Summertime is hard on women and girls. It’s that time of year that every store advertises its clothing lines for us to be “beach ready”. We are bombarded with messages that tell us we need to beat our bodies into a shape that’s ready to be shown off in perfect form. Our body image takes a hard hit during the summer. When our body isn’t perfect – and whose is? and what woman believes hers is? – it’s hard.
From “Thin” to “Overweight”
For so long I would look at myself and scowl in disgust. How could I have let myself get this way? I used to be thin. But then I had a baby, and later, I fell into depression, and the weight started to add up before I even realized it. Next thing I know, I’m in my sister’s wedding photos as her matron of honor and I’m horrified at what I’m seeing. I threw myself into exercise and restriction diets, but inevitably, I’d fall back into depression and go back to emotional eating, and it was all out the window. And I was still disgusted with what I saw in the mirror.
Another baby came along a few years later, and I gained more weight during that pregnancy. I couldn’t stand what I looked like…I was mortified at how I looked.
But you want to know something I did during that pregnancy?
I climbed a mountain.
I Climbed a Mountain!
Six months pregnant, I set out up a rocky, muddy trail with friends. It was hard, and my friends thought I was going to turn back. Even my husband left me sitting on a rock catching my breath, to go see how far it was to the top. But I got up. My friends couldn’t believe their eyes when I came out of the woods to the summit and the beautiful view at the top. The last quarter of mile had been nothing less than a rock scramble, but I’d conquered it – at six months pregnant…and overweight.
Later, when pictures of me at the top of the mountain appeared on Facebook, I fought disgust looking at myself – even when I knew what I had done to get there.
It was months later, after my son was born, after many more hikes, after my daughter was older, that I looked in the mirror, and said, “No more.”
No more was I going to look at myself in disgust. No more was I going to body shame myself. No more was I going to beat myself up for my condition.
Yes, I’m overweight. But I am happy with where I am.
My Body Can Climb Mountains
I have lost some weight to get to a point where every time I go to the doctor, my labs come back healthy. And – I can climb mountains. I hike – that’s one of the things I do well – and I can hike any trial, any trail well. I carried and gave birth to two children. My body has been through a lot. I battle bipolar disorder and anxiety. I raise my family, I run a business, I volunteer, and so much more – and I still find time to exercise, but not to the point where I hurt myself or gasp for breath.
I just MOVE. I walk. I hike. I listen to my favorite music on my elliptical and stationary bike. I work out at the YMCA. I eat healthy so I can live my life well, but I still let myself indulge in chips and salsa, because I want to live a little.
I’m still overweight. But I’m okay with that. I’m healthy. I like my curves, and so does my husband. I like that my little son likes to “squish” his mommy. I like that my daughter can see her mommy conquer life in this condition.
I’m Done Body Shaming
You know why I’m done body shaming? Because I’ve fought to be where I am, and the heart in this body is still beating, and that’s something of which I am very proud. I’ve embraced who I am – every bit of me.
Be proud of what you’ve done, mama, and where you’ve been. Embrace who you are – every bit of you.