Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Beyond the Scale Number ~ Taking a Look at Body Image & My Story

Beyond the number on the scale

Taking a look at body image

This topic has been on my mind on and off for a long time.  Partially because it is still something that I wrestle with.  But I don't wrestle with it as often.

I am not sure how it came about or where it came from or where it started, but for a long time some woman have gotten it in their minds that they should look like the woman they see in the magazines or ads or surrounding them.

At times there becomes so much judging, comparing all of ourselves (inside and out) to the cover of a magazine, to the outside of other woman.  And there seems to be this inner voice that  likes to take over once that ball starts rolling.

Trying the latest fad diet, fad workout just to look like someone else on the outside, just to quiet that voice in our heads, just to quiet the perceived judgment others have of us.

You get pregnant, oh don't gain too much weight.  You have the baby, why aren't you back to your body before yet.

I have been there. This is what I told myself.  My body failed, time and time again.

I lost my confidence.  I lost my footing.  That spiral that would ensue would be like a bobber, bouncing up and down in the waves, occasionally getting pulled under.  Leading to depression and anxiety.  And then it led to extreme focus on that scale number.  Then begun the next spiral that everything revolved around that number.  From emotions, to health, to what I did, what I told myself, to overeating, overindulging, hiding, goals, and more.

When I saw myself in pictures after my youngest turned 1, I didn't recognize myself anymore.  There was very of anything I was happy, let alone content about.  I knew at that point things needed to change.  What I didn't realize was all that needed to change.  From mind, body, mental, physical, emotional, spiritual.  All of it, many layers to peel back.

What started with, your body failed you.  Not once, but three times, turned into your body isn't enough which turned into you aren't enough.  That inner voice danced around in my head pointing all the negative things out, over and over again.  I became so focused on changing that number on the scale, making it go down, that I figured at least if I met those weigh loss goals I would no longer feel like my body was a failure, like I was a failure.

Failure is hard to face.  But in failure, we find success.  Sometimes it takes a lot of stumbles, a lot of fails, a lot of weeks but it changes us and we grow from it.  That is where the success comes from.  We have to fail to succeed.

I learned over time that my value, my worth is not in the number that the scale shows.  That I am beautiful even though I have stretch marks and scars on my belly (as well as other places).  I am stronger because I went through this and have a voice now that I didn't have before.

Where I failed myself was in the letting the negative inner critic win, letting comparison win.  Instead of accepting where I was at and me for what I was, I lost sight of the joy, the blessings, the life around me.  I lost sight of my faith, of God.  I lost sight of what things truly were and were meant to be.

With time and peeling back layers.  I am learning to accept, I am learning to forgive, I am learning to heal, I am learning to release.  It isn't always easy.  Life isn't that way.  But once I believed in myself, my confidence came back.

Do I look the way I imagined?  No.  Is the scale number where I had hoped it would be at this point?  Not even close.  But there are many blessings, many silver linings beyond that scale number.  And seeing the truth, feeling it, and believing it are the biggest.

Why don't we see ourselves the way others truly see us?

Today, look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful.  Today, look at one aspect of you in a new, positive light.  Today, give yourself a high five for all you do and have done.  Today, talk to yourself the way you talk to your spouse or your best friend.

Today, peel back a layer and let yourself free.

Below is more details about my journey, my story of how I got to the point where I thought my body had failed me and where it lead.  I also share how I am overcoming that and moving beyond the scale number.  The scale number doesn't define me.  It doesn't define you.

I used to not care a whole lot about my body image.  My self-esteem was high, I had confidence.  Sure, I gained weight and inches over the years, especially as my very athletic self slowly let go of being so active.

After high school, I didn't do much for sports.  Not real active either other than walking to class and fullfilling the P.E. credits I needed.  I walked on and off of the years of college and the beginning of my marriage.  I was active, but no longer athletic active.

You better believe my body changed.  But I didn't let that get me down.  I still did my thing and was content with where I was at.

But then we started to grow our family.  Initially, it didn't phase me.  I knew my body would change inside and out, head to toe.  What I didn't plan for was the years and comments coming after.

I begun to think and feel, fully believing my body had failed me.  I was pregnant with our first child.  At 17 weeks, it ended in a miscarriage.  I felt it was all my fault, my body's fault.  I did something wrong, I wasn't enough.  And that is where it all began.

My perception began to change.  No, I didn't care to look like those people in the magazines.  Yes, I did start to notice how other people looked after having kids, but not until after my second pregnancy.

For years I have held on to this idea that my body failed me.  But as we got ready to try again and got pregnant the second time, I didn't care how I looked.  I became hyper focused on keeping that tiny little human being alive.

I gained a lot of weight, to an already heavier frame.  With each pregnancy, my belly has popped sooner and shown more.  But that didn't stop the comments and comparisons that began to ensue.

I was asked often when I was due, and there was always a look of surprise on the person's face when I said.  The usual response was, "oh, not until then?".  The other question I got asked often was if I was having twins.

Before I move forward, let me say this.  By the end of my second pregnancy I was 220, carrying a 22 inch long almost 9 pound baby.  I also had extra amniotic fluid.  My midsection isn't that big, so the only way to go was out.

But those questions, those comments brought me down a little.  They got pushed back and deep down.  Once baby came, healthy and alive I didn't think on my size and shape. I did have feelings again that my body had failed again though.  My water broke, but I never fully dilated, ending up with a c-section.

After a little bit, I did begin to get more active again.  I went on walks, tried out running, did workout videos at home.  I wasn't focused on any particular health goals, or a certain weight.  I just wanted to move.

When pregnancy number three came around, I was too busy to think about how I looked most of the time.  We were getting ready to put our house up for sale and look for a house, I had a 2 year old to keep up with, and a Summer filled with adventures.

And yet through all this, my body wasn't happy with anything I ate from 9 weeks until 22 weeks.  Once I figured out I had developed a dairy intolerance and had gotten rid of all dairy and was more mindful of what I ate, things went more smoothly.  Yes, I gained some weight during this pregnancy, but not as much.  Then again, kiddo wasn't nearly as big.

But that didn't stop the questions and comments, as well as the comparisons.  I was asked over and over again, are you sure you aren't having twins.  I was also compared to others who were pregnant at the same time and our babies were due very close together about how I looked much bigger, like I had gained more weight, then so and so.  Mind you, so and so has a different body frame then I, built differently, taller, and it was also their first pregnancy.

When it came time to have kiddo, it ended in a c-section.  Not from lack of trying the other way, but I am not designed for regular birthing.  But as I laid there getting prepped, the tears started to fall.  Here I was again, my body failed me..again.

On and off over the past four years I would keep circling back to this.  Letting unhealthy habits begin.  But finally a year ago, I was done.  I had enough.  I needed to peel back layers and let myself heal. I began to sort out feelings, thoughts, ideas, and more.  I began to see and look at how I had gotten to the place I had and what to do to step forward.  I began to release and heal.  I began to find my inner confidence again.

Sure, there are still times that I let those thoughts back in, but I don't let them stay.  I acknowledge they are there, figure out why, and release.  It may sound easy, but it has taken time, patience, and practice.  It is about finding my own harmony again.

I don't forget where I have come from, it is a part of my story.  But I am also shedding light on new perspectives, new blessings I hadn't seen before or had long forgotten about.  In releasing these extra loads, I am freeing myself.

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