Learning to Love Me – My Constant Struggle With Self Image

Me. Spring 2011

I love myself and my family.  I know I’m a valued wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend.

But sometimes… sometimes other people’s perceptions concern me.  I think a lot of us struggle with this, but some more than others.  I decided to write about this after a previous post by Jen at Life With Levi and the compliment she hates, and then a post by Mary at iNeed a Playdate regarding self-esteem.  These two women I can relate to and I think they can relate to me.

Let’s take a little journey….

Me – 5ish yrs old.

All my life I have struggled with my weight.  When I was very little (like 4 years old) I was a “skinny minnie” much like my daughter is right now.  I wore extra small clothes.  Somewhere around 3rd grade I started to pudge out.

I quickly was labeled as fat.

That was hard to swallow – I was already getting enough flack for my last name.  Kids are cruel, aren’t they? Oh and for having a crappy car and everything else related to being poor.  (Not kidding, we’re talking on AFDC – the old school W2, food stamps and standing in line for government cheese poor.)

4th grade my boobs came in and I had to start wearing glasses.  Ugh.  What else was going to happen?  I was an easy target.

I still had friends and all that, yes.  I was loved by my family, yes.  Admittedly I liked food.  Junk food at that.  Nothing is worse than enjoying a good burger or candy bar and suddenly feeling disgustingly fat and upset with yourself.

Me about 15 yrs old. In the 90s.

I continued to struggle and was chubby in junior high school.  But that was when I started to develop an eating disorder.  (I was never diagnosed but I was not eating properly.)  I skipped all meals except dinner.  If I could slip by unnoticed, I’d skip that too.  Some of my friend’s picked up on it and tried to get me to eat part of their lunch and/or would call me around dinner time to see if I was eating.

Each week my dad would write a check for my lunch tickets.  I had a pile of ripped up checks in my closet.

Class parties – I wouldn’t eat.  A teacher called home about it once.

For some reason, I started to use food as a control thing but it never achieved what I wanted it to.  I would literally get upset with someone and decided fine, I won’t eat then!

I dropped some weight as I entered high school.  I remember another girl commenting on how I looked thinner than last year (after not seeing each other all summer) and asked what I did.

I said I quit eating.

I still thought I was fat.

I wasn’t skinny by any means, but looking back now – I was fine.  I was curvy, but I wasn’t a tub like I thought I was at all.  Oh how I’d give my thighs to fit into a size 9/10 again!

My love affair with food has been up and down since, as you can imagine.  No one really believed I was anorexic or had an eating disorder because I wasn’t sickeningly skinny.  Well, whatever I “had” I certainly had an unhealthy relationship with food and my weight.

I then started to measure my self worth based on the dating scene.  I got dates – quite a few – in high school.  Then I moved on to college.  Freshman 15? Pfft try Freshman 20 or more.  And not as many dates.

But I did find the love of my life – my best friend – my husband…. who loves me for me… even if I’ve gained weight since we first met.

I’ve tried Weight Watchers, exercise and various other methods.  With Weight Watchers I did lose 20 pounds, but I went off program and gained it all back plus some.  I ended up plateauing at 230 pounds.

Then…I got pregnant.  The ONE time I was not trying to lose weight.  The one time I figured I’d pack on the pounds and most people wouldn’t be surprised…. I lost weight.

I lost a bit in the first trimester.  Enough that when I announced I was pregnant at work when I was 12-13 weeks along, a couple coworkers said they were surprised because they thought I was losing weight.  They said I looked nice.  (Such a double edged comment, right?)

I did try to eat better for the health of my baby.  With gestational diabetes I had no choice but to eat better to ensure she grew properly.

I continued to lose weight.

My OB wasn’t concerned because the baby was growing (my belly was evidence!) but I was surprised.  Well, technically I gained 6 pounds.  I was about 230 before getting pregnant and was about 236 shortly before giving birth.  But my daughter was 6 lbs. 10 oz when she was born … and then you factor in the weight from the fluid and placenta…

By the beginning of this year I was down to 215 without doing anything.  A month or so  ago I was weighed and was down to 210.

I certainly want to lose more weight.  I want to be healthy. Today, it’s about that not about what others think.  Although, don’t get me wrong, I sometimes wonder what people are thinking.  The sting from a few very rude people still gets me once in awhile.

Besides being healthy, I want to be a role model for my daughter.  I want her to love herself, but also learn healthier habits and stick to them.  That’s really been my problem all my life is not sticking to healthy lifestyle habits.

So that’s where I’m at today.  I love me and my goal is to be healthy, not skinny.

Have you learned to love you?

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