Few women would admit to being at peace with their bodies when they are dwelling in a moment constructed of vulnerability. We pretend, sometimes. We curl the hair, cake on the mascara and do all of the things we can to make it seem like we’re so happy within our skin.
Essentially, I guess you could say we are pretty well versed at living the life of an Instagram Filter. Beneath that well manicured surface, (or maybe it isn’t well manicured at all, perhaps it is frumpy and careless because we’ve given up. Few people continue chasing something once the reality sets in that it is far more fantasy than truth.)
I have a beautiful friend who lost over 200 pounds. She was absolutely stunning before this transformation, and she is absolutely stunning now. While she has been fairly open about this journey, the most fascinating thing about sitting in her sideline is the way her self perception has shifted. She did not magically love herself and feel beautiful as soon as she reached a certain size. Isn’t this exactly how we imagine it would be? It has been a process for her, a journey… A daily walk, and she admits there are days when she still sees herself as unchanged.
Several years ago I lost 130 pounds. I’d had a medical procedure despite most of the medical professionals involved thinking it was a long shot. I felt desperate for change. Prior to the procedure I was not a soda drinker, I was not addicted to sugar. I lived on salads and smoothies, worked out regularly and did all of the things, but remained over weight. I was unhappy. I felt restricted, unattractive and sick over my patheticness with every breath. A few years before the procedure I had nearly died from Pneumonia and the biggest concern I had with bed rest was that I would put on more weight. My weight had ballooned up within the first 23 months of a hysterectomy. I was 24 years old and the whole thing was a shock to my system. (Additionally, I also had super crappy genes, so I guess maybe I was screwed either way.) Every time we relocated, a new doctor would take one look at me and decide I needed to go on a severely restrictive diet and take the weight off immediately. He/She would deliver this information clinically, making no effort to hide how deeply the disapproved of my lazy, sloth-like lifestyle. Then, as our visit would begin to develop, and the layers of my health history would unfold, their tune would change. Due to hormonal complications, there would be no weight loss, their words would be delivered with such compassion woven finality. Psychologically the best I could do would be embrace my body/self and love me for who I was. (The irony was lost on them that those very impassioned reassurances were trailing their emergent warnings about how terrible it was that I was overweight, mere minutes before…)
The surgeon wasn’t convinced my hormonal situation would allow longterm change after the procedure. I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia earlier that year and I knew that I needed to take some sort of action. I wasn’t in bad health otherwise. Perfect blood work, great heart. My (favorite) doctor would constantly reassure me of my perfect health.
All of this is important only because, as I said, I lost 130 pounds. I was 45 pounds away from the target weight I needed to be able to have surgery to repair the sagging skin. I was well on my way to everything I had ever wanted, and then my marriage fell apart. Smaller, (and if you aren’t familiar with WLS let me clarify- it is NOT an easy way out. It is the HARDER way out, but sometimes it is the only way out.) I did not love myself any more than I had before, I only liked the clothes I wore better. I still kept my eye on something that wasn’t where I was. My husband didn’t want me, and all of the years that I’d spent believing (to my CORE) that life would be so great if my jean size were smaller, had been wasted. If you’re wondering how this story ends- Well, the medical professional’s speculations were all right. The results of the procedure had tricked my body into a 30 lb weight loss almost immediately. Being 30 lbs lighter meant that I could be more active with significantly less chronic pain. I hit the gym 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. When I wasn’t at the gym I was either behind my laptop working, or being constantly active. It was so freeing to move without the pain I had grown accustomed to. The weight continued to fall off, though at a much slower pace. And then, it stopped. I plateaud for around eleven months, and then slowly the scale started to go the other way. Hormonally, they say, I regulated and well… Some days a walk around the block is excruciating.
This time, though I’m not happy about the weight gain, and I do wish I could even be back to the plateau size that I didn’t appreciate, I also don’t allow myself to refuse to truly live my life because of my weight. I think I am still holding in far more frustration than peace, for my body, but I am far better than I was. We’ve all got our thing, that justifiable (to us) thing which holds us back… and this truth is the same in all areas of our lives- physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally… We all have that thing that we use to excuse why we can’t simply accept ourselves, love ourselves, make peace and move forward.
In this week’s NEW episode, of the Collective Podcast, my cohost Nikki and I sit down to talk with author Lyndsey Medford about her book Making Friends with My Body and God, and the journey she took to get to that space of peace and friendship. She’s a lovely, brilliant woman with such a motivating way of facing what can be difficult things. Episode 52 is a great episode, and I can’t wait for you to get to meet Lyndsey. Hopefully you’ve read something here, or you’ll hear something there, that helps you take a step towards love for your journey.