Well, we did it. Michael and I joined a gym on Saturday. I haven't belonged to a gym for four years. And that's four years too long.
I have gained weight since getting married. I'm not going to say how much exactly, but let me put it this way: TOO MUCH. I'm tired of going to my closet and letting my clothes dictate what I'm going to wear for the day based on how they fit and feel. I'd much rather be the one in charge picking out something I WANT to wear and having it look good when I put it on. I don't remember how long it has been since that has happened. I do know that it has been TOO LONG.
I got comfortable after marriage while my clothes got uncomfortable. I have several containers labeled “Skinny Bitch Clothes” that are full of things I’d like to wear but can’t right now. And considering most of that wardrobe consists of clothes from Ann Taylor and Banana Republic, I can’t bring myself to donate them to charity. I keep promising that I’ll wear them again. I’ll lose the weight. And then… I don’t.
I think I struggle with weight because of my genes for one, but also because I’m my own worst enemy. You see, I've never been happy with my body. EVER. I would even go as far to say that I remember being very young (like 3rd grade) and hating the way I looked. I was always the short, stumpy girl. My friends were always the tall, skinny girls and I remember wanting to look just like them. Yup, I WANTED to look like a bean pole because that would me that I could fit in and look as tall and skinny as they did. My mother would laugh and say "Michelle, you have a cute shape. You have hips and curves and you'll appreciate them some day."
Some day never came.
I remember being in junior high and high school wishing that my body wouldn't fill out like it was. Wishing that I could just grow a little bit taller to catch up with the girls I was running around with. I'll never forget the day I was at the mall shopping for school clothes before starting the 7th grade when I started crying in the fitting room at 5.7.9 because I actually had to start wearing junior sizes. I put on a pair of size 1 pants and the tears started streaming down my face. All my other friends were still purchasing size 14 and 16 in the KIDS section and I had already graduated to the junior sizes, a heffer size 1. What a horrible, awful thing. Funny how now I would pass out with sheer joy if I actually fit into a size 1 pair of pants. But back then, that size 1 was the largest size ever and it meant I was fatter than all of my friends.
My mother would get frustrated with me because I wouldn't wear tank tops as a young girl and teenage (I didn't want to show my flabby arms), nor would I wear skirts above the knee (who wanted to see my fat thighs?). Granted, part of it was the Mormon church and my friends that attended that had me all confused about the rules of modesty. My friend Ashlee refused to wear a tank top because the church says you shouldn't show that much skin (little did I NOT know that the church was referring to those who wore garments and how they should wear the appropriate clothing to cover them) Apparently then, I took the "modesty rules" WAY too seriously (and so did my friends who I was afraid would judge me if I actually wore something cute).
I never really could appreciate the body I had because I was constantly plagued with the fact that I was shorter and stumpier than everyone else. I didn't look like the girls on the cover of Teen and Seventeen. And I certainly didn't look like my friends who were destined to be 5'7, 5'8, and 5'9. I remember the summer before starting high school where I actually kept a binder with measurements of my body, a work out regime, and a strict diet because I wasn't going to buy fat girl clothes to start high school.
Now what I wouldn't give to be wearing the size I started high school in.
I think it's amazing that I never developed an eating disorder. I enjoyed food too much to be anorexic, and the thought of sticking my finger down my throat to puke was enough to turn me away from being a bulimic. But I never was happy with my body image. I never was confident in myself or how I looked, and I let it keep me from doing many things that I wanted to do, back then and even now. I mean, for crying out loud, I even wore a girdle under my Preference Ball dresses. And to be honest, I had no gut to hide at that age. But I sure thought I did, and I made damn sure I didn't leave the house without it on. Turns out I was uncomfortable in every single dress I ever wore to a formal dance by wearing that stupid "sucker-inner" to look skinnier. How lame now that I think about it.
So here I am. Nothing has changed. I'm still uncomfortable with how I look (only for good reason this time because I actually weigh as much as I feel when I look in the mirror), and I'm still afraid to do things I want to do, wear clothes I want to wear, and be who I want to be. My lack of self esteem has stopped me from doing a lot of things, including taking better care of myself.
And now that I finally have the body to match the way I'm feeling, I decided enough was enough and I joined a gym. I also got up this morning and drank a nutritious breakfast shake. I bought things like apples and spinach at the store yesterday, and I even bought diet soda for the first time in years (yes, I know how bad regular soda is for me and that it has played a large part of my weight gain). I am counting my calories and watching my carbs and buying things like gym pants and sports bras in the hopes that I can find a thinner me somewhere inside this body I have hated for 29 years and 10 months.
But I know that all these things aren't going to replace the hatred I have for the shape I was born with. I know all the dieting in the world can't take away the fact that I hate my 5'0 frame, wide hips, broad shoulders, and stubby limbs. I can diet all I want, but I've yet to figure out how to love myself and the way I look (fat or thin).
Maybe one day there will be some beauty magazine that provides and article that covers the ten steps to a healthier frame of mind, or information about a program that will teach me how to appreciate myself and who I am. I've read too many "Healthy Recipes Under 100 Calories!" I've read too many "Beauty Tips for Gorgeous skin, Flawless Make-up, Shiny Hair and Blah Blah Blah." I need to find the one article that helps me get past all those other things so I can accept who I am and appreciate the body God gave me, without any of this wishing I were this or that.
I'm turning 30 in two months, and I don't want to spend the next 30 years hating the reflection in the mirror.