I remember the first time that my metabolism said, “Sorry, girl, you’re on your own.”
I had been working at the Bucks for about two months and fall season hit. Another barista (most likely an angel in disguise) made me a breve pumpkin spice latte.
Did you catch the significance of that? A pumpkin spice latte made with half and half.
Did I mention that I got free drinks throughout my shift? And that I worked the wake-up-at-four-to-be-at-work-before-5-am shift? In the fall? A mug of warm creamy pumpkin-coffee goodness was available at the fancy schmancy machine as soon as I arrived at work and they kept on coming throughout the morning.
Five million calories later, I don’t blame my metabolism for abandoning me.
And that angel in disguise bit? Pretty sure she was the devil.
Fast forward eleven years or so. Eight years of marriage. Three kids in five years. Two polyhydramnios pregnancies–that is, massive amounts of fluid that accumulates very, very quickly to mimic a water balloon being filled beyond capacity. Like this:
That metabolism thang is more on strike than ever.
So even though the scale says I only weigh eight pounds more than I did before I had my breve lattes and babies, the mirror and pictures say something very different. I told a friend the other day that I wish my body would get on the same track. If we’re going to get squishy, let’s do it together–as a team! Instead, my hips are perfectly normal while the circumference above them is most decidedly not.
It bothers me enough that I’m paralyzed by embarrassment if I run into someone that I haven’t seen in those eleven years.
I don’t like to be in pictures at all. I desperately want to have family pictures taken but am just too ashamed to be in them.
I dress in the closet most days, where my husband can’t see me.
The other day I escorted my five-year-old to the bathroom at a store. It was one of those ones with just the facilities and a sink in one big space together. I stood in front of the mirror while she did her business. I looked at my shape and muttered, “Sick.”
And then I looked over and locked eyes with my five-year-old. My Mommy’s girl. She is the observant one. My soak-everything-in-and-process-it-for-days kid.
She watched my face cringe and snarl in disgust at what I saw in the mirror. She very clearly heard my negative assessment.
I was horrified. And angry.
Not at her, of course–at myself. At the way that I’ve let the shape of my body and a number on a scale define me. The way that I’ve allowed articles and blogs and gimmicks and trends to affect me so deeply. I know wonderful people that sell products that have changed their lives and their fitness. I know that when they share their stories, they only want to help and encourage. But unknowingly and subtly, I believe we’ve become a society that believes what Hollywood tells us about our worth and our beauty. That if we are all thigh-gap skinny or weight-lifter toned we are doing ok.
Yes, we feel better if we’re fit. But honestly? I feel great right now. Physically, if not psychologically. I can’t run a marathon, but I don’t want to. I have done the running thing. I trained for a 5K and felt very accomplished at the end. But the entire 5K I thought to myself, “Yup. This is not for me. I have no desire to run any longer or further than this.” Not because I couldn’t but because I was bored out of my mind.
I ride a crazy bike that I can load all of my kiddos onto. I’m not fast. I have to really crank my legs to get uphill, but I can get to the library, grocery store, and around town. I can talk to my girls and hear all of their fun observations of the little farming town we live in.
We run and race and walk and do plenty as a family. I don’t need to be a sculpted or rail thin woman to do these things.
I love to cook and bake and make treats for friends and family. It is one area that I am confident in. Sad? I can whip up some butter and sugar for that. Give me a call.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I want to lead a healthy life and eat healthy foods. Two heart attacks in my family in the last month have made me a little more inclined to be careful with my diet. We have a family gym membership and I love to exercise. But if my goal is to be thin, then I’m already losing. If I go to the gym because I need to look like that gal on Instagram or that one actress…I’ve lost. Right now I go to the gym so that my girls can have their own P.E. time and the Mr. and I can have a mini date while we exercise. It’s a great opportunity for our family.
If I wait to have our pictures taken, to meet up with old friends, to throw a “come hither” look to my husband for my body to be just right, I’ll never do any of those things. I can remember hating my body when I was a teenager, and when I got married, and on my honeymoon…etc. I look back at those pictures and want to smack myself. I don’t think I’m alone on that one, since Pinterest has a thousand pictures like this:
So maybe my metabolism is a quitter. But I should follow her example. I know it won’t be easy. But I want to quit worrying about how I look and just live.
I want to know and believe and help others to know and believe that we are uniquely designed by a loving Creator. I don’t believe we should be slovenly, but the almighty fitness goal can become a god that we make more important than the real thing if we’re not careful.
So let me just say:
You are beautiful, Mama. You lose sleep so that others can be cared for and comforted. You spend your days serving others. You love with every part of you. Some of you have lumpy bellies and distorted skin because you housed life inside of you. Some of you have bags under your eyes and bruises on your arms because you are loving and fighting with every ounce of energy you have and beyond to repair the damage done to your child by their biological family. No matter how you became a mom, your body will forever hold the scars that this title brings. You are so much more than your body. God blessed you with those kids for a reason. He will equip you and He knows you are beautiful.
You are beautiful, young lady. Teenager that’s watching the world spin into a frenzy of skinny pills and calorie counting and you’re-still-not-enough lies. You are beautiful. You are blossoming into who you will be — not on the outside (that will change and change and change) but on the inside. You keep your head high. You stand your ground and know that God is infinitely in love with the person He created. He is for you. He thinks you are beautiful.
You are beautiful, my seasoned friends. You’ve lived through more than September 11, 2001. You know that “Where Were You?” can mean where were you when Pearl Harbor was attacked or when Kennedy was shot as much as when the planes hit. You have lived through different trends and seasons and you know so much more about our world. You matter. Your opinions, your thoughts–they are supremely important to us. We need your wisdom. No matter what the years have done to you physically, you earned those dings. I love your wrinkles. They speak of life and laughter, sorrow and experience. God still has an important role for you and it has nothing to do with what you look like.
You are beautiful, Little ones. So full of newness and wonder and excitement. Please forgive our insecurities that in turn make you insecure. We are trying. If we look at you and remember that you are watching, we would tell you: you are beautiful, just as you are. God fashioned you. He made you. You are on purpose. You keep growing, asking questions, exploring, and we will do our best to stop putting ourselves down and just play with you.
Let’s quit with the negative thoughts about ourselves. Let’s just live and be in the now. Right now.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30