Just Call Me “Jiggles”: Making Peace With My Post Motherhood Body

I’ve got a new article up over at parentsociety.com. It’s all about the changes to my body since becoming a mother, called“Just Call Me “Jiggles”: Making Peace with my Post Motherhood Body”. Stop on by, have a read and leave a comment!

Making Peace with my Post-Motherhood Body

Just Call Me "Jiggles"

Words of Wisdom from my Six-Year-Old

This past Friday, my girls and I were getting ready for the day together. CBG was in town, and as usual, I was spending just a little more time on my hair and make up than I normally do. I mean, after all, I only see him every two weeks…gotta look good when we are together, right?

At one point Kiddo, my six year old, looked at me said, “Mommy, why are you spending all this time looking all fancy when you’re not even going to work today? You know what? I think you look better when you don’t wear make and just leave your hair normal. It’s your natural beauty. Make up just covers up your natural beauty, Mommy.”

I went on to explain to her that I wear make up because it’s something that I like to do for me, even though a voice in the back of my head declared me a, “Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!!!”

I’m a hyprocrite, I know. I tell my girls all the time how beautiful and lovely they are…just the way they are. And I don’t afford myself that same assessment. I was that girl in high school who couldn’t get a date to save my life, and ended up dating with a boy who didn’t really treat me all that great, because at 17, any boyfriend was better than no boyfriend. I’ve struggled with weight and body image issues for the majority of my adult life. At almost 36, I’m learning how to be truly comfortable in my own skin. It still takes work…some days, more than others.

How do I keep sending the message to my girls that they’re beautiful just the way they are, when I don’t believe always that about myself?

Boobs

I recently made this confession on Twitter:

“I wish I had better boobs.”

I got this response from RandomEsquire, who wanted to know: “Better in what way?”

This naturally prompted a discussion between RE and I about boobs.

Yeah, I know. Twitter’s such a great life tool, isn’t it?

But hey, it was great for me, since I learned something new about breasts, something that I had never been told in my 35 years on this earth. RE informed me that bigger isn’t necessarily better, because smaller breasts tend to be more sensitive, and well, therefore more fun for everyone.

The best quote of the conversation was this, from RE:

Big boobs are like a Ferrari you can’t drive over 20 mph. Not as much fun as a Honda going 150.

So…um…no offense to my well-endowed friends, but I’d rather be a Honda any day.

heh.

I’ve Gotten Soft

…and I mean it in more ways than one, baby.

Since getting back together with CBG back in May, I’ve put on a few pounds, as I’ve whined written about before. Nothing major, but just enough to ensure that I feel a little less confident when it comes to getting naked in front of my man.

As tempting as it is sometimes to become one of those women who lets herself go after landing herself a man, I’m NOT going to “go there”.

Nope. No way. Not going to go there.

The thing is, I know what to do. The solution to my problem is simple – eat less, move more. Period.

I’ve been trying for months now to motivate myself to get back to running regularly. Running…something that once brought me so much joy.

The problem? Somewhere along the way, I turned into a wimp.

It used to be that I was out there running in all weather. Pouring rain? No problem! I used to be one of those runners out there in the snow and blowing cold, determined not to let the weather slow me down. I was out there…doing it…and smiling the entire time.

For the past week or so I’ve been thinking about getting out there for a run. I get up in the morning, check the temperature outside, and then use that as an excuse to keep my (ever-expanding) butt inside my cozy, warm apartment. I think back to my “tough-as-nails” running days (which realistically weren’t all that long ago) and I have no idea how I did it.

I’ve gotten soft, friends….and from the looks of things, I’m going to be getting even softer…

Love is Bad for my Ass

I’m not normally one to write (or even talk) a whole lot about my weight. After all, what with my history of disordered eating and generally crappy body image, I’d like to think that I’ve gotten past that particular obsession.

Still, when one’s pants start getting a little tight around the middle, it’s only natural to become concerned, if for no other reason than I can’t afford to buy more.

I’ve noticed that since getting back together with CBG, I’ve just been a little too happy. A little too content with life. A little too…erm…hungry. Now, while I’m more than happy to be livin’ large and lovin’ life, I do realize that I need to rein things in a bit. ‘Cuz, well, even though I know he loves me no matter what, and while my happiness and self-esteem isn’t reliant on the size of my pants, there’s such thing as being comfortable in one’s own skin. And I don’t want to reach the point where I’m not anymore. And even though the size of my muffin top is still within acceptable limits, I need to nip this thing in the bud now.

Earlier this week I had the great fortune of being given a working elliptical trainer from a friend of mine. She’s moving, and has no room for it in her new place. To be honest, I don’t have room for it in my apartment, either, but decided to make the sacrifice and have this monstrosity sitting out in full view in my home, because really, if I use it and it helps me get back into shape, then it will be worth it for me.

I’ve given myself two months to start using it. If, after two months, I’m using it to hang laundry on, then I’m going to find a new home for it. Period. No excuses.

So…um…yeah. I’m going to really lame about this and keep you all updated on my progress (or lack of it) as a motivational tool to keep me going with it. I’ve gotta whip this butt back into acceptable shape.

Wish me luck.

YOU’RE.NOT.FAT !! (Really, you’re NOT!!)

So here it is, folks – it’s the rant you’ve all been waiting for – the continuation of my thoughts on body image, dieting, and why our society sucks.

You know, it really disgusts me how society teaches us (and it’s not just women anymore, either)  to turn our negativity onto our physical appearance. Sure, eating disorders really aren’t about the way one looks, they’re about much deeper issues, but it’s society that gives young girls such a handy-dandy place to shove all of their self-hatred and other confusing emotions.

And hell, even though I consider myself ‘recovered’ from my disordered eating days, I’m not immune to society’s lies, either.  I certainly had my own recent battle regarding wrinkles (I don’t think the cream helped, by the way). I have days like every other woman where I moan about my muffin top and belittle my “lumberjack limbs” from time to time (just as CBG, he can tell you).

But you know what? it absolutely disgusts me that Single Mom in the City was told that she was fat by a personal trainer, when clearly she is not.

And you know what? Even if she WAS, it’s certainly not his place to point that out, now is it?

This is just a perfect illustration of how sick our society truly is.

Eeesh. What further pisses me off  is how we are clearly in a lose-lose situation when it comes to our bodies. Just look at the tabloids. I don’t read ‘em, but I will admit to looking at the covers of them while I’m in line at the grocery store. Every celebrity on the planet is either too fat, or too thin. We see photos of both extremes – those who have lost “too much” or “gained too much”. Christ on a cracker, people, Oprah’s changed sizes in the last 20 years more than I’ve changed underwear! (and just for the record, that’s a LOT). And the cameras have been there, snapping away photos the whole time, documenting it, leading people to believe that it’s somehow normal to obsess about their physical appearance that much.

It’s no wonder that we’re all so appearance-obsessed. It’s no wonder that kids, some as young as 5 or 6, start displaying disordered eating behaviours.  It’s no wonder that as a society we spend out so much money on lose weight schemes. Most of you reading this may not identify yourselves as “eating disordered”, but chances are, at one point in my your life, maybe even now, you’ve got a screwed up perception of your appearance. You’ve got ‘society’ to thank for that.

My take on it is this. Forgive me if I make this sound overly simple, but in my mind, as someone who has once obsessed over every bite of food that went into my mouth, it actually is.

Love yourself.

Whoa, crazy concept, huh? Loving yourself means a lot of different things.

Loving yourself means that if you want to get into shape and lose a few pounds for health reasons, then you do it. In a loving way.

Loving yourself means accepting that not everyone is going to look like Angelina Jolie after squeezing out a couple of kids. Loving yourself is learning to be okay with your physical appearance, accepting your personal limitations, and being satisfied with your own personal of version of “looking good”.

Loving yourself means not obsessing over every pound you gain or lose.

Loving yourself means that maybe you’re gonna go ahead and eat that doughnut just this once because you’d really enjoy it.

Loving yourself means not eating that doughnut every single day, because doing that isn’t going to help you attain (or maintain) your healthy weight…or help you deal with the reasons why you might not necessarily be happy right now.

Loving yourself means finding an enjoyable physical activity that you enjoy, and doing it because it feels good to make your body move.

Loving yourself means making peace with what you see in the mirror every morning – even if it’s not perfect. Because one thing I’ve learned over the course of my journey through life, through my personal struggles with disordered eating, is that the only way to make permanent, lasting changes to your life in this department, is to do it from a place of love.

If you love yourself enough, it’s not nearly as hard as you may think.

Take that, Mister So-Called-“Personal-Trainer”…

YOU’RE.NOT.FAT.

….and hey, even if you are, this post is still for you.

(When I started writing this post – which has turned into two posts because I didn’t realize how much I had to say on the topic – I wasn’t entirely sure of the direction that this was going to take. This is my very personal account of a very sensitive time in my life. I’m sharing it with you in the hope that if there are any of you out there who can relate, you’ll find some strength in my story.)

This post was inspired by Single Mom in the City’s post about her body.

In any case, since reading her post, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and realized that it’s time for me to open up and share some of my thoughts about the whole weight, diet, and body image thing, because it’s one of those subjects that although I may not talk about often these days, I’m actually pretty passionate about.

I’ve recovered from an eating disorder.

Well, technically, since I never fit the criteria for any one specific eating disorder, the proper term is that I was “eating disordered”. The only difference is that this means that I displayed characterstics of several different eating disorders at various times in my life, but none of the characteristics were “severe enough” to lead to an official diagnosis. Let me assure you, however, that while I was never waif-thin or purging on a daily basis or binging my way to morbid obesity,  I lived in a particular hell all my own.

I was obsessed with the way I looked. I was constantly either dieting and exercising to the extreme, or stuffing myself with everything in site. Between the ages of 11 and 28, I don’t think I spent one day on this earth without obsessing about my body to one degree or another.

I had times when food was my best friend. These were the times when I was  stuffing down emotions with vast quantities of pretty much anything edible in sight. I would plan binges around times when I was alone. I would hide my eating from whoever I was dating at the time. I would eat in secret, stuffing the bad emotions down. I felt my waistband expand, let the shame wash over me, and then would eat more to ease the pain and help me forget.  Food was always there, never asking questions, never challenging me to do better or question what was so very wrong deep down inside of me.

I had times when food was my worst enemy. I knew the caloric and fat content of almost every food known to man. I spent every waking moment avoiding my emotions  with the deep obsession that only extreme diet and exercise can bring. I counted and recorded calories, fat grams, calories burned and hours spent at the gym. I choked down grapefruit and glasses of water spiked with lemon. I watched my body shrink away with satisfaction, but no matter how small I got, no matter how many compliments I received, it was never, ever enough.

Because it wasn’t really ever about the way that I looked.

Without going into a whole lot of details, I suffered a childhood trauma when I was nine years old or so. It was after that, in the aftermath of what I went through – completely alone, I might add – that I turned all of my confusion, pain, grief, and sorrow onto my physical being. I needed to avoid what I was feeling, and so body obsession was the way to do that for me. This is a very common reaction for people that traumatic things happen to, particularly things of this nature.

In retrospect, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it was probably my avoidance methods helping me sidestep my agony that allowed me to cope with life until I was in a position to work through the underlying issues.

The good news in this story is that I was able to work through the issues, and have been “disordered eating clean” for about 7 years now. I can honestly say without a doubt that I have, thankfully, put those issues behind me. It took a lot of work on my part, and a lot of help and support from my ex husband (who was amazing through it all) to get me to where I am today. I became involved with a local eating disorders organization and I joined an online community. I read every book on the subject I could get my hands on, I journalled my heart out (god, I wish I’d been blogging back then) and I made it through.

I realize that I am one of the lucky ones.

So many people think that disordered eating (in any of its forms) is something that only teens and young twenty-somethings deal with. I can assure you all that this is not the case. I have met many, many women, well into their forties and fifties still still struggling with this. It’s a very real problem in our society.

And speaking of society – this is where the rant comes in. My “I’ve-got-something-to-say-and-ya’ll-had-better-listen-up-or-I’ll-open-up-a-can-o’whoopass-on-ya”.

But you’ll have to tune in next time to hear it……..

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