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See this girl?

She was eating clean foods. She was the thinnest she’d been since having kids. It was thrilling to be wearing smaller clothes and having a flatter tummy! She really thought she looked GOOD!

What you don’t see is that she was practically starving herself. Not because she had an eating disorder. But in hopes that she could avoid reactions and extreme inflammation. She had to cut out dairy, gluten, soy and nightshades. Even still, her symptoms were only slightly better.

She ate every bite of food in fear. If her food was contaminated with even a tablespoon of butter, her hands would swell before the meal was over and would continue to hurt for days later. She couldn’t even pick up her toddler normally because of the near constant hand, wrist and neck pain.

 

No answers

She was running herself ragged going to acupuncture, craniosacral and chiropractic appointments. Everyone was baffled. She was doing everything right. But the pain continued and she still woke up with reflux every day. Not only was she always stressed about eating, she was also terrified that the unresolved digestive issues were going to cause cancer, a disease that stole her dad from her earlier that year.

Because there was no diagnosis for this storm raging in her body, she often suffered in silence because she didn’t feel like she had a legitimate illness. And when people did know what was going on, she wondered if they thought she was just doing this for attention. Mentally and emotionally she was not in a good place. She wasn’t happy.

 

 

Now see that girl?

She wakes up every day in dread of choosing what outfit she will wear because her body has changed. She’s gained 20 pounds after her last child was born. Her body is  s t r e t c h e d out and soft. Her thighs and butt are larger and lumpier than ever. Sometimes when she passes a mirror, she wonders whose body is really in the reflection.

But what you don’t see is a woman who is working hard to love her body in whatever state it’s in! She’s living in a body that still delights her husband. It’s given life to 7 babies and grew and birthed 3 of those. It’s fed those babies for almost 9 years! The saggy skin and stretch marks were earned and are testimony of just how great this body really is whatever shape it is.

Another thing you don’t see, is that she can now eat almost anything she wants without any pain. Why? Who knows! But she gets to enjoy ice cream again on long summer nights, pizza on lazy Fridays and no longer has to ask for the allergy menu any time she eats out!

 

A change

This didn’t come easy though. Not because she had to heal her body. But because she had to change how she viewed food.

Diet culture plus her own experience of food hating her, left deep scars. It vilified that ice cream and made pizza evil. For the longest time she had guilt for harming her body for these indulgences. She felt like a kid stealing cookies from the jar. She sneakily ate each bite just hoping her body wouldn’t notice the toxins she was feeding it.

Then it dawned on her. Food isn’t evil! And eating isn’t always just about the food. It’s about the family time. The memories.  The freedom to just love life!

Not now

Would she like to drop 20-30 pounds? Absolutely! But she’s not willing to sacrifice the life she has right now to get there.

She’s not going to alter her diet because the memories of being restricted are still too fresh. For once in her adult life she isn’t dealing with daily discomfort so she isn’t going to work out because she knows it will cause pain (even if it’s temporary)!

Things may change in the future but right now she is just rejoicing that her body has energy and ability to truly live! She can easily pick up her newest toddler, take her big kids to play with friends and cultivate a life that she can look back on and think, “I’ve really lived.

She truly loves who she is right now and that’s about the most anyone can hope for in life!


What about you? Do you need to live and love more? Or are you under the bondage of diet culture? Have you had your own struggles with your health? I’d love to hear where you are right now!

 

As I sip my afternoon cup of coffee, I glance around to see my living room in all its messy glory. There’s leftover snacks on the end table. A doll car at my feet. My husband’s shoes are in the same place they landed when he kicked them off last night.  The sofa is for once, surprisingly, not covered in last week’s art projects but I don’t even want to think about the “trail mix” that’s under it! This scene is probably expected considering that I’m a mother.

 

Perfectionist

But what if I told you I was a perfectionist? Would you believe me? Or would you laugh in my face because after all, a true perfectionist would have a spotless home despite of her three children.

 

I can’t believe I’m sharing this!

But believe me. I’m a perfectionist. You see, I had the luxury of growing up alone and getting to do things MY way. This let me cultivate some pretty strong perfectionism qualities. Need more proof? Somewhere buried deep in the depths of my mother’s basement there are pictures in which ever strand of hair in my bangs are equally spaced and sprayed in place. You could also probably find evidence of my graduating college Summa Cum Laude. My childhood toys still have lots of life left in them and any that are broken, met their fate at the hands of my children (little savages!).

 

Plot Twist!

But as with any good story, this one has a plot twist. In my case, his name is Marshall and I stole his last name. He’s far from perfect but somehow has perfectly taught me the beauty in letting go, loosening up and going with the flow. Because of him, I, now, consider myself a recovering perfectionist. I’m learning to embrace this crazy unplanned adventure we’re living together and am beyond thankful this man came into my life!

 

Still though, in my dreams, my house is spotless. My kids wear perfectly coordinated clothes and never get dirty. I never yell, I read to my kids all day and plan elaborate craft projects. And I always cook delicious, organic meals that everyone eats and loves every last bite. I’m a size 8 and have a well toned body that doesn’t even hint to its history of growing three humans. I have lots of friends and we all take turns planning perfect parties in our perfectly maintained gardens.  I also enjoy every moment I spend with my husband and can’t wait until he retires so we can spend every moment of every day together.

WAKE UP!

This is not reality! And if you are still living in the world of trying to be a perfectionist, you’re only setting yourself up for a life of disappointment and self-loathing. Perfectionism is not about your success in doing things perfectly. It’s about equating your self-worth with your failure to live up to your own ridiculous standards. Oh, mama, you are so much more than your success and failures.

We live in a world of social media. Our world is bigger. We have more people to compare ourselves to and people have more opportunity to white wash their own realities. Even outside of social media, we tend to only show the world our best selves. This hypocritical existence leads to judgement, unhappiness and sometimes down right cattiness among other moms who are walking this same journey as we are.

Revolution

I say we do something crazy and start a revolution! Let’s start being real with each other. How about we support each other instead of tear each other down? What if you started owning who you are, that perfectly imperfect woman that you are? Free yourself from your own ridiculous standards because I promise you, the rest of us truly don’t care about the beautiful mess that is you, my dear. Stand tall, sweet sister, take my hand and let’s be recovering perfectionists together!