All growing up I always described myself as “medium.” I would feel momentarily good about the fact that I did not opt for the word “large,” but that moment was always felt like a brief one. I could have chosen the rational and sane route and accept the fact that “medium” was not bad…but noooooooo! I have officially spent the majority of my life aiming for “small.” Dieting towards “small.”
What is it about “small” anyway? What is the big deal? Why does it matter? And what’s so bad about “medium” amounts of fat here and there? Truth is, no one really asks these questions anymore and it bothers me. Somewhere along the line toned abs and tight bottoms have become the only acceptable forms of beauty. It is so wrong and such a huge fat lie.
I have battled this back in forth in my mind over the past few weeks. I understand that they say (whoever they may be) that in order to maintain “ideal” body weight we need to work out, eat right, blah blah blah. I am fine with all that. I get it. But the fact is we live in a country that is swamped with “bodyoholics.” Women and men addicted to their bodies and willing to do anything to make them look a certain way. Not eating, throwing up, obsessively working out…you name it.
So what’s the deal? It makes sense to this world that there is no such thing as “alcohol in moderation” for alcoholics. Why then do we not also identify that there is no working out and dieting in moderation for women struggling with their body image? I say this mostly for young women and I say it for myself.
I recently had my third child and I spend the entire last trimesters of my pregnancies telling myself…”Just wait, as soon as this baby is out I am whipping myself back into shape! Just wait! I am going to barely eat and work out a ton and THEN I will be back to feeling good.” Well my precious baby boy came in November and so did my obsession with weight.
I found myself caring and worrying on a minute to minute basis about what I was eating and TRYING to find time with three kids to work out. The worry, the hatred of what I saw in the mirror, the obsession of fitting back into those jeans. Meanwhile I have a book coming out about insecurity and poor body image. Oh the irony!!!!! So one day, at the end of a very long day, I paused for a second and asked myself “why?”
Maria why do you care so much about losing weight?
…Because I am heavier now than I should be.
Maria why do you feel like you have to get back to that weight?
…Because people will criticize me and say things like “she has let herself go” and I don’t think I can handle that. Plus I feel better when I am smaller.
Who are you trying to impress?
…Well, um, no one I guess. Except maybe myself.
And why does “yourself” think smaller and toner = better?
…I guess because that is what I have always seen to be beautiful.
Is that true Maria? Are only people who are smaller and toned beautiful to you?
No, not at all. Beauty to me is a confident woman who loves herself just the way she in. In fact I hate when people think they aren’t beautiful just because their body isn’t perfect.
Ah. So I ask you again. Why are you dieting?
…Because I feel like I HAVE to. Like it is the ONLY right way.
Well it might be the world’s only right way, but these past few months have been the most freeing of my life and that right way ended up not being so right for me afterall. The pressure is off. I let myself stop thinking about calories and rules. I let myself be okay with admitting, “No I am not on a diet.”
I won’t lie, its hard. Everytime I drive down the highway and see a pair of glistening abs I find myself thinking “If I worked hard enough I really could look like that! Why don’t I just try…” Then I remember what the cost is for me to try to achieve that and I refuse to go back to that place. Honestly, there will always be a piece of me that will want to look like that. But I have identified that that “piece” is there and that God did not put it there…I did…the world did…those stinking magazines did.
What I learned through all of this is that, for me, my heart is not at all in the right place when it comes to dieting. Is dieting in it of itself the enemy here? No. My mind and my motives are my enemy. Simply put, I sin in my dieting. I become obsessed with all the wrong things and all the wrong parts of me. For me it is about my exterior and not for my health. It is hard to admit it. It is hard to see that in writing. But it is the truth and I challenge you to ask yourself the same questions about your motives for dieting. However, take my husband for example. He stinks up my house everyday with his egg white and green pepper omelets! And no cheese of all things! He has found a love and desire for healthy foods that I admire and adore. One that gives him energy, strength, and endurance for his days. Now THATS the types of attitude towards eating I want to pick up and run with.
But for now? For me? Let you be the first to know…I kissed dieting goodbye. I wonder, what is something in your life that you wish you could kiss goodbye?