Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I feel pretty

I just came across Susan's fabulous site and had to share this.

"We are not defined simply by our bodies alone."

Wisdom from a lovely lady, inside and out.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Real Beauty

Lately I've been busy posting at a new blog I've started for my employer, The PIME Missionaries. As their communications director and editor of their bi-monthly magazine, PIME World, I spend lots of time researching and writing about the work of these Catholic missionaries in seventeen countries. (Learn more about them here.)

Today a topic came up that made me think of THIS blog and what I have tried to accomplish here (i.e., sharing thoughts about how difficult it is to remember we are all made in God's image.)

I hope you'll mosey on over here and check it out. And remember, our children will reflect our attitudes about beauty!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Banishing the Postpartum Body Blues

I'm over at Faith & Family LIVE! today writing about a topic I'm passionate about: How real moms can come to terms with their postpartum bodies stretch marks and all.

Please stop by and weigh in (no pun intended).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Will Eat for Baby

It’s still dark outside. I’ve just nursed the baby and I should be in bed, trying to squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep before my older children wake me up. Instead I sneak into my bathroom and step on the scale with trepidation.

Will it be my friend or foe this morning?

It takes a few seconds for the digital number to appear. I stare at it and then step off the scale. I tell myself I have to let it go, that the number on the scale is irrelevant to my happiness.

I return to bed and watch my sleeping baby’s form. Her eyelids briefly flicker open and I see a sliver of blue. She sighs. Her tiny fist unfurls to reveal her perfect hand and her arm jerks. She folds into me and I feel her heat against my body. I love her so deeply, and I am thankful for this love. Sometimes I think it's my love for my children that keeps me from falling off the edge again, to succumbing to disordered eating as I've done in the past.

I recently stumbled across Deuteronomy 25:18-19 and recognized that vigilance is imperative during this exhausting point in my life. The passage reads: “He harassed you along the way, weak and weary as you were, and cut off at the rear all those who lagged behind."

When I’m exhausted, I’m more likely to cave in to past temptations. When I am weary, I let my guard down and allow the relics of my eating disorder to creep back into my life. It's all too easily to fall into old habits, to let demons of the past haunt me and lure me in.

Every day is a struggle for me. Whenever I feel hunger pangs deep inside of me, I have to tell myself I must eat if not for my own nourishment than for my baby who needs my body to have enough energy to feed her.

I always worry when I bring up my struggles with body angst. People don’t understand, especially since I don't look like I have a weight problem (though I certainly do have a type of weight problem). Even my own husband can't understand it. "You're beautiful," he says. But it's not about beauty. My weight is not about how I look or even how my jeans fit. For me, it’s about being in control. It's about having a quantifiable means of measuring my worth.

My nights are unpredictable and so, too, are most of my days. When I slip between the sheets each night, I never know when the baby will wake up to nurse or how long I will have to hold her upright after each feeding so that the gurgling and the wet hiccups will no longer cause her pain (and keep me awake). I don’t know when my older children will need me – when my day will begin or how it will unfold. I can have a plan in mind, but it can slowly begin to unravel with an unexpected crying jag (from the baby or me), a sibling sprawl over a once-forgotten stuffed animal that has swiftly taken the center stage as the number one toy to have in your possession, or a spilled smoothie seeping into our carpet.

In short, in my fatigue and my dicey days and even dicier nights, I feel powerless. I cannot control the number of hours (minutes!) I spend in REM. I cannot always control my children’s behavior, try as I might. I do not know when (or if) my husband will be home from work to offer support.

But how much I eat, the delightful downward trend of the scale – these are areas of my life in which I can wield complete control. I can whip my body into submission and deprive myself of calories. If I eat too much or the number on the scale gets stuck at an “unreasonable” number, I can always take certain purgative measures (skip breakfast, exercise for longer and harder) to compensate. When I feel lacking as a mother, there's one area I know I can master; I used to be very good at controlling my weight.

Not that I subscribe to the unhealthy habits of my past. I try not to weigh myself very often at all; I resist losing weight unless it's done the healthy way. But I am faced with the temptation to start obsessing over calories and the number on the scale nearly every day.

But then I hear my baby cry. Or my toddler reaches up to me with her deliciously chubby arms and says, “Pick me up, Mommy.” Or my preschooler challenges me to a game of tag. And I know I must eat if not for myself then for the children who need me – all of me – to feed them, hold them, chase them and most importantly, to teach them that their own bodies are temples deserving of respect and honor.

When I begin to notice every inch of flesh, the way it moves when I move. Or when I am tempted obsess over every bite that passes my lips, I tell myself that I need to be strong. I need to fuel my body and not punish it. I need to remember that pursuing thinness has no eternal value at all, but raising children does. And I remind myself that God is in me. He dwells in this body of mine.

I cannot wish away this cross I bear. For a long time, that's what I've tried to do - to forget that I ever had an eating disorder. In fact, not so long ago I wrote to a friend who was struggling with her body image that I used to see myself as weak for not being able to completely rid myself of this inner turmoil. However, what has helped me is knowing that this is a cross I'll likely have for the rest of my life. It's one I must accept and embrace. Much like a recovered or dry alcoholic, I've come to see that I can be physically recovered but that I face an ongoing process of restoration. I'm always working to detach myself from my unhealthy thoughts and to attach myself completely to God. Only then will his love and power for healing have the ability to take hold of my life.

So I will eat for my baby, but I’ll also eat for myself and for the God who created me and loves every postpartum, soft inch of me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fat Pants

Most of us have a pair of "fat pants" in our closets.

They're the kind that fit no matter what. They're soft and baggy, with an elastic waist, of course.

I came across an item recently which gives "fat pants" a new meaning.

Now ALL my pants can be my fat pants! With a simple stretch of the waist, I can be comfy in any pair, no matter if I've gained a few pounds.

I know I'm not the only one who has put on a little weight over the winter. So now I'm left with a dilemma: do I begin a new diet and exercise program? Do I wear my "fat pants" every day? Do I purchase this item?

Or do I do something totally outrageous and buy new pants.

We are so trained that that problem is not in our pants, but in our selves. What if the opposite is true? What if it doesn't really matter how big our waists are? Could it be possible that we're OK just the way we are?

Next time you stand in front of a mirror, at home or in a dressing room, cursing your image and saying "I'm too fat for these pants!" try this. Get a new pair of pants. The pants are wrong. You're right. You're right and fine and beautiful just as you are.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Personal Waste

This evening I was reading an essay called "To Be Fat and Recovered" by Marcia Germaine Hutchinson. It was written from the perspective of a woman who after recovering from a lifelong history of disordered eating accepted that she would never be thin. In fact, she describes herself as fat despite eating healthy and exercising regularly. Her metabolism, she suspects, is a train wreck because she spent over three decades of her life either on a diet, failing a diet, rebounding from a diet, or planning another diet.

The entire essay was worth the read, but there was one particular passage that really jumped out at me:

"Reflect on how many minutes and hours you spend obsessing about your body in the course of a day. How much time do you spend worrying about food? How much over what to wear? How much about how others are judging you? How much in judging yourself? Multiply this amount by 365 and you have some sense of the magnitude of your personal waste."

Just last week I spent way too much time obsessing over one, now that I've had more time to think about it, fairly innocuous comment in response to a pregnancy photo I posted and how people were judging me. I invested all of this precious energy - and all my energy is precious right now, given how tired I've felt in my eighth month of pregnancy - on worrying about not only how I look to myself (do I look too pregnant or pregnant enough?) but also worrying about what judgments others make based upon one isolated photo my preschooler happened to take.

How narcissistic is that?

Thankfully, Lent is right around the corner and fasting on food isn't going to be half as cleansing for me as fasting on my own personal waste. Any time I'm tempted to think about my weight or what I'm supposed to look like or what others think I'm supposed to look like, I'm going to instead turn my thoughts heavenward.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?"

-Matthew 6: 25-27