“Hi, Allison! Long time no talk. How have you been?”
I should have been wary reading that statement. But I’m a trusting person. You don’t need to work for my trust, you have it instantly. Of course, when you break it, my trust is gone forever. I cut you out, you’re never coming back into my life.
Perhaps it’s not the healthiest outlook but it works for me.
So needless to say, I replied to this message. Back when we spoke more regularly she'd always been a kind person. So I told her I was great and asked how she was. Asked what she was up to these days.
You know how you do.
And that’s when things took a turn. The gloves were off. She had seen that I’d recently had a baby and she wanted me to invest in some weight loss regime she was selling to, “help me lose the baby fat.”
First off—let’s applaud the cajones it takes to message a woman you haven't spoken to in several years to offer her a weight loss treatment barely a month postpartum.
Listen...there were many years of my life that I hated my body. In fact, I could fill a book with all of the self-loathing I've felt over the years. But who needs to read that?
I was never as small as the other girls. I wasn’t overweight but I certainly wasn’t thin. I was also taller than most of the boys throughout middle school, had terrible acne, and a really bad haircut.
Funnily enough, that self-loathing didn’t disappear with age. I continued to read fashion magazines. Disappeared into diets. Dated men who didn’t like themselves—or anyone—and therefore didn’t treat me with the love and respect I deserved.
I got lower.
I discovered long-distance running. In training for one of my marathons, I dropped to my lowest weight since middle school. Guess what? I still hated my body. Hated it. Like...would stand in the mirror and tell my body how awful-looking it was. Who makes time for that?!
Truth be told, I’m not sure when the tide began to turn for me. But one day I looked in the mirror and what I saw looking back at me was suddenly...pretty great! One day, indulging in a cupcake or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup no longer meant total self-hatred for days on end. One day, skipping my workout because my body needed a rest day didn’t make me feel lazy or like I was going to gain ten pounds.
And I am so glad I had that mindset going into my pregnancy because damn. You gain a lot of weight whether you’re wanting to or not. Despite my continued workouts and staying within recommended eating guidelines I tipped the scale at just over 200 pounds by the time Loulou entered the world. And it was not an easy number to swallow.
I decided to breastfeed which made me feel comfortable indulging in a little extra treat now and again even though my workouts had gone totally out the window since giving birth.
Even now, over a year later, I haven’t found the mental strength to do anything more regular than a daily walk. Granted I walk for 2-4 miles, but it’s not anything near the level of fitness I was at prior to pregnancy. And I’m happy with that.
Guess what else I've opted to be happy with?
I’m happy with my weight, even as it fluctuates.
I’m happy with the fact that no matter the size on the clothing tags, that isn't what defines me.
I’m happy with healthy meals.
I’m happy with cupcakes.
I’m happy to workout one day and take a break the next.
I’m happy to be me.
My body has done incredible things. It will continue to do incredible things. And it is the one I have. It deserves love.
But I am so much more than my physical body.
I am heart. I am mind. I am soul.
I am me.
And when you are with me, I encourage you to be 100% yourself—because I believe that being comfortable in who you are is your greatest superpower.
Even if it means you’re someone I haven’t spoken to in years offering me a way to lose the baby fat via Facebook Messenger. It kind of makes you an asshole—and it means I’ll block you from touching base with me again forevermore—but to each their own.
If you feel you're in a down and dirty place regarding how you look, consider the following things that helped me:
Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow: Social media is NOT real life—it is the best moments of life. You miss out on all of the in-betweens and lows that accompany those gorgeous highs. So if you're constantly comparing your everyday with someone's best moments you will ALWAYS lose. Do away with the accounts that make you feel badly about yourself. And while you're at it, toss the fashion magazines.
Create a positive mantra: What are you telling yourself over and over, day after day? If it's that you're fat or ugly or incompetent, you are wiring your brain to believe in such things. Therefore YOU believe such things. It's science. But think about how much more powerful it would be to tell yourself that you are strong, capable, beautiful, and intelligent. Think about everything you could accomplish if you believed yourself to be the incredible person you are? Struggling to describe yourself? As a trusted friend or family member for a few words that describe you.
Find a workout and eating plan that works: If there's one thing I know based on all of the workouts and diets I've tried it's that if you don't like it, you won't stick with it. From being a gym rat to kickboxing to Zumba to a home gym and beyond the only thing I've found that I love is distance running. As far as diets, I've learned that depriving myself of things makes me want them more. So instead I eat what I want but in moderation. I challenge you to do the same in finding what works for you. Feel free to experiment but be willing to pivot if you're not finding success.