I Just Can’t Be Fat Anymore

Lillian has entered full mimic mode. She sees me brushing my teeth, so she has to do the same (with MY toothbrush, of course, as her smaller one is CLEARLY inferior). She watches me put on my makeup, then immediately picks up a brush, dabs in on a closed eye shadow container, then wipes it all over her face. She hears me sigh loudly in exasperation. She throws back her head and does the same.

I know that her imitations—however adorable they may be—won’t always be limited to mimicking everyday occurrences. Instead, she will soon start to mimic the way I react and feel about certain things, especially my body, and in turn, her body.

That is why I have decided that I just can’t be fat anymore.  Or, at least, I can’t see myself that way.

I spent years battling a distorted body image. Many people got/get this confused to mean that I was disgusted by anyone my size or larger. In fact, it could very well be the opposite. For instance, while I was tucked neatly in my size 0 or 2s, I would look at someone wearing a size 6, and wonder how I could cut calories in order to be as skinny as her. The thing about having a distorted image is that you see something in the mirror that isn’t there.

And, let’s be honest, as women, we haven’t really helped each other out in this arena. In conversation, right after the gossip and right before the latest Pinterest trend, is squished the conversation-filling topic of how fat we are. About how we are cutting down to 1200 calories until these last 5 pounds come off. About our two-hour gym stint. About how we just HATE being this fat. About how we would do ANYTHING to be skinnier.  I’m as guilty of these conversations as anyone. And, my competitive nature makes me want to one-up people in how badly I can hate me fat stomach/butt/thighs/etc. Which I’m pretty sure takes sickness to a whole new level.

I would love to give you the sappy monologue about how I see my body as this incredible life-giving vessel. I mean, it’s pretty cool that life grew in there, and I could use my body to feed that same tiny human after it got here, but, in truth, my body is still squishy in parts that I’m not sure will ever go back.

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But, I see my precious baby girl checking herself out in the mirror in her new dress and giggle, and I think that I just can’t do it to her. I can’t set her up for years of painful self-hatred.

This is not to say that I won’t promote a healthy lifestyle. I will. It is so important to take care of the one body you are given on this earth. But, what I refuse to do is look in the mirror and hate myself. I refuse to obsess over rolls that may or may not be there. I refuse to cry (as I HAVE before) when I notice cellulite. I refuse to do these things because I want my child to look and the mirror and see how beautiful she REALLY is.

Helpful Self-Help

I don’t really like self-help books. Let me rearrange that sentence. I REALLY don’t like self-help books. Most of the time, they are filled with superficial fluff, and serve you only slightly better than watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (my guilty pleasure). And, when they aren’t as shallow as kiddie pool, they seem to tee you up to feel like an epic failure. Notwithstanding my feelings on self-help books, I finally found one that I feel obliged to share.

When we first got married, someone gave me a copy of The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Of course, in my true self-help hating fashion, I put it away in Randal’s shed with the rest of the books that didn’t quite make the cut to fill precious bookshelf space (I own a lot of books). I stumbled upon this book when cleaning out part of the shed. And, in a moment when our marriage seemed to be filled with a little less than sunshine, butterflies, and puppies, I curiously opened it up.

This book is great for a few reasons. First, you only have to read 2-3 pages per day. Second, the 2-3 pages are actually filled with substance that makes you think a little deeper. Third, each day comes with a non-cheesy “dare” that makes you apply what you’ve read. The first three dares included refraining from saying anything negative to your spouse. That’s 72 hours of not complaining and not pointing out any flaws. And, since I am obviously 100% perfection all the time, he needs me to point out these flaws, right?! How else would he know what he needs to fix?

And, I have to admit, it was somehow a very hard and very easy 72 hours. It was hard because it made me consciously think about what was coming out of my mouth. And, let’s face it, even for relatively quiet females (like myself), it’s easy just to talk for the sake of talking. However, it was amazing how easily the void of small nit-picky comments were filled with actual, deep conversation. And jokes. I love to tell silly jokes.

One thing I noticed is that negative words don’t just pervade my marriage. Snide remarks often find my conversations as I dole out gossip in an attempt to “relate” to others. Or my frustration leads me to say things that I know cut down rather than build up.

So, I am challenging myself. For the next 72 hours, I will not say anything negative to or about anyone. Period. Instead, I will try to replace negative words with gracious ones (or silence, if I’m about to break). This may not seem like a very long time; however, if you are female, and are prone to conversing with others, you may quickly realize exactly how hard this could be. I mean, what do you actually talk about if you can’t gossip?