Pregnancy physically changes a mother’s body: changes that are beautiful, but in my experience, hard to embrace when you already struggle with your frame. I once received a comment from a young woman before she entered motherhood, afraid of what pregnancy would do to her 5’4″, 120 pound body: “you’ve always been big, so getting bigger during pregnancy obviously isn’t as big of a deal for you.” It’s an uphill battle in our culture, trying to accept and love yourself when our American culture says you aren’t worth loving; but to be better givers of love, we must start with us – we must love us first.
One year ago, the Y was offering a 6-week session with a personal trainer, only with a bit of competition among the teams formed with each trainer. The greatest overall weight loss from one team would ultimately win a prize. The Y had offered this program in the past, but the idea of spending $50 to commit for 6 weeks was less than appealing for so many reasons. Fifty dollars is money, real money that has the potential for family fun, groceries, or something – anything – more enjoyable than personal training. I have never been the ‘skinny one’ or the ‘fit one.’ My image has always been generous, something I’ve struggled to accept since I was young. “You’re just big-boned.” “You’re beautiful on the inside.” While there are truths in these statements, it doesn’t offset the number on the scale or the pant size required to cover the curves. After talking it over with my husband, we decided we could afford it and I decided I wanted to do it. At the end of the 6 weeks, my team didn’t win the prize – but it didn’t matter. I needed this to recharge, to know I wasn’t the only one struggling, to know I had other people in my corner. I needed this to reaffirm what I already knew – I am worth it, I am capable, I am enough.
The struggle with body image is one that I don’t want my children to know. Around my children, I am quick to redirect the conversation so that it reflects health and strength and the topic of weight loss is hushed. I want my children to know that we eat our fruits and vegetables because they help us stay healthy and that we have “sometimes” foods because they are fun, but they are limited because they are hard on our bodies. I want my children to know the value of exercise for the body and the mind.
I didn’t spend $50 for a new pair of shoes, clothes, or a purse – but it WAS a $50 investment in me. Investments in mom are easy to forego, but no less important. This was time for me. While I hadn’t lost as much weight as I thought I would at the end of those 6 weeks, it did launch me into a different perspective. One year later, I am stronger, more confident, and 40 pounds lighter.
I still have a long journey, but like every journey, I’m taking it one step at a time.