In the summer of 2002 I lost a lot of weight. I did it by not eating well (or really…at all), and went from a size six to a double zero in only three months. I got compliments, I got a boyfriend, but mostly, I got lucky – I didn’t do any lasting damage to my body, and with some help I was able to pull out of my unhealthy spiral.
The “Love your body” movement started to pick up steam not long after Madeline died. I hated my body – it had failed my baby. At the same time I heard a phrase over and over in therapy: “You have to love yourself.” I smushed these two ideas together and did everything I could to convince myself I believed them. I ate anything that sounded good and gained too much weight for my frame. But, it didn’t matter! Because I loved myself!
Strangely, my body didn’t care how in love with myself I claimed to be. It reacted badly to the weight gain. My skin broke out, my blood pressure went up, I had regular migraines and my whole body ached. Still, I probably wouldn’t have changed a thing if I hadn’t miscarried. When I wrote my current weight on my pre-op paperwork before my D&C, I realized that loving myself wasn’t enough: I had to take care of myself, too.
That realization crystallized as I struggled through my pregnancy with James. On the days where I threw up literally everything that I put in my mouth, I would silently swear to take better care of myself – as if hyperemesis gravidarum was some sort of cosmic punishment for neglecting my own well being. But it may as well have been, because it completely changed the way I looked at my health, and the way I looked at food.
I want my children to be healthy, and it’s my job to teach them how to be healthy. I can’t just talk the talk, I have to walk the walk. I have to show them that loving yourself means making good choices with food, and they have to see me make those choices every day. They need to see me being active so it isn’t weird when they exercise through play. They need to learn how to indulge in healthy ways – a spoonful of nutella is okay, an entire jar in one sitting…not so much.
I used to think that happiness was connected to appearance – that if I was a double zero I’d be happy. It isn’t, not for me. Now I’m happy when I have normal blood pressure. I am thrilled when my A1C test results show I don’t have Type 2 Diabetes. I am elated when my body doesn’t hurt and I don’t have headaches. I’m happy because all of these things are the result of taking care of myself.
I wish I’d let myself learn that lesson a long time ago.
Im mainly bad to myself where food is concerned – too much of the wrong stuff – but one thing I do is eat my meals.
I eat breakfast when all I want to do is rush out to work.
I eat lunch at the weekends when all I want to do is eat a packet of cookies.
I eat my dinner every night, even when I’m not over keen – though I make a point of saying I dont like – and even when there’s cooked carrots (bleurgh!)
Why? Because I have an extremely slim, fussy 10 year old girl and she has to see me eat. Shes never seen me diet. She barely sees me drink alcohol, maybe one or two a fortnight. I say I need to exercise more which I do need to, but I dont say Im too fat. My wobbles she knows are a process born out of 2 children and too little exercise. I might get a little slimmer if I exercised but my soft belly will always be so as it housed 2 children for 9 months, a fact I am eternally grateful for.
Plus my husband likes women to be a little rounder at the edges!
Sadly, we can all say, “If I knew then what I know now…”
The good news is that you are still young and you have made the changes that will positively impact those most important to you! So many will never “get that” until the point of no return.
Whenever I feel bad about myself…(and that is to say that I have managed to maintain myself quite well, until that menopause crap began kicking in) I find the Renaissance Artists and admire the roundness and the sexy of these mamas depicted in their paintings. Woop!!
Mel G says:
It’s a lesson we all struggle with, especially once we become mums. The good thing is you’ve recognised what you need to do and your family will benefit. Now I just need to convince myself to do the same….
Heather, after being a little overweight as a teen and morbidly obese most of my adult life… I lost over 120 pounds. I like to say I lost a person and found myself. I’ve fallen in love with lifting weights…go figure! I did it for myself..and for my kids too. I TRULY understand what you are saying. You have to walk the walk. While my situation is more extreme than most…I had more than just a little extra weight. My kids can see that Momma can do ANYTHING…so can they. Skinny is out Strong and Healthy is in. I love that you posted about this, I truly can relate.
Thanks for this! My struggle is related to comforting myself with food and sometimes punishing myself with food, as a result of a dysfunctional crap mother. I’m currently in therapy. I started thinking that purging what I binged sounded like a fantastic idea! I didn’t do it, but when I started thinking about it I immediately got help. I’m slowly learning how to take care of myself and focus on “me” more. It is hard. I have two young children and have been told my whole life that I’m not good enough and that doing things for myself is shameful. ((Sigh)). It’s a process I wish I would have learned in my 20s, not at 35. Yet I’m excited and terrified to find out who I am and gain control over this part of my life. I’m excited to become a healthy(mentally and physically) woman.
This is something I struggle with, too. I was naturally thin up to about the age of 30. I now weigh about 30 lbs. more than when I got married, and THIS is the weight I should have been at long ago. I recently saw a registered dietitian to give me pointers/advice on eating better since I have a 3-y.o. watching me and I want her to learn good eating habits — certainly better ones than I had growing up. She’s body-confident right now, but I worry when I hear of friends’ 4- and 5-y.o.’s saying their tummies are fat. :-\
I had the same “weight too high for my frame” moment at my birthday 5 weeks ago. I joined Weight Watchers (again) and this time I decided to change everything about the way I grocery shop and cook. I do not really shop much in the middle aisles and spend more time at the fruit and veggie sections of stores. My entire family now eats hummus and whole grains, fruit and veggies.
I cook with chicken broth instead of oil, greek yogurt in place of cheeses (or mixed in with them to reduce the fat) and have already dropped 15 lbs. I feel better than I did at a much lower weight last summer.
I congratulate you and appreciate the encouragement to keep going. Eating right and moving take time out of the day that I really do not have but it is worth it.
Thank you for being, as always, so honest. I’m struggling with similar issues regarding good eating habits and regular exercise and wanting to be a good example for my almost 7 year old son. Kudos to you for “walking the walk!”
It’s so good to get that wake-up call in your 30s. I’m trying to turn around some bad eating habits now that I’m in my early 40s, and (surprise!) it is much harder at this age to undo harmful behaviors. I wish someone would have clued me in on that a long time ago. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your process/successes as you go forward.
But taking care of yourself IS love. And eating healthfully shouldn’t have to feel like deprivation. Seriously. (You can smack me now.)
Those of us who live in California have got really good options, food-wise…
I think so many of us struggle with this. I have had phases of exercising regularly and eating very healthily, but surprise, surprise, those phases did not coincide with high stress life events, parenting young children, etc. It’s managing to be reasonably healthy while a lot of other stuff is demanding a lot of my attention that I have a hard time with.
I never made food an issue while my kids were growing up. Not once (really) did I mention weight, talk about anyone’s body, comment on anyone else while they were around. They were never forced to eat food. If I made something they didn’t like, so be it – that’s what was available. They ate what we ate, went to restaurants that we liked and now they eat anything and everything. I have no picky eaters and both of my kids just stop eating when they are full. I also did not bake sweets or buy candy ever. I had no problem with them eating it at Halloween, Christmas or holidays, but it was not available at home. I bought ice cream because at least it has calcium and protein, but if there was no nutrients in it, it stayed on the store shelves. Keep healthy food around and your kids will become healthy eaters! You are on the right track…….
Thanks for this Heather. You hit the nail right on the head. Good for you for recognizing and walking the walk instead of just talking the talk. I too struggle with my weight and body image and loving myself…etc… Loving yourself truly means taking care of yourself too! This is something I am learning to do right now. Your blog post couldn’t have come at a more better time. :]
Hindsight and all that jazz…what’s important now is that you are ARE making the right choices and working hard to show your children that making the right choices shows that you love yourself.
I remember, many moons ago, when you mentioned that when you felt out of control of things, you would often overly control what you ate in an unhealthy way. I’m so glad that you have not only overcome that urge, but have realized that loving yourself means taking good care of yourself! Regardless of when in your life you made the change, you DID make the change an that’s what matters! Wishing you lasting good health, and lots of love. xo
Alexandra :) says:
WAIIIIT YOU MEAN IT ISN’T NORMAL TO EAT A WHOLE JAR OF NUTELLA IN ONE SITTING?