I have all these big huge topics that I want to write about floating around in my head, and for some reason they have paralyzed me from writing about anything else (at all). But, given the comments on my last post about my physique, I thought maybe it was time to address one of them, and if it isn’t a witty and sparkling and insightful commentary, oh well.

Like many women, I have long been plagued with a poor body image. My boobs are too small, my ass is too big, and now pregnancy, child-bearing and breast-feeding have not only magnified those two problems but also given me a small layer of cushiness around my midsection.

When I was 22, I kept a picture of myself at 14 – all knobby knees, bony hips and flat chest – hanging on my refrigerator at grad school in Springfield, Illinois. That was what I aspired to – prepubescent thinness.

By 29, I had lost that picture, though I do remember the bathing suit (orange, green and blue flowered one-piece). In its place I mentally hung a picture of myself at 21 lying with my college friends on Daytona Beach in a blue two-piece, freshly-pierced navel and kicky short blonde hair. I didn’t catch the irony at that time. I was unhappy with myself at 22, but just 7 years later, that 22-year-old’s body looked pretty good to me.

After I put up that picture of myself in the bathing suit earlier this week, I started to wonder: Seven years from now, will my body today look pretty good to me? With its cellulite and stretch marks and just-three-more-pounds-and-I’ll-be-happy-itis? Will I wish, as I do of that 22-year-old body now, that I had appreciated its beauty and wonder when I had it? Will I regret that I wasted so much time worrying about my fleshy parts and not enough time being grateful for the parts that are strong and good and functioning?

A week before Memorial Day, I started working out regularly. For two months, I didn’t miss a day on the elliptical machine (or, when I travelled, running or some other form of exercise). About a month ago, I started running on days the weather allowed. I wanted a goal, something to work toward, and the 5K on Thanksgiving seemed like as good a target as any.

In less than three weeks, I was running more than a 5K on my regular, every-other-day schedule (I even ran on Saturday morning at my mom’s boat last weekend, much to the shock of my lovely husband. Hell, he’s shocked by the whole damn thing). The numbers on the scale haven’t dropped very much. But I feel good. I feel healthy.

Why isn’t that enough?

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10 Responses to Pear-shaped

  1. Christina says:

    I wish I knew! I am at an ideal weight right now but look like hell. I havent worked out in lets just say 38weeks+11 months- I walk a lot and am busy but I havent needed a sports bra in that amount of time. I bought a swimsuit this weekend and I cried in the dressing room, these working boobs, the saggy butt… I’ve got the # that I thought I was striving for but its not what I hoped for… it never is.
    Nate will be off the boob pretty soon- I am going to roll these girls up, tuck them into that sports bra and start running again. I have to! For my health, both mentally and physically.
    Good luck working it out, stick with it even if the #’s dont change, your setting a good example for R and THAT I hope is your “enough!”

  2. Christina says:

    ps- you look PERFECT to me.. should have started with that:)

  3. Mandy says:

    I just re-read my comment(s?), and thought – wow. I hope she took my comment the way it was intended – that you look smokin’ hawt! I hope you didn’t think I was poking at you or anytihng!!! My goodness. Just marvelling at your accomplishment. 😉
    Seriously, I know what you mean about looking back at pictures. I torture myself with that all. the. time. And why? What’s the point, right? I mean, other than providing some motivation to actually GET back in shape? To be healthy, like you said. I admire that you have been working out so much. I did that after my first pregnancy, and lost all the pre-pregnancy weight, and then some. I felt good – but still like I hadn’t acheived my goal. Now, 4 years post-partum (#2) I look back on those days and think, “What I wouldn’t give to be even CLOSE to that.” Oh, what we women put ourselves through…

  4. Erin says:

    First of all == you can run a 5K? I would fall over dead!

    I think everyone struggles with this issue. I know I do….and it’s often made harder by having people tell me that they hate me because I’m “so skinny.” I get told to shut up just about every time the lunchtime conversation turns towards body image. I’m apparently not allowed to feel rotten about the fact that I gained 15 pounds last year. Anyhow, you are a super-hot mom, and I think it’s awesome that you feel healthy. I think that’s the most important thing you can do for yourself.

  5. vixensden says:

    I can run 5 steps now and probably 2.5 steps in my 30s. I can’t look back at pre-baby pictures of my 20 year old self and see anything but my god-awful 80s hair and outfits. I don’t know if it is any help, but I discovered after my 40s that I was very comfortable with how my body looked. Suddenly, after the kids were grown it seemed natural and a part of how I am and how I got here. Now I am not fit, and my doctor (and my diabetes) would prefer it if I lost 20 pounds; but now when I exercise (for the first time in my life) it’s about how it makes me feel. I don’t care what it does to the scale (in fact since muscle weighs more than fat, I don’t trust it anyway-so I pretty much stay off it). If I feel good and my BMI (according to the doc-I don’t know how to figure such things) remains in the good, I feel like I am okay. I never had as smokin’ hawt a bod as you do after childbirth, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder: You are the beholder. Just look and you can see it too.

  6. Colleen says:

    You’d be quite a narcissist if you didnt’ look at your body, your personality, yourself and didn’t see ANYTHING you wanted to improve. And, I’ve met some people like that. And they generally are not very fun people to know. So, count yourself lucky that you see improvements. Make you a better & more interesting person, most definitely.

  7. Victoria says:

    I think as women our mothers train us to never be happy with our bodies. If they aren’t being critical about our bodies, they’re being critical over their own. That being said, you look great! (I might have to post your age 30-ish picture on my fridge and use that as my inspiration.) I can’t believe you can run a 5k and I hope you keep it up. I’m glad you found a goal to work towards and so amazed that you met it so fast!

  8. Nathan says:

    When I started running back in April, I was amazed at how quicly I started to really ENJOY it !? I always hated running, now I hate missing a run. Last weekend I competed in my first race, 10K!!! I was floored when I finished in under an hour.

    As for your comment about the scale, I had the samething, I was working out and eating right but I wasnt losing a pound, I figured it was just because I was building muscle… and muscle weighs more. I was feeling healthier and thats wat was really important.

    Well after 5 months, I have only lost about 12lbs, of those 12 lbs about 5 have been in the last month, Keep it up, you’ll get there!

    When I’m running I use the mental image of the over weight me chasing me, but becauese he’s over weight as long as I keep moving he cant catch me… /Shrug works for me 🙂

  9. Mar says:

    Um, you don’t see my posting pictures of myself in a bikini top on the internet now do you? I think you look great! As for the working out? I have been walking 4 – 5 miles a day for weeks and haven’t lost an ounce. I am going with muscle weighs more than fat to make it seem worth it.

  10. skiplovey says:

    Gawd why are so totally our own worst critics? Most of the time when I look in the mirror I’m critiquing something when really I should just be fine with things. Eh, what can you do?

    The scale thing, to heck with it. If you are running then you’re probably converting fat to muscle, muscle weighs more than fat so it makes sense if there’s not a lot of change weight wise.

    If you feel great and look great, then it’s all good, right? Of course right.

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