I’m sort of an emotional person, and if you’re one of the people who I’ve chosen to love, you get all of it… all of me. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep your heart safe if you trust me with it. It’s just a part of who I am. I love unconditionally… except, it seems, when it comes to myself.
For years and years I couldn’t love myself. I could list some things I liked… I’m smart, I’m funny… but there was always a much longer list of things I hated. I hated my thighs, my hair, my nose, my stomach… and on and on.
This picture is me (with my adorable husband!) when we were in high school. I remember buying that dress and then fretting for weeks over whether or not it made me look fat. (Please hide your eyes if shiny shiny tights make you queasy…) I was tiny, itty bitty, but I remember trying on tons of dresses before finding one with a looser skirt so that my “fat thighs” didn’t show.
For years, pictures of me were all carefully (and often awkwardly) cropped to remove as much of my body from the photo as possible… but then something changed. As so often happens in our lives, it took a huge, monumental, life altering experience for me to be able to reset my thinking.
Here I am in 2007, nineteen weeks pregnant with our son. I was thrilled, overjoyed, loving every second. I felt fantastic and alive, full of energy. I was a little disappointed that I’d started out the pregnancy already overweight, but I already knew I’d change it as soon as he was born. Funny though, that’s not it… that’s not the moment that changed it all for me. This was:
On October 7, 2007 we said goodbye to our son. And it was then that things began to change. I didn’t get control of things right away. In fact, I spent months grieving, far too lost in the dark to be thinking about food or exercise. But losing our son was the beginning of a gradual but definite sea change. I began to see life, love, the universe, myself in a new way. If I could survive that, I could survive anything. If I could outlive my firstborn, I could see my way to a healthy life. I started working on my health, and by the time I got pregnant with my daughter in the end of 2008, I’d lost thirty pounds and developed a lot of fantastic habits. I learned that I could make healthy choices on a regular basis without feeling deprived. I found that I could eat well, move more, and actually enjoy my life MORE than I had when I was treating my health so flippantly.
Once my daughter was born, it reached a whole new level. I wanted to make the best choices every minute. I wanted to get and stay healthy as quickly as possible so that I could be a role model for her as she grew older. This wasn’t just about me any more, but about raising a strong, smart little girl who loved her own body and was comfortable in her own skin regardless of how she looked. She is teaching me how strong my body is, how much I have to give, and just what I can do. She is teaching me how much I love to laugh and smile. She looks at me with awe, which has taught me a long overdue lesson… I am awesome.
Eating healthier and making exercise a regular part of my life isn’t a chore anymore, it’s a blessing. It’s a chance to make sure I am living life to its absolute fullest, because seriously… don’t you want to spend as much time with her as possible?
Heather is a mom, freelance writer, and graduate student. She writes about health and weight loss at Skinny Sushi, about being a mom and a student at Yummy Sushi Pjs, posts recipes and writes about food & wine at Examiner, writes and edits articles and content about wine for VinoList, contributes to a group blog at Over the Fence, and blogs about fashion at Touch of Fabulous.