To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are. - Ellen Degeneres
Body image. My body image.
For years and years, I hated my body. I never liked or appreciated the season my body was in until the last year or so. If you have read my story, last year was incredibly hard. Enough of that. When I was a teenager, I had a negative influence in my life saying I had better watch out. ‘You’re gaining weight. Boys won’t like that.’ Let me put this in perspective for a moment. I was 5’8” and about 120-125 lbs. I was also not a flat chested girl. Instead of standing up for myself, I felt shame for my body and food. The only thing I could think to do is to not eat. If you don’t eat, you certainly can’t gain weight!! Bless my little baby bunny heart. This did work for a while. I looked even better in my mind. I had my first high school boyfriend. Things were great! Until they weren’t. I began to doubt everything based upon my appearance. Not thinking I was good enough for anything. It’s amazing how one small thought can cause a ripple to change your entire perspective.
For years, I fought my body. I am a woman who is supposed to have curves. I’ll never be a stick thin girl or have the super lean body. Just won’t happen. Trust me, I’ve tried to make it happen. The next few years I had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. My metabolism was revolting along with being moody, cold and my hair becoming thinner. That became an excuse for weight gain. I was married and had a baby then a few years later another baby. Neither baby was born 50 lbs. I had gained a ton of weight with both pregnancies. Felt trapped inside a body that wasn’t mine. After a while, I just gave up. I figured this is what I am going to be an overweight, unhappy about her body mom.
After years of starving myself then just not caring and crying because I was overweight, I started running. I desperately needed a change. Now this isn’t the part of the story where running helped me lose weight. In fact, I gained weight when training for my first marathon. Just because I had ran 15 or 18 miles, didn’t mean that I could actually eat anything or everything. But what running did give me was the mental confidence to change. I was so proud of myself when I crossed the Disney World marathon finish line in January 2016. I had actually training and finished 26.2 miles!!
When I was lucky enough to get a spot in the 2016 NYC marathon, I decided then that I would not cross that finish line unhealthy. I began to change my eating habits. It took me so many tries to figure out what worked for my body. There wasn’t a Weight Watchers or fad diet that worked. I’ve tried them. What did work was listening to my body and seeing what reacted well. Animal protein was not something that worked. So I only ate fish and shrimp. Incorporating more veggies definitely worked. I didn’t eliminate any food group with the exception of meat. If I wanted a piece of chocolate, I ate it. Foods were no longer categorized by good or bad. Reading the theory behind Intuitive Eating made so much sense to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t cross the NYC marathon in 2017 due to a stress fracture. I did cross the finish line in 2017 weighing about 45 lbs less. I’ve since lost more weight. I am about 50-55 lbs less than when I started.
The biggest lesson through this process was learning to love my body at every stage. Once I looked at this body for all the things it has done like carry two healthy babies, cross many finish lines and never let me down once through my worst days. I truly appreciate every C-section scar and stretch mark. It is stronger now than it was at 25 years old. My plan is to continue getting stronger every day not just physically, but also mentally. The mind shift that occurred has been nothing short of a miracle. Had I not changed everything, who knows where I would be now.