A long time ago I learned that if you were going to be the fat kid in school you had to be funny. Otherwise you had no friends. You can thank that epiphany for the countless hours of laughing I have provided you over the years. All joking aside, I'm naturally witty and funny, but I'm also naturally overweight. Always have been. I can remember the first time I recognized my fat rolls. It was fourth grade, and I was in a grey ROXY tshirt that had a stripe of orange flowers across the chest. I was in my bedroom sitting at my desk to do homework, when I glanced up and caught sight of myself in my full body mirror and there they were. I'd been teased and called fat countless times before--even by members of my own family, but it was that moment when I recognized it in myself. That was the first time I told myself I was fat. Once I tried to pay attention to how often I said that or something similar to myself. I gave myself three hours, and had to stop because I lost count of how many times I had to check myself. Who's ready to get uncomfortable?! We are totally going there today, people...
I'd be willing to wager that almost all girls struggle with something in regards to their body...too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, no curves, you get it. For me, though, it has always been being overweight. I'm not very tall, which works against me in the weight gain department. When I gain a pound it looks like 12, unlike my tall counterparts who gain a pound and look like they lost 4. Freaking Amazonians... You go ahead with your legs for days and skinny waist, and I'll be over here standing on a chair to reach the ranch dressing at the back of the fridge. I've always been active--softball, tumbling, cheerleading--but I've also always been an eater. Like a shove the wrapper down under stuff in the garbage can so as to hide the evidence kind of eater. I eat when I'm hungry. I eat when I'm bored. I eat when I'm happy. I eat when I'm sad. If there is food, or the chance for it, I'm gonna be there.
In high school I volunteered to donate blood when the health classes brought the Red Cross to our school. My friends and I went in and when we got to the table with the forms the lady asked each of my friends individually, "Do you weigh more than 110 pounds?" And when my friends each responded in the affirmative, she said, "Go ahead and fill out these forms," and sent them on their way. When I got up there, she said "Go ahead and fill out these forms" and sent me on my way. I ran into one of the lunch ladies from my elementary school once, and she said "Amber! I remember you! You used to cry when I didn't give you two pieces of cake!" And one time I was driving my youngest brother to preschool--the same one I attended--the teacher came to get him from my car and said, "Oh! Amber! You turned out cute!" Why thank you Miss Helen... good to know I was not only obese but also an ugly child. 'ppreciate it! Never mind that I've always been surrounded by beautiful, slender women. My friends were all skinny and hot--I was the funny one, remember?--my sister is slender and beautiful with thick hair and a Hollywood smile--don't worry... I got the boobs--and my mom is so tiny she could fit in your pocket.
I've tried all the diets. Weight Watchers, HCG, Atkins, Keto. Then one day, it finally clicked. I had just had my second baby and my family was driving to my in laws. My husband and I were holding hands in the front seat--we always do that so go ahead and give a collective "awe!"--when my oldest boy said, "Mom. You are chubby like Larsen." Larsen was our newborn, and although I was about 2 weeks post C-section, I took the comment hard. Like real hard. Like someone take her kids away because she is emotionally unstable hard. My husband tried to console me, to convince me he thought I was beautiful, but all I heard was the word "chubby" screaming over and over in my head. I hit a dark place over the next few weeks. I tried hitting it hard at the gym, but I wasn't improving. Then I found Ryan.
I started seeing Ryan--my nutrition guru, personal trainer, life coach, long-lost brother--in October, four months after having Larsen. He asked me what my goals were, and I told him I wanted to look good naked. I think I scared him a little, but he took a "before picture" which was horrifying, and we were on our way. Ryan taught me about macros and feeding my body the right way. He held me accountable to the goals I had set, and I CRUSHED them. I got into the best shape of my life, and if we are being frank here, I looked SMOKIN' HOT. I laid out in bikinis. I wasn't afraid to wear clothes that touched my body. I wasn't afraid to walk by a mirror, and even scheduled family pictures. I felt amazing. I had never realized what it felt like to be comfortable in my own body. Then the following August I found out I was expecting Baylor. I didn't want to lose momentum, so I signed up for my first ever half marathon which would take place the following year in September. That would mean I would be 3.5 months post C-section and had just under three months to train. I was sure this was a good idea. Pregnant women should never be allowed to make choices like that.
The birth of Baylor, and more so the recovery, is another story for another day. I ended up only having 8 weeks to train from zero to 13.1 miles. I ran my race. I wasn't in nearly the shape I hoped, but I did it and I was so proud. Over the course of the year I got back into sync with Ryan, but the pounds and body fat were not coming off like the first time. In fact, they weren't coming off at all. And I fell right back into that dark place I was all too familiar with. Every week I cried on my drive home from seeing Ryan. I was frustrated, and I hated my body. I took every single small change that went in the wrong direction as a life altering situation, and every week Ryan had to give me a pep talk. I cut out Diet Dr. Pepper, which was dangerous for everyone around me. I switched up my macro numbers. I had surgery--which was required in order to remove my IUD which had left my uterus to go visit my other organs. Nothing was helping, and every single time Ryan told me my weight hadn't changed I slipped farther and farther into depression. I was convinced that the Lord continually sent me boys because he didn't want me as an example for girls. He needed moms to be healthy and happy, for their daughters, and I was none of those things. He needed moms to be strong, not moms who were afraid to sit down because the waist band of their pants was going to fold over. Not moms who got rid of every mirror they owned because they couldn't stand the look of themselves. Think I'm kidding? Come to the gym and watch me lift weights in the corner or with my back to the mirror wall.
It's been a year since then, and I'm still not even close to the shape I was in before Baylor. In fact, the other night Larsen said, "Mom, you're fat. Like really fat." and Dewy let me cry on his shoulder for way longer than I should have. I go to the gym every morning at 4:00 because I'm a psycho apparently. I put on a smile, spout snarky comments, and find comfort in knowing that no one really knows just how bad my self image really is. I count my macros, and log my food. Last week, when Dewy was gone, I fell off the wagon, and this morning when I met with Ryan I confessed that. I told him that on Sunday I had a sit down with myself and committed to get back on the wagon, and I left ready to stick to that. It was brought to my attention by one of my dearest friends--will the real Katie please stand up?!-- that a year ago I would have cried and begged Ryan for a pep talk--man I sound needy... I should pay him more. I'm obviously not going to, but I should. But this time I gave myself the pep talk. I got myself back up and in gear. She pointed out that this time I didn't need an outside source to do that for me, and I realized that if nothing else my mental game was so much healthier than a year ago. So many things are part of a weight loss journey. I'm not even close to at peace with mine, and I will continue to fight for ever percentage drop and pound shed, but today I will celebrate the mental improvements I found. I will try to recognize the good features I have--I like my eyes and usually my hair--and I will keep powering through until I get there. To all of you struggling with body image, I see you. I think you're a gem--unless you're mean, then you should knock that off.