For most of my adult life, my self-worth has been intrinsically linked to the size of my body. My self-esteem would fluctuate in direct relationship to my body size. If my body was a size that I felt was “appropriate”, or “acceptable”, then I was acceptable and appropriate. Hundreds of pounds, over three pregnancies, my weight has changed. And now, something has changed for me. Inside of me. I still feel like it’s good to have goals and maintain a healthy size. However, my sense of self, my worthiness as a person – to be loved, respected, even admired – that is no longer attached to the size and shape of my body.
Truth time. I gained a lot of weight with my pregnancies. The last four months or so of my pregnancies, I refused to even look at the scale during my prenatal visits. I just scrunched my eyes together and listened to the chink, chink, chink….chink of the bar as the nurse slid it higher and higher up the numbers. No matter what I ate, the numbers kept going up, so I just let it go, honey. I was deliciously round and voluptuous and had perfect, healthy babies. With the first two, it was pretty easy to drop the weight. Cut the carbs and sugar, and I was back in “shape” in no time. This third one, though. Shit, this third one. I’ve done low carb, with dedication. The weight absolutely refuses to come off. Three years later, it is still with me. I think low-calorie diets are bullshit. I’m not going to eat a tiny, pre-made packet of five tasteless chalk cookies because it only has 100 calories. I’m not going to eat low-fat crap from the store. What do they put in when they take the fat out anyway? Nothing I want to eat, I promise you.
I refuse to be hungry. I will not starve or compromise my health to be a size that, for some reason, society (and formerly myself) deem appropriate for my body. Evidently, my body deems its current size appropriate. So I eat for health. I eat for nutrition. I pay attention to how certain foods make my body feel. If it makes me feel bad (sugar, white bread, brussels sprouts- sooo much farting), I avoid it. If it makes me feel good (green smoothies, healthy grains, proteins and vegetables), I eat more of it.
Sometimes I touch my body. Not in a Divinyls kind of way (necessarily), but in a “Hey, this feels ok!” kind of way. I’m soft, but I’m strong. My stomach has a bit more give on the outside than it used to. But it’s really what’s inside that’s important. That’s where the real stuff happens. That’s where my food is digested, how it nourishes my body. Lower down, where I have what I call my “baby roll”, under that, that’s where my babies were formed. That’s where my body carried them, nourished them, loved them, before they were birthed – spectacularly – into the world. I put my hands over my breasts. Holy cow, there’s a lot there. And gravity has really taken its toll. But they, too did their work. They fed three little ones, for months and months..and months, until the little ones got old enough that they didn’t need or want Mommy’s milk anymore. And underneath that, my lungs that work so fantastically, taking in air, sometimes easily, sometimes heaving with exertion when I practice yoga, or run, or bicycle, or swim, or do any of the other awesome things I can do with my body. I put my hands on my legs, and, yeah, they’re soft too. But they’re strong and reliable.
And I feel good about myself. I can do a lot. I plan to do a lot more. I know that I’m so much more than the shape of my body. I feel confident and proud to be who I am. Most of the time. But sometimes…sometimes I feel insecure. I feel less-than because I’m not a certain size. I feel like I should be better.
When that happens, I look at my hands. My mom always says they’re like smaller versions of my dad’s hands. They’re small, but they’re strong. Strong enough to hold my whole body off the ground in handstands or arm balances. I like to think about all the things they do, all the things they hold every day. The vacuum cleaner, the mop, the lawn mower, the weed eater, the leaf blower. My steering wheel. Pots, pans, silverware. The dog’s leash. My yoga mat. Bicycle handles. They hold little hands, when little voices ask, “Can I hold your hand, Mommy?”, and I say, “Yes! I love to hold your hand!”. I use them to brush wispy hair out of baby faces, and to hug my loves very, very tight. Sometimes I put my hands on my husband’s chest just to feel his strong heart beating.
And I know that I am worthy. That I am wonderful. That the shape and size of my body doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the person I am. The things that my hands do, that is who I am. That is my life. Looking at my hands reminds me that I have way better stuff to do than spend precious time and energy worrying about what size pants I wear, or that my middle might be a little softer than it used to be.
Looking at my hands reminds me that I am enough.