Body Image, Food, and Fitness (part 1)

I’d say it started in middle school, “it” being my super self-consciousness of my body and its shape and size. I had super long and lean legs, but my short torso tended to scrunch everything together, making me very aware that my stomach was not as long and lean as my peers’ tended to be, or at least like the supermodels’ in the magazines.

I also always had an incredible sweet tooth with limited self control. I loved any and all desserts and when the opportunity arose, like getting my Easter basket, I would devour the candy in a period of days not weeks. Thankfully though, I didn’t have the opportunity to binge on candy often and frankly I always stayed fairly thin, though never skinny. In my mind though, throughout high school, if I didn’t look like that cover model or fitness model with every muscle sculpted, I wasn’t thin enough. I knew I probably ate too much sugar, not daily but still, too much. I gave up sugar for lent one time in high school and dropped 10 pounds. So that’s kind of how I thought it went, give up all the foods I love and I can be skinny. I never wanted to give up the foods I loved though, hence my love/hate relationship with food and my body.

In college I gained the freshman 13. Although I was pretty active, you can’t outrun too many Otis Spukermeyer cookies (man those were so good!). I attended several gym classes every week and ran (I ran some 5k’s, a 10k and a mini triathalon, despite my hate for running). Another note on the running I did; I always hated running and never grew to like it. I mainly did it cause I wanted to lose weight but running alone never made a dent. I didn’t really do anything moderately, I was all or nothing. Either I was taking food groups out of my diet and working out or eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I gained 10 pounds when I studied abroad in Ireland and when I got back I went on my first official diet at twenty years old. I lost 5 pounds in two weeks and went on to slowly but surely lose another 15ish pounds over the next two years. I competed in an ill-prepared and “completely naive to the pageant world”, Miss Colorado USA. I had always been curious about modeling but honestly, I just wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be that person that could cheer someone up just by making a hospital visit or public speaking. I was my lowest weight since that freshman 13 gain, but compared to the other girls who had very low body fat percentages, it wasn’t a surprise to me that I didn’t place.

At 23 years old, I originally set out to lose 10 pounds for my wedding but frankly, for the first time in my life, I actually felt pretty good in my own skin, for a little while anyway. I always pretty much stayed in my BMI weight range (even though I could write another blog on why BMI is outdated and not that useful), but I tended to yo-yo 10-15 pounds frequently.

Anyway, I felt confident on my honeymoon and with my weight. I wanted to stop the striving, always striving for losing. When would my body be good enough? After all, even in high school I wanted to lose 7 pounds. How many people do you know who look great but are always wanting to lose just a few pounds? I honestly didn’t really know what it was to maintain my healthy weight though, I was either striving to lose or not caring at all. So predictably, after we went on our honeymoon cruise, I kind of gave up and ate whatever I wanted and gained ten pounds. Deciding then I had to reign it in, I discovered I was pregnant. Over the next seven years I would gain 30-40 pounds with 4 separate pregnancies. I would always lose most of the weight but then become pregnant again. I learned that within two weeks of having each of my children, I shed 15-20 pounds. The rest of the 15-20 pounds was never that easy to shed.

My body has changed since having children. Some body parts are not as pert anymore and there’s the stretch marks and saggy belly button. After having my fourth child, knowing he would most likely be my last, I told myself this was it. Either I lose the weight, and that last 10 pounds that I’ve been wanting to lose since college, or I learn to be content with my body, squishy parts and all. Thus began my journey in 2019. In the next post I’ll share with you my mindset changes and resources I used to finally get to my goal weight and feel confident in my body. From the beginning of 2019 to July of 2021 I lost 45ish pounds. I write this to hopefully help someone else get started just making small changes, to find that precarious balance between enjoying life and food and all it has to offer and also making lots of healthy choices and finding ways to move your body that you love.

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