I hate the scale. My entire life I feel like I've been at battle with the bathroom scale. In high school and college I used to weigh backward so I didn't have to see the number. I had read that trick in one of my magazines, it was some article about the journey to self acceptance. Back then I read every article and every book that could anyway make me like myself better. In my mind I was never blond enough. I was never thin enough. I was always loud and obnoxious so I could always be the "funny" one. I had acne. I had glasses. I used to perm my hair. The battle with the scale eventually turned into the battle with the mirror. The mirror doesn't lie. Ever.
So much of that daily battle changed around my last year in college. I found confidence, I found a guy who actually like me, all of me. I was working in my field, I was graduating with my degree. I was on top of the world. Sure, I noticed when waistbands got tighter, I still recognized the jiggle of my thighs in a swimsuit, and I still made note of my belly, that was never as flat as the other girls. By then, at twenty three or twenty four, I didn't care as much. Still, the scale and the mirror were never on my side.
I'll admit I felt gorgeous on my wedding day. I had spent the previous six weeks dieting and exercising. In every pictures I'm happy and glowing, and my make up was flawless. I loved my wedding dress that fit so perfectly, how it hugged each curve just right. I love how I looked my thinnest ever. Unfortunately I spent the following seven days eating and drinking my way through Hawaii. And so the battle continued.
When I got pregnant, after the sickness went away, I spent my days eating ice cream and peanut butter cups. I loved those months when I didn't care about calories or fat grams. I knew the pounds wouldn't fall off right away, but I didn't think they would take as long as they did. I battled with the scale some more, but by the time Caitlin was a year, I was at a size I could handle. One pant and dress size bigger than I was in college and my wedding day. I thought that was pretty good. I felt like I could be that size forever and really accept it. I did accept it, for a few years until I became pregnant again.
The second time around I was very okay with eating my way through another pregnancy. I was okay knowing that when I left the hospital I was going to look like I was still pregnant. I was even okay knowing that I would be wearing my maternity jeans for another six months. Did I really care? They were the most comfortable jeans on earth! This time, after Mackenzie was born, I had some major complications. In the end, I left the hospital very weak, and by the time I was getting ready for a doctors appointment a week later, my regular jeans fit. I'll admit, I felt very triumphant. I wanted everyone to know that I was already back in my jeans. Take that second baby weight. Little did I know that that weight loss was just the beginning.
In the year and a half after Mac was born, I was extremely sick. I have food allergies anyway, but soon I was eating nothing but eggs and gluten free waffles. After Mac's second Christmas I went to see a specialist in Northern California because I was down to 110 pounds. Not only that, but my hair was falling out and nothing I ate seemed to stick. What I found out was that my food allergies went beyond Gluten and Wheat, and when it was all said and done I had to majorly overhaul my diet. I cut out all grains, caffeine and sugar. How do you even "mom" without caffeine? It was rough, I tell you, but I felt a lot better.
That was almost three years ago, and for two of those years, the weight seemed to steady. In the first year I gained back five pounds, which I accepted. However over the last two years I've gained ten more. Ten. That has been harder to accept. Those new jeans I had to buy after Mac had to go in our Goodwill pile, along with shirts and dresses. Today most of my clothes fit, but they are uncomfortable and don't fit like they used to. I spent the entire summer working out most days, for at least a half hour, running at night or in the morning with neighbors and there was little change. I'm sure I could have cut more (natural) carbs out of my diet, but seriously... I did not want to cut out any summer fruit or Larabars. Those are like my only treats!
Last month was The Hubbs class reunion. He was really excited about it, and to tell the truth I was too. I don't know many people he went to school with, but a night out was something that we needed. Date night plus a reason to get really dressed up and do both hair and make up sounded like a treat. My biggest concern was what to wear, considering I don't buy fancy clothes anymore. I had a few dresses in my closet and so I decided that I would try them on. However when I took them out of the closet I thought they looked dated. And let's be honest they were. One dress was from a friends wedding twelve years ago and the second was from the first year The Hubbs and I were married, ten years ago. I felt like I needed something that was more up to date with the trends. Black pants, black blouse, wedges, you get the picture. That plan was scraped days before the class reunion when I got what ever cold crud Mac had. I was too tired to shop. I went to one store and threw in the towel. I wasn't even sure I'd make it to the reunion with the way I was feeling.
I woke up the morning of the reunion feeling better. I thought about running to the mall to find something to wear, but I just didn't have the energy. Instead I shopped my closet and tried on the two dresses I had originally pulled out. With shoes and everything I modeled them for the peanut gallery (my family). The girls like both dresses, they didn't really have a strong opinion. I preferred a jade green dress that looks like a wrap around style but it isn't. It fit a little looser, and so I felt more comfortable. The Hubbs on the other hand liked the black dress with the leafy pattern (picture to follow). It wasn't my favorite and was a little tight in the problem areas. But he kept insisting on the black dress, even suggesting I go out and get a new pair of shoes since I felt the ones I had didn't really work with the dress. I really didn't like the black dress, I just knew it was going to highlight all my trouble zones. I was worried that I would be so uncomfortable that it would make me fidget all night. Still, The Hubbs insisted that it was the one. Fine. I found my beloved Spanx and hoped for the best.
I have to admit. It didn't look as bad as I had thought. I actually got a ton of cat calls on Instagram (thank you Instagram followers, love ya!), and my kids were super impressed with the high heels and curled hair. For the most part I wasn't uncomfortable at all that night. I wasn't pulling at my dress, I ignored those little bulges around my middle. The only time I complained was at midnight when my feet couldn't take those shoes any longer. I guess that's what happens when you practically live in Toms. The thing is, this dress served me up some truth that night. When I was talking to a sorority sister, who graduated high school with the Hubbs, she mentioned that she like my dress and asked me if it was new. I laughed and explained that this was probably the last fancy dress I bought for my best friends wedding twelve years ago. She looked me dead in the eye and said, "I wish something still fit me from twelve years ago".
Truth bomb, my friends. Boom.
I've spent almost an entire year worried about my weight. I stopped posting #ootd (outfit of the day, for you non bloggers) photos to Instagram because I was embarrassed that I wasn't as small as I was two years ago. I started to see every flaw, every bulge, every laugh line when I looked in the mirror. I forgot what it was like to actually like my reflection. Every time I looked in the mirror, all I could see where missed opportunities and the Paleo treats I was indulging. I couldn't see past any of those things.
The morning after the reunion I posted this lovely picture to Instagram, because I had a new truth in my heart about myself. Twelve years ago I was pretty happy with myself. I'm sure I worried about things like extra calories and those extra five pounds that have plagued me my entire life, but I remember when I wore that dress to that wedding all those years ago, and I was happy. I was confident. I think I was roughly the same weight I am now. I was healthy back then too. It was before babies and sleep deprivation. Before the postpartum hemorrhage and the crazy insane "elimination diet". Twelve years ago The Hubbs thought I was one sexy mofo, and if I'm being honest he still does, as evidenced by the boob grabs multiple times a day. There is nothing wrong with this size, it's just one I have to get reacquainted with. Every day I reintroduce myself to this body, and every day, she forgives me a little more for hating her for so long.
I've written post after post about trying to find my confidence again. I know my abs will never be flat, I've accepted that now. My thighs may jiggle for eternity, and they have no gap. I may always carry an extra five pounds around. Does it really matter? I spent so much of my life wanting to be skinny, as if that was a sure sign of my ultimate success. But being Skinny isn't going to write my book. Skinny isn't going to be the best mother to my kids. Skinny doesn't enjoy Hulu and DVR programs as much as I do. In my life Skinny isn't a friend or a foe, and finally she's no longer an end goal. In my life Healthy is the happier kinder friend, who occasionally throws chocolate my way, and lets me be lazy on Sundays.
Today, looking in the mirror isn't so bad. I remind myself of the little victories, like fitting in a dress that I wore twelve years ago, or not being so sick it's a struggle to get out of bed and take care of my kids. I'm trying to look in the mirror everyday and be at peace with the person smiling back at me. To document those #ootd, even when my jeans are too tight, even with the angles are all wrong. This is my truth. This is who I am, and for the love of God, at thirty seven, shouldn't I just love it already?