Tag Archives: weight

14 Months Later…

4 Jun

Emma will be 14 months this Saturday and I am just now getting the motivation to really resume the healthy lifestyle I had pre-pregnancy. Even though I trained for and ran a 15k, I have done really nothing at all in the toning department. My core grew stronger through running but it is still pretty weak and squishy.

Likewise, my eating habits used to be fairly buttoned up, but ever since pregnancy, they’ve been looser. For example, I used to hardly ever order value meals at fast food restaurants, but now I barely think twice. Bleh.

So.

I do best with some kind of plan to follow, and want to do more toning than cardio, so I decided to follow the Bikini Body Plan from Tone It Up. I will only be doing 1 workout a day (sometimes they list more than that) and they will be short enough to fit in during one of Emma’s naps. I’ll most likely take 2 rest days a week. But I’m excited about it! I am not into hardcore strength stuff, so I like that their strength routines aren’t anything too crazy, but still get results.

As far as eating goes, I know that if I go too crazy with calorie counting or cutting out carbs or anything, I get obsessed. So I’m just going to focus on:

  1. Eating whole, nutritional foods – which includes switching out Coffeemate creamer for half & half
  2. Limiting alcohol to 1-2 drinks a week, and coffee to 2 cups a day
  3. Drinking at least 32 oz of water a day from my Nalgene, plus water at meals

I want to just start small with the things I know need tweaking, and once those become a habit again, go from there. Too much change at once = FAIL. My family has a reunion on the 4th of July so even though I know this is really a lifestyle change, I’m using that as inspiration to stick with it for the next month.

On the bright side, I have been eating quite a bit healthier here in Minnesota than I was in Colorado. My love for spinach has returned (after disappearing during pregnancy) so I’ve been having big salads for lunch. Dinners are usually a lean meat, vegetable and grain, or a vegetarian dish with lots of veggies!

9 Months Postpartum

22 Jan

Every month, I feel more in the groove of being a mother. In the past 3 months, I’ve started to once again make dinner, exercise, have date nights with Travis and read. We’re also in the thick of learning how to do house projects with a baby. We couldn’t do them this quickly, though, without a bunch of awesome friends who are willing to help us out. Thanks friends!

So here’s life at 9 months (almost 10 months…) postpartum:

Physical Recovery

Obviously I’m long since recovered from actually giving birth, but my body is still not the same. Most noticeably, I can’t sleep on my left side for very long because it ends up hurting my stomach. ?!?!? And I can still tell that my joints are achier/weaker. But maybe that’s just me getting old and/or out of shape…

I still have a linea negra on my belly, though it’s *almost* gone. And I still haven’t gotten my monthly visitor back, which I thank breastfeeding for.

I would also like to note here that my body has mostly adjusted to chronic sleep deprivation. Even on days when I feel like a zombie in the morning, I can usually turn things around after several cups of coffee and be fairly productive/interactive. But to maintain that, I have to go to bed between 8 and 9 every night. Emma is an early riser!

Body Weight / Image

3and6monthspostpartum

9monthspostpartum

I am down to my pre-pregnancy weight, but as I mentioned in my 6-month update, I was in marathon shape and very muscular then, so being the same weight doesn’t mean I’m the same as I was then. The 2 main differences that I notice about my body now vs. pre-pregnancy are 1) my stomach is squishier and 2) my butt is flatter – not necessarily a good thing. I’m sure things will start firming back up, though, now that I’m actually working out again. I’m planning to start training soon for a 15K in April. It’ll feel good to have a goal again. Until then, I’m just getting back into the groove of running with some 2 and 3 mile runs.

I’ve also been doing some strength training at home, and last week, I checked out a bunch of workout DVDs from the library. The only workout DVDs I currently have are either too long to do during naptime, or too intense for my poor joints, so I’m looking to add some to my collection. I haven’t been going to the gym for workout classes and stuff as much as I thought I would – usually because it’s either Emma’s naptime, or will be soon, and she is known for having meltdowns when she’s tired and not with mom. But I don’t want to use that as an excuse to not work out at all – hence the DVDs. In our new (bigger) house, I’m hoping to have an exercise room where I can have my bike set up on the trainer, an elliptical (my birthday present from my parents last year! We just don’t have it at our house because it’s too small), a TV for workout DVDs, free weights, exercise ball, etc.

Since the new year, I’ve also been eating healthier. Most notably, I’ve been eating a fruit or veggie with (almost) every meal or snack, cut WAY back on my sweets and wine intake, and cooking something for dinner besides a frozen pizza. Planning is key. If I fail to plan, I fall to pizza. Anyway, eating better and exercising more has helped me start feeling more like my old self, and not so much of a blob. It’s nice.

Emotional

I still have my moments, but overall, I am really enjoying being a mom right now. Emma is such a delight and even when she’s screaming, I can’t help but smile and say “Oh, she’s so cute! I could just eat her up!” I love the noises and faces she makes. I enjoy seeing her little personality emerge. I love when she giggles, and how she loves being held upside down and spun around in chairs. Crazy little girl!

During one of Travis’ recent work trips, I realized that I’m not scared to be alone with Emma at night anymore. I’m not scared of her waking up, or her screaming bloody murder for no reason. Because I’ve done it all and survived! But really, I think it’s because I know Emma so much better now. There are still times when I have no clue what’s wrong, but for the most part, I know what’s up and can remedy it. It does help to know, though, that the world won’t stop spinning if I don’t get much sleep one night. I just look forward to Travis coming home so that I can have a nap!

It’s hard to believe that Emma will be 1 year old in just a few months. It’s gone fast, and yet so much has happened during that time. I’m probably the only one, but I honestly do not feel like time is going too quickly. I don’t want Emma to remain forever young. I want to know her personality, to find out what she’s interested in and talented at, to experience the world with her. That means she has to grow up. And I welcome it! Maybe someday I will miss the baby days, but right now, I’m enjoying the baby days but excited for all that the coming months and years have in store.

2.5 Weeks Postpartum

25 Apr

It’s been 2.5 weeks since I gave birth to our little Biscuit. Here’s how things have been going…

Physical Recovery

The physical recovery process has been a lot easier than I expected. The thing I was most scared about was tearing during birth and having stitches and lots of blood to deal with for weeks afterward. Well, it really wasn’t that bad.   Even though I had stitches for a second degree tear and they were pretty uncomfortable for several days that first week (causing me to sit down very daintily and lean to one side), that was the worst of it. I used all of the supplies from the hospital for the first week and a half or so – a water bottle to rinse with, witch hazel pads, hydro-cortisone cream, benzicane spray. Now, the bleeding has stopped, my stitches have dissolved and I feel *almost* completely normal in that regard.

Another uncomfortable aspect of recovery was the after-pains of my uterus shrinking. It wasn’t that painful – it just felt like mild period cramps, which I found more annoying and uncomfortable. But then, after going through labor, my pain scale might be a little bit skewed.

What has surprised me most, though, has been how having absolutely no ab muscles has affected me. When I was still in the hospital, Travis and I tried to take a walk so I could get out of the room but I had this horrible pain/tightness in my chest right under my rib cage. It wasn’t hard to breathe – it just felt tight. I also had a hard time standing up for an extended period of time. That continued for the next couple of weeks – when we went to Target with my parents, I had to sit down in the garbage can aisle while we debated which one to get.  At first, I thought it was a lung issue but my mom suggested that it was muscular. Now that it’s gotten a lot better (and is pretty much gone), I have to agree with her. I’ll do a separate post about exercise and what a joke my abs are. 😉

Body Image / Weight

By the time I got home from the hospital, I was down 10 pounds. By the end of the first week, I was down 15. At 2 weeks postpartum, I was down 20. Now at 2.5 weeks postpartum, I’m down 22 pounds, putting me 13 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. (I weighed myself so often out of curiosity, not obsession.)

postpartum_comparison_1

As my belly has shrunk, I’ve discovered a few more stretch marks on the lower right side. They’re barely noticeable so I’m not too disheartened. I’m in no hurry to bare my belly anyway, since I still have the linea negra – which also extended to the inside of my belly button. It looks pretty strange.

Since most of the weight I gained during pregnancy was in my belly and boobs, I can actually get my pre-pregnancy pants on. But I wouldn’t say they fit – I’m pretty sure the button would fly off if I tried to sit in them, so I’m still wearing all maternity pants. I’m wearing some pre-pregnancy tops, but some still look a little strange/small/short so I’m also still wearing a lot of the tanks and sweaters I wore during pregnancy. And with the limitations of needing to wear something easy to nurse in, it feels like my wardrobe has actually shrunk postpartum, instead of expanding like I thought it would. So getting dressed in real clothes is still rife with frustration this side of pregnancy. So is finding a nursing bra that fits me and is lined so that I don’t have to show everyone the shape of my nursing pads. Seriously, some of the nursing bra designs I’ve seen are completely asinine – like a horizontal seam right across the middle of the cup. In what universe is that a good idea?

On a related note, I was also looking forward to sleeping on my stomach, but my boobs are so full and tender that it’s not even a temptation now. But I have been sleeping on my back, and that has been nice.

In happier news, I can finally wear my wedding ring again and my cankles are finally gone, so my boots also fit (which has been nice considering all the snow we’ve been getting!).

Emotional

The emotional adjustment to motherhood has been like a tame roller coaster – not a wild ride, but with some ups and downs. Breastfeeding has been the hardest part. While I do consider myself very blessed with how breastfeeding has gone so far, it’s still hard to be the only one who can feed Emma. On the days that I’m having a hard time, I feel like all my freedom is gone – I can’t hang out with friends, go to the store, exercise, or even take a nap because just about the time I decide to do one of those things, Emma wakes up because she’s hungry or wants to be held.

I’ve also felt overwhelmed by worries about making the wrong choices now – like, if we let her sleep in her swing every night, is it going to be a battle for months to get her to sleep in her crib? If we give her a pacifier because she wants to suck on something but isn’t hungry, will she still demand it when she’s 3? Then there’s the whole daunting list of things yet to do for developing their cognitive functions and motor skills, etc. I definitely feel under-equipped often.

I think part of the reason things have been hard emotionally is that it’s been snowing so much here that I haven’t been able to (or wanted to, really) get out of the house a ton. But probably the bigger reason is that like usual, I’ve been gritting my teeth to get through this, instead of going to God or Travis for help. Yesterday, I had a great time in the Word and was reminded that God’s grace is sufficient for each day, no matter what the day holds, and that I can let these hard times drive me to God and deepen my communion with Him – because He has said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And with Travis, I just need to let go of my complex to do everything myself, and ask for his help.

I would like to do a separate post about how baby has affected our marriage so far, but I’ll just mention that even though there have been moments of tension when Emma is fussy and crying and we’re both at a loss and frustrated, having a baby has brought us closer together. We work as a team, and I love seeing how Travis loves Emma, and how he seeks to serve me in any way he can. Something I prayed about a lot before Emma came was that I wouldn’t constantly make Travis do things my way, but that I would respect him as a father and decision-maker. I’m happy to say that that hasn’t even been an issue! Perhaps it’s because I’m less confident in my own tactics than I thought I would be, or maybe it’s just because Travis is a wonderful father, but even when Travis does things differently than I would, I don’t feel the need to “correct” him. That’s evidence of God’s grace.

I’ve also noticed that my ability to hope in God’s goodness and faithfulness is directly correlated to how much sleep I get, or what time of day it is. When I’m up at 3 am to feed Emma, it’s a lot harder to trust things will get better than it is at 11 am, when I’ve had my coffee and it’s sunny outside. Because of that, this verse is especially relevant to me right now:

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)

And I think that about covers it for now!

Pregnancy and Weight Gain

16 Oct

 

{source}

Hey friends. I’m back from elk camp, which I’ll recap when Travis gets back with the camera. I also forgot to take a bump picture this morning so I’ll do my 15 Week update tomorrow.

Today I wanted to share my thoughts on weight gain during pregnancy, two aspects in particular: food and body image.

Food

For an average-sized person like me, the recommended amount of weight gain is 25-35 pounds. And despite the familiar idea of eating for two, the extra calories required daily to grow a human being are pretty much 0 in the first trimester, 300 in the second trimester, and 450 in the third trimester (again, for an average-sized person like me).

It’s funny, though, how prevalent the mindset is of eating whatever you want now that you’re pregnant. All of a sudden, eating an entire chocolate cake by myself is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. “The baby needs chocolate!” I can’t lie and say that I haven’t already often said “Hey, I’m growing a baby” as an excuse to eat more than I would normally (mostly to avoid being hungry an hour later), but I haven’t been demolishing everything in sight either. I may be pregnant, but I still can’t stand the feeling of being too full.

All that said, my approach to gaining weight during pregnancy is going to be the same as my approach was to maintaining weight before pregnancy: Intuitive Eating. The main two principles of Intuitive Eating are 1) Eat when you’re hungry and 2) Stop when you’re full. Sub-principles are 3) No food is off-limits and 4) You feel better when you eat healthy foods.

Now that I’m in the second trimester, the amount and quality of food I eat is especially important to The Biscuit. I’ve been pretty consistent in eating at least one serving of vegetables a day – last Thursday and Friday I had enormous salads for lunch (which cost me $7.50 each at the work cafeteria, no big deal). Tonight, I’m going to buy and prep the ingredients to keep that salad streak going. I’d also like to start cooking dinner more often – even if that only means making our own mini pizzas instead of throwing in a frozen pizza. I’ve also been putting strawberries on my cereal for breakfast and eating an orange and grapes or canned fruit for snacks during the day. {Side note: I love canned mandarin oranges.}

That’s about where my healthy eating ends. The rest of my diet has been a mashup of fruit snacks, licorice, potato chips, ice cream, pickles, sushi and white dinner rolls. And the love for meat I had during Weeks 5-7? Pretty much gone. Even chicken tastes kind of weird now.

To sum it up, my eating habits since becoming pregnant haven’t been the greatest and I’m aiming to improve them for the sake of my baby. But I’m not going to be a Nazi and count calories, or use a checklist to make sure that I’m eating everything I’m supposed to be (like the one that What to Expect When You’re Expecting has). Even in pregnancy, healthy eating is about making good choices, one at a time.

Body Image

Before getting pregnant, I’d heard pregnant women whose bellies were growing lament the loss of their former shape. I always thought it was kind of silly – I mean, what do you expect when you get pregnant? Having your belly grow is inevitable. But now I have a different perspective/understanding of that lament.

Don’t get me wrong – I love that my belly is growing because it makes pregnancy so much more real. But I wasn’t expecting to feel the same apprehensions as the other women I judged. There are days when I wonder if I’ll ever be able to run a 10 minute mile again, or ever have a stomach that’s even remotely flat. There are days when I feel like my belly is just fat, not baby, and compare myself to other women who have barely-there bumps even at 19 weeks. I wonder if my boobs are still growing, and if they’ll ever return to the sufficient size they once were.

Probably the biggest struggle I have in regards to my body image is my fear of getting out of shape. For the past 8 or 9 years, I’ve been consistently active. Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve done sprint and Olympic triathlons, half marathons and a full marathon. Now, I count cleaning my house or walking the dogs as a workout – because honestly, I don’t have much energy for more. I went on 3 hikes this weekend with my mother-in-law, each lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, and that was my limit. I get tired a lot faster and easier than I used to, and I’ve already noticed that my fitness level has dropped significantly. I keep waiting for the “second trimester energy” to kick in but so far, I feel just as tired as I have the past 3 months.

So just like with eating healthy, I am just going to take it a day at a time and try to do as much as I can. If that’s only 2 workouts one week, that’s what it is.

How did/do you feel about gaining weight or losing fitness during pregnancy?

Call a spade a spade.

31 Jan

All female health bloggers: Stop right now.

I see so many gorgeous female bloggers who have amazing figures, entertaining blogs, and impressive race times constantly demean, lament and berate their so-called flaws. Even if they have ripped abs that most women would have to eat only spinach and do 600 sit-ups a day to get, they joke about their love-handles or flabby stomach. Uh, right. If they run 30 miles one week, they were such a slacker. Their 4:00 marathon time was horrible because they could only manage a 9:00 pace for 26.2 miles.

I’m mentioning this because I think this is something that we as women, and humans, are tempted to do: We’re so afraid of being called proud that we take pride in nothing.

This is something I learned from my Grandma Dee. The last few years of her life, she lived with my grandpa in an assisted living home. Like a nursing home, they had all kinds of activities going on, and lots of other people living in the same building. Every once in a while, my grandma would say something like, “Dorothy came over and sat with me at lunch again today. She just really likes talking to me.” At first, I was taken aback by her frankness. Nobody I knew talked like that – because {hush} it was prideful. But my grandma said it so matter-of-factly and moved off the subject so quickly that I kept thinking about it. She got away with saying it. Why? Because she was just stating the facts.

{source*}

The Urban Dictionary describes False Modesty as:

To tell everyone that what you did is bad, knowing all the way that what you did is good, just so everybody says the opposite.
Usually used by women.

EmoGothgirl666: OMG , My blog is crap.
EmoboyLestatDarkness: Don’t say that, it’s great!

The Wiktionary describes it as:

Behavior that is intended to seem humble but comes across as fake and unflattering.

Usage: “Although having a large ego is considered undesirable, at times it is proper to take credit where it is due rather than display false modesty.”

And I think that last sentence sums up my point perfectly.

Sure, no one wants to be boastful and self-absorbed. But c’mon. Call a spade a spade.

Not only do I not believe that you truly hate your abs of steel or think a 4-hour marathon is an absolutely pitiful time, your false modesty makes it seem like any stomach that can’t bounce a quarter or any turtle coming across the finish at 6 hours, 30 minutes is something to be even more ashamed of. If you’re complaining over what is almost unanimously the goal, standard or aim of others, what becomes of anything that falls short of that?

What about the women who hardly dare take their shirts off in front of their husbands?

What about the runners who have put their hearts and souls into training for athletic event of their life, only for the aid stations to be packing up by the time they get there?

The unfortunate side effect of false modesty is that all of those women who will never have a rock-hard stomach and never run a 4-hour, 5-hour, or even 6-hour marathon even up thinking, “Well, if she’s flabby and if she’s slow, then what am I?”

I’ll tell you what would be refreshing. A female runner who runs a 8:00 pace on an “easy recovery run” and is happy about it. A woman who has worked hard to tone her biceps to get excited over them without adding the caveat, “But I still have a loooooong way to go” or “There’s still toooooons of room for improvement.” A recovering chocoholic who makes it through the day with only one Oreo to rejoice over improvement, instead of gut out an extra 15 minutes on the elliptical because she has absolutely.no.willpower.

If you don’t want to gush and aw over your rockin’ bod or your killer time, I get it. But at the very least, don’t knock it. State the facts and make no judgments. Let the cards fall where they may.

If we as women want to create an environment of acceptance and body-love, then we have to STOP CRITICIZING ourselves instead of poking, pinching and lamenting our imperfections.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Marianne Williamson)

Delighting in who we are, what we’re capable of, and our accomplishments gives other people the permission to do the same. Be a source of inspiration to others.

What are your thoughts about pride and false modesty?

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*The sunrise is not actually ugly; I’m using it to illustrate how ludicrous false modesty is.

My body is not my own.

17 Nov

A while ago, I mentioned that I was going through the book Love to Eat, Hate to Eat with a group of women from church. My first realization was that my body does not represent who I really am. I am not the sum of how I look. There is more to me. That reminder has been very helpful over the last month, whenever I was tempted to think I should be skinnier.

But the past couple of weeks, I’ve swung the other way by letting myself eat whatever I want. I’m still eating mostly healthy with whole grains, lowfat dairy and fruits and veggies, but I’m also eating a bunch of extra crap – some Hershey’s kisses here, a cupcake there, a couple pieces of cornbread before dinner, a slice of ice cream cake from the break room. While I am in favor of diet freedom because I obsess less about food when I allow myself to eat whatever I am truly craving, these extras aren’t cravings – just convenient. I eat them because they’re right in front of me. I guess I wouldn’t mind a piece of cake right now.

Whenever behaviors like this go on for weeks at a time, they end up becoming habits. My habit becomes grabbing any sweet sitting out, instead of saying no to the “meh” ones. I eat a snack before dinner, even though the actual meal will be ready in 30 minutes. I have both wine and ice cream after dinner, instead of choosing one.

I realized this morning that these habits come out of my not recognizing that my body is not my own. I have been blessed with a genuine desire to eat (mostly) healthy and stay active so it’s never really been that much of a battle to take care of my body. Sure, I get off track now and then but I usually get back to healthy habits after a week or so because I honestly like it. But when I do get in funks like my current one, where I find myself eating more sweets and carbs than normal, I just brush it off saying, “This isn’t that big of a deal. I’ll get back on track soon enough.”

I started thinking, what if I did that with money? I’ll just splurge on this and that and next week I’ll get back on my budget. The consequences of my actions would still be around next week. Or what about with unhelpful books or movies? I’ll just watch Sex and the City this one time. The mental pictures don’t disappear the minute I turn the TV off.

Because I know that about money and unhelpful books and movies, I avoid them. I just don’t even go there. And I don’t feel restricted by not living beyond my means or watching inappropriate shows. I feel more free because I’m not encumbered by all the temptations and consequences that go along with those things.

Why is eating any different?

I know that I feel better and don’t think about my body image/weight/food as much when I’m exercising self-control and eating wisely. I know that eating a bunch of sugar in one day makes me feel gross. So why do I do it?

I’m pretty sure it’s because I don’t look at the consequences of eating poorly as being a big deal. Sure, I don’t feel the best when I eat too much food or too much sugar but the next morning, I eat some oatmeal, I go workout and I’m back to feeling pretty good. Easily solved, right?

But I forget that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. When I go to church, I treat the facility and furniture with respect because it’s God’s house. I don’t pour garbage all over the floor and write on the walls, saying “Don’t worry. I’ll clean this up later. You’ll never even know.” Those behaviors would be disrespectful. In the same way, filling my body full of garbage that I’m not really enjoying but eating “just because” is treating my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, disrespectfully. If I lived in the acknowledgment that my body is not my own because I was bought at a price, I believe my approach to eating would be different.

I do believe in balance and that God has given us delicious foods, including sweets and alcohol, to enjoy in moderation. But I know that when I eat too many of them, my enjoyment of them diminishes. Because they’re no longer a special treat – just a daily sugar bomb.

So just as I have been reminding myself that my body does not represent who I really am when I am tempted to base my worth on appearance, I am going to try to remind myself that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit when faced with poor food choices. “Your body is not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Lord, help me to treat my body in a way that glorifies You as the only One that satisfies and that gives me life and joy, as well as energy and health for living with vitality. Health is an amazing gift and I thank You for it – help me to not to take it for granted or squander it on things that don’t satisfy.

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In other news, I signed up to participate in the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge 2011 that starts this Saturday. (For the details, follow the challenge hyperlink.) Hopefully this will give me that extra kick of motivation to keep going on my training plan!

What helps you strike a balance in your eating habits?

Hungry

1 Feb

This past weekend, I tore through the book Hungry by Crystal Renn. It literally took me just Saturday and Sunday afternoon to finish the 226-page book. But she has a very conversational tone and it’s a book about modeling and the rejection of starvation so it was a pretty easy read.

But an effective read.

Just a little background on Crystal, she is the leading plus-size model in America. And by plus, I mean she’s a 12 (not that big at all). She’s 22 right now and has already appeared in 4 international editions of Vogue (something unheard of when she started plus-size modeling back in 2004ish) and a slew of other high-profile, high-glamour publications and runway shows. She’s changing the face (er, body) of high fashion modeling as I type.

The book interested me from the start because it’s about a girl practically my same age who fell prey to the same body image demon that a lot of women (myself included) fall prey to: the idol of thinness. She was anorexic for about 2 years before deciding to step out boldly and attempt to be both a high-fashion and a plus-size model.

For me, similar to Crystal, the battle to love my body began in 7th grade. Not surprisingly, the despicable area (to me) was my stomach. Come to think of it, that was the only thing I didn’t like about my body throughout high school and into college. It’s the first place my body gains weight and the last place it loses it. No matter how strong and toned my stomach muscles are, it all hides under a layer of flab (Travis loves my belly, a fact that continues to mystify me). I know that if I just buckled down and didn’t eat so much ice cream chocolate or drank so much wine and instead counted calories and exercised like a nazi, I could lose the weight.

But let’s be honest – that sounds like hell.

That’s what Hungry is all about. Life is too short, relationships are too precious, that we shouldn’t spend all of our time worrying about being a certain size in pants or a certain number on the scale. For me, it’s reminding myself that I can be happy without washboard abs. And indeed, getting those washboard abs would guarantee misery for me because I would have to count calories, give up my favorite foods, and hand over my life to an illusion that is constantly just out of reach. I would rather enjoy life, eat great food, and do what I love than be a slave to image.

Of course, this is all so easy to say in the confines of my home office, where I am wearing a sweatshirt and slouching. But it’s a lot harder to accept myself when I go to Mexico and am surrounded by my bikini-clad, impossibly thin sisters-in-law. [They are great women and I love being around them. They are not judgmental at all and I have never had rude/snotty comments made about me. And I have to be honest and say that I’m not the giant cow I make myself out to be (though if you asked me on a different day, I might say otherwise).] Nonetheless, I have body issues. I’m sure every woman does and I have tried to remind myself of that.

But here’s what I’m learning. It isn’t worth the pain and anguish and worry to look a certain way. It’s better for me to wear a tankini and just cover up the area that gives me so much grief so that I can relax and enjoy myself already. I’m not trying to seduce anyone anyway – in fact, I have spent hours scouring racks in search of a bikini that doesn’t give this 34D girl major cleave (my search has, so far, been unsuccessful).

Not only does my obsession with looking a certain way (but never quite getting there) make me miserable, it makes me judgmental of other women. [This is hard to admit and I only do so because I think it’s the elephant in the corner. I think more women do this than like to admit it because it casts ourselves in a bad light. But hey, I know I’m a sinner in need of a Savior so I can fight against these tendencies with the freedom of knowing that even when I fail, I am still loved by God.] I am constantly comparing myself with them: “Skinnier than her – I’m better. She’s skinnier than me – I suck!”

In her book, Crystal tells women that they cannot look to the external world and society for validation and acceptance. That has to come from inside. As a Christian, I totally agree with her but would also add that validation and acceptance comes from being reminded of how precious we are in God’s eyes because of what Christ has done for us. We wear the robe of righteousness, of perfection.

More than that, God has created each of us to be different – to be exactly the way we are. I can stomp my feet all I want at how God created me but the fact that He created me to have long legs, a short torso, and a skinny little neck is a fact of life. I can spend my entire life wanting to change it (and being unsuccessful) or I can, like Crystal encourages, accept my uniqueness and embrace who I am, as a unique woman with a unique body shape.

Crystal talks about women having a “set point” – a weight that their body naturally prefers and gravitates to. I can back that up with experience from my own life. As an adult, I have always been about the same weight. The low exception was when I studied abroad in Venezuela (all the food went straight through me and I lost about 8 pounds in 6 weeks) and the high exception was when I was a pothead my freshman year of college and got the fierce munchies every night (I gained 20 pounds in about 2.5 months). But other than that, I’ve been pretty much the same weight as an adult, give or take 5 pounds.

I have also found that I am happier when I am focused on feeling and being healthy, instead of looking a certain way. I don’t feel healthy when I eat too much food for dinner or lay around on the couch all day. I don’t feel healthy when all I just eat sugar or I eat a big, greasy meal (my acid reflux hates me then too). I DO feel healthy when I take time to prepare and enjoy real meals (instead of grab-n-go stuff like I did in college), when I exercise regularly (pilates and swimming especially), and when I take time to relax and enjoy reading, writing, blogging, and hanging out with my husband and girlfriends.

I am all for women respecting themselves and their bodies by healthy living. Whether that that means their set point is a 2 or 12, that is how God made them. This book has completely changed the way I look at overweight people. Who am I to judge? I don’t know near the whole story and if they are overweight because of emotional issues, then they need a friend, not a judge. Healthy women are beautiful. (I pray that I will believe this more and more each day).

This pledge was in Crystal’s book (and she got it from Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon). It is my new credo:

The Live Well Pledge

Today, I will try to feed myself when I am hungry.

Today, I will try to be attentive to how foods taste and make me feel.

Today, I will try to choose foods that I like and that make me feel good.

Today, I will try to honor my body’s signals of fullness.

Today, I will try to find an enjoyable way to move my body.

Today, I will try to look kindly at my body and to treat it with love and respect.

I think that embracing and cherishing the body that God has given us is glorifying Him. It’s saying that His blessing in our lives is enough. His standard of beauty, and not the world’s, is what matters. “There is great gain in godliness with contentment.”