Tag Archives: body image

Thanks, but… | unedited thoughts on body image 

“Dave, a guy at Walmart hit on me today. Who on Earth would find this attractive? A stupid person, I guess.”

“Lyndse, you just called me stupid. I obviously find you attractive. I chose to spend every day of my life with you. I chose you over becoming a scholar with a gigantic library and a fireplace. I chose you over traveling the world. I chose you knowing you’d gain weight when we had babies. Every time you insult yourself, you insult me. Because I chose you.”

It was a turning point in our marriage. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t grasp how beautiful he saw me. 

Later on, when the repressed memories of my abuse resurfaced, it started to make sense. It was textbook stuff at that point. After decades of abuse, any positive self-image had been altered. Destroyed. 

As I progressed on my journey of healing, I was able to start seeing what Dave saw. What he had chosen. When he would compliment me, I would thank him. 

In the early years of our marriage, I would pair a thank you with a but. 

“Lyndse, you look gorgeous today.” 

“Thanks, but I’ve gained so much weight.” 

“Sweetie, your hair is beautiful today!” 

“Thanks, but I look so tired. My face looks horrible.”

“Lyndse, your outfit looks so great on you.”

“Thanks, but these pants are a size bigger than I was wearing last month.”

The irony: my love language is words of affirmation. I craved those compliments from Dave, even when I couldn’t receive them. It was frustrating for both of us. 

In the last three years, so many things have changed for us. When he tells me I’m gorgeous, I say thanks and kiss him. When he tousles my hair and calls it cute, I thank him and smack his butt. When he comments on my outfit, I pair a “Thank you!” with a little spin. 

I don’t look much different, honestly. My weight has fluctuated about 75 pounds in our 10 years of marriage. Up and down. I’ve had seasons of amazing haircuts and seasons of us not being able to afford haircuts. My wardrobe has definitely improved, but I’ve always had stuff in my closet that worked. I just went from a few things to having an entire wardrobe that works for me. 

What’s changed is my heart.

I’m still changing. My heart is healing. I’m still learning to capture all the negative thoughts about myself and replace them with truth. But it’s happening more and more each day. 

I’m blessed that I’m married to a man who didn’t give up. On our wedding day, he told me, “You are so unbelievably sexy.” And I answered, “Thanks, but I gained 10 pounds last month.” But Dave never gave up. He never stopped trying to tell me the truth, when I couldn’t tell myself. 

After 13 1/2 years together, I see the same look in his eyes that he had when I was a size 0, well-rested, with zero stretchmarks, and perfect hair/nails/clothes. Scratch that. The look is different. It’s more. His eyes then were filled with wonder and new love and curiosity. Young and waiting for a wedding night. 

Now, he looks at me like a man who has climbed peaks and gone through valleys. A man who gave up dreams for new ones. A man who finds me irresistible, with stretchmarks and jiggle and dark circles under my eyes. Thousands of nights together. 

We’ve lived life. A life that’s unique to us. We’re the only two people on this planet who know what it was like to see Graham for the first time. The only ones who know what it’s like to parent Adelaide. The only ones who know the exact pitch of Bess’ voice. The only ones who know the specific hurt of burying Laurence and Flannery. And the specific joy of seeing Lewis inside my uterus, when we all feared he wasn’t. 

I still have such a long way to go, but each sunrise gets me closer to my goal of seeing myself the way my husband sees me. The way I see him. When I tell Dave, “You look hot today!” He smiles and thanks me. And gives me a kiss. And that’s the way it should be. Two healthy people loving one another. Growing older and wiser and getting wrinkles and buying jeans that fit without caring about the size on the tag. 

 

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Is She Seriously Talking About Body Image Again?

On October 30th, I hid our scale and tucked away our measuring tape. I didn’t realize until I removed those things from view just how much they had stolen my focus. I had weighed myself almost daily for 15 years. Yikes. I decided to take photos of myself in leggings and a sports bra. Thought it would be an easier way for my friend to tell if the workouts she chose for me were actually working. It was liberating to not pull that scale out from underneath the little piece of bathroom furniture that holds more unused junk than I care to admit. I thought pictures on the 30th would be better for me. This person who is attempting to recover from lifelong body-shaming. And I didn’t ‘cheat’ on my experiment. For three and a half weeks. Then, I was forced to get that scale back out. We are switching from conventional insurance to a Christian Medical Costs Sharing group. And they needed my weight. No big deal. I was going to weigh in and put that scale right back into the dark of the closet. I was excited, as I reached past Dave’s shoes. I was pretty sure I had lost some weight. I gingerly stepped on and cursed under my breath. I had gained 10 pounds. In three weeks. My day was done. I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about it. Woke up the next morning thinking about it. I’ve gained almost 40 pounds since weaning Bess. I’ve gained back the weight of a preschooler. This morning, I wanted to weigh again. Just to see. But I didn’t. Because I cannot go back to that habit. Addiction? I took the photos. Same clothes. Same poses. I wasn’t any bigger looking, so I guess the weight could be muscle. Who knows. I do know this is my last post about my body weight issues. Just because I’m going on three decades of dealing with it doesn’t mean you should be subjected to this tale of woe. I’m starting to feel half my age and a quarter confident. Back to writing about important things, like Graham using his allowance to buy a Star Wars pillow from Aldi. You know, the life-changing stuff.

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I Hate Whiny People

I’m sorry about that post I wrote where I complained about getting muscles. I hadn’t slept in a couple of years and my only clothes were covered in the vomit of a small child. It was whiny. I hate whiny people, because I’m naturally bent toward it. We often hate in others what we gravitate toward when we’re in the flesh.

But I won’t delete those thoughts, because I think there is some validity to the parts that don’t sound like a tween left out during couple’s skate. Which was always the case for me. I don’t think a boy ever once couple skated with me. That must be why I hate that TLC song about waterfalls…

Where was I? Oh. It’s hard to deal with body issues. I spent many years pretending I was okay with my body. But I was far from it. I think I’ve even lied here about learning to be comfortable in my skin. If it’s a continuum, I’m almost as far as a person can get from posting one of those bikini pics that go viral about post-baby bodies being beautiful and mushy and inspiring. So learning is a gross overstatement.

It’s even harder to be almost at your goal, and then change goals.

My original plan: get thin. But that plan only works for supermodels and mint cookies. When my plan changed to Get Strong, I wasn’t prepared.

You don’t know this, but my horrible dad used to show me fitness magazines when I was young and tell me I should look like those women. Um. How does an elementary-aged kiddo deal with that level of dysfunction? She doesn’t. She develops lots of issues. And struggles, even 20+ years later, to buy bigger pants.

But when your body composition is changing due to actually developing muscle groups, your pants stop fitting.

Healthy-minded people go buy new pants. Abuse survivors spiral into a funk and consider just abandoning the new plan, even though the new plan is obviously better and necessary.

I’m trying to get into that first category, but am not yet there. So I fell into the second. And I was actually considering giving up all my progress, just so I could get back into my skinny jeans. Knowing that Adelaide will gain more weight. Still needing me to lift her. Move her. Carry her.

That’s the problem with being a complete nutcase abuse survivor…I’m always retraining my brain.

I can’t understand how people get bigger from strength training and just go buy bigger clothes. Or how they look in the mirror and just accept that their goals are in progress and their bodies are transforming little by little.

My brain shouts, “You are never good enough! Your body is never good enough!” If you have never experienced it, I can’t even begin to describe it to you.

But just try to imagine yourself as Cinderella before her Fairy Godmother shows up. Dirty, unloved, tired, and no hope of being able to attend the ball. Then, imagine still feeling that way AFTER the bibbidi bobbidi boo and the pumpkin carriage.

If Cinderella looked into a mirror when she was clothed in regal threads and jewels and said, “You still can’t pull this off. You will never belong at the ball. There isn’t enough magic and sparkle to ever make this work.” That’s how I feel.

When I was a size 0 at 5′ 7″, I felt fat. When I was 208 pounds at 5′ 6.5″ (pregnancy makes you shorter…just another glorious perk to growing children), I felt like no one could ever think I was attractive ever again.

It took 18 months after Bess was born, but I got back down to the weight I enjoyed. A sweet 135. The clothes I liked. The body I thought was pretty.

This summer, my back couldn’t handle lifting Adelaide. When her physical therapist suggested strength training, she warned me I would get bigger. I thought I would be okay with it. A friend said she went up a couple clothing sizes. I thought I could do it without getting depressed.

But getting back up into a second trimester weight, outgrowing all my clothes, and feeling like I had no one to understand just how messed up I felt inside, I threw up online. Filled a page with my sleep-deprived thoughts. And they didn’t make much sense if you didn’t know that I had a dad who used to tell me I wasn’t fit enough or thin enough or anything enough.

Even though God calls me His child, clothed in royalty, I get this nagging inner voice that says, “You won’t ever be good enough. Adelaide will just get bigger and bigger. You won’t ever be strong enough. You’ll just look fat again. Just quit. You need to be skinny again. Everyone at that ball will be thin and perfectly coiffed. You’re already an emotional mess. Now you’re a physical mess, too.” Like I said, if you haven’t been there, you can’t get it.

Dave told me to go buy new pants. I brought my mom in for reinforcements. Because even trying on clothes can be crushing for me. I knew what I needed. I went straight to the jeans that fit my shape well. I tried on 13 pairs of jeans and bought the 12th pair.

The size number was double what I was wearing just a couple months back. The jeans I had just packed up, along with most of my shirts. I couldn’t handle looking into my closet and seeing all the things I could no longer wear. It was the worst. Scratch that. The worst would be finding out I had to watch a Nicolas Sparks movie in order to save my family.

As I waited in the line, I was psyching myself up to buy them. Officially admitting I had gained back more than 30 pounds. Crazy, I know. Seriously, if you don’t have body issues, you should celebrate with an ice cream cone. And buy me one, too.

All of this meandering to say, it is worth it. The strength training is worth it. Writing about the circus in my head. Worth it. Coming off as whiny, while working through my recovery, worth it. Spending money on bigger pants. Definitely worth it.

And that concludes another edition of raw and unedited writing that maybe shouldn’t be shared. But, oh well.

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Mom Confession: A Weighty Issue

I lost 85 pounds in 17 months.

I was nursing a kiddo with allergies/intolerances. No gluten. No wheat. No dairy of any kind. Absolutely no cows milk proteins. No egg yolks. No egg whites. No cocoa or chocolate. No peaches.

I nursed Bess 18 months. And I ate around the clock. Literally. My friends called it The Bess Diet. Eat all the time and still lose weight.

Then, I had to wean her. My dad-in-law was days from dying, and we weren’t sure where Bess would be during the funeral. I was getting ready for a trial that was supposed to take place in April, and I knew Bess was staying behind.

The truth is that I’m so bad at pumping. Horrible. I just nurse my kids and I’m rarely away from them. So, when I knew I’d be away twice in one month, I decided to wean her.

We weaned. And it was horrible. She didn’t do well with the almond milk. She went on a drinking strike for almost two days. I was about to start nursing her again, but I knew we were supposed to wean. I couldn’t even pump enough to keep her going while I was gone, so she would need to adjust to the almond milk eventually.

I was also very emotional. I had so much going on in my life. Then, I added weaning my last baby. And my body hated me. I had nursed for more than 4 total years. I had been lactating for more than 6 years straight. Then, I was done.

But I kept eating. Then I comfort ate after my dad-in-law died. And I stress ate through arraignments and deadlines and plea bargains. And I over ate, because my body was still lactating…but no one was nursing.

I gained back 21 pounds in less than 3 months. I logged into MyFitnessPal and tracked my calories for one day. 2300. I was still eating what I ate while nursing. At 2300 calories a day, I lost weight when I was nursing. But once Bess was done, I was eating more than a man should be eating. And I’m not running marathons. If you see me running, I’m running from a wasp.

So I started watching every calorie, tracking my cardio and new strength training, and I gained 4 more pounds and several inches. My pants wouldn’t fit. I had to start wearing my maxi skirts again…the yoga pants of the mom wardrobe.

I know it will take awhile to get back down to my goal weight. When I weaned Bess, I was 2 pounds under my goal. Back down to my engagement weight. And feeling fabulous.

I don’t feel fabulous right now. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel slightly out of control. So I am back on track now, but I have a lot of work to do. My body is still always looking for a nursling, but those days are over.

And I am also in the position of being careful about how much attention I give to my body weight. Because I am recovering from lifelong body image issues. Buying shorts was such a gigantic step for me, because I have spent more than a quarter of a century with body issues.

There you have it. Just some thrown together thoughts on nursing, weight, and body image. Time to go eat some Starburst. Just kidding. Maybe.

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Who Wears Short Shorts?

I had a major crush on my best guy friend in college. It was before I met Dave. And it was not short-lived. But he liked optimistic, perky, tan blondes, so this sarcastic, pasty brunette was quickly relegated to the friend zone. Where I stayed forever…but I adjusted to it at lightning speed. Because I loved having him as a friend. And he was a truly amazing person. And gave the best hugs. Because he was a giant who enveloped you.

I was barely 110 pounds. And I still didn’t like my body. Why I have major body issues is another post for another time. But I was thin and had great legs. I liked to wear dresses and skirts, but had quit wearing shorts a couple years before. University desks aren’t made for shorts. Your legs stick to them in the Midwest humidity…I learned that the awkward way.

I gained ten pounds one semester. I worried that people noticed, which is what people with body issues do. I reluctantly convinced myself that no one cared and bought some bigger pants.

“Lele, you’ve gained weight.” The only non-family guy who was allowed to use my nickname had noticed that I was bigger. Then, he smiled his huge, gorgeous smile and said, “Better lay off the Little Debbies.” I held it together for the day, but sobbed on the drive home. I was right. People do notice when you gain weight.

I stopped wearing my cute skirts and dresses. I was convinced that everyone had noticed that I was bigger. When shorts season came, I didn’t even try any on. My thighs were too big for shorts. That lie stayed with me for awhile. I couldn’t wear shorts.

It was just a simple tease between good friends. He hadn’t done anything wrong, but I already had a filter. My body isn’t attractive. It’s the wrong shape. Things look good on other people, but not on me.

This week, Dave surprised me with a trip to TJMaxx to look for high-waisted capris. They aren’t easy to find. We also found high-waisted shorts. Graham said, “Mama, you don’t weally wear shorts.” Dave said, “I’ve only seen you in long shorts.” I said, “I’m trying on these short shorts!”

I had a hard time even leaving the fitting room. I have no problems with Dave seeing me naked, but somehow the shorts seemed too revealing. My thighs were just out there for all six people outside the fitting room to see.

“Mama, you look beautiful!” Graham said in such a surprised voice. “Sweetie, you look great! Really great!” Okay. So Dave liked the shorts, too. I went back into the fitting room and saw that, yes, I looked good. I bought both pairs of shorts. And the capris.

I wore the shorts on Monday, just inside the house. It was my first time wearing non-bermuda shorts in the 21st century. Not exaggerating. 1999. I was half the age I am now when I stopped wearing shorter shorts.

I spent almost an hour trying to get used to showing my legs. I checked the mail in my shorts. Then we ran an errand, and I had to get gas. I forgot that I was in my shorts. A van pulled up next to us and it was full of women from a Pentecostal Church of Holiness group.

I was suddenly aware of my short shorts. Tasteful as they were, I still received two glares, one chuckle, and one disapproving, “Tsk, tsk.” I smiled and reminded myself that I was comfortable in my shorts. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. And they were pretty nice on a 90 degree day.

I took a risk this week and bought shorts. Nice ones that fit my triple c-sectioned body really well. I’m 25 pounds heavier than I was when I thought I was heavy. I’m also more than a decade older. And learning to be comfortable in my own skin. Especially the small section above my knee that has given me so many issues all these years.

And I think I need to buy some Little Debbies. Zebra Cakes are one of the human race’s best inventions. Life in my thirties is grand…

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