Tuesday, May 20, 2014

He said what to a 13 year old girl?

     How did my first week of loving my body go?  I have to say there was something very freeing about putting myself out there and letting everyone know my challenges with my personal body image.  I received so many wonderful comments.  It really made it easier to be kind to myself.  Anytime I began to get into old patterns of though, "You look like a stuffed sausage in that!" I would snap right back to, "hey, you just told a bunch of people you aren't gonna do that anymore!"  So I would change my thinking.  In fact I wore a shirt I had been refusing to wear because I was sure it made me look lumpy.  But guess what, I got so many compliments even from my almost 3 year old!
     Well lets just jump right into a big one!  Overall body image.  This one goes a ways back. I would say it was probably around the time I changed dance companies.  Up until the age of 11 I had been with one that really focused more on the costumes and less on the dance to put it nicely.  But when I changed to a very formal ballet studio it changed a lot of my thinking.
     Right away I noticed a huge difference.  Everyone looked about the same.  Stick thin, super slicked hair in a bun, black leotard, pink tights, and pink ballet slippers.  No place for individuality and certainly no place for curves.  The more and more serious I got about dance, especially ballet, the more I tried to conform.  I saw other dancers eating nothing but carrots and celery, so I ate nothing but carrots and celery.  Oh the company dancers are only eating baby food, I am gonna do that too.  So you can image how a young girl of 13 would take a comment from one of the very respected instructors.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  He said, "You will never make it with those boobs.  You need to lose weight."
     I wanted to make it.  I wanted to dance.  I loved how I felt when I danced.  But at that point I felt nothing but fat.  So I went down the path many dancers do.  Self loathing and self destruction.  I danced pretty much daily from the age of 13 and I was sure that was not enough so I would go home and practice and do hundreds of push ups, sit ups, and anything else I could think of that might help me lose weight.  When that didn't seem to help I began to seriously limit my intake.  Okay to be to the point, I would now characterize myself as anorexic.  I lied to everyone saying I had already eaten or wasn't feeling well.  I would take super small portions and throw half of it away.  I honestly was proud when I was 5'4" and 99lbs.
High school dance years, Junior year
 I believe and about 105lbs.
     Did I really look good?  Umm, no.  I know that now.  I looked sick and I felt sick.  I hate thinking of the damage I did to my body because someone told me I was too big, fat, or not skinny enough.
Senior Prom I was probably
about 115 lbs here
       At the end of the day the saying is really only sort of true.  "The way you talk to your children becomes their inner voice."   My parents did a great job of building us up and making our inner voices strong.  Until someone else takes over.  So maybe we also need to be more aware of the voices of those in our children's lives.  Teachers, coaches, peers, and so many others do play a part in a child's inner voice.

 I wish I could say leaving that ballet company changed everything but it didn't.  I was stuck in that mind set until sometime in college.  I tried to keep that Freshman 15 away but it got me.  And guess what?  I actually felt better.  I had curves and lets be honest it got me some attention too.  So that should be the end right?  No way I am a woman and I do see the media.
    I did pretty well in college until depression got a hold of me.  I was really in a place where I preferred to eat and be a little heavy so maybe no one would notice me.
    Counseling and medication helped me a lot.  But I have still been up and down with my weight over the last 10 years.  I love food.  Sometimes I love it too much.  Sometimes I forget to eat all together because everyone need something and like many moms, I put me last.  And exercise, well housework and chasing kids counts right?
Me at my healthiest and happiest!  On my Honeymoon, 137 lbs.
 Yes, some would say that is too much.  Not me, I liked me a lot at this point. 
I am 170 lbs of post baby-post c-section me.
And yes, if you look closely I am wearing maternity leggings.
I can't help it I love them and if you fold over the
maternity part - well then they are just yoga style leggings
     What am I saying to myself now?  "This body danced and can still dance for the pure joy of it!"  "This body has been though 8 surgeries and broken bones and is still strong!"  "This body told science to shut it and created and carried 2 amazing little boys!"  "This body has cared for and about more people than I can count!"
Yep, I am considering this brave!
That is me now.  I'm sorry it isn't better quality
 but who wants to waste time on the befores right?

 Is that it then?  I will just love me as I am and go about my business?  No way man!  We all have to strive to take the best care of ourselves!  So does that mean I am going on a diet and going to exercise every day?  Uh no, and you know why?  Going into self care in an all or nothing fashion does not work for most people.  No, I am going back to something I did with my family a while back.
    I called it the Family Health Challenge but we will just call it the Healthy Life Challenge.  Each week we take on something new.  A new lifestyle change.  By taking things one change at a time it really can become a habit.  Like the saying goes, "How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!"
     So I hope you will join me.  It doesn't matter if you are in the best shape of your life.  This is going to encompass many different kinds of health and wellness.  I took my starting picture and you might want to too!  I will also be taking my measurements and weight, through my energy and how my clothes fit is really how I plan to gauge things.
     I also think incentives do a lot to motivate me.  I will make some suggestions but feel free to pick your own, but don't use food, even healthy food, very often as food as a reward can be a slippery slope.

     Lets do this!  Consider this week 1 and for week 1 the challenge is to get moving!  Exercise of any sort 2 days this week for at least 30 minutes.  Ideas for incentive: a new pair of socks, a jump rope from the Dollar Store (for all my penny pinchers out there), or an insulated cup for all the water you will drink!.  I am going for the socks!  I love me some new cushy socks!

Good luck and please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Today choose love,

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