The holiday season is not a pleasant time to be talking about my weight, especially since I've been decimating my mom's delicious cookies... Then again, maybe it's the perfect time--I need to be thinking about my weight so that things don't get out of hand with the cookies, and so that I can have a plan of attack when the holidays are over. After reading all about how I stuff my face with junk food, I thought a little background might help you understand where I've been in reference to my self-assessment of my physical appearance, and where I am right now in my feelings about how I look and how much I weigh. There have been very few times in my life when I've been happy with how I looked--and I think this is a feeling a lot of women have, which makes me sad. I've never been a stick-thin girl--I am short, and throughout my childhood, I had more of the build of an athlete. I was always extremely active, so I don't have a problem with my build--I reveled in being athletic.
|My 5th Grade Class Photo--I'm dead center in the 2nd row|
In 5th grade, two defining things happened that really altered my view of myself. At 10 years old, I don't really think I had a concept of how other people looked at me, and whether or not their view of me was favorable or unfavorable--I was blissfully unaware of the cultural pressures put on girls and women. I had a crush on a boy named Luke Cooper (if you read this, Luke, I'd love to know what you're up to now!), and we ate lunch at the same table every day. I don't even remember the context, but one day at lunch, he referred to me as "thunder thighs," and everyone laughed. I was pretty hurt, obviously, and totally confused--Luke liked me, and we even went to the movies after that (LA Story with my best friend Sarah and his twin brother--a double date, with my mom chaperoning!). I didn't really know what "thunder thighs" were, but I gathered that it wasn't a compliment or attractive, and I had them. The second thing was that I ran for 5th grade class president, and when I won, a girl who I had gone to school with and known since kindergarten told me that I only won because I had breasts and none of the other girls did, so all the boys voted for me (or my breasts, as it were). I developed fairly early, so she was right about that aspect--but I didn't know to be self-conscious about that fact until she pointed it out. Hello, body image issues.
|Just turned 14 in this picture, with my lifelong friend Brynne|
I took dance and gymnastics starting when I was 4 years old. In high school, I was a cheerleader and ran track (100m and 200m, long jump, triple jump, and sprint relays--my thunder thighs got me all the way to the State meet in triple jump!). I was a base in cheerleading, meaning I lifted the lighter girls--so by definition, I was not a lighter girl. I was not happy with my weight, even though obviously I was healthy, strong, and active. Looking back at pictures of myself in high school now, I wonder what the heck I didn't like about myself back then--I was probably thinner than I have ever been, and I looked great! It's a testament to the fact that our minds and our feelings toward ourselves can really alter how we view ourselves at any given time--I wasn't happy with my appearance, and that is what the mirror reflected back to me. I tried out for the cheerleading squad in college, in the first few weeks of my first year at UVa--I had been a 2-time All American cheerleader and I was a decent tumbler, so I thought I had a pretty good shot at making the squad...until they asked all of us to step on a scale they brought into the room after the very first practice. I knew right then that I wouldn't make it--I walked up to the front of the line and was weighed first, and then I hung around to watch every other girl weigh in because I wanted to know where I stood in this ridiculous competition. I was the 4th heaviest girl in the room--and out of hundreds of smaller girls with similar abilities, that means you're out. I weighed 128 pounds. Yep, that messed with my head.
|So happy--I LOVED my dress (and still do!) :)|
Fast forward to my wedding day. I thought about losing some weight before walking down the aisle in my wedding dress, but honestly, I was so happy that my weight didn't really matter to me and I didn't stress about it. I felt great and beautiful on that day, and that's all I wanted. The next morning, Dan and I took an early flight to our honeymoon destination, still giddy from the reality of being husband and wife. We were being cute and having fun just talking about the wedding and the guests and our new life together when I happened to look down at my lap and notice that my favorite pair of Gap boot cut jeans that I wore practically every day were getting threadbare along the inner seam of my thighs. I lamented that my favorite jeans were getting holey, to which my dear, sweet, well-meaning new husband replied, "Well, maybe you should work out more often." What??? His comment caught me so off guard--I thought my jeans were just getting old and hadn't yet equated the fact that the jeans were wearing out where my thighs rubbed together...but apparently he had, and the next logical step to solving the problem would be to make my thighs smaller and reduce the rubbing by working out. My thunder thighs were back...even though they never left, now I was worried about them because my husband thought they should be smaller. Ouch. For reference, my husband has an unfortunate habit of putting his foot in his mouth, when he really is a sweet, nice guy.
|AmericaontheMove.org made walking a fun way to get healthier for me!|
About 6 months into our marriage, I went to the doctor for a physical and discovered that I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I joked that I had become fat and happy after our wedding--Dan would surprise me with McDonald's fries after work, we discovered ColdStone, we ate out a lot as couples with no kids can do. I put on some pounds--my sister got married 3 months after I did, and I almost didn't fit into my bridesmaid dress for her wedding (it was so close--Dan wanted to give up on the zipper, but that was not an option!). The health stuff wasn't funny, though, and it really freaked me out--how could I be 24 years old and have high blood pressure and cholesterol? I started working out (not something I enjoy at all, so it was a struggle)--I would go to our apartment complex gym in the mornings before work, and I got a pedometer and started walking...everywhere. Walking was way more my style than sweating it up with strangers at the gym. I worked from home for HP at the time, and I walked circles in my office while on conference calls. I ended up losing 18 pounds from my effort--it took 6 months, but I felt really good about myself! I still wanted to lose more weight, but my blood pressure and cholesterol were back to normal. This was right about the time that we moved to Ohio--I was feeling healthy and ready to have our first baby... I got pregnant 3 months after we moved into our new house. :)
|July 2005--three months before I got pregnant with Abby|