The title of this post is such a misnomer. Really, it should read “trying not to hate my flawed body”. The fact is that even after losing 120 pounds, getting into a “normal” weight range, and getting fit and flexible through regular yoga classes, when I take the time to look at myself, I don’t see how far I’ve come but rather, all the things about my body that I wish I could change. I see the stretch marks on my thighs, abdomen, back and arms from being obese (and being obese when I got pregnant with my oldest daughter). I see the baggy skin on my abdomen that makes me look heavier than I am and is the reason I still wear spanx. I see the saggy skin under my arms that makes what most aging women complain about look minuscule in comparison. I see the saggy skin on my thighs down to my knees that make my thighs jiggle so much when I walk that you’d think I was made of jelly, even though my legs are quite lean now. I see the deflated-looking breasts that were once an H cup and now manage to be a D only by virtue of the extra skin there too. I see the rolls of stubborn fat that just won’t go away no matter how I eat or how I exercise. I see the healing, but not completely healed, patches of lichen planus that remind me of how tenuous my health is and of the many foods that I must continue to live without. I see the bruises remaining from varicose vein treatments, bruises that have already taken a year and a half to fade as much as they have (the ones greater than two years old are finally gone). These bruises mean that I have to be careful of sun exposure on my legs lest the iron in the bruise react with UV rays to permanently discolor my skin. I see all the spider veins that appeared as a reaction to the varicose vein treatments. I see the evidence that I was once extremely overweight, the evidence that my first pregnancy was when I was nearly at my biggest, the evidence of being pregnant or lactating for nearly six straight years, the evidence that I am getting older. I don’t have body dismorphia. What I see in the mirror is what is really there. I just don’t love my body. I don’t even really like it. I like how I feel, but not what I see in the mirror.
I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. It’s not like a little storm cloud of hate for my body circles my head at all times. I am not negatively obsessed with what I look like. Funnily enough, even though I don’t generally like what I see, I’m not really bothered by it. I’m not sure I can explain that very well. I guess that really, most of the time, I don’t think about it anymore. I just live my life and work toward better health and what I look like is just what I look like. Even though I don’t like what I look like, I don’t attach feelings of self-worth to it. I still love who I am and where I am in my life. I still feel happy. But, I do think that liking what I look like would be good for me. After all this work to get healthy, I really want to love my body, including loving the evidence of my unhealthy past because it shows how far I have come. One of my Facebook followers hit the nail on the head with this statement:
“Celebrate your health, share it with us, focus on the positive, and if there are negatives or reminders leftover from being heavy, let them be just that, a reminder (a battle scar if you will) and warrior on to the new you 🙂 “
Yeah, that’s what I want to do. I just need to figure out how.
I know that other people don’t see those things when they look at me. They see how great I look in comparison to before. They see that I can run with my kids, hike up a steep hill with a 40-pound child on my shoulders, that I can do a pretty awesome full wheel yoga pose and can manage a handstand with a spotter. They see that my skin has cleared, that my hair is shiny, that I have tons of energy, and that my mood is better. They see me smile and laugh. They see that my enthusiasm for this way of living has inspired me to create a blog that has touched the lives of thousands. I see those things too and I appreciate them. It’s actually very easy to focus on how I feel instead of all that other stuff. I really do appreciate the view.
Regardless (or perhaps because) of how I feel about my body, I have decided to make a BIG change. I am going to stop being anonymous (at least in terms of my appearance). I am officially announcing that I will be posting actual photos of ME on my blog. Saturday’s post will be dedicated to beforeand after pictures of me (with some commentary by yours truly). Not only will you see how I look now, but you will see the 120-pound journey I made to get here. As it this isn’t enough, I will also be posting an actual headshot of me with my bio in the right sidebar of my blog (instead of the sketch of me). AND I will even let YOU chose which photo you like best (poll will be posted Saturday morning in the blog sidebar). But don’t worry: the stick figure paleo mom and my blog sketches are not going away!
I think that showing you all what I look like will be good for me. While it certainly makes me more vulnerable to criticism and asinine comments, I think that in a funny way, it will actually lend my blog more credibility. And I hope that it will help me look at myself more objectively (and positively). I also hope that you will find inspiration in these photos, find your own inner warrior, and also learn to love your battle scars. Are you excited? Because I’m terrified.