I am almost 35 years old, which means that for more than 20 of those years I have been at war...with myself. Every day I grimace at my reflection. I poke my belly fat and analyze the shape of my hips and thighs. I compare myself with other women and always come up lacking. I examine my face for new wrinkles, and I berate myself for being unable to fit in to the clothes relegated to the far left of my closet. When I go to work and put on my work uniform, which fit three years ago when I started there but now digs painfully into my belly flesh each day as a constant reminder of how much I have strayed, I tell myself that I am simply not good enough to be the leader there that I hope to become one day. Each time my husband so much as glances at another woman, even if it's not with interest, I compare myself to her and determine that he would be better off with someone prettier than myself. It is truly exhausting to hate myself this much.
I'll give you some background information on how I got to be this big. In reality I have always been a larger girl. I'm big-boned and big hipped, thanks to a family history of "birthing hips". As a child this meant merciless teasing and bullying, the pain of which was often soothed with food. I became pregnant with my eldest son as a teenager, and while he truly is such a great gift to me, that meant new challenges that I had to face, again often with the help of food. The birth defect that he was born with, although not life-threatening, meant that his newborn and toddler years were extra busy, with surgeries and doctor's appointments, and I often relied on fast food as I parented, went to University full-time, and worked a full-time job. I lost a little weight towards the end of University thanks to the gym membership and personal trainer that were provided to me courtesy of my school. It was at that time, at a curvy 160 pounds, that I met my now-husband. We fell in love and when I was 24, I got pregnant with my middle son. 19 months later I had our third (and final!) son. With each pregnancy, I gained more weight, and now, as I balance a management position in a very busy manufacturing facility, shift work, a husband, three children who seem to almost constantly need me, a dog, and multiple social obligations, my weight has reached an all- time high. I am at least 20 lbs heavier than I was while pregnant with my second son. The other day while doing laundry, I picked up a pair of shorts that fit me four years ago (after a vigorous and temporarily successful bout with the weight-loss program P90x) and almost cried. I doubt that they would fit over even one thigh now.
Before you wonder why I just don't go ahead and move more, eat less, and lose the weight already, let me assure you that I have tried and am trying. I have participated in multiple fitness programs, including many of the Beach Body programs. Some have been successful, others not so much. I have been on so many diets that I can't remember them all. I have eaten more salads than I care to count. I wear a FitBit and track my steps. I belong to a gym and have participated in their weight-loss challenges. I walk the dog. I eat tuna on cucumbers for days on end. I have taken more "miracle" weight-loss pills than I care to admit to. I subscribe to multiple fitness magazines. I track my food and keep a journal filled with healthy recipes. But it is just not working for me. I constantly "slip up". I yo yo. I celebrate a 4 lb weight loss by gaining 5 lbs the next week. Something is just not clicking long-term for me. My doctor has suggested losing weight, so I just stopped going to see him. I hide under shapeless clothes and the colour black. I slowly up my clothing size when I just can't take how tight my pants are anymore and wear bathing suits that hide my lumpy belly.
This brings me to where I am now. I was reading a magazine article about Kate Hudson the other day and she mentioned that not every fitness program works for her, but that she just focuses on loving her body. That comment hit home for me. It has been so long since I have loved my body that I don't even know how to. I don't love my body, I punish it for not living up to my expectations. I hate it. I hide from it and I ignore it. I fill it with sugary and fatty foods but yet expect it to still perform for me. This has got to stop. I need to learn how to love my body. I need to treat it like someone that I love, instead of someone that I detest.
So, I have come up with a plan, and hopefully this is a plan that will stay with me long-term instead of being short-lived since it is not just about losing weight (although that is part of it, considering the fact that my BMI is well within the obese range right now) but about learning to finally declare peace with myself. I hope to stop warring with my inner demons and instead embrace my body and the things that are great about it. Instead of eating and doing things to "punish" my body, I hope instead to do things to thank it for being there for me, day in and day out. I want to learn to embrace my imperfections because I am even more focused on the things about me that are wonderful. Lofty goals? Perhaps. I know that my eating and (alcohol) drinking issues are coping mechanisms, and once I remove those I will be confronted with some pretty nasty feelings that have been suppressed. I'm not looking forward to that, but I realize the necessity of facing myself head on.
Join me tomorrow as I outline my plan in detail. Please join me on the days afterwards as I carry through with it, and hopefully I begin to find love for myself within myself. I'm not expecting that to come easily or quickly, but I'm hoping that some day down the line I will not onlny look better in a bikini, but will love myself, warts and all. And I know that I will need some encouragement on the dark days. Journeys are never easy, but they always have to start somewhere. This is my rock bottom. This is my starting point.