Looking in the mirror would bring me to tears. I used to joke that I was an absent-minded bulimic -- forgetting to purge after binging -- but what I was hiding behind that statement that I can now see as ignorant and hurtful, was that, for a few years, I was actually purging as well, something only a few people knew. Of course that just led me into a deeper self-loathing, often skipping food for alcohol... until the end of the night, where I'd reach for massive quantities of food (you can imagine healthy choices). Between 22 and when I got pregnant for the first time at 32, I had a few visits to the land of "overweight" by doctors' standards, but by no means was I as heavy as I felt.
Eventually, the universe shifted and I found myself bombarded with lessons in anatomy -- for what feels like seven straight years.
|Before and After, circa 2009|
September 2005: I give birth again (another c-section), this time to an 11 pounder... while I tipped the scales at over 200 pounds.
December 2005: I find out I carry the BRCA1 genetic mutation, giving me an 87% chance of breast cancer, 50% ovarian.
February 2006: The lump is found.
March 2006: Off to the double mastectomy.
May 2006: I start Weight Watchers (for the 900th time)
July 2006: Second breast surgery and complete hysterectomy.
November 2006: I'm down 30 pounds and wearing a size 6 for the first time since kindergarten.
2007-2008: I'm able to keep 22 of the 30 pounds off
2009: My weight begins to creep up and I find myself only 12 pounds down from my 2006 weight loss.
August 2009: I sign on to do a 6-week program for a national infomercial, dropping 15 pounds and getting in shape for the first time in my life. (For those of you doing the math, I'm now 3 pounds over my lowest weight)
September 2009: I start having burning pains after eating.
November 2009: I'm rushed to the hospital while on a weekend away in Santa Fe with my BFF.
December 2009: My gallbladder is removed and I'm told not to exercise for 6 weeks.
Summer 2010: 6 weeks turns into 6 months and my weight loss is obliterated.
September 2010: Pains send me to the ER, followed by CT scan and blood work. Blood work comes back questionable.
December 2010: Weekend date with a gallon of hell juice, followed by a colonoscopy.
December 2010: After two weeks of anxiety-ridden waiting, Diverticulitis diagnosis (no cancer - woot!)
December 2010: Nurse practitioner conducts the urinalysis I asked the hospital for in September, finds that I had a bladder infection all along. Three days later, I finally start to feel better.
March 2011: Less than 4 weeks to go until I turn 40 and less than ten pounds under my pre-kid weight. Consider drinking hell juice for a week.
I don't spell this all out for you to be dramatic or try to evoke any sympathy, I do it so I can see for myself and maybe shed some light for you on how utterly ridiculous it is for society to obsess over a number on a scale or wrinkles on a face. I am a healthy almost-40 year old woman with a man who still has the hots for me and three kids who love me -- "squishy" stomach and all.
Do I want to be healthy? Hellz yeah.
Do I want to fit into those jeans I paid way too much money for? Yes, siree.
Would I like to get dressed in the morning without tossing half my closet on the floor out of frustration? Yup.
But I'm not going to hand over my quality of life to do it.
Because if those balloons and overpriced party favors are right and life really does begins at 40, I'm certainly not going to spend that life giving my 100% to everyone else but me. My goal is to find activities I enjoy, go hiking with my family or friends, take the dance class I've always wanted to try and eat food, not to fill an emotional void within myself, but to fuel my body and give it the nutrition it deserves and needs, in order to help me become the person I am meant to be.
But it doesn't mean I won't treat myself. Because a bite of birthday cake means I'm grateful someone's alive, a sip of champagne means I have something to celebrate, and a scoop of ice cream means I'm making a memory with my kids. If I live my life treating my body with respect and appreciation, there's no reason I should skip those delicious moments. I don't want to die(t), I want to live.
So yes, my body is scarred, jiggly and decorated in cellulite. And for that, I love it. Because every day that I wake up and see in the mirror, all those things I would love to change, is a day I wake up to the true gift that is my life.
And that, my friends, is worth every inch of this fat ass.
(Ads below are for my friend Lisa's fantastic Hungry Girl books, the first one on which I was a teeny tiny contributor)