Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My “Get Fit/Feel Pretty” Journey

Originally published on my blog, Soul Java, on Monday, February 22, 2010

Part 1

Everybody has something about themselves they do not like. Some people may have a longer list, be the contents of the list a figment of their imagination or not. Some people don’t like their nose, others their skin, others may feel inferior because of their height, or lack thereof. There have always been things about me that if I allowed my thoughts or conversations to dwell on them they’d knock my confidence level down. But as a whole, my parents did an amazing job of making me feel good about who I am and helping me discover and maximize my strengths while working on and minimizing my weaknesses. But when you live in the culture we do there is one constant self- deprecating complaint heard more than any other; body weight.

I remember sitting in a Marie Calendar restaurant when I was about 12 or 13 years old listening to my parents talk. We were visiting my grandmother in San Jose, CA. Me and my mother had been out shopping all day. We had only been sitting with my dad at dinner for a short while when I realized he was upset at my mom for shopping only for me and not getting anything for herself. She tried to push it off lightheartedly; she didn’t need anything, she couldn’t find anything, it’d be too hot to wear at home in FL. But my dad could tell these were not sincere excuses and so he pushed, wanting her to splurge on herself, put herself first. Then I saw my mother do something I’d never seen her do outside our house or church; she started crying in public. She told my dad she didn’t buy anything because she was too fat to try on anything. I was in shock! Not only was this the first time I’d seen my mom cry in public, but I had no earthly idea she cared that she was fat! As a matter of fact, she wasn’t “fat” to me; she was just “mom”! It had honestly never crossed my mind that she was not perfect. In her pain, through sharp intakes of breath, attempting to stifle the tears my mother told my dad, “You have no idea how hard it is to love everything about yourself, your life, but not be able to completely enjoy all that you love because the one thing that you hate overrides the good.” That broke my heart! I had no idea mother dealt with this because she did such a good job of focusing on what she did love, but somewhere in the center of her mind she spent a lot of energy to push back, as it were, a raging bear poised to destroy her happiness.

I was a skinny baby and child. By the time I was eighteen or nineteen I had signs of my ancestral DNA showing itself in the form of extra, unneeded fat cushioning my frame. I had never been obese, maybe not even overweight, but neither had I ever been petite. I had never had the “look” of the models I saw in every magazine, or the “hot” girls at school or camps. I was never fat, but I was never happy with what I saw in the mirror either. Around 20 years old I began exercising and a fat-free diet and, wow, did I lose the weight! I really liked how I looked and felt. For the first time in my life I wore less than a size 10/12. (I’m not sure how I passed those sizes but I went from wearing kids’ department clothes to wearing a ladies size 10!) I had been a size 12 but I tried on a size 10 suit and it was too big! I got an 8, too big! In shock I asked the sales attendant to get me a size 6, even it was too big! I walked out of the store with a size 5 suit that day! Granted, I didn’t realize it, but I was too skinny. When I look back on pictures my eyes look sunken, my face was too thin, but not to worry; within a year I was married and immediately began to put the weight back on, and then some.

Before my first pregnancy I got the all dreaded, “I hear congratulations are in order!” Knowing exactly what he meant I defiantly stared back into the offensive man’s eyes and asked, “What for?” He stammered, “Aren’t you expecting?” After I actually was pregnant, during my last two months of pregnancy I couldn’t sit in a booth at a restaurant anymore because I couldn’t fit in. It was the first time I weighed over 200 pounds. The same thing happened in my second pregnancy. But I found the same cure as my mom did for pushing that ugly, old bear back into his cave so he didn’t mess with my self-confidence; busyness!

I’m a very creative person. Ideas pour from me like water from a spigot. I have more ideas than anybody could actually put to use. I homeschool, I write, I sing, I teach… it was not hard to get busy and stay busy. The idea of “me time” was a joke to mock at. Not because I couldn’t have it, but because I WOULDN’T have it! The very phrase is the height of selfishness! Why would I participate in such a low, self-gratifying activity when there are so many people in need of my labor of love? And so I pushed that bear down by working too much, which would put me in the position of eating too much of the bad stuff too fast. I’d pour ALL my love into others and then try to love myself with comfort foods. I’d give so much of myself to people and projects that I’d be too exhausted to do anything except sit and munch. All of my productivity AND entertainment was on my laptop so there was no need to move. Consequently, I came into the Summer of 2008 weighing 214lbs. For the first time my busyness couldn’t override my self-loathing. I’d heard of some people having results with their weight loss by going to a doctor for help and so I pushed back my tears and called my doctor for an appointment.

…to be continued.

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