I’ve suffered through every eating disorder you can imagine, from binge eating to bulimia and from anorexia to diuretics and over exercising. I remember my junior year of high school weighing in for the lightweight crew (rowing) division before our regatta and weighing in at 108 pounds. To some, that’s not ridiculously small, but I’m not a petite person. At 5’6 I looked emaciated and sickly. There were demands by the weigh-in team to my rowing coach to get me a bagel before letting me row and I walked off with a tiny bit of shame for being called out on my issues (like it was somehow a secret) but most of me was filled with excitement of being so close to 105 pounds.
I would count calories (no more than 400 a day at some points) until I felt like I was going to pass out on a daily basis, then switch to a different method to shake more pounds off my body, In college I worked out obsessively and took diet pills and diuretics to maintain being slim. I wouldn’t even drink water until the end of the day, after skipping breakfast and lunch, working out for 2-3 hours then weighing myself. And only then would I indulge in a plate of corn and a glass of water. Being with Big S, I was happier and had gained a little bit a weight. But the way I was abusing my body was still evident when I was by myself. If the scale went over 125 I could feel my eyes well up with tears and I hit the pavement and ran for hours at a time.
Then I saw a little heartbeat flicker on an ultrasound. Far too young to care for myself properly and now I’m in charge of growing a tiny human. I’m supposed to grow a tiny human in my broken body with my broken brain that keeps telling me I’m still fat.
I channelled my inner former overweight kid though and did manage to gain weight and grow Little S. And by gain weight, I mean took my issues to the other extreme and gained 70 pounds in 7 months.
5 years, 2 kids later, this is my body.
This was Sunday, just minutes after completing my 5th half marathon. When my friend Kelly handed my phone back and I looked at this picture I immediately felt my heart drop for a second.
When I look in the mirror (and at this picture) I see that my babies completely changed my body. You can’t see it, but my stomach is covered with stretch marks that wrap the entire width of my stomach. My skin is stretched out. My thighs touch when I stand with my feet together and my arms jiggle. I have love handles in any pants that don’t go up to my belly button. Yes, my body has changed a lot in the past 5 years. But I’ve changed even more.
My brain is still sometimes broken. In that split second after I saw that picture I was angry at my jawline looking round. I was horrified at how you could see my muffin top. You can see the cellulite peeking underneath my shorts. And let’s not even mention that there is zero muscle definition in my arms from lack of cross training.
But are you freaking kidding me? That body created these.
That body helps me snuggle tighter.
That body runs.
That stomach makes louder raspberries when my babies blow on it.
Those arms carry 24 pounds of Rae on one side and 42 pounds of Little S on the other.
And that face gets to kiss this handsome mans face everyday.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% better. I don’t know if there will be a day when I look at my thighs without sighing with frustration. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let Big S rest his hand on my waist without worrying he’s thinking about how wide I am. I don’t know if I won’t feel like I have to hide that 4th piece of chocolate for fear of someone calling me out. I don’t know if I’ll be able to look in the mirror without sucking in my stomach, or take a picture without putting my hands on my hips so my arms look slimmer. I just don’t know if my brain will ever fully accept that this is how God made me and this is how I’m meant to be.
But I do know I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been. And I know now I run for me, not for a number on the scale. And I fuel my body the best way I know how to, without counting calories and obsessing. And I know full well that Rae and Little S mean more to me than any size tag in my jeans.
I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t gotten pregnant with Little S. Maybe I’d still be living the daily struggle, rather than fighting it.
So yes, this is my body.
I had some babies and made some changes, and that’s made all the difference.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”