Like many women out there, I have loved and loathed my body at different times in my life. I’ve hated it when I felt like the biggest girl in the group growing up (everywhere I went, even though I wasn’t actually big then–as I see, looking back at photos). I’ve marveled at it during my two beautiful pregnancies. I’ve been empowered by it when I was able to breastfeed my kids (not exclusively–but still–I couldn’t believe I could do it at all!). I’ve loved it when I was thin and trim and felt like I could dominate the world. But I’ve also loved it when I was heavier and still felt like I could dominate the world. I’ve cared for it intensely by being ridiculously careful about what I ate, to the point of being borderline orthorexic and being obnoxious to everyone around me. And I’ve abused it by over-exercising to the tune of multiple workouts a day in an effort to stay thin at all costs.
I don’t do any of that anymore.
Truth be told, I don’t love my body at the moment, and probably haven’t since I got back (below!) pre-pregnancy weight/size after having Ben in October 2013. I felt so good and strong that next year or so. I had birthed another baby and was in rockstar shape (for me).
But since then a lot has changed. In April 2015, I lost one of my best friends. I stopped working out, and then slowly went back to the gym after a looong hiatus–but not like I had been. And now I’m knee-deep in kid activities and social commitments, and, well, fitness got shoved to the back burner. On top of that, I’ve had a DGAF attitude about my intake — not necessarily enjoying everything in sight, but not being as aware as I know to be, either (i.e., eating way too many sweets and processed stuff. As a working mom with two small kids, a husband, and a healthy social life, I am stuck in the endless struggle — I want to lose weight, but don’t want to give up that much freedom or living to go back to those carefree days of my mid-20s where I spent 3 hours a day exercising. And as I creep towards 40 (I’m 37, turning 38 in October) the pendulum has swung the extreme other way (read as: GAIN) — and neither lifestyle is healthy, balanced, or good for me.
I need balance. I need to be eating well and exercising moderately. I know this. It’s just human nature to want a quick fix. And what frightens me is that the deep anxiety that led to my disordered eating back in 2008 was all related to anxiety about wanting/needing to stay thin and obsessing over it, 24/7. But now, two kids later, my body has gained and lost several times — and now, without a third pregnancy, I find myself stubbornly still at my pre-WW weight (which was also about where I netted out right after having each baby). And I can feel anxiety rearing its ugly head again.
But here’s the difference–I’m older and wiser now. I can shove it back in its place. Because I know there is no quick fix, and will NOT go back to the way I lost and kept it off back in 2004. Plus, being anxious about the loss won’t make it happen any quicker.
Though I followed WW and loved it back then, I had all the time in the world to focus on losing. My life was so different then. Luis was living in El Sal still and I was in D.C. I had zero commitments outside of work, happy hours with friends, and classes at the gym. I loved my life then because I could do whatever I want, whenever I wanted. Sometimes I still miss that — the ability to just say, “I’m going to head out for six hours and see where I end up. Maybe I’ll hit a cafe, maybe I’ll walk to Georgetown, maybe I’ll ride the Metro and see what sounds like fun.” I don’t have that luxury of freedom anymore.
So I have to make it work for 37-year old, married, working mom of two Melissa. It may take longer than before and will surely be harder — but I’m confessing to whoever is reading this that I am all in on a mission to lose about 30 pounds. It isn’t about vanity weight anymore (I’m far past that!) or wanting my jeans to be looser. I’m not even setting a target date for this loss — it just has to happen, starting now, slowly but surely, a pound or two a week. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.
I’m doing this because I have legitimate concerns about my physical well-being that are motivating me.
- Medical reasons. I have never, ever, ever (did I say ever?!) had any bad wellness screening results — no matter my weight (pregnant, thin, heavy), my blood pressure has always been low and my cholesterol and other stats low and healthy — ridiculously so given my weight at times. In fact, up until my annual wellness screening I did back in March, even my BMI was OK — in spite of the stupid scale telling me I was overweight. But the numbers I saw in March were terrifying — and surely a result of the weight gain coming on so fast (about 10-15 lbs in a year). That isn’t normal and is very, very frightening because our metabolisms slow as we age. Seeing those numbers was a real wake-up call. That being said, March, I’ve only really upped my fitness regimen — not really committing to doing the necessary work on my eating habits. That’s why I rejoined WW again this morning — I’ve had enough, and I DO need the accountability. I cannot show up to my wellness screening next year like this; I just can’t.
- Running. I have been running a couple times a week for the past year or so, and even did a 5K earlier this summer. But starting this week, I’m training for a 15K (9.3 mile) race in Columbus, Ohio with a few of my girlfriends this fall (November 5–eeks!). I’ve never trained for a race before beyond when I ran HS track, so this is all new to me. I am hoping having the race ahead of me will help keep me accountable with my food because food IS fuel. I believe in enjoying food for sure — but I also have to be considering it for fuel. Like my mantra that helped me overcome the ugly habit of chewing and spitting, I can choose pride over guilt. What foods will make me body happy, make me feel proud of my fueling choices? And let’s be honest — all runners know this; a byproduct of weight loss is usually increased speed. Carrying even 15 less pounds around by November will help me run a little quicker and boost my stamina. Who can argue with that?!
- Being an example for my kids. I know kids say things to people all the time, but bless their hearts, my kids have never, ever commented on my weight. Actually, no child (or adult) has ever called me fat or anything like that (at least, not to my face!) — as a kid or as an adult. But — though it sounds silly — I do fear the day it will happen, and I don’t want to feel that way anymore. I try to set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle which we carry on to them. I love that they see Mommy run, walk, and bike. They know Daddy plays soccer and racquetball. And we do a lot as a family to stay active — family walks, bike riding, soccer games in the backyard, etc. The leaner and fitter I am, the more I can keep up with them.
This is a long-winded post but getting my thoughts out helps. I’m committed.
- I signed up for WW this morning and am all set with meal planning, going back to basics.
- I’ll be signing up for the race this weekend.
- I ordered some new Athleta and lulu running gear to motivate me.
- I’m on the hunt for new running kicks. Any recs from those of you who do long-distance running? I’ve been loyal to Nike and New Balance but am curious about Brooks …
Thanks for reading til the end. I know I haven’t been writing here much lately, but I do hope to do more of it in the near future — not in the daily journal of what I ate/how I exercised sense, but overall — feelings. Also, I still have to really process my sabbatical thoughts. (Each photo has a caption I wrote).