Just Keep Swimming

This post was originally published a couple years ago but seemed relevant this week since I have been on vacation and forced to wear a swimsuit.

When I left my house last Friday morning, I had packed my husband, my daughter and myself for more than a week. I managed to get all of our shoes, underwear and toilet articles in the car and only forgot a few things.

Unfortunately, one of those forgotten items was my swimsuit. And since we chose our hotel based on its promised water park and super slide, that was a problem.

Luckily, though we were several states away from home, we were there to visit friends. So I ordered a clearance suit from Target and had it shipped to my friend’s house. I picked it up yesterday and we headed back to the hotel.

Nervously, I opened the packages and pulled out the plain black swim suit pieces. (As in a tank and a swim skirt, not a bikini. Please.) I stepped into the bottom and thought, “Well, that’s not what I was hoping for.” Then I wriggled myself into the top and though, “THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER.”

And then I did the thing I swore I’d never do
(and until this week, had never done). I said – out loud and in front of my daughter – how awful I looked. Specifically, I said, “This is hideous.”

Because I’ve struggled with body image issues as long as I can remember, I’ve determined to be uber careful about how I talk about myself in front of my daughter. I know it probably won’t prevent her from wishing for fuller lips or longer legs (or whatever the must-have attribute of the day is 10 years from now). But if I can find it within myself to model a healthy self esteem, maybe it will help a little.

(For the record, my parents did everything they could to help me feel beautiful. As a matter of fact, my mother still insists on calling me her beautiful baby girl. So I’m aware that, as a parent, some things are out of my hands. But I want to do the best I can with the influence I have anyway.)

But back to the other day.

As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I was horrified. And it wasn’t one of those instances where my child completely ignored what I said or remained oblivious to my personal stress. Oh no. She looked at me, confused, and said, “Why did you say that? You look beautiful!”

Oh, my heart.

I promise you that I did not look beautiful at all. AT ALL. I won’t tell you what I think I looked like, because I really am trying to stop talking to or about myself in an ugly way. But not only did I not feel pretty, I really did not look pretty.

But I’d promised my family that I’d go swimming with them. And my worn-out, stretched-out suit was safely at home, hundreds of miles away. So I really didn’t have a choice.

I tried to make the best of the situation. You know, getting on with life? I grabbed a pair of my husband’s gym shorts to cover up. BUT THEY DIDN’T FIT. (Is there anything more humiliating than not fitting into my husband’s pants? I THINK NOT. . . . Fine. I’m sure something might be worse. But not this week.) So I grabbed a t-shirt, sucked in everything I could suck in, and walked to the elevator with my family.

When we got to the pool, I was beyond relieved to see that we had the whole place to ourselves. Still, I felt terrible. I smiled and played with my daughter, but inside, I was curled up in a ball and covered with a large blanket. I didn’t want anyone – even the people I loved most – to see me.

As I stood in the water, telling my kiddo that yes, of course I wanted to watch her jump in, two annoying tears slipped down my face. Since I had yet to get my head wet, my husband wasn’t fooled and asked, confused, “What is wrong?!”

I didn’t tell him. I couldn’t tell him.

But I didn’t keep crying, either. Slowly, I focused more on my family and less on myself. And I swam a few laps and did a few minutes of water aerobics moves. It wasn’t very long before I felt strong (because swimming is hard, yo) and remembered how to relax and have fun with my family.

And when we went back upstairs and I eagerly went to peel that hateful suit off my not-perfect-at-all body and COULDN’T GET IT OFF? Well, all I could do was laugh. Because really, that’s way better than crying – and being stuck in that soaking wet, octopus-like bunch of polyester was the kind of irony that I couldn’t help but appreciate.

I may never put that swimsuit on again. And I may think twice before booking a hotel room in a place that boasts of a super slide. But despite the horrible feeling of wearing that thing and slipping up in front of my kiddo with the “hideous” bomb, I didn’t let it ruin my day.

Although there was no saving my hair after that.

What’s your least favorite thing to wear? And what’s your favorite? (My favorite is, hands down, yoga pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. Comfort over style IS my style!)

Photo by janfredrikf

WFMW: Making Small Changes & Unsweet Tea

Making Small Changes - and Unsweet Tea

When I wrote about taking baby steps toward a goal last month, I was frustrated with the slow progress I’m making on Weight Watchers. I wish I could tell you things have changed in that arena, but they have not. I’m still lousy at making the right choices when it comes to food and exercise and not buying a package of S’mores Oreos and eating them all.

But I have made at last one more baby step toward my goal. Here it is: I’ve made the switch to unsweet tea.

[Let us all pause for a moment of silence – or, for my Southern friends, gasping in horror…]

If you don’t like sweet tea, this might not seem like a big deal to you. But, people? It IS A BIG DEAL. My Southern roots mean a few things – and one of them is that I love sweet tea. Unsweet tea is basically just dirty water. Or, at least that’s what I used to say.

Sigh. BIG SIGH. It really isn’t much more than lightly flavored water, you guys. That’s still what I think. But I also don’t like drinking my calories (or points, as the Weight Watchers case may be). And sometimes plain old water gets boring.

So, unsweet tea it is. (Or, to those of you living north of the Mason Dixon line [further north of it than I do], I suppose we can just call it “tea.”)

Aside from not wanting to spend my points or calories on delicious sweet tea, I’ve also just changed my perspective on this issue. I decided to stop thinking about unsweet tea as the sad version of sweet tea (ALTHOUGH IT IS) – and to think of it as a totally different drink entirely. You know, kind of like how Taco Bell is a completely kind of Mexican food than On the Border (which is a completely different kind of Mexican food than any local or authentic Mexican restaurant)?

Yep. That’s what I decided.

And I realize it’s all in my head and not that big of a deal (TO SOME PEOPLE), but to me? It’s making a difference. Before I had to choose between skipping [delicious sweet] tea and feeling deprived or drinking it and feeling guilty (plus moving further away from my weight-loss goals). But now I can drink something that’s [barely] not water and feel neither deprived nor guilty.

It’s the little things, people. The little things, the small changes, the baby steps. THAT is what will help me reach my goals. Small changes work for me. Perhaps a small change could work for you, too?

What small change could you make today that would help you reach your goals?

 
Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

WFMW: Antioxidants & Healthy Eating

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So, I’m back on the wagon. The weight-watching wagon, I mean.

The combination of some recent family photos and a “sign up now and get three months half off!” email was too much to resist, so once again (AGAIN.) I began eating fruit and writing down everything I eat and thinking about actually exercising.

Even though I’ve attempted to lose weight many, MANY times, I still spent the good part of today looking up healthy breakfast recipes and lunch ideas. And I read through all the materials I got with that half-off offer, refreshing my memory about which foods have more fiber or protein or both (or neither).

Because no matter how many times I’ve done this – and no matter how poorly I’ve eaten over the years – I’m always interested in learning more about food. What’s in it, which kinds have more “bang for the buck,” which ones I should avoid altogether, which ones aren’t as bad as I thought – it’s all fascinating to me! (Even if I ignore the part about avoiding sugar and bread and cheese and EVERYTHING DELICIOUS. Ahem.)

This renewed interest in what I’m putting in my body is well-timed. For lots of reasons (hello, shorts season and still wearing maternity pants situation!) – one of which is a conference call I got to be a part of last week, where I learned all about antioxidants from experts and scientists from ConAgra.

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Over the past few years I’ve read and heard so much about whole foods and clean eating and only shop at the farmer’s market and grow your own food in the backyard. You have, too, right? Sure, we all have.

But when pressed (by my husband, who isn’t always excited about my ideas about eating healthier), my definition of “clean” or “whole” food was, “You know, without all those preservatives.”

It turns out, though, that not all preservatives are bad. Here’s a video that explains:

What I learned from ConAgra is that we preserve our food for taste, freshness and safety – not to mention to reduce food waste. We preserve food by canning or freezing – or with antioxidants, a type of preservative. Vitamins E and C and citric acid are actually found in foods naturally (citrus fruits, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables, specifically) and are used as antioxidants. Antioxidants can also be manufactured and added to foods when natural antioxidants would change the flavor of the food.

In case you are like me and didn’t know about antioxidants, here are a few more facts.

  • Antioxidants prevent food from becoming rancid (gross.) and being wasted, as well as preserving food’s flavors and natural colors.
  • Antioxidants also slow the aging process, boost our body’s natural defense system, and hep combat heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

So, as it turns out, all antioxidants, when consumed as part of a balanced diet, are safe for your food and for your body. Ultimately, these antioxidants help us enjoy the foods that we love without having to compromise on taste or quality.

How about that? Like they say, never stop learning, right?! This week, healthy eating – and learning about healthy eating – works for me!

Where do you look for information about your food?

 
Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

Photo sources: Wagon and Fruit

This post is part of a campaign with The Motherhood and ConAgra. As always, opinions are all mine.

 

Miracle Marathon – Update #1

Miracle Marathon instagram

Well. Today is Day 5 of the Miracle Marathon, and I’m going to be brutally honest – I’ve got some miles to make up this weekend.

The first two days went great, and I walked just like I was supposed to do. The third and fourth days didn’t go as planned (as it goes with so many days!). So this weekend I’ve got to make up some mileage, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

As I instagrammed on Wednesday, I haven’t walked outside and I didn’t even put on real walking shoes. Still, walking two miles in four days is way more than I’ve done in quite a while! And since I’m using my Walk Away the Pounds video that has a super easy one-mile walk and regular two-mile walk, I can do that two-mile workout today and tomorrow.

Wondering what I’m talking about with this Miracle Marathon thing? The short version is that it’s a one-mile-a-day “marathon” from September 16 to October 12 to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. I’m a team leader, and I’m walking in honor of my friend’s son, Raef.

You can read more about it here.
It’s not too late, either – you can join my team here.
And if you’d like to help me save kids’ lives, you can donate here.

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS. For example, $10 would provide 20 preemie-sized diapers and $25 provides 4 baby blankets for the NICU. As the mom of a preemie, I know how valuable those tiny supplies are!!

Have a great weekend, friends!

Princess Dresses Don’t Come in Plus Sizes

weight loss fairy tale

I don’t have a single dream, fantasy or personal fairy tale that doesn’t begin with, “Once upon a time there was a beautiful, thin girl named Mary.”

Every dream I claim as my own begins and ends with me losing weight and looking different than I do right now.

Granted, right now I’m pregnant. But I’m also significantly overweight. And I hate it. If I’m honest, I hate myself a bit for it.

Last week I went to the MOPS annual conference for a few hours. It was in Kansas City this year, and I joined my friends and colleagues from DaySpring on Friday morning. Alex Kuykendall spoke in the morning session, and she asked us, “What keeps you from believing you are God’s masterpiece?”

She instructed us to write our answers on the piece of paper she’d had placed on each chair, wad it up and toss it in the trash bags being passed up and down the aisles.

I wrote, “Fat.”

Look, I know the Truth. I know I am wonderfully made by the Creator himself. I know He sees me as beautiful, and therefore I am beautiful. I know that and at least part of me believes that, no question.

The other part of me hears the scale groan and the threads tear and the lungs wheeze as I hoof it up a flight of stairs. The other part of me has eyes and sees what the mirror reflects. The other part of me accepts God’s acceptance – but longs to care better for this body He’s given me.

The other part of me dreams of walking into the regular side of the department store, of feeling confident when I walk into a room of strangers, of knowing I can use this body to walk, to run, to play, to work – just the way He intended.

I may have given up on fairy tales in a lot of areas in my life, but this one right here is one I still struggle with every minute of every day. No, I don’t fantasize [anymore] about wearing slinky dresses and showing off toned, dimple and stretch mark free skin. I don’t give that size or that number more value than they deserve. And I though I still hope to someday find knee-high boots that fit over my calves, I don’t believe my worth is determined by my footwear or jeans size or closet full of sleeveless shirts.

But I dream of losing weight. I imagine how good it will feel, and how lovely I’ll look – and how loved I’ll feel. And I admit that a tiny, irrational part of me still believes single digit sizes might lead to my happy ever after.

What fairy tales do you still struggle with?

Please note: I am well aware that it’s possible to find beautiful dresses in plus sizes. And I promise I am not asking for – nor do I need – your reassurance that I’m beautiful the way I am, that God loves me no matter my dress size, that being thin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or that I need therapy to get over my issues. I’m simply baring my heart a bit for you – and asking you to be brave enough to do the same.

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{Photo by workshoppe}