It’s almost 4 years since I had my third baby. And I’ve never been fatter.
When I got pregnant almost 5 years ago, I wasn’t happy with my body. I was thinner and fitter than I’d been in years, but still only saw the squishy parts I hated when I looked in the mirror. I exercised six days per week and obsessed over macronutrients & “eating clean.”
Then there was that whole Paleo black hole I went down for a couple of years there. Is it too late to apologize now? ?
The thing I’ve realized now is that for 20 years — since childhood — I was always in a journey to change and “improve” my body. A journey away from my body and whatever its current state was.
Now, I’m fatter than I was the day she was born. I gained weight slowly after my youngest was born. Lots of sitting and breastfeeding. Lots of anxiety. Depression. Overeating. Overwine-ing. It sort of crept up.
As I gained it, it shamed me. As I gained it, I still felt insecure and unsure about what I wanted, what I believed in, and whether I could love my body now that it has changed.
My fatness in early postpartum was like a scarlet letter advertising my mental health challenges.
But now this fat is a sign of health.
You see, I’ve spent the last four years in a journey toward my body. It hasn’t always been pretty, but now I see just how necessary it’s been.
To break the obsessive, self-loathing patterns, I had to swing the other way on the pendulum.
I went from no carbs to all carbs. From no treats to every treat I wanted. From twice per day workouts to just when I felt like it. From weighing daily and tracking calories to throwing my scale in the garbage.
I had to go from “skinny” to “fat.” All to find my middle ground.
You see, now I don’t have to eat all the things.
I don’t have to eat in secret.
I don’t have to count and weigh my food like I’m some sort of prized heifer or lab experiment.
I don’t have to pinch my fat in the mirror, or even look in the mirror, 372 times per day.
I don’t have to “pay” for food by exhausting myself with extra workouts.
I had to get fat to get here.
So when my preschooler tells me, “You have a fat belly, mama,” I don’t say a word. I just smile. Or I say “Thank you! This is where I grew all three of you.” (Though I’ll admit I sometimes have to choke this one out…I’m still on this journey, after all.)
Now, I use the term “fat” to simply describe the appearance of things. A pork chop. A markered line on a page. My self.
It’s just a description of something not-thin. It’s not a description of my value.
But it is a description of my journey.
You might not have the same journey. You might not feel the same about the word “fat.” Maybe you still feel caught in that calorie-counting spiral away from yourself. Maybe you never gave a crap in the first place and grew up with better self-esteem than I did.
But if any of this resonates with you, can you do this for me?
Can you give yourself a few minutes to read this:
And if it makes you smile, or even feel relieved, share it with a mama you love.
I wrote it just at the beginning of my upswing. At the beginning of my journey toward self-acceptance. The mountain in front of me was massive, but I was willing to start climbing.
I still can’t quite see the peak but I can say, the view from up here is pretty freaking awesome.
Thanks for being on the ride with me, mama.