My habit around here has always been to write about things after they have reached a bit of a conclusion in my life. I maintain I am a constant work in progress, so I’m never finished anything. However, I don’t tend to share stories from right in the trenches, at least until I have a few things worked out.
This time, I’m changing all that. I’m currently in the very middle of a transformation. It’s not just that I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds, but I’m completely changing the person I grew to be (no pun intended.).
I’ve talked here before about losing weight and eating healthy and all of those topics women my age seem to be obsessed with. Somewhere along the way, while I was in the middle of sharing with everyone else what to do, I stopped doing it myself.
It happened slowly at first, a pound or two here, a skipped run there. The next thing I know, I’m injured enough to first quit running, then exercising entirely, and the scale shows a number that I’ve never seen before except on high school football stat sheets.
Here is something even worse, besides the sloth and massive weight gain, I started to hate myself. Not just my body, but the person who allowed that body to exist to begin with. And I mean hate.
The things I said to myself were so bad I would have slapped the person who tried to say these very same things to anyone else I know.
I was disgusted, angry and ultimately defeated. I have gained and lost weight before, too many times to count. But in all my years of yo-yoing, I have never become someone who doesn’t like themselves. Never. Until now.
The problem with hating your overweight body and the person it houses is that it is really hard to take care of yourself and do right by yourself if you don’t even like yourself. So I would try to get back on track with my eating, but why should I eat right when I wasn’t worthy? I would search and search for exercise that clicked with me, but ultimately I’d wonder why should I take time to exercise when I was too big and gross to matter?
I no longer looked in the mirror (or worse, at pictures of myself!) and saw the former athlete who had three babies and let herself go. No matter how big that girl got, I still liked her. I didn’t see her anymore. Instead, I looked in the mirror and saw a fat, lazy, woman who had proven she was indeed the hypocrite she thought she was when she started coaching other people about health living years ago. So I began trying to figure out how to live life as this new plus-sized person. I tried to spin it into some kind of body-love challenge. Oh, I had accepted myself alright, but I had accepted a version of myself that was the worst it could possibly be. I was defeated and I had done it all to myself, which means, acceptance and love are not one in the same for me.
Then, something weird happened. I got a massage.
I know, that took a turn didn’t it?
I went to a massage place to get someone else a gift certificate, a friend who was having a hard time as the caregiver of a very large world, and I thought could use a little bit of time where someone took care of her.
Standing at the counter waiting to pay the ticket, I listened as the receptionist tried to tell me it was the “last day” (you know how that goes) to get in on the low monthly rate for regular massages. I was still working full-time so the money was there but massages had always been a luxury, not something I paid monthly for. Then for some unknown reason I impulsively signed up to be a monthly massage client.
I confused even myself! I mean, I was embarrassed to even have my body in a bathing suit in front of people I loved but for some reason I thought naked on a table being kneaded by a stranger once every 4 weeks was just fine?
I have stopped trying to figure out the why of that decision and chalk it up to divine intervention because I totally link that moment to the positive changes that would follow. I went for the first massage totally ready to cancel my subscription immediately after, but once I was on the table and my massage therapist took the time to ask about my body and what ailed me, everything changed.
She worked on sore muscles, the injury that had started this whole downward spiral. She talked to me as if my body was important and treating it well mattered. We discussed how regular massage should not be a luxury but rather preventative treatment. And here is where she got me, she said, “preventative treatment for someone like you, who is athletic and uses their body that way.”
It was all I could do not to cry. She cured me that day more than she’ll ever know. Somewhere under the extra fifty pounds she recognized the person I always thought myself to be. The athlete who uses her body for good, for sport, for fun, to live.
I wish I could say the weight melted off as a result of that massage, but we all know that’s just a fun turn of phrase that breastfeeding moms like to use. Weight, especially weight when you’re over 40, never just melts off. You have to beat it off with rigorous cardio and limited calories. Which is what I did and continue to do right now, because I still have a long way to go on the scale.
But I’m happy to say even though the weight loss struggle continues, the struggle to love myself and the body I carry around doesn’t. I still see the areas that need work, but now I look in the mirror and see a woman who is active, healthy and strong. It all started with remembering who I was underneath the extra pounds. It all started with a total stranger recognizing that this body was worthy of care because it was capable of doing good things.
It all started with a random massage and a message about the importance of me.
If you’re curious about more. I’ll share what I’m doing for weight loss and exercise on the blog in the next couple days. So come on back!
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.