Thursday, August 19, 2010

Learning to Love the Skin I'm In

Trying to recall when my battle with weight began is like asking me about what it was like when I exploded from my mother's womb. I have no clue. It was just there.

One prominent memory that stands out is from grade school. All of us girls were sitting down with our big, bulky lunchboxes getting ready to eat. One girl from the group announces she's "going on a diet" and proceeds to open her lunchbox and take out full pieces of fruit- Plums, grapes, pears etc. We were amazed at how much  fruit she could fit in her lunchbox. I remember sitting, blinking dumbly at her, and wondering what the heck a diet was. My PB & J sandwich tasted delicious and I was excited to get through the rest of my lunch so the hostess cake snack my mom had packed could be devoured with relish. As I finished my lunch and removed my dessert from the bottom, this same girl looked at me and asked, "And how many fat rolls do you have, Sarah?"
My fourth grade mind went blank. What the heck was this girl talking about? Everyone was staring at me though, so I quickly picked a random number- five. "Oh, you are so lucky to be so skinny," the girl replied.
Later after school, I locked myself in the bathroom and actually counted the "fat rolls" I never knew I had. I'd lied, I actually had seven. But, then again, how many fat rolls constituted being fat or skinny?

Fast forward to my sophomore year of college.
I made it a summer goal to be as healthy as I could be. I cut out sugar, ate lots and lots of salads, ran every morning at 6:00 a.m. and worked out in the gym for 2 hours every day. My body went into shock and I lost a good 15-20 pounds that summer. I thought I was ripped (you know, muscular). As the summer progressed and eventually turned into Fall, I was confronted with heavy school and boy stresses. What I thought was an adaptation of a healthy lifestyle turned in to an obsession of controlling what I ate, working out and losing weight.
I wasn't anorexic, but I was close. I wasn't bulimic, but I was close.
I remember waking up one morning and having horrible pains in my side (this would later turn out to be appendicitis). I went into the doctor, did a body scan and then went in to review the scan with him. As we looked through the scan he kept telling me over and over that he could find out the problem a lot faster if I had some meat on my bones. I remember feeling proud of myself for being so skinny and making his job so difficult. Now I look back on this in horror. How selfish and conceited was I? I would risk my health to be skinny? I had become a victim of the same notion so many girls around the world are held captive by.
When I was home at Christmas, my parents confronted me with these problems. I'd eaten at In N Out with them for dinner and spent the better part of the night trying to purge and work it of my body. After lots of tears and talking I agreed to go and see a specialist who would help me through my issues. Yes, I admit it. I have issues just like everyone else.
Eventually everything got better and I began to be less critical of my body. It also helps that Jeffy likes it when I'm more curvy. :)
Fast forward to present day. In the past two years, I've gained 70 pounds and lost probably 40-50 of that so far- still working on it. My skin has been stretched and my boobs have been abused. My knees have nearly folded in half carrying all that extra weight and my tummy looked like a bulldogs jowls for nearly a year.
But, through the entire process of being pregnant, gaining the weight, having the baby and working toward losing the weight I have reached a feeling of peace in my body image. I will never be a size six and I will never get to wear a bikini again. But, I'm okay with that. I look at my baby-after body and I'm proud of what I see. I see a body that has matured and is filled with the joys of motherhood. I see my body as the aftermath of a great battle in which I was victorious- I gave birth to a baby, didn't I?
I am excited to be doing Weight Watchers and slowly but surely getting into a healthy size for my body. To date, since I joined Weight Watchers, I've lost 28.9 pounds. I'm proud of that. I'm proud that I can look away from a sweet snack and I'm proud that I'm adapting a truly healthy lifestyle that I hope will be an example for my children.
I still have my dark days with food and body image. Some days, food is either my greatest friend, or my worst enemy. I'm working on finding that happy medium with food where my sadness isn't consoled in ice cream or my anger isn't inflicted with restriction and massive cardio. These days have now become so few that I almost forget my demons.

I have a husband who loves me, no matter what size I am and I have a little boy who needs me to be healthy and alive as long as possible. For these two sweet, sweet boys in my life I have become happily content with who I am and how I look. I will always have a battle with body image and weight, but I'm okay with that. As a wife and mother who feels great and healthier each day I imagine myself prepared to go into battle with nothing but the best of armor.


Allison Barry said...

Sarah how exciting that you have a blog! I think I knew this before, but for some reason forgot. I love that you wrote this post, because in high school I always thought of you as one of the tall skinny girls. Baby weight is the took me a year to lose it the first time, and who knows how long it will take the 2nd time around.

Ashley Rhian McKee said...

Sarah, that was very commendable. I think so many of us go through life with these demons, but we will rarely admit they exist. This was very inspiring to read.

The McGregor Clan said...

I love this post. Putting it all out there. Admitting issues. I think EVERY person in this world could benefit from a little therapy. My motto is "a little dab will do you." Then we would be more healthy mentally and spiritually. We all have issues and are often afraid to face our demons. You go girl. This is just one more reason I think we are soul sisters. I know that sounds freaky, but that's what I have thought. :)