I Learned It From Watching You

Tonight I decided that I will no longer participate in any conversations about weight- my own or anyone else’s. The big exception to that being with my doctors (and my therapist) of course.

I just wanted to take a moment to explain myself so you don’t find me rude if I change the subject or move into a different conversation when you bring up your new diet, or the 5 pounds you can’t seem to loose, or how the cheese that we are eating is going to go straight to your thighs.  It’s not that I don’t get it.  In fact, the reason I feel the need to draw this line is that I get it too much.

It is far too easy for me to look at the numbers on a scale or the way my clothes are bunching around my waist and think how much better, how much happier I would be if I could just make that little bit extra of me magically go away. I can go back through my blogs and read One Hundred and Thirty Pounds and see that being skinny was a far cry from being healthy, but that doesn’t mean that the impulse to blame everything that is wrong in my life on my weight has just disappeared (see One Hundred and Fifty Eight Pounds.)

So I am taking action.  I am not giving that seed room to grow. My beautiful girls will hear enough of that from the world around them.  I refuse to allow them to hear it from me.

And talking about what’s wrong with our bodies is like a competitive sport for moms.  And even if we think those conversations are just between us grown-ups and our mommy juice, our little ones see and hear much more than we realize.  I am going to step on out of that race. I don’t want to ask my daughters one day where they learned to hate their perfect bodies and have their answer be, “I learned it from watching YOU Mom!!” (Cue the 80s PSA music.)

So I’m not going to do it anymore.  I won’t judge you if you want to have these types of discussions, but I will do my best to bow out of the conversation.  I am writing this publicly so that if you hear me breaking this new rule for myself you will gently correct me.  “We don’t say bad things about our bodies,” will work just fine to help me remember my resolution.

I took a bath tonight.  I read a book.  And as I got out and I rubbed lotion on my much- scarred belly, my thighs dimpled by cellulite, and my breasts that will never look the same after nursing twins, I made an important decision.  I am going to really work to love this body- broken and imperfect as it is.  Because a healthy body-image is something I would be proud to have my girls learn from watching me.

i-learned-it-from-watching-you

One Hundred and Fifty-Eight Pounds

I was going through my old blog posts and came across One Hundred and Thirty Pounds.  It’s good timing for me because I just tried on a dress I was planning to wear and can no longer fit into, and was starting to feel a little bit down.  I have been wondering lately if most people notice and are annoyed by the way their stomachs roll up when they sit down.  Or if it is just something that has been foreign to me for so long that I have forgotten what it feels like to be a normal, healthy weight.

At my last doctors visit I weighed one hundred and fifty-eight pounds, which is pretty great considering that a year ago I was still at 130 with the doctors trying to make me drink Boost and Ensure just to get a few more pounds on my skeletal frame.

But I have those moments.  Those moments when my skinny clothes don’t fit, or I can feel my skin rolls and see the fleshy bits under my armpits again.  And in those times I think, well maybe I’ve put on enough weight now and should start trying to go back down again.  Not all the way to 130, but I felt pretty good 10 pounds ago.  Maybe if I just start eating a little less I will see those scale numbers drop again.

But then I catch myself and realize what a slippery slope that can be.  Because trying to loose 10 can turn to 15 or 20.  I know, because I have already been there and done that, and it’s no way to live. I don’t want my kids growing up with a mother who is always worried about her weight.  I want them to see me love and enjoy my body, broken and scarred as it is, and not measuring my worth on a scale.

Because I look at what else I have gained with those 28 pounds: energy and stamina to be able to get on the floor and roll around with my girls while they still think I’m the coolest person in the world (I have no doubt those days are numbered,) a sense of my purpose, and a love of myself that I would have never dreamed possible.

Every day I know that I am doing good.  In this messed-up, and broken, and combative world, my suffering allowed me to see people that needed help and then actually do something about it.  And no matter what my kids think, that is cool.

So yeah, I rocked a size 4 a year ago.  But my one hundred and fifty-eight pounds are pretty much made up of awesome.  And wine. And I think that I’m ok with that.

 

 

One Hundred and Thirty Pounds

In 2003 I was living in New York and trying to make a go of it as an actress.  I wasn’t having much luck getting paying gigs and at 5’11” I was always being told that I should model, so I got myself an agent and added aspiring model to my resume.  I got a few modeling jobs but quickly felt the need to drop some weight to be more competitive.  I was about 145 lbs, which is pretty thin for 5’11” but that agent told me that I would do a lot better if I lost 15-20 pounds.

Ok, I thought, I can do that.  Stop drinking so much, eat healthy, exercise more and the weight would fall off, right?  I dropped a few numbers on the scale but was nowhere near my “goal weight” of 130.  So I started throwing up.

Now, I didn’t think of myself as bulimic or having an eating disorder or anything, because I didn’t do it every day and most of the time I didn’t even have to stick my finger down my throat.  See I had a system… I would go all day, running around to castings, exercising, walking everywhere, and only eat 1 or 2 “Zone” bars a day just to keep myself from fainting.  But then sometimes at night my discipline would waver and I would be so starving that I would eat whatever I could find, which would make me so nauseous that I would be clutching the toilet in no time.

And still that magical number eluded me.  I got to 135 and broke down in tears one day when I went into a casting and while measuring me the casting director said, “Oh, you’re a big girl huh?  Might want to lay off the chips for awhile.”

I realized at that moment that I was never going to be what they wanted me to be, that I was not meant to be one hundred and thirty pounds, or at least that I couldn’t get to that weight without doing serious damage to my body.  So I quit.

If a modeling job came my way and they liked the way I looked then fine, but I was done making myself sick for it.  I am not going to lie and say it was easy.  Over the course of a few months I figured out how to get my eating back into better habits and I started keeping track of and celebrating the days I went without throwing up.  I figured out that it was more important to be a happy, healthy me than to be 130lbs.

Flash forward to 2014.  I am 34 and way past my modeling days with twin two-year olds.  I step onto the scale and start to cry when I see the numbers flash until they reach 130.0.

See for once in my life I am trying to gain weight.  I am recovering from my third major surgery in four months and no matter what I do I keep loosing weight.  I had to have my entire colon removed because of an auto-immune disease called ulcerative colitis and now it is difficult for my body to process nutrients.  In addition to being super skinny, I am also deficient in several vitamins, severely anemic and weak and get out of breath when going up half a flight of stairs.

And yet… everyone is telling me how good I look.  Joking that colon-removal is the new fad diet.  Making me wonder if when I am better and start gaining weight again I will miss that little number on the scale.

This was supposed to be a pic of me shaking my fist in Righteous Fury but it really just shows how skinny my arm is!
This was supposed to be a pic of me shaking my fist in Righteous Fury but it really just shows how skinny my arm is!

No matter how crappy I feel, there is still a tiny voice in the back of my head that is pleased that all my clothes are too big and that for the very first time I can remember in my adult life I can look in the mirror and have no criticisms about my weight.  Old habits die hard and old dreams even harder.

I try to remember that now I have different dreams and the ones I have actually make me feel good about myself and my life.  I want to get strong and healthy again so that I can play with my adorable girls without running out of breath.  I want to get back my energy so I can spend time with my amazing husband who has supported me through a really tough period of time.  I want to learn to feel good about my body so that I can teach my children as they grow up that their bodies are beautiful whatever size they are.

I realize that I am crying because 130 is a number I never thought I would reach and because a part of me is doing a little victory dance but also because I realize what a toll it took on my body to reach that goal from so many years ago and hope that I can finally let it go.