. In spite of his inconsistencies (up a pound?!?! Down THREE!!!! Wait, up 0.5???). In spite of his lies (I'm totally getting skinnier!!). Mostly in spite of his truths (Yep, shouldn't have had Mexican food the night before weigh-in!).

I know I should toss him. Take out his batteries. Make him break up with his lady so the two aren't secretly meeting up one week out of every month to screw with my mind and my vision of reality. But despite many, many efforts over the years, my actions speak louder than my words. I am not going to break up with him. I am going to have to accept that he's not always right (Hello, men everywhere, right?) and that he lies when I need the truth and tells the truth when I wish it was just a lie. I am going to have to learn not to let him control me, rather to use him as inspiration and motivation instead of as a mirror of who I am and what I am worth.

If I can have one kind of revenge, let it be this: at least I make him live in the bathroom.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

That's Life.

This week was not a banner week for me in terms of WW. I did well with the eating and exercise, but sort of blew it all by going out to mexican food with friends who were in town for the week.

Here's how I dealt with that: I ordered a skinny (125 calorie) margarita and chicken street tacos (under 500 calories). And I ate chips. And, I went to the meeting today knowing I was probably going to see a gain. And I did. And you know what? I am ok with it. As my meeting leader said to me today, "That # isn't the truth. Your week was the truth." And my week was something I was pretty proud of. For this to be a lifestyle for me, I have to be able to splurge on mexican food and a margarita and not stress over it showing on the scale.

Look, everyone wants to get on the scale and see a smaller number every week. I'm no different. But I also am willing to accept that life happens and I'm not going to give up a night out with friends for a smaller number in the morning. Also, I'm proud of the dinner choice I made. In the past, I would have ordered up a bean burrito with a side of sour cream and a normal margarita and eaten endless chips. Was I a dietician's dream? No way. Was I a healthier version of me? Yep.

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For workouts, I've been mixing up netflix DVDs that you can get with just a streaming membership. It costs me something like $7/month and I watch 4-5 a week, which is close enough to free for me. I mix up boot camp, pilates, yoga, dance/salsa/zumba style, and general cardio workouts. There are some days when I've worked out the night before and wake up feeling it in my legs and glutes and abs and shoulders. And there are other mornings when, the night before I got super sweaty and I wake up in the morning not even feeling it and wondering whether or not it was worth it. It's always worth it. I might wake up tomorrow and wish I'd said no to pretzel M&Ms, but I know for a fact I won't wake up tomorrow and regret the workout I did tonight.

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On a different note, I've had several moments this year when I've done something kind for someone and been the recipient of random acts of kindness in return. Like the time I bought the coffee and donut for the guy behind me in the Dunkin drive through, and a week later the man in front of me bought my coffee at Circle K. I don't do it for the reward. Or the praise. Or the hope that someone will 'get me back' for it. I do it because it's the kind of thing the person I strive to be would do. The person I strive to be would see the girl dressed in heels and a pencil skirt looking paranoid over her shoulder as she went into Circle K and a disheveled man followed her, and would go inside and offer that other girl a ride. The girl I want to be would hold open the door for the mom with a double stroller who's obviously stressed and struggling to get through as not 1 but THREE men stand behind her and wait impatiently for her to get out of their way. The person I hope I am would see a girl in line in front of her at the gas station have her card declined, then see that same girl and her young son sitting in the parking lot looking lost and would insist that she take $5 to get enough gas to get home.

But more than doing things because they are examples of the person I want to imagine myself into being, I do them because I want my kids to see. I want to be an example of how we treat others: with kindness and respect and humor and heart. I want them to know that it's ok to help someone you don't know who looks scared and in need. That it's kind to lend an able hand to someone struggling. That sometimes $5 to a mom whose car window is duct-taped up might make the difference in her week. And when I see the way my kids think and feel and process, I have a true glimmer of hope that it's working and paying off. I took them both to Goodwill yesterday in search of a bookshelf for their books. It was almost lunchtime and they were restless. And Goodwill is a haven for curious hands and wild toddlers. Maybe it was the novelty of having a weekday off with both kids, alone, but my patience was at a maximum and they were doing such an amazing job of listening to my 'rules'. As we headed down an aisle, a woman stopped me. "Mom," she said, "I like how you talk to those kids. And I can tell they have good parents because they are just so well-behaved. It makes this old lady so happy to see you young parents doing things right and raising up your kids with kindness." I almost cried. We talked for a few minutes and I thanked her from my heart for taking the 20 seconds it took to brighten my entire week.

Words have power. Kindness has power, and it grows exponentially.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Facing Reality.

I really, really thought I could lose weight if I was diligent about following Weight Watchers. I've never been a particularly unhealthy eater, but I tend to fall back on fast food and sweets when it's hot/I'm too tired to cook/I had a long day/I'm hungry NOW/I could really use something delicious to cap off a meal. So, naturally, I assumed that I could cut down on those fast food runs/late night freezer dives and the pounds would simply drop off.

That only worked for the first 4 pounds. Literally, changing my eating habits dropped 4 pounds immediately. Everything after that has come off slowly, through dedication and some self-discipline. We've all but 100% cut out fast food, opting only for the ocassional weekend run to McDonald's for breakfast or Kids' Night at Chick Fil A. And even when we do that, I'm eating the breakfast sandwich with no meat and with half the bread or a salad with grilled chicken and just a few stolen waffle fries. I've replaced my ice cream and cookies with Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches and smoothies made of fat free yogurt, ice, and fruit.

And still...the scale ever so painfully inches down by ounces.

Finally, I admitted to myself that I was either going to have to make another big change OR I was bound to give up, go back to eating whatever I want, and gain back what I'd lost plus a few bonus pounds. So, the big change came a few weeks ago when I bit the bullet and started working out again. It started as a little challenge with a good friend to help keep us accountable. I expected one or both of us would lose steam and next thing you know we'd probably find ourselves helping each other make excuses. In other words, I underestimated us.

I've done challenges before. I've tried to lose weight or exercise with friends before. And it never worked. Because there was never accountability and there was never honesty. AND I always felt like I didn't have to keep up my end of the bargain because whomever I was challenging was in it to win it, not in it to be successful together. That's the key for me this time: we're challenging each other to succeed together, not so someone can win.

In the past 3 weeks, I've worked out 3-5 times a week. It's not easy. It's not always fun. The other night I tried my best to keep up with some insane Netflix streaming version of zumba that was so fast-paced and complex I ended up frustrated and almost crying. I sweat a lot. Sometimes, I catch site of my reflection in the back door window and I am embarassed with myself. I have to work out late at night, and I end up compromising my sleep for the workout, which probably has its own set of potential problems. Some nights, I would rather go to bed early and read than get up off the couch after everyone else is tucked in and snoozing.

But I do it. I get up and make a fool of myself in front of no one but me and the ladies on TV. I sweat. I curse when I can't keep up. I feel it the next day in my glutes or my thighs or my abs or my arms. I report back to my friend, telling her what I loved and hated about the workout for the night and deciding whether to keep the DVD in my queue or give it zero stars.

And the next night, I do it again.

Last weekend, over the 4th of July, our TV sat in our garage and our stove sat in our backyard waiting to be replaced by a new stove. We went out for almost every meal. I didn't do a single workout. I did, however, spend hours a day sweating and installing flooring. And still, by the time Wednesday's WI came around, I expected a maintain or a gain. I was ok with either, knowing I hadn't stayed on track and I hadn't followed plan. But I HAD worked out 4 times throughout the week, and loss or no loss I was counting that as a success.

I lost almost a pound last week. And you know what? I was happy. I feel motivated to keep going, and optimistic to weigh in this week. And despite my natural inclination toward laziness, I'm willing to admit that my husband (and you, anonymous) was right and exercise might really have been the missing piece to my weight loss puzzle.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Slower Is Faster Than Never"

Today in our WW meeting, someone said the phrase, "Slower is faster than never" and it really rang true for me.

I don't know if I'll ever be ok with how slowly I lose weight. I mean, who wants delayed gratification when the instant variety seems so much more fun? I know this is something I just have to accept as truth about my body: I'm not going to lose weight quickly. I never have, no matter what changes I've made in my life. I lost 24 pounds on WW once, but it took me just over a year to do so. I will lose weight on WW this time, but it's going to take me a long time to get to my goal. And while I don't know if I'll ever truly be 'ok' with that, I have at least come to terms with it being my reality.

Slower IS faster than never. I just would prefer Faster,because Faster is Faster than Slower. Is that so wrong?

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One of my friends is also doing WW, and though we live too far apart to do meetings together, we do keep in constant contact to support each other and check in. For both of us, staying 'On Plan' in terms of eating within our points and meeting the WW Healthy Guidelines is totally manageable, but we struggle with getting in exercise.

I'll admit, I'm the first to make excuses that keep me from getting in exercise. It's hot. I'm tired. I don't have time. I already wake super early, and any earlier would kill me. I don't like being sweaty. We can't afford the gym membership. I don't like to run. I don't like to work out at night.

But you know what? I know those are just excuses. I know I need to prioritize better and make time. Find the energy. Get over my aversion to sweat. Put myself and my health first more often.

So (thanks for the prodding, Anonymous) this week we started a new 'challenge' of sorts, though it's less a challenge and more a fun tool for keeping both my friend and me active. We discovered we both have Netflix streaming through game systems in our houses, so we made a pact. Each week, we aim to work out at least 3 nights a week. To keep each other going, we have a system. At the start of the week, we each choose 2 workout DVDs that can be streamed, for a total of 4 workouts. During the week, we each have to do at least 3 of the 4 workouts, and preferably all 4. Granted, we just started this week, but so far I'm loving having someone to exercise 'with' and being motivated by not wanting to 'let her down'. I know she wouldn't judge me if I didn't complete every week, but I also know how much she's going to encourage me when I do. And it's nice to get a little shove outside of my comfort zone and be forced to do DVDs I might not have chosen that add some variety to my week.

I only lost about a half a pound this week, which was sort of a let-down after working out 4 times. Last night, I laid in bed with my head on my pillow and my mind starting to fuzz at the corners, and a thought came to me: This week has been a success. I may not have a huge weight loss to brag about. No one but me will notice a difference for several more pounds, I'm sure. I'm still far from all my goals. But you know what? I notice a difference. I like the glow in my cheeks when I am done working out. I like laughing with my co-workers the next day and feeling a burn in my ab muscles. Hell, I like being able to tell I still have ab muscles. Working out makes me feel good. Strong. Capable. Healthy. It's not a magic pill. It won't change my body overnight. It won't make weight loss infinitely easier. But it WILL be good for me.

I rolled over onto my (sore) tummy to sleep, and thought to myself, "That's going to hurt tomorrow." And smiled.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

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.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Anger Managed.

Remember last week, when I was mad as hell (at myself? at the fates? at scales? at cake?) that I'd maintained? And I vowed to use that anger and frustration to propel me forward this week?

It worked. I'm not condoning anger or anything here, but the truth is that I lost 2 pounds this week. And I did it the old-fashioned way: I watched the hell out of every bite that I ate and stopped eating when I was satisfied rather than stuffed. I had salads for dinner or lunch (sometimes both) most days. I ate a light but healthy breakfast. I didn't overdo it on desserts, but I did eat 2 pieces of chocolate cake and a bowl of Hagen Daas over the weekend. YES! I ate them and I STILL lost. And I'm so happy the scale moved for me this week, but I'm not quite willing to let go of the scale grudge that helped bust my mini-setback just yet.

A good friend of mine is also on WW, and when I told her I maintained last week and I wasn't happy, she tried to soothe me off the edge and remind me that, in the world of WW, maintaining is a success. After all, it's better than gaining, and sometimes maintaining is harder that any other part of the journey.

But here's the thing: I won't be happy about maintaining. I won't be happy about the status quo. Being satisfied that 'at least I didn't gain anything' is not part of my weight loss journey because that attitude is what has me here, on WW having started out at the same weight as I've been since a few months after Rohan's birth.

Rohan turned 2 in March. MARCH! Being happy not to have gained any weight in the past 2 years is not ok with me. Accepting a maintenance week very rarely would be ok, but accepting maintenance is like saying I'm ok with my weight. And I'm not. Believe me, I sometimes wish I could be fat and happy and eat cake with abandon, but in the end being fat makes me miserable.

It really struck home with me this weekend because we're finally starting to get 'summer' weather in Arizona, and all our family and friends with pools have been inviting us over. I LOVE water. I LOVE to swim. I would rather staple my face to the floor than put on a swimsuit in front of anyone aside from my husband and kids. And yet...the water calls, and so do those sweet little monsters who love swimming (by swimming I mean being chauffered around the pool in floaties or arms since neither of them actually knows how to swim yet). So far, I've been able to sit on the sidelines and put in my feet while everyone else swims, but this summer Luca's onto my game. And she's not having it. Every time we go swimming somewhere, she asks me to get in the wate with her, and when she does that in front of people, how do I say no? I don't mean that as in 'I can't say no to my Princess'. I mean it as in, I can't so no in front of other people because then she will ask why and am I really supposed to say, "Well, mommy's ass is so big she'd prefer not to embarass herself by wearing a swimsuit in front of people."?? I can't say that, partly because it would be embarassing as hell and partly because I don't want my daughter to be the victim of my personal insecurities.

So, twice this weekend I went swimming. In front of family. Most of it, skinny family who I was sure love me and yet whom I have no desire to bear my fat thighs and gross belly to. Faced with the choice, I had fun with my kids, but I covered up while doing so. Not in some cute swimsuit designed to hide all 'problem areas' (which, I have a problem with those suits too because not much screams "Look at my thighs!" than a swimsuit attempting to look chic while covering said thighs). Nope. In one of my husband's huge shirts.

It was shameful, really. There's a certain shame attached to being the person wearing the big t-shirt in the pool. Everyone knows it's not really to block the sun. Everyone knows it's really to block them from seeing you. And much like the swimsuits with skirts, it probably serves to call MORE attention to my discomfort with my body than if I'd just walked out in a swimsuit, dropped the towel, and pretended not to care that I'm fat.

In a way, it's a good thing I had those 2 experiences this weekend. They reminded me, sharply and painfully, why I'm trying to work on transforming my body and my health. They refocused me. They gave me something to work toward. Someday, a swimsuit in public with no big t-shirt. Someday.

Which brings me back to today. I'm beyond proud to have lost 2 pounds this week, but I'm not letting go of the frustration that helped me get there. I'm going to hold onto that feeling because it helps me stay on track, focus on where I want to go, and avoid falling into a state of not giving a shit anymore. That state only got me where I am today, and I'm not interested in staying here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sabbatical for Mary Sunshine.

I'm taking a temporary hiatus from optimism. Not in general, in life holistically, but when it comes to weight loss. God, I am so flipping SICK of talking about weight loss. I have been struggling and struggling to lose weight for so much of my life now that it makes me physically repulsed to think about it. How much more time am I going to spend obsessing over my body and the scale and the size on the tag and what I am eating vs what I am not eating? And, probably more to the point, how much time am I going to spend doing all that obsessing and still not seeing the results I think I should see?

I went to WI today, and I maintained. Now, the world of WW would tell you that maintaining is a success, because to maintain > to gain. Sure, sure, I get that. And of course I'd rather stay the same than gain. But does that mean I have to be happy to have maintained? Because, you know what? I don't want to be happy about maintaining. I am feeling pissed and frustrated, and rather than burying those feelings under false positivity and optimism, I want to embrace pissed and frustrated.

If I hadn't been trying, really truly trying, I would be more accepting of no loss. But this week? This week I counted my points, stayed in range ocassionally using a flex point or two (you get 49 for the week, which can be used in 1 day or over the week...or not at all). For fuck's sake, I even ignored National Donut Day even though a boston creme and an apple fritter (yes, I said AND) from the best donut place in town sounded like heaven (warm, soft, chewy, golden, delicious, frosted heaven) on a plate. I went out for Mexican food and ordered a SALAD. Where is my reward for that?!?!

Don't get me wrong: I am not quitting WW or throwing in the towel and diving into a gallon of ice cream, tempting as those options may be. I'm just taking a break from trying to put on a happy face, and using my piss-poor outlook on this whole endeavor to my advantage. How? Well, if you didn't already know this about me, you should know that nothing propels me quite like blind fury. And blind fury is what I am feeling (toward myself? toward food? toward the scale? toward the fates that handed me this body instead of this one or this one or even this one who is ROCKING the body confidence despite being a 'bigger' girl). (PS: Did you know if you Google image search 'full figured women in Hollywood' Jennifer Lopez and Scarlett Johansson come up? Is this for real? Now I am even MORE pissed.) So I'm using it to make myself do better, be better, and get these stupid pounds to go away for good. I WILL hit my goal, dammit.

But in the meantime, I'm done with mantras about how any loss is a good loss and it takes time and this is the healthy way to do it and nothing tastes better than skinny feels. It's not that those things are untrue, it's just that they are not helping me. Want me to win at bowling or pool? Piss me off. Want a clean kitchen in 15 minutes or less? Pick a fight with me and leave me steaming mad. Here's hoping this same thing works for weight loss, because I am pissed off and not giving up on myself without a fight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 1.

I can hardly believe it's already June 1 and the year is nearly half over. May was here and gone too fast to process, and between a new project and a grant proposal at work, Luca's birthday, a dance recital, and the end of the school year, I barely made it out with my sanity.

Nine months ago, this little girl faced her first day of preschool: shy, reserved, nervous, and excited. She slung a Princess backpack over her narrow shoulders and walked into the classroom holding anxiously to my leg. I was nervous. She was nervous. The first two weeks, she barely spoke and didn't want to play directly with the other kids. I agonized over whether or not we'd made the right decision.






























I need not have worried. Not only did she get nothing but perfect report cards like the one above every day, she flourished in preschool. She learned to write her name. Learned to identify letters and numbers. Began to display some really solid reasoning and rationalizing and imagination, and all of it was amazing to observe. She kissed her first boy. She made new friends. She wowed the teachers, all of whom repeatedly told us how loving and kind and amazing and helpful she is, only serving to make our parenting egos grow exponentially each time and make us breathe a sigh of relief. She loved preschool, and I know next year she'll be so excited to go back!

On her first day of preschool, I walked out of the classroom with tears burning my eyelids and cried in my car.

On her last day of preschool, her teachers started to cry as soon as they saw me walk up to the door to get her. It really touched me to know she touched them so deeply.

She didn't cry until we got to the car. When I asked what was wrong she said, "I will miss Miss Katie (her favorite 'teacher', Miss Katie is off to college in L.A. next year). She's really special."

My camera is still away being repaired, so the pictures of her last day weren't as clear as the first, but nonetheless I love the comparison of Then vs. Now.



(She dressed herself for her last day)

Before that last day, though, the preschool hosted a banquet, which included dancing and food and cake and lots and lots of candy. Each kid even got to walk across the stage and get a bucket made for them and a certificat of completion. A year ago, I think she would have shrunk back and insisted I walk with her. This year, she strutted right across and gave a sweet smile.


(With favorite teacher Miss Katie in the skirt she gifted Luca for her 4th birthday)



She makes me proud every single day.
_______________________________________________

In other news, my New Year's Resolutions have been a mixed bag as far as results go. I'm on week 3 of going to Weight Watchers meetings, but almost 6 months into following the plan online. 'Following' is a loose term as I've had more 'eh' weeks than great ones, but I am proud that I'm still going. One of my resolutions this year was not buying new things unless I HAVE to (i.e. diapers, toiletries, etc.), but I broke that rule for a good reason. Before the end of 2010, I bought a pair of jeans at Old Navy for a ridiculous clearance price, but in a size too small. They now fit (!!!) so earlier this week I celebrated that small success by buying another pair in the same size. Granted, it was only $10 for the jeans (gotta love clearance!) but I had a little guilt about breaking my 'no new stuff' streak. Regardless, I think it's necessary to reward myself and it had  been so long since I'd bought myself new jeans that the 2 pairs I had in constant rotation were starting to wear dangerously thin in some non-G-rated places. So I am now the proud owner of 2 pairs of cute new jeans in 1 size smaller than I was wearing when the year kicked off. I'd love to be in a place where my weight loss successes were celebrated with a new swimsuit I could comfortably wear in front of other people, rather than 2 new pairs of jeans in a size I still don't really love, but it's about celebrating where I am right now.


We've also been working on our plans to get rid of debt and spend less, though that's going even more rough than the weight loss resolution. April and May were tough months financially, but we struggled through them and came out at the end of May with a solid plan for the rest of the year. And then, we got a notice from the IRS that we'd been audited and miscalculated our 2009 taxes. We had an investment account we cashed out early in 2009 and we never got the tax form for it. By the time taxes were due in April 2010, we forgot entirely about that and didn't claim it. Sadly, we're now $573 poorer for the mistake. In addition, our van failed emissions testing. It was not exactly shocking given the van is a Kia and has over 98,000 miles. What was shocking is how much it's costing to fix. It's currently in the shop and we're expecting it to be close to $1,000 to fix. We don't have much of a choice, since it has to pass the emissions test and we can't afford to buy another car right now, but it's a tough pill to swallow spending that much to fix it when we can't be sure how long it's going to go for once that's done.

The good news is we were able to plan these expenses into our summer budget, which is different than the rest of the year because my husband doesn't work in the summer. He gets a big check at the start of the summer, and we don't pay daycare or preschool, so we should be ok, but it sucks to watch that chunk of money disappear from our account in a snap of the fingers. Either way, we're on the same page financially and as stressful as money can sometimes be it's nice to feel like we have a plan to move forward. I'm excited to share how we've decided to address our finances in a way we think will be easy to manage and to self-regulate, but that's got to wait a few weeks until all our June bills are paid and the car and tax payments go through, so we know where we are starting from.

The next 6 months promise to be busy and crazy and fun. We have a vacation planned at the end of summer, which we're looking forward to. Darrick is taking a class to help work toward his Masters, I got a raise at work, and our family is happy and healthy. Here's to the rest of 2011!




Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fat Thighs.

It's a lot of pressure, raising a daughter.

When I was pregnant with her, I didn't want to raise a little girl who was cloaked in pink and frills. I asked people not to buy her pink clothes and pink toys. I didn't want the image of 'little princess' imprinted in all her earliest memories.

When I was pregnant with her, I hoped she'd be smart and funny first, beautiful later. You can make yourself look prettier on the outside, but I've rarely met a person who was funny without being smart. Pretty opens doors; smart and funny open possibilities far into the future. Beauty fades, but the ability to think critically and laugh with your whole body make you infinitely more beautiful to the core.

When I was pregnant with her, I was going to teach her everything it takes to be a woman, inside and out. I was going to be the kind of woman I want her to be some day.

Luca got lucky. I'm biased, I realize, but she has a face that draws praise from strangers for its delicate sloping nose and wide green eyes and rosebud lips. She has legs that are long and thin, a tall and lean body I now hope, as her mother, she will carry into adulthood.

Not because it matters to me whether the world sees her as beautiful. But because, as her mom, I want to protect her. And I know that growing up beautiful, and tall, and thin, and blonde might make her life immeasurably easier.

It's not in my nature to wish for a pretty little girl in a princess dress, flitting about and charming everyone around. I hope that, as she grows, she hears more compliments on her sweetness and kindness and sense of humor than she does on mile-long lashes and soft blonde hair that falls just so. I hope that for every, "She's so pretty!" she overhears, she is told 100 direct, "You're smart/capable/kind/loving/funny/a wonderful friend/daughter/sister."

But how do I marry these wishes for my daughter's sense of self-worth and value with my own obsession over my physical self? How do I follow Weight Watchers and weigh and measure everything on my plate while hoping she grows up with a healthy love of all kinds of foods and without an obsession over calories and fat? How do I stop myself from self-criticism and obsession over my mama belly and my fat thighs so that she doesn't internalize her mom's body issues? How do I explain to her that the dress she chose for me to wear is cute, but I won't feel comfortable wearing it again until _____ (I'm 20 pounds lighter, my legs aren't so pale, the world recognizes beauty in a mother's body)?

How do I tell her to love herself as she is when it's so hard to do that myself?

We talk about food to our kids, in terms of health and nutrition. In terms of, "That will make you strong so you can dance and play." or, "You're so smart and your brain needs good foods to keep growing smarter." We encourage them to run and jump and play. We take them outside, coat them in sunblock, and talk about how strong and healthy and capable they are.

And then, I count Points and horde a stack of jeans that used to fit me in the back corner of my closet, hopefully optimistic that if I just Do It All Right I will fit in them once again someday. I live with an image in my mind of who I could be and how I could look, if only I hold myself to impeccable standards and never lose sight of my goals.

A few months ago, Luca was changing her clothes and she stopped to grab her thigh. "Mama, I have fat thighs! I'll always have these big legs." she announced. It was an offhand comment, and one that wasn't rooted in any real belief that she did have fat thighs. It wasn't based in reality, as anyone who's ever met her could attest to, with her pin-thin legs. It was repeated, almost verbatim, from a comment my husband's mother had made about her own body the day before. We talked about her comment, and how it wasn't true at all. I asked her why she said it. She told me what I already knew: "Well, Gramma said she has fat thighs, mama. So maybe I do too."

"Luca," I asked, "what do you think about Gramma?"
"I love her," she replied. "I think she is beautiful."
"So do I," I answered. "So, let's make a deal. Next time you hear her say something about her thighs, you tell her what you think about her. So when she says 'I have fat thighs' what could you say back?"
"Well," she thinks through it aloud, "I would tell her 'I think you are beautiful'."

And she does. In Luca's eyes, her Grandma is nothing short of beautiful. I watch them together, Luca sitting on Grandma's lap and noticing the same curve of her smile, the same dimple just below the right corner of their mouths. I know that when she looks at her Grandma, she sees herself in many ways. And then I realize, she must feel the same way when she looks at me. And I think about what it says to her when the world compliments her natural beauty and the people she identifies with most in the world are distracted by calling out each of their own perceived flaws.

When someone she loves and admires and sees as a fiber in the fabric that defines her calls themself ugly or imperfect, how could she not grow up expecting to be flawed in the same ways?

I am guilty of saying things about myself in front of her that I have no doubt I'd be heartbroken to hear her say about herself. I am learning as I go, both to be careful how I speak of my own body and being for her sake and to change how I perceive the importance of the size of my thighs or the softness of my belly for both our sakes. I am not perfect. I may never be. I can only work to be better, and hope that I can impart on her a positive self-image that isn't rooted in her physical appearance.

And it's not just for me and for her. It's for my son, too. For the boy who will grow up with his mother and his sister as models of how women look and how they are 'supposed' to look. He's drinking it all in just like she is, and his earliest memories of the female body and how we feel about it, as well as how he's supposed to judge it, are created now. So if I can't stop the self-criticism for my own sake, I want to try to stop it for both of theirs. I want her to grow up with a positive message about how the women in her life feel about their bodies and just how unimportant that single piece is in determining their total worth. I want her to see that my belly may not be flat, but neither is my personality, and that being a kind and smart and capable and funny woman carries more weight than a pound of flesh. And I want my son to know that a woman is more than the curve of her hip or the size of her jeans.

I think we're off to the right start, but I know it will be a lifelong uphill battle. My son regularly watches me get ready in the morning, and lovingly touches the belly that's marred with proof that he once inhabited it. He loves to melt into my curves when he's sleepy and gently knead my upper arms with his hand. Those arms I don't want to show in public because I think they are too fat bring him comfort. My daughter often tells me I am pretty and points out all the ways she will 'be like me someday', a sense of pride and security in her voice. She is not worried she will inherit my fat thighs or my skinny ankles. She is, instead, optimistic about growing up to be just like me.

The day I wouldn't put on the dress she wanted me to wear, my husband kept pressing the issue. Asking me why I wouldn't just wear it. It was pretty, he assured me. But I didn't like how I looked in it, I told him. "I don't understand," he said in response. "For centuries women would have done anything to have a body like yours. There are millions of women who would kill for curves like women are supposed to have. So why isn't it good enough for you?"

Good question.

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