|Who likes the scale?|
Hi everyone! I'm taking a break from fashion today to discuss a topic that every woman has an opinion on: Body image and the scale! I don't know a single woman who doesn't have some sort of battle with the scale. Whether we have 10, 20, or even ZERO pounds to lose, it seems it's tough to be happy with that dang contraption that looms large from its post in the bathroom, or the numbers that it reveals when we step on it. I'm less focused on it now that I have a family to care for. I've tried to come to terms with the fact that it's more important to feel healthy that reach a certain number on the scale. But that wasn't always the case with me. I've been working on and editing this blog post for weeks now, debating on whether or not I want to share a serious topic on a blog that I want to keep lighthearted and fun. But I think it's a good topic, a worthy topic, and I have found such kindness through the blog world, I wanted to share a personal story that not many people know...
My body has always been tall and athletic, through my childhood, teen years, and on to adulthood. I always played sports and exercised, even in college when people thought I was crazy for running in the snow, rain, or whatever weather we were having. But eleven years ago, the summer that I got engaged, for some reason I decided I wasn't thin enough to be a perfect bride. Looking back now, it is clear I quickly developed a problem. At the time I was a television news reporter working the night shift, so I worked 3 to midnight. That gave me plenty of morning hours to work out...and that is all I did when I wasn't working. I'd do 80 minutes (!!!!) of cardio at the gym, lift some weights, and then come home and RUN for another 30 minutes. I wouldn't eat a thing until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, when I got to work. I had all these weird food and exercise "rituals" and I'd get really stressed out if I couldn't follow them. I weighed myself weekly, at the gym, and always had to wear the same exact outfit when I weighed in. I was so weird about everything related to my weight, and I lost nearly 20 pounds.
My hip bones and collar bones jutted way out. The entire time I was in this phase, even though I was the thinnest I had ever been, I still wasn't happy. In fact, I was miserable. I was exhausted and freezing all the time. No one ever guessed I had a problem, not even my mom, my friends, or my then-fiance, who is now my husband. I guess they didn't realize anything was wrong, because I was never to the point that I looked sick...just very thin. I was also alone a lot during the week, due to my odd work schedule, and I did a good job of keeping my strange eating habits to myself. When I was around my friends or family, I ate "normally."
This continued for a year, and then, the next summer, the summer of my wedding, everything changed quickly. My mom was diagnosed with cancer two months before my wedding. I was so terrified of losing her that I starting eating more, out of stress. I gained enough weight that the seamstress actually had to let my wedding dress OUT (when does that ever happen?) I was distressed about gaining weight, but I simply had no more energy to continue that exhausting lifestyle. I literally couldn't push myself anymore to work out for 2+ hours a day and starve. Plus, with my mom being sick, and then me being newly married, I had other things to focus on. And even though I didn't like that my size 2's no longer fit, I had to admit I felt better when I wasn't starving myself.
Luckily, my mom's cancer went into remission and she is still with us today, we just celebrated her 72nd birthday. Less than a year after getting married, I quit reporting and moved on to a different career path. I also became pregnant with our first son, quite unexpectly. It was the greatest surprise ever! I feel fortunate that my extreme exercising and dieting did not compromise my fertility.
Now, 11 years and more than 15 pounds heavier (that still bothers me to say, I must admit), I still exercise daily but not obsessively. I have always been a runner, I go to the gym, I just try to be healthy. Do I wish I were 5 pound lighter? Sure, what woman doesn't? But I will never let it control me again like it did in my 20's. Life is too short and too precious. When I look back, I feel sorry for that younger version of myself, trying so hard to be perfect and never quite reaching my own impossibly high standards. What a waste of time and energy.
|Me feeling victorious and healthy after the Columbus, OH half marathon last October.|
It really is a mystery to me why we, as women, myself definitely included, often times mistake thinner for better. Most men will say they prefer a woman with some curves. But it's hard for us to listen, or believe that message. I know part of that is due to the media, society, and Hollywood. I also think women are simply hardwired to be critical of themselves and have difficulty being completely happy with their appearance. I still fall into this trap...but I force myself out of it. If I wouldn't say, "You look terrible today," to one of my friends, why would I ever say that to myself?
I appreciate you reading. I'm not sure why I felt compelled to tell this story. Maybe it will help another woman who is struggling with her weight, or overexercising, to remember that there are so many things that are more important to life than the scale or those last 10 pounds. I want you to know I've had my body image struggles just like everyone else. I truly think that each and every woman can be beautiful, no matter what her size.
Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your own thoughts and experiences!