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.
Fantastic post. This hit home for me. I feel you. I really do. Only add ten years…it gets even harder. I think you have always been beautiful — I’ve never thought about your size as an issue. But what matters is how you felt. And you felt terrible. So happy you’re feeling better about the beautiful HEALTHY woman that is you.
Thanks, Nancy. I feel the same about you-always beautiful and size never an issue. But, you’re right, it doesn’t matter what other people think or see, only you. I’m glad to feel better and hope you’re on your way there too.
I really loved reading this. I am at that place that you were pre-massage. I kept just going along, knowing that I was sabotaging all the hard work that led me to drop all the baby weight. I avoided the scale and just let my clothes do the talking, but I realized that I needed to see the number on the scale to snap myself back into action. The loosy-goosy days of summer are gone and it’s time to get real. And I’ve actually been thinking about going back for regular massages too after learning of the preventive benefits. I stopped thinking of it as a luxury and now view it as a necessary option to relieve this ache and that pain. I’m definitely going to keep following along on your journey.
You’re telling my story, except I always had an excuse or a reason for the weight gain that quickly just became “well, I guess this is just who I am”. I’m proud of you for seeing it way before I did and wish you luck in the adventure of getting back to yourself. I highly recommend the massage piece. It always helps!
Christina B. says
Wow Cristie, this really hit home for me. I am where you were. I like to believe that I have some good excuses, but if I could transform those excuses into reasons to get healthy, fit and strong…now that would really be BIG for me. Maybe I’ll start with a massage. :). Thank you for sharing and being honest. I look forward to your next post with more info on what you have been doing for weight loss success.
I’m so glad you found your confidence again!!
Ps…not sure if you will remember me but I joined one of your 2 week cleanse groups a couple years ago with a mutual friend (and Kappa), Amy. 🙂
Yes! I do remember and how funny that one of the “cleansers” found this post. I was in a much different place when I was helping to lead those groups and I’m working my way back there now. Thanks for commenting and I really hope your journey takes a similar path as mine just has. The massage can’t hurt either way.:)
Finding it in you to love yourself (whether for the first time or again) is the hardest thing. Why does it take some complete stranger to tell you should do this, to do it!? Crazy how our minds work! Congrats on taking that big step and I am excited to hear more about your transformation!
IT is crazy! It wasn’t like I didn’t know this all along, or hear it all the time or even preach it to others. I have no idea why that one moment was THE moment but I sure hope this time I don’t need another moment. All that I’ve shared with you about my health stuff was a huge factor as well. When you start getting sick, it is a whole different beast!
Holly Rosen Fink says
It’s amazing how one meeting can have life-altering effects. You are amazing.
Thanks, Holly! I’m sure amazing is too strong a word, but stubborn works in this case.;) I wish I could tell the massage therapist how much she affected my life without making her think I’m a weird stalker!
Loved this! SO amazing….Glad you’re happy inside….it’s a game changer.
Thank you. It’s strange that it happened now-when I’m supposed to be older and wiser. But, I’ll take it!