Monday, June 6, 2011

Struggling with Self-Image

Today’s post is going to be just a little bit different.  It’s about something that has been on my mind for the past 18 months (since I got pregnant), and lately has just been on my heart.  It is the ever dreaded issue of self-image.  This is something that I know millions of girls and women all over the world struggle with to some degree, something that I have really been dealing with myself since my pregnancy and the birth of my precious baby boy, something I am having to place t in God’s hands.
With it being summer the issue of my self-image is more promenant than ever, I mean hello, it is swimsuit season.  And while I do not don a bikini or anything such as that, it is hard not to start giving yourself the once over, and for me, noticing you shortcomings.  Especially after having a baby. . .
Maybe I should start kind of at the beginning.  I have always been a short, scrawny kid, like didn’t break 100 pounds until high school short and scrawny.  That was just me though, part of who I was, and I was ok with it, I really was naive and didn’t know any different.  By the end of high school though I had put on some weight, nothing of magnitude, but I was at my heaviest.  That all changed when I went to college.  I went to college and instead of gaining the freshman 15, I lost it.   Then I decided to transfer to East Texas Baptist University the next year.  On move in day I caught a summer cold from my mom, and never really got well (let’s face it, I wasn’t sleeping enough to get entirely back on my feet.  I mean do you really sleep well when you live 24/7 with your best friends?) As a result I lost 15 more pounds give or take a few.  I know what you’re thinking, that is unhealthy.  Believe me I had the weight to lose, and I was back to a healthy weight range.
Now fast forward, through the wedding, and the first year and a half of marriage and not a whole lot changes.  I am happy, satisfied, and active.  Throughout college and high school God really protected my heart when it came to the issue of body image.  I by no means had the perfect body, but like I said, I didn’t know enough to care.  However, when I got pregnant unexpectedly with our little man, the body image monster hit me full force.  Perhaps it was because the pregnancy was a surprise, or the concept of my body was going to change, or the fear of "will I ever get my old body back" that I was okay with having, either way, the devil took this issue in my mind and began to run with it.
As a result, I didn’t really like pregnancy that much.  I actually had one of the best pregnancies ever, I wasn’t sick, Reid was active, but at the same time, calm,he came earlyhis labor and delivery were quick (although NOT painless), I mean I really had it great, and I thank God for that blessing.  However, coping with the changes my body was going through was tough.  You see, I always thought I would be this cute little petite pregnant woman, with the baby bump showing up in all the right places (nice and low and cute), and I would just be precious.  This was NOT the case.  at week 8 I started wearing a pair of maternity jeans because I was SSSOO bloated.  When I did start showing he was “riding high” so I wasn’t even the cute pregnant girl that I thought I would be.  In my mind I felt like people couldn’t tell that I was pregnant, they were all just thinking that I didn’t take care of myself and “let myself go” (bear with me, I promise the rant will be over here in a second). They say “hindsight is 20/20″ and I can now see it was the enemy coming to steal my joy, and boy did I ever let him.  I look back on it and am now upset at how I felt, even though the feelings were genuine, I just remember the fact that I couldn’t wait to have him and go back to the way things were.
This would not be case.  While I only gained the recommended amount of weight for this pregnancy, I didn’t have the easiest of times losing it.  At all.  I lost 12 pounds from the birth, but it was SLOW GOING after that.  So slow.  I cried many a night (and day) to my hubby and my mother about how the weight just wouldn’t come off, how everyone else’s weight had just magically seemed to disappear after 4 months, and mine was just sticking around.  What were they doing different?  Was I doomed?  (Ok, so I am a little dramatic).  Little did I know I had so much to learn.
The weight finally did start slowly coming off, but it wasn’t until I stopped breast feeding that I began to make real progress.  Once I stopped I could exercise without fear of losing my supply and I wasn’t nearly as hungry (all breastfeeding mama’s know what I am talking about!  You feel like a boy, you eat so much!) as I was before.  I have also now recently taken up running with one of the girl’s from our youth group and her sister.  It has been good, to just get out of the house and have some interaction as well as to begin to exercise my body.  There is a definite difference in my thinking when I exercise as opposed to when I do not.  I am now 4-5 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, and am excited about this.  It has taken 8 long months, but I am hoping by month 9 to be done with the weight loss.  I will have to maintain, but not have to concentrate on losing.
So basically this is a post for me, to see where I am at, and to see how far I have to go.  I am working on finding myself in the Lord, seeing me as He does, knowing He creates beautiful things because He is a beautiful creator.  I know I am not the only person with this struggle, there are many others.  It is a constant battle I believe I will always have to face now that I am older.  However, I know Who I am created after and I know Who my Creator is, and that gives me great hope and joy.  My God doesn’t create junk, therefore I am not junk, I am beautiful, a princess, the daughter of a King.  Thank you Lord for saving me, and from saving me from myself.


Chris and Lydia said...

I think you are doing great! Remember it takes nine months to put it on and nine to take it off. I totally know that feeling of self ick though, and you're right it really does steal your joy. :(

And yes, I eat like a man. A really, really big man. I generally eat Chris' leftovers at dinner:/

Anonymous said...

I think part of the issue is also that not only do we see ourselves different on the outside but on the inside as well. While our bodies might return to their same size, in our minds we will always be different. You are a mom now. No matter how old your children are, you will be a mom. That changes everything about who you are. It's not a bad thing, but it does take some time to grow into.