LET LOVE BE SINCERE

LET LOVE BE SINCERE

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Talk to Me Tuesday...Body Image Edition

I have something to tell you.  I have never really struggled with body image.  That’s a true story.  It might confuse some of you who know me, because I have never been…how you say, ‘thin’ or the ‘standard of beauty’.  But, although there have been times in my life when I have desired to be healthier, or had to lose a bit of weight for one reason or another…body image is never something that has stopped me in my tracks.  I don’t buy into most popular standards of beauty, and although we all have things about ourselves we’d like to change, it’s not something I used to stress over.  For me, a bangin’ body is a solid size 12, and 160 pounds…which I know would probably terrify more than one of you who read this blog.  Beauty is so subjective, so I have never really wasted a lot of time on worrying I wasn't fitting into a standard.

Until Now.

Turns out, having three kids in three years changes one’s body in lots of ways.  Obviously, there is weight gain.  It’s been hard to get any ‘pregnancy’ weight off…because I keep gettin’ pregnant J  But it’s not just that.  It’s the shifting of the body, I can’t handle.  Too much weight in certain places, not enough weight in other places.  It’s the stretch marks and weird skin gatherings.  It’s the scars.  It’s the clothes fitting in some places and not others. It's having to buy clothes that settle awkwardly on this new body of mine.  It’s all that and more.

And the thing is, it’s actually kind of ‘freezing’ me in some ways.  My desire to get fit or eat right is being compromised by the voice in my head that is telling me how good I don’t look.  For the first time, and this is where it gets real, about a month ago, I told Big Aaron to stop looking at me, with tears in my eyes, because I felt embarrassed about what he saw {Sidenote- Aaron has NEVER made me feel that way}.  Sometimes, like this morning, when we are snuggling, all I can think about is the ways that I don’t like my body instead of enjoying extra hugs from my husband.

I don’t say this seeking a bunch of affirmation, I promise. I say it, because from what I hear on the street, body image issues are something a lot of women struggle with.  And some men too.  I am sure some of you have found good and healthy ways to respond when those ugly voices start gnawing at you. I am not, in this post, looking for suggestions on how to lose weight, live healthy, etc… The thing is, I have this sneaky suspicion that even when I get my size 12 bangin’ body back, scars will still be there, body shifts will still be there, etc… these kids have changed my body in some ways I don’t totally love, and no amount of weight loss is gonna change that. 
So...
                                                                                             
TALK TO ME
What do YOU do when you struggle with body image?  When you are constantly aware of your imperfections?  When the way your body has changed, kind of bums you out?  What things do you read?  What things do you say to yourself?  Do you talk to God about it?  How can I manage some of the new insecurities this ‘new norm’ in terms of body have brought me?
TALK TO ME!


24 comments:

  1. This is so hard Mary! Kids change your body and that is a fact. Even after the gym and changing your diet, the body you once had is still different and in some ways you will like the changes and in some ways not so much. Things that make me feel pretty, in general: new makeup...LOL..even a new lip gloss or new eye shadow, sounds so silly, but as moms sometimes we lose a little of ourselves. I can tell you, that for some major health reasons eliminating sugar and gluten from your diet will not only give you more energy, but you will be amazed how how the "belly fat" reduces almost immediately. I did it and lost 25 lbs in less than a month and have kept it off; I do feel better about myself and it was amazing that it left in exactly the places I needed it to. I don't know if that's something you want to do, but it's worth a shot! Hugs to you! It's tough dealing with all the changes, but they are beautiful changes :)

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    1. This is good stuff. I can't imagine eliminating gluten and sugar...you go girl! Love the idea of small things (lip gloss/eye shadow) as a pick me up! I'm gonna get on that

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  2. It's interesting because we have totally different body types and yet I can totally relate to this now. After Luke's birth was the first time my body didn't just bounce back pretty much right away. And it's way harder than I thought it would be. I'm the same weight and yet everything is different. I look three months pregnant if I let my stomach relax because my core muscles are just shot. And this has made the back pain which always went away after I gave birth my constant companion. I don't feel strong enough to have another baby. My hair has finally sort of started to grow back but it is thin and flat. My skin is a wreck. I have wrinkles. I feel old and I feel ugly. I've been mostly ignoring it like it's all going to fix itself and once in a while making half-hearted attempts to fix things but I have NOT taken it to prayer and given it to Him. And I should. So obviously I don't have any advice but I really appreciate you helping me realize this.

    P.S. FYI, your autocorrect keeps changing 'image' to 'imagine'. Body imagine sounds like a great name for a fitness studio or something :)

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  3. It's interesting because we have totally different body types and yet I can totally relate to this now. After Luke's birth was the first time my body didn't just bounce back pretty much right away. And it's way harder than I thought it would be. I'm the same weight and yet everything is different. I look three months pregnant if I let my stomach relax because my core muscles are just shot. And this has made the back pain which always went away after I gave birth my constant companion. I don't feel strong enough to have another baby. My hair has finally sort of started to grow back but it is thin and flat. My skin is a wreck. I have wrinkles. I feel old and I feel ugly. I've been mostly ignoring it like it's all going to fix itself and once in a while making half-hearted attempts to fix things but I have NOT taken it to prayer and given it to Him. And I should. So obviously I don't have any advice but I really appreciate you helping me realize this.

    P.S. FYI, your autocorrect keeps changing 'image' to 'imagine'. Body imagine sounds like a great name for a fitness studio or something :)

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    1. Oh my gosh that is so funny. I changed it. So much for writing a blog before coffee in the morning. Crazy isn't it, when new insecurities creep up on us as though we are 13 again? YIKES! I'm gettin' some good suggestions on the ol' facebook too, check it out!

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    2. Man, could this comment please be given the whiniest comment ever award?? Seriously. I guess you just hit on a nerve with this one!

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    3. oh geez! I didn't think it was whiney at all. Then again, my whole post could be interpreted as being crazy whiney and a total #firstworldproblem. So, there you have it! A nerve was hit by all.

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  4. I could have written this! Post-partum body is so crazy. Having boxes of multiple size clothes, because you know that during your fertile years your body is going to be yo-yoing back and forth is so crazy. My husband has always loved me they way I am, but I have been embaressed about him seeing me the way I am and honestly I don't know if I will ever be complete okay with the way my body looks. But, I also know that even if I don't love the way I look my dear, sweet husband honestly does. I also know that even once the having kids thing end I probably won't love all the old age stuff that will change my body. Time is too short to waste worrying about it and, God-willing I will one day make it to heaven and (not that I'll care then either)I'll be given a glorified body. As they say, "Time marches on- its marching right across my face" (or hips/tummy/rear, as the case may be!) I love you and your beautiful self, Mary!

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    1. oh my gosh, i could do a whole post on the amount of boxes and containers i have with clothes, and sizes, and same sizes but fits differents :) lol. Good stuff annie, miss your face so much.

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  5. Ok, so I have not had children, so I can't relate that way, BUT I have also never been a "Skinny Minnie". Growing up this was harder to deal with, but as I have gotten older I have also really just grown into myself and learned to love me as I am. I struggle a lot less now than I used to.

    I agree with Christine when she said something like a new lip gloss. For me, it was eyeliner. I have always loved my eyes, so by making them pop a little more it gave ME a little pop of confidence. It's hard to think about whether or not I have a double chin in the mirror when all I see is my eyes. That might sound a little vain, but I don't see it that way. I see it as highlighting my best assets.

    There is the saying that women don't dress for men, they dress for themselves or other women. On one hand this is true because half the time men don't recognize what we put on, BUT you dress for them in the sense that they will pick up on how you feel. So when I am around someone who I know is attracted to me, I focus on the look in their eyes. Based on what you have said about Big A, I think this will be easy for you. The spark in the eye or the little smile that escapes at the corner of the mouth, those are the things that make me know even if I have spilled water all over the table or the fact that my shirt doesn't look as flattering when I am sitting than when I am standing doesn't matter to them.

    I could say more, but as I babble I tend to get more cliche. I hope that helps.

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    1. Wow gfriend...that brought a tear to my eye.

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  6. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with being thin to the point it led me to eating disorders--but then in my early twenties I just stopped somehow with the help of God and never went back to that mindset. I just accepted myself as I am as God made me...so, fastforward to childbearing age---after kids, I really don't ever feel bad about myself anymore. I see and accept myself as a mother in a body that God gave me. My body is not my own--it belongs to Christ. Now in my 40's I wish I was younger because I want to keep right on living this amazing life--but other than that--I think we are called to love ourselves as we are in the bodies we have. For me, I focus on healthy rather than a certain size or image. I eat to maintain my strength for the care of the children not to deny myself foods so that I can be thinner. If I am hungry...I eat...with the intent to be on healthy choices first, if we happen to be having a birthday or sweets around, I also don't deny, I enjoy it with the kids--but obviously I would never eat all the cake or all the sweets etc--the food is to enjoy with the family not to hoard. So--my take is to always keep in mind the purpose of the body and the purpose of your life. If right now, there really isn't any time to exercise, then accept that. If right now, your focus is on maintaining your health for energy for the children--then do not starve yourself etc.. At some ;point you may able to have a model figure but right now as a mom to 3 little ones I would focus on that as your priority. And by the way, you are beautiful !

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    1. I think that's gonna be key for me, getting to a 'healthy' point might help. BUT, of course, I am aware that even then, the old body shifts aren't going to change. Who knew I'd be so vain about it all, but it is a difficult thing that I didn't expect with the fancy of having these kids so close together.

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  7. um, I wish I could say something profound for you. However, I have always struggled with my body image; from high school when I was on the track team and a 'perfect' size 0 (yes, my clothes were actually a size 0) up to now where I am DOWN to a 16 and still struggling from 20 years and 6 pregnancies. And, honestly, it doesn't matter what my husband says, I hear differently; always have.
    When I am exceptionally down about my appearance, I work real hard to do my hair and put some makeup on - even if it is only a bit of mascara and lipstick. I am working on putting brighter clothes in my closet, and therefore on me.... working on letting go of the brown and black that I think puts me in the background. I am trying to not be frumpy so I try to keep to my "uniform": comfortable, fitted jeans (love my gloria vanderbuilts) with fitted v-neck t-shirts, not the old concert ones! lol

    Weekly Adoration! Every Thursday night, I can sit with Jesus and whine and cry and He listens and I usually feel better about myself.

    I am looking forward to seeing what others may say! Many prayers for you. I will keep you in my prayers this week at Adoration.

    Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen for sharing. I gotta say, I have been a bit surprised how many women are totally resonating with this one, particularly those who have had children. I love how many people have reminded me that conversation with God will help....I'm gonna get on that :)

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  8. Gosh, me too, Mary! I'd love to be 160 again!

    I am almost frozen by the amount of weight I need to lose and the knowledge that I won't like what I see at the end of it anyways.

    But, what I've decided to do is dress however I want. I used to be terrified of actually wearing dangling earrings, red lipstick, cute up-do's, a smokey eye, blingy things even though I so loved them. But now I just figure, "I like this, I'm going to wear it. So what if I look dumb? I already look fat. If I'm the fat lady who looks dumb wearing bright red lipstick at least I'll be happy while I'm doing it." That doesn't sound very positive but it's been really positive for me!

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    1. Haha love to Bonnie for keeping it real! Amen.

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    2. You know Bonnie, I think that's key. No joke. One thing I have always said to teens/teen workshops is that once you know God loves you, you don't have to do the insecure thing. You can let the freak in you shine. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost a bit of that message with the crazy things these babies have done to my body. And, like you said, the knowledge that my size 12, 160 body will never look like it once did, kind of stops me from having the motivation to bring it back.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing, you rock.

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  9. My goal is 160. I'm serious. I've accumulated 10-15 lbs per kid, I'll let you do that math (6 kids). My weight is not from anything else. And, hey, I've lost a ton, since I gain at least 60 lbs with each baby! I just keep telling myself that I'll have a ton of years after the last baby is born to lose that weight and get into "healthy" shape. Now, although, I'm not pregnant now, I am working on it kind of...also kind of hoping to get pregnant again...because I know if I do, it would be my last baby(I'm old). Give yourself time though, because, if there's more time between this beautiful baby and the next one, you will start feeling better and that natural energy to do things will just happen. Then you'll get pregnant again. At least that's what happens with me.

    There will be time. That's what I tell myself.

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    1. For me, 160 is like the perfect number for my 'old' body type! Thanks for the reminder of time...I'm workin' on it

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  10. I have gained so much from three pregnancies and it's hard. I was in such good shape and a runner before my twin pregnancy sidelined me and then 5 months later I was pregnant again!

    I have body image issues as well but I have started running again but I run not to necessarily look good but it melts away the stress of the day. I'm not thinking about how I look or how I'm going to look, I run off frustration and anger and depression. It sucks to run but I feel so good afterward. But you know we're mamas and the weight is kind if like battle scars, we sacrificed our former bangin bodies for kids.
    Hugs because I know it's hard.

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    1. Oh. I wish I were a runner, or someone who likes exercise. I do it to avoid being too large ;) battle scars, I like that

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  11. This: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pf-L0cdcKic

    I watch it periodically. It helps me, anyway.

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  12. Oh Mary, I've gained 60 lbs in the past 9 months and I'm not pregnant. With two kids and kind of being a single parent at the moment, I've decided that something needs to be done. I can't stop eating, it's my stress reducer and at the moment, I need that. What I have done is this...I drag my kids to the track and I walk every day that I can. It makes me feel better. They hate it sometimes and other times they chase each other. And then, since I can't get out of my yoga pants and haven't been able to get into my jeans for some time, I add makeup. Most of the time it's just mascara and lip gloss, but I need my boys to know that I'm worth it and that I think I'm beautiful even if I don't really feel it. I recently had a friend's entire family who is obsessed with weight tell me how pretty i am. I was shocked....shocked. So now I'm trying to live the part. It's not about them. It's about my family. I want my boys to know that I'm beautiful because I respect myself enough to put on mascara. They don't need to learn to self hate from me. If I can love myself by way of lip gloss on top of yoga pants and fix my hair, then they know i'll take them however they come and they'll always be lovable. You're amazing and beautiful.

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