Shine from good thoughts

shine.jpg*That’s me and my sunbeams*

 Body image.

I bet after reading those two little words, a lot of you had a rush of negative thoughts pop up into your critical little heads, no? Just me?

For years (and currently), I’ve struggled with having a positive body image for myself. I’m not a naturally thin person, unlike my brother who can eat almost anything and everything all day long and still looks like he works out (which he doesn’t). Not fair, right? If I want to maintain a healthy weight, I have to work my ass off (literally) for it. I can easily put weight on in the matter of  a weekend if I’m not careful.

Before I had a kid, I was 20-25lbs lighter and in the best shape of my life. I was running more days than not throughout the week and loved it. Before going to work I would wake up at 4:30am to head to the Rose Bowl to run their 3 mile track around the golf course, twice! 6 miles, ya’ll. I also paid very close attention to what I ate. I was reading nutrition books and I knew about all of the healthy foods that I should be eating. I counted calories and made sure I hit my target calorie count each day. I was a machine. I ran a few 5k’s, a 10k, I think two half marathons and a full marathon. And just to toot my own horn a bit more, I ran that full marathon (26.2 miles) without stopping once and in 4 hours and 26 minutes, which was under my goal time of 4 hours and 30 minutes. I felt on top of the world and unstoppable. I had never put more work into anything else and that marathon was my biggest accomplishment and a true testament to having the power to do anything if you put your mind to it and practice self-discipline. I sincerely miss that part of me, that person who was once so driven, determined, healthy and I’ll be honest…better looking. I know that’s not the sole purpose of fitness (at least it wasn’t mine) but c’mon, it’s definitely a fantastic side-effect. I honestly just loved to run, I loved how I felt after a workout and I was proud of myself for sticking with something long enough to see and feel results.

I hate to admit that since becoming pregnant with Mia (ahem…3 years ago), I haven’t established anything close to a work-out routine nor have I given a care in the world as to what I’ve been eating (except for those 3 weeks when I was on a vegan cleanse). I’m almost 25 lbs heavier, about 4 pant sizes bigger (varies by brand), my pre-baby clothes don’t even come close to fitting and my closet is jam packed full of them, I have less energy, I’m sluggish and I’m unhappy with myself for letting my body and health fall by the wayside. That all shouldn’t matter when it comes to feeling beautiful, but unfortunately I’m letting it get to me. I don’t wear tank tops because I’m unhappy with the appearance of my flabby arms. I’m self-conscious in skirts and shorts because my legs have widened a bit, so I hardly wear them. I can’t remember the last time I’ve comfortably worn a bathing suit in front of anyone (like, ever!) and since Mia, I haven’t worn one in front of anyone at all (okay, maybe my husband but even that’s a rare occasion). This is a problem, people. It’s a lot of people’s problem. I’ve begun quite a few Mondays with the intention of getting back into shape, and maybe I accomplished a morning or two of running on my treadmill that week, but ultimately I’ve failed my big plans for a new me each time. Why is this? Well, I haven’t exactly pin-pointed the exact reason just yet and I’m working on it, trust me. But…that’s not the purpose of this post.

Let’s get back to that quote I pictured at the beginning of all of this. The quote in its entirety reads “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Honestly, I do believe this. When one is filled with and focused on positivity, they cannot help but to glow. There’s something different about them. Their good vibes truly do shine. What a concept to get on board with. When I was focused on my health and fitness, I was full of good thoughts (and bursting with endorphins) and I had more sunbeams shining out of my face than you could count. Now, not so much. I have let negative thoughts fill my head which is what prevents me from succeeding, and as a result I’ve neglected my body, my health, my love for running and my internal beauty. A person’s mind and thoughts and personality and intentions and drive and spirit and soul are what should be considered when measuring a person’s beauty. I know that once I face my insecurities and deal with my internal issues, I’ll have more confident thoughts and I’ll become active again which will directly affect how I look. I will once again shine. Inner beauty by far outweighs outer beauty. I know this and you know this. But somewhere from being a young and pure little child to hitting adolescence, the tables turn and the focus is put on all of our wrong parts. As my daughter grows, I hope to keep those tables grounded and keep the focus where it belongs. On her beautiful mind.

Until Mia came along, I only had to deal with my own demons and insecurities. And even until recently (she can understand me now), I could complain freely to my mom or my gf or my husband about how “I can’t wear that, I’m too fat,” or how “I’m not getting in that pool when people are over, I’m too fat!” or how unhappy I am with my boobs or my arms or my thighs or my stomach or my chubby fingers or my ass. But I’m not alone anymore and I can’t say whatever I want, especially brain poison like that. Now, I’m largely responsible for shaping another person into who they will ultimately become. It’s my job to guide my daughter into the right direction, to positively influence her decisions and to set a proper example for just about everything! Now that I have a walking, talking, thinking and observant little sponge following me around watching my every move and hanging onto my every word, I’m forced to reevaluate my values and insecurities and examine how I show them. I realize that I’m not the best example of what it means to have a positive body image for yourself right now, but I do want to be. While I’m figuring myself out now, I don’t want my poor thoughts to cloud Mia’s attitude about her own body image or that of others. I want to pass on the very same message from Roald Dahl’s quote to teach her how to truly shine. I want her to feel beautiful no matter how her body is shaped. It would be great if more people and children felt that way, too. This is one tough lesson to instill with a society so fixed on appearances but if I’m to even come close to succeeding, I have to start with me. I can’t preach one thing but feel the opposite about it. I don’t intend on being a hypocrite and throwing out the words “do as I say, not as I do.” I have to do away with my negative thoughts about my own body, closely watch what I say about  myself and about other people whether they be strangers on the street, friends, family, faces on the TV or in a magazine. And I want to stress the importance of health over being “fat”. Instead of telling her that she shouldn’t eat so many sweets because she’ll get fat, I’ll tell her that too much sugar is bad for her teeth and for her health. I hope to teach her about making healthier choices for herself, but I have to lead by example. It’s one thing to ditch curse words when your kid starts talking (that’s easy), but to completely change how you discuss certain topics such as this one, well it’s tougher than it sounds. I actually have to start thinking about what I’m going to say before I say it. Ugh…so much work (not to mention, added pressure). But that’s my job.

With each day, Mia is comprehending so much more. I need to stop beating myself up over my current weight and shape and start accepting myself for who I am and what I’m about at any shape or size. It’s also time for me to reconnect with that me from the past that gave a shit about her body and about being healthy. It’s time to start eating right and becoming more physically active. No, I don’t need to be thinner to shine…BUT…I shined brightest when fitness was one of my top priorities and when I took care of myself. I enjoyed it and I hope as Mia grows to interest her in joining me on some short runs and simple workouts. Everyone likes a workout buddy, right? Reigniting that old flame and allowing myself to shine once again, will not only encourage a better self image but it will show Mia the value of dedication, determination, positivity and health. That’s quite a few birds to hit with one stone.

 

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“Shine” is the June writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Christina of Mouse in Your House. A few words from Christina — At Mouse In Your House, I’m bringing you stories about being a working mom, quirky family lifestyle trends, frugal living, DIY ideas and the talented people who make life something amazing. I hate getting bored and occasionally use Mouse In Your House to ask people very personal questions that I would, otherwise, never get away with. My goal is to find chicks and gents doing something cool and inspiring, which could lead to a feature about a family who took the year off to travel the world one day and the next day’s post could be all about how to dress a stylish toddler. To qualify for a feature, I need only go, holy moly that is frigging awesome….and you may even get a long set of questions for our next Q&A. That’s the way I roll. And P.S. I LOVE budgeting and it has taken over our lives in the past. We recently graduated from living in a 400 square-foot apartment to a 1,400 square foot house in my beloved small town of Knoxville, Tennessee. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///

 

 

Comments

  1. I’ve had this post open for a week and *just now* have a moment to type in my reply. (Tells you what kind of week it’s been, but I digress.) I can’t even begin to explain how much I relate to every word of this. I spent the first half of my life overweight, unhealthy, and depressed. Seven years ago, I beat the odds. Pregnancy and motherhood (and let’s face it, my own bad choices) have pushed me back into the overweight category. For awhile, I really struggled with it. The months leading up to Roman’s one-year birthday were the worst. I was tearing myself apart for not having “lost the baby weight by the one-year mark.” Then one day, something inside of me clicked. I realized how crazy I was being, how horribly self-detrimental and cruel. Totally not worth it. I decided right then, that I needed to start loving my body and accepting it for exactly what it is — whatever it is. Of course, I want to be healthy. I want to get back to my pre-preg weight. And I know that I can do it. But in the meantime, I have to love what I am — unconditionally. Because that is the woman that I want to be and that is the message that I want to give to my son. (Even if he can’t understand me yet.)

    I just love that Roald Dahl quote, so very, very, very much. Thank you for this beautiful reminder and for, as always, letting me know that I am not alone. You’re amazing. xo

    • Dena, no worries…I’ve done the exact same thing. We’re all busy :) Anyways, this whole weight thing is such a vicious cycle. I let myself go, then I’d beat myself up over it every day and then I’d eat and divulge in fattening treats to make myself feel better. Then I get disappointed in myself for being weak and caving in to sweets and my emotions. And then I’d do it all over again. I think once we accept the fact that we are great and wonderful at any size and that our bodies don’t define us and that we’re deserving of love and happiness at any weight…we won’t feel the need to turn to food, making room for a much more positive and healthy cycle full of staying active, living life and being healthy. Thanks so much for your comment and it really is so great to relate to others who are in the same boat. Glad to share it :)

  2. My turn to leave a long comment! Hahaha! I hear you and totally understand all of this. I feel like I go between feeling fat and out of shape and negative to running 3 miles, working out 4 times a week and feeling awesome quite frequently. It amazes me that I let myself fall out of a routine that makes me feel so good about myself. Is staying in shape about being healthy?YES, it helps you emotionally and mentally feel so much better about everything! It’s scientifically proven! We need to all stop throwing the fact that feeling like you look damn good also makes you feel better because it does! I know I feel much better about how I fit in clothes, look naked in the mirror and feel more sexy when I know my body is in shape and healthy. These things factor in to all other aspects of my life and make for a more positive, happier life! Life does happen and we get thrown off of our routines we love so much. Even having a son I worry about what negative things I have said about my body will affect how he thinks about body image with himself and other women. We have to be the examples. We owe it to ourselves and our children to be positive and to be healthy and to shine so they learn to shine! Love this post mama!!!

    • Exactly my problem, Nicole. I go in and out of a “fat funk” and a faithful workout routine quite often. And every time I’m in my workout zone (especially when I’m done) I always wonder why I let myself fall out of it because at that moment I feel so great! Now that I have a kid, staying consistent, happy (hello endorphins) and making health and fitness a priority is even all that much more important to set a good example for her. Being active and eating healthy are things I’d like to just be a part of her lifestyle and not be things she HAS to do, like another chore or struggle. Thanks so much for commenting :)

  3. YES! What a great post and message. It’s so true that now that we have a daughter we need to censor what we say about our bodies. I’d never want my daughter to hear me call myself fat (which, I probably am not) and then have her look at me and think okay my mom is fat and that is a bad thing and then look at herself and think wow I might be fat too. That’s so sad to me because honestly, I grew up thinking I was fat my whole life when I wasn’t. I have no idea why I thought so but clearly something happened when I was very young to make me think so. You have a great head on your shoulders about this and so I believe you’ll raise your daughter with confidence and and pride in her body. Also, I used to be fit and skinny before my daughter too but now I’m so exhausted from chasing her around all day the only work out I could ever imagine doing is yoga!! (which sadly burns hardly even any calories)

    • I hear ya, Tina. One of my biggest missions as a mom is to NOT pass along my poor body image issues on to Mia. It has held me back in the past from living life and having fun and I don’t want anything to hold this kid back. And, I’d hate for her to be the kid at school who teases others who may be a little over weight or not “perfect”, or not want to be their friend because of their appearance. I seriously don’t want to screw this up, so gotta start speaking more positively about all kinds of body shapes around here. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Oh, I hear ya on the body image. I’ve never been a thin person, but after Lucy was born and with all the hospital shenanigans and eating coffee shop food and whatever the heck people brought us for months I ended up (when Lucy was 6 months) weighing the same that I did when I was 34 weeks pregnant with Lucy (when she was born). I felt miserable. Now that things are normal and I can dictate what I eat (and do), I cut out all refined sugars and starches and dairy and work out as much as possible. I’m finally at my pre-baby weight and halfway to my goal. I want so badly to be a healthy example for Lucy though! It seems a near impossible task.

    • Wow, Courteney. Good for you! I’ve actually been trying to cut out dairy, too. Been doing pretty well with that but some slips in every now and then. Congrats on closing in on your goal weight. I’m still 20 lbs away from mine so you’re right, it does seem nearly impossible to achieve! Baby steps :)

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