I have spent the majority of my life feeling betrayed by or disliking my body. My body has been battered by serious injuries (broke my femur in 2 places in the accident, broke my right arm falling off my bike, cut my chin open hitting a curb on my bike and flying over the handlebars, requiring a plastic surgeon to stitch me up), surgery and disease (lost my appendix at 13, was diagnosed with Graves Disease and subsequently had my thyroid irradiated leading to lifelong hypothyroidism, was diagnosed with gall bladder disease and subsequently had it removed, had surgery to remove fibroids, twice, had more pregnancy losses, including one ectopic, than I care to remember). In my 20s and 30s, I started to wonder how long I’d live with so much illness and so many organs gone.
And then there were issues with my weight (that, frankly, were not issues at all in comparison to the obesity that children suffer from now). It started when my mom put me on my first diet prior to Confirmation in 7th grade. “If you lose a few pounds, I’ll buy you whatever dress you want.” And, so also began my battle with food and with my weight. I was 13. Had I not gone on that diet, I would have likely grown into my weight and would have been within normal weight ranges. That diet put me on a collision course with what would become yo-yo dieting (including the Cabbage Soup diet, the Scarsdale diet, Fen-Phen, the Grapefruit diet, The Pritikin diet, the Popcorn diet, Atkins, South Beach, and many others until finally and ultimately, Weight Watchers).
I am almost 6 months post partum and am needing to lose the same 40# I lost beginning in June, 2010 and that took about 18 months. It was grueling only losing .5#/wk or nothing at all, week after week. It was hard to stay motivated. Never did I anticipate how long it would take. I had never endeavored to lose that much weight and it was daunting. But, I did it and that experience proves that I can do it again. It takes commitment, accountability, and diligence. The good news is that some of the original changes I made have stuck which *should* make it easier this time. I no longer eat red meat, I’m off Diet Coke and artificial sweeteners, I’ve kicked my addiction to salty snacks eaten right from the bag, and I no longer indulge in full-fat anything (ice cream, cheese, homemade baked goods). I cook better and make better choices when dining out. Given that I am already back to working out, I need to eat less. Period.
The shape of my body has changed post this pregnancy. When looking at myself it is hard to envision that I can reshape it the way I want but I have to believe that in order to be motivated to do it.
Infertility teaches us to look at things in terms of failure and success. And, because odds are that more cycles will fail than will succeed, there is a lot of negative self-talk associated with those failures and we begin to believe that our bodies have failed us, have let us down, as if on purpose. It is insidious, the way we begin to feel at odds with our body, hating it even, for betraying us this one thing that we should be able to accomplish simply by having sex.
I am here, at forty-seven, having birthed two children, in spite of it all. I am tired of all the self-flagellation. I am tired of not wanting to look at myself in a mirror or catch a glimpse of myself as I walk by a window. I am tired of my first thoughts of my body being negative, something that I hate, something I can’t stand to see, something I wish I could change. It is a never ending loop and for what? What good does it do? It doesn’t keep my eating in check. It doesn’t make me want to run to work-out. It doesn’t make me a better mother, wife, friend. It doesn’t aid in loving myself.
And, so, I’m over it. I’m not one for daily affirmations, but I do believe that we are what we think of ourselves. It is time to heal the wounds of my body image. I think that by just changing the loop of self talk, replacing negativity with positivity, lack for abundance, failure with success, my entire relationship with my body and therefore myself will change for the better. I even think that will help regulate my eating. The more I love my body, the more I appreciate and thank it for all it HAS done, the more I celebrate its remarkableness, the more I’ll be apt to fill it with more of the right things, less of the wrong, less overall. That’s my thinking anyway and, frankly, it beats what I have been doing even if it only brings peace from no longer beating up on myself.
As I have learned from my years struggling to create and complete my family, peace of mind and heart count for everything.