Tales From the Nursery

Tales From the Nursery: The Toddler Years

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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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Comments ( 32 )

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  1. Maria May 23, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure there are a lot of people who have been through this or still feel this way. The world makes it very hard for us women to feel beautiful. T.V, Magazines, and the internet always throws these perfectly shaped women at us and makes us believe that that’s what we have to look like to be beautiful. I love seeing those pictures of celebrity flaws. Not to make fun of them but to just see that there not perfect either. It’s a nice little reminder. I think it is awesome that you decided to turn something negative in your life to something positive for you child. Keep up the great work! I know your daughter will be thankful one day.

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Thank you :)
      I know what you mean about seeing celebrity flaws – it really is a reminder that they are like us.DarcyZalewski

  2. Brian May 23, 2011 Reply

    Amazing post. Love you!brianjz

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Love you too! <3DarcyZalewski

  3. Carrie May 23, 2011 Reply

    I so understand how you feel! In fact, I wrote about self-image on my blog this morning. Loving myself is something that I am having to relearn along with a lot of other things.


    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Thanks for coming by and commenting. We’ll keep working on accepting ourselves :)DarcyZalewski

  4. Ellen Christian May 23, 2011 Reply

    I think we all struggle with self image at some point. While I wasn’t overweight in high school, I was flat chested and had pimples. I got teased quite often until my junior year when I developed more confidence about who I was.

    I gained weight after the birth of my kids until I finally decided to change and joined Weight Watchers. I’ve lost 45 lbs and am at goal/healthy weight. I won’t ever quit the program because I know it will all come back as soon as I do. I’d urge you to try again if that’s still important to you. I can’t say enough good things about it!scentednights

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      I’m glad to hear it has worked so well for you! I had trouble being able to attend the WW meetings. I found those to be more motivating that just following the points system. I’m not sure where they are around by me anymore since the place they were held is now torn down. Thanks for the encouragement!DarcyZalewski

  5. Carolyn May 23, 2011 Reply

    Insecurity’s best cover is perfectionism. That’s where it becomes an art form. [Beth Moore]

    Hang in there–you can do it!

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Thanks hun!DarcyZalewski

  6. michelle r May 23, 2011 Reply

    You are an amazing person! I love the honesty you bring to your posts.michelle

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Thanks <3 I try to stay honest and true in everything I post.DarcyZalewski

  7. Dad Z May 23, 2011 Reply

    If you ever find a magic pill or something, please let me know.

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Maybe we’ll have to invent one?DarcyZalewski

  8. MJ May 23, 2011 Reply

    Wonderful post! It is really hard to share something so personal and you did it. You are beautiful inside as well as outside and your daughter will be proud that her mom can show her that it is okay to be herself (a bonus when she is beauty queen and president, of course).

    Love you Hot Mama!

    On a side note: a little unnerving I am featured twice in your post and I think people will think I don’t have self esteem issues because I do – butt loads (a$$ joke intended)mryjhnsn

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      *hugs* That’s right, you are in Jen’s post too. It was easier to share than I thought it would be… although I wrote most of it over a month ago. I wrote most of it after reading your post, actually.
      Both of our girls are lucky to have us! :)DarcyZalewski

  9. Hugs & applause!! It’s tough to write about self-image struggles. I can definitely relate. I want to be a good role model for Levi too.LifeWithLevi

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Thanks, Jen! It feels better letting it out and of course, hearing from others… and of course, providing a safe place to discuss it.DarcyZalewski

  10. Amanda Kauth May 23, 2011 Reply

    Darcy- thank you for sharing your story. I have been challenging myself to have a healthier lifestyle too. When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer in the fall, I think I really stopped taking care of myself. Well, it’s time for that to change. Over the past 7 weeks, I lost 6 pounds and have kept it off. That feels like the accomplishment I’ve needed for a long time. Maybe we could help to inspire each other as we continue on the journey of a healthier lifestyle and an improved self image. What do you think?!

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Hi Amanda – thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m sorry it’s taken so long to return replies. I read them all as they came in, but wasn’t able to put my thoughts together to reply at the time.
      I’m sorry to hear about Julia’s diagnosis, but I’m glad to hear she is feeling better. We definitely think of the kids first, huh? You definitely need to take care of yourself. Congrats on 6lbs down!
      we should encourage each other :) Although I fear I’d fall behind on reaching out to you in a timely manner. But, we should talk more!DarcyZalewski

  11. Cheryl May 23, 2011 Reply

    It’s so tough trying to win the battle against weight. I gained 70 pounds with my first daughter. I lost the weight after 3 years, but then I gained weight back before my second daughter. After I had her I was over 200 pounds (about 220 or 230) I think. It was such a struggle to drop those pounds. I am still struggling.

    I’m happy to hear that your husband doesn’t put you down because of your weight. Mine does, and it’s make things that much harder. (Yeah, he even wanted to measure my thighs-talk about so not the right thing to do to your wife! and then told me to go back in the hallway and I asked him what and he said nothing, then he said I am half as wide as the hallway.)

    Every Friday we weigh in at work and try to be accountable. It’s so hard because I love food so much. I am under a lot of stress right now and I think that contributes to my troubles. My daughter will be 3 on Friday, and I am only down to about 187. I’ve been trying to exercise, but it’s tough with two kids, a husband that puts me down, etc.

    My second daughter was actually 9 lb 14 oz, talk about a whopper!

    Just continue on doing what you can to live a more healthy lifestyle. I am trying to do the same.

    That was a great post!

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      You’re down to 187? That’s fabulous! I’m sorry your husband puts you down, Cheryl. That definitely makes it harder… and for me.. well I’m an emotional eater for sure so that would end up in me stuffing my face. (Funny how when I was 15 I would refuse to eat, now I’d binge).

      We can do it! You are farther than me right now – I have some catching up to do (safely, of course!)DarcyZalewski

  12. MamaSpaghetti May 24, 2011 Reply

    Props to you for doing what’s right for you and your daughter! She will never know how thankful she is to have a good role model in her mother :) You’re doing great; keep it up!

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Thank you dear :) I certainly hope she doesn’t struggle like I have.DarcyZalewski

  13. Sarah May 24, 2011 Reply

    I was exactly like you in middle school and high school. I went from a size 9 to a size 4 and was 5’6″ and 110 pounds at my lowest. I’ve been up and down over the years and it’s a constant struggle. Thanks for your post.whatigotfree

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Thank you for commenting. Sorry my reply is late, but I do appreciate that you stopped by, read it, and commented. I think there’s more women that can relate than I tend to think are out there.DarcyZalewski

  14. andie May 24, 2011 Reply

    i think i was able to love myself my sophmore year of high school. i was always skinny, then the boobs came in. i got a lot of boy attention (after the homecoming dance). but i didn’t take any shit from them. and while that may have cost me some dates; a few became my friends and respected me. i hope Alli can do that; we’ll do what we can :)
    we are all fantastic women! we are all beautiful! and our kids love us :DStickFigureLife

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Your last line says it all! :DDarcyZalewski

  15. April G May 25, 2011 Reply

    Thanks so much for writing this! You expressed it all so well! I’m so happy you’ve gotten to the point of wanting it for you, not because of what others think! So many people in this world have opinions and say hurtful things without thinking, sad but true. And can I just say I think it’s super adorable and sweet that your DH commented too? :)April

    • Darcy May 31, 2011 Reply

      Thanks :D I admit I had teary eyes when I saw he commented from work. He keeps an eye on my posts!DarcyZalewski

  16. Christy May 23, 2014 Reply

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re a beautiful and amazing woman. I do get it though and I struggle too. I’m so glad that I finally got the chance to meet and connect with you earlier this month.

    • Darcy Zalewski June 1, 2014 Reply

      Thank you, Christy, that means a lot. (Of course, I read your comment when you posted it, but it took me forever to say thank you.) I’m glad I got to finally meet you as well. :)DarcyZalewski

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