Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wise Words Wednesday: Body image

"The Beauty Love Left Behind. A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn. One for every time you sucked your thumb, waved hello, closed your eyes and slept in the most perfect darkness. One for every time you had the hiccups. One for every dream you dreamed within me. It isn't very pretty anymore. Some may even think it ugly. That's OK. It was your home. It's where I first grew to love you, where I lay my hand as I dreamed about who you were and who you would be. It held you until my arms could, and for that, I will always find something beautiful in it." -Cassie Fox

via Pinterest (unfortunately, the source on flickr is no longer public and I hate to think it was
because of any of the negative comments I read about people bashing her for daring to post this
photo and calling it beautiful)

I think I've pretty much always had body image issues. Nothing major, but I've never had amazing self esteem, I'm self-conscious and have never really loved or been overly comfortable with my body. My imperfections are largely hidden under my clothes (which I'm thankful for), but that means I'm not really "allowed" to complain because at first glance, people would probably look at me at think things are great because I'm thin, and how lucky I am to have lost all of the baby weight each time. I know I'm thin and I appreciate it, I swear, but I still don't love my body. My belly in particular. I'm not brave enough to post a picture, but it's not too different from the picture above.

My belly has never really been big, but it's always been squishy with love handles and not much definition in the waist. After three pregnancies (each one making it progressively worse), my stomach now is pretty much ruined. Distasis recti, umbilical hernia which I had surgery to repair, stretch marks, and saggy skin that will never go away (short of plastic surgery). And even less of a waist. No amount of BodyRocking will ever make my stomach bikini-ready again, and that's disappointing to say the least. Demotivating, almost.

Although I curse my luck all the time that I wasn't one of the lucky ones (and I know numerous moms in person) whose body and belly bounced back to normal—or at least avoided the deflated balloon look of saggy skin—I do no regret and would never in a million years change anything that got me this belly.  That's why this quote resonated so much with me. Even though I will never be proud of my belly, I am proud that I've got three perfect kids to show for it, and that's the thing I need to focus on.

This has been on my mind a lot lately because ever since I weaned Lorelai in October after 15 months of enjoying the benefits breastfeeding, my metabolism has taken a nose dive. I was fortunate enough to lose all of my baby weight (and then some) which I fully attribute to luck and breastfeeding. Of course, typical me, I wasn't happy about my body then either, because I was too skinny—no butt or thighs, and my jeans looked saggy on me. So I started running and working out to build back some muscle, and kept eating like a moose and not gaining weight. Then I weaned and didn't change my eating habits, so I'm now several pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight and my jeans are getting too tight in the waist. I just can't win.

So now I have a renewed focus on being fit and healthy by eating better and working out more, and that's what I'm exposing my kids to. I try to never complain about my body around them because even though I'm ashamed of my belly, I never want them to think there's anything shameful about it.


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