I started talking with one of the women in my strength training group this morning during some diabolical plank rotation.
The jokes started with our “mom bladders” and how that one exercise would have been pee-inducing a few months ago, but now our core strength has improved and it’s better. Only mild pee.
I have always looked at this woman and really admired her strength and her physique; she is strong and fit and just, any way you cut it, beautiful. I work harder at my workouts when she is around, because she is so inspiring to me.
She, in my mind, is the total package.
Anyway, we got to talking more, and I was shocked to find our body issues and ups and downs are exactly the same as mine, as so many of us. Exactly.
So this woman at the gym was a Fitness Competitor – so she really knows what it’s like to look “ideal” – and she mentioned how it was miserable to try and focus on just the looks, just the outward appearance. How now, her health and self-worth comes nowhere from the outside. That’s it’s been from the inside-out.
And it’s even more important now to her, raising three daughters. Three girls, who, in her own words couldn’t be more different.
I nodded, furiously, understanding exactly what she was saying.
Why do so, so many of us feel this way?
I have been trying to find a way to put into words what I’ve gone through over this past year and 1 month. Because I am different – not just physically. But something inside of me has changed, flipped, to make my health the priority—not the way I look (or want to look).
Sure, that is still a big MOTIVATOR. But it’s not the sole motivator.
And that’s the difference.
So much of our self worth as women is wrapped up in our reflections in the mirror. I wish it wasn’t.
When people ask me, “What changed?”
I can say a lot has changed, for sure. But I still struggle. I do. I really try not to just Fake Book, and act like everything is PERFECT. Because lawdy, that’s just not the truth.
And I can point to a few things, I guess, that have changed for the better over the last year.
It did absolutely start with what I thought was food. But it turned out to be more than that. The way that the information was presented to me was major. Nutrition suddenly became not all about a “diet” or even the food, the sugar, or the booze. It was about ME. How I fit into the wide world where food exists. What I was doing to my insides, my body by eating sugar at 10:00 in the evening, by drinking that extra beer (or three). I couldn’t “un-know” the facts. I never considered that food was, in fact, fuel. I had heard a rumor that it was, in fact, fuel. But I didn’t really want to believe it. To me, food was just something that you ate, enjoyed beyond words, and then cursed in the morning. I never sat and contemplated that food was medicine. That food can be healthy comfort–a yummy piece of fruit, a healing green smoothie, or a comforting cup of tea when you’re heart is breaking.
But I am grateful for the small voices in my head that say nice(r) things now, instead of the years of so many mean thing I worry about raising my kids and the impact on their body image. I never ever discuss my weight or my struggles, or even allude to it, around my children. I mean, never (not on purpose, at least). I almost lost mind on one of women in our neighborhood when she called her dog fat in front of my daughter… we just don’t say fat. Even about dogs. Which, in hindsight, is funny, I guess. (But what if the puppy could hear?? 🙂 )
But funny-not-funny, to me. I just don’t want her to struggle with all the things I did. I want to protect her as long as I can, and then by the time it’s “out there,” I pray that she has enough strength, confidence and self-worth inside herself, to not worry about those ridiculous pressures… or the mean girl in her head never even got a place to live.
While inside of my skull, I may be a giant mixed-up mess, I think I am doing the right things by my kids–working to be healthy, eat well, be strong… to be a good example. Do as I do, type thing.
You always wonder, as a parent–am I doing the right things? Did I do the right stuff? I guess that doesn’t ever go away.
As my daughter and I walked home from a school event on Mother’s Day weekend, we were chatting.
“So what do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked her, probably for the twelfth time this month, always getting a fanciful answer: a “somage person” (a/k/a a massage therapist), a nail person (a/k/a, a nail technician), a cook, a soccer play.
Only this time what she said, well, it will probably stick with me forever.
“You. I want to be you when I grow up, Momma.”
I looked to see if she was joking.
She wasn’t. And by the time the shock wore off, she was already chattering on about something else.
Inside I cringed a little thinking, Oh, sweetheart, no you don’t. No you don’t want to be your broken, messed-up and shattered inside, momma. You don’t want to be this. You don’t want to—-
And then I stopped the rush of thoughts in my head, and realized what a compliment and honor it was. That from where she stands, I am not any of those things. I am not broken. I am something she wants to be.
Now if I can only grow wholly into believing that myself–that I don’t need to grow into something I want to be. That I am okay, and good enough, just right now. As I am.
Every day is a struggle, a blessing and a gift–all wrapped up in one. But I am grateful. I am so grateful. I am grateful for the cracks, the bruises, the sadness and the struggle–because through those, I am able to see all the good.
It’s there. All the good. Even when the lines are blurred, the compartments all mixed-up and life’s messy things are out there, shouting all the wrong noises.
The good is there.
So I focus on that. And the one little girl in the world who thinks I am worth it.
Happy Friday, friends.