In 2000, when I got pregnant with my first son I weighed 98 pounds.
I got back down to that weight with ease after each of my first 4 children were born.
I was a size zero.
But I was not happy with my body.
I was healthy, fit, in shape, active, toned. But in MY mind, my ass was not round enough, my breasts were too pointy, not shaped right. (Ah, false beauty standards.) I wished I was taller. A little curvier. Maybe blonde Barbie doll was what I longed to be. Whatever it was, it wasn’t what I was. I was not happy with the skin I was in.
It got a little more difficult to lose the weight after my 5th and 6th child. I plateaued at 115 pounds with both. It drove me mad. Turns out a little extra padding didn’t make me any more content with who I was. I hated the extra weight on my thighs, on my hips. I berated myself in the mirror. 115 sounds like nothing but at 5 feet tall and being used to having a very petite body your entire life, it’s a transition.
Then in 2014 I birthed my seventh child. A daughter. This baby had me craving sweets throughout the entire pregnancy. I could eat 6 doughnuts in one sitting. I was up in the middle of the night shoving cheesecake in my mouth. I ate and ate. And gained. To make it worse, I dealt with horrible pain from a torn groin ligament durin the last trimester that made it impossible to roll over in bed or walk without being in extreme pain. So I became sedentary, and kept eating. I weighed close to 170 when I gave birth.
It took almost a year of dieting and exercise to get down to 150. Then 145. Then 151. Then 148. Then 150. Around and around I went. I ate strict diets, being careful to not eat too little, to balance my nutrients properly. No fatty junk no starches, no meats. I sacrificed. I worked out. Wore ankle weights all day every day. Walked miles on my treadmill. Did Insanity workouts, yoga, cardio, kickboxing, tae bo, weight lifting. Nothing helped. Finally I discovered what postpartum-induced hypothyroidism was. I began to take supplements and it helped. But not a lot. Justin bought me a bike. I started biking. I started doing squats. A hundred a night.
Despite all of my best efforts, the scale still informed me I was teetering at the brink of obesity. 150 doesn’t sound like much, but at only 5 feet tall, every pound shows. I would stand naked in front of my mirror ad berate my own flesh. The love handled. My round full thighs. The flabby looking mom tummy that my children once lived within. My breasts, no longer perky after feeding seven babies into toddlerhood. After a year of pumping for my youngest. After pumping to donate milk to two precious babies.
What was I DOING?
Look at these hips They have balanced babies and children on them for years now. Not only my own , but all of the kids I taught in preschool before I became a mother. My younger siblings. Children I nannied for. These hips are a safe place to be, they are soft and strong. Speaking of strong, look at these thighs. Thick and solid. I pedal my bike with my baby on my back, I kick a soccer ball to one of my sons, I climb stairs while holding a toddlers hand, I squat down in the middle of a contraction, pushing a baby from within my body out past these thighs.
My breasts are not perfect round silicone. They are soft from all of the love they have given away. They are familiar. They are made up of skin and sinew and blood vessels and milk duct. Intricate milk ducts that flowed life to my children and to other peoples children when needed. I am deeply grateful for my breasts. Even now when they refuse to make more milk , we are in this together.
My mom tummy. As if the words mom tummy are something to be sneered at, grimaced about. Come on now. I still recall exactly what it felt like the very first time I felt my very first child kick within me. Three solid bumps. I used to love watching my whole stomach morph and roll as a full term , healthy baby moved within me. I was in awe of my body. I still am. I just forget sometimes. This soft, fuller belly grew life beneath its flesh. LIFE. LIFE! And I am concerning myself with a bit of extra loose skin?
Where do my standards COME from? Why do I let the magazines and movies tell me that all of what my body did means nothing unless I am toned and tight and taut? And a size zero
Newsflash, beauty standards: being a size zero and toned doesn’t bring any more contentment than being a size 20. I know. I have been there.
One day, I was at the beach with my daughter, feeling awkward in my bathing suit, my cellulite thighs and soft tummy on display. I was adoring my one year old daughters body though. Her fat little toes in the sand. Her kissable chins. Her gorgeous plump thighs. . And then I noticed it.
We have the same thighs. The exact same thighs. Why are they perfect and wonderful on her, but disgusting and embarrassing on me? Why does the difference of 3 and a half decades make the very same thing perfect on one and a flaw on another? Who made up these rules?
In that moment, I made a decision. I would begin to embrace my body and LOVE my body no matter what size I was. I still am striving to be my healthiest. I still eat healthy and work out every day. I aim to be strong, fit, healthy. But if I never get to be skinny again, so be it. If I do, then so be that. This body of mine is amazing. I am grateful. I am finding so much peace in the acceptance of curves and softness. I am a woman. Perfect..
How can I tell my daughter that at age 1 her curves and edges are perfection but then inform her that in 15 or 20 years her body will be riddled with flaws? How can I reassure her she is beautiful…but not up to par? Why would I? Why do I do it to myself?
Love the skin you’re in. Every inch of it. It’s the only body you will ever get. Take care of it, be healthy. And fall deeply madly in LOVE with your skin And everything beneath it. .