the body

Having a positive body image is a tough thing for most women. I admire the woman who feels supremely confident in her own skin at all times, but I have a feeling those women are few and far between.

As those of you who have been following me for a long time are aware, I have spent the last years few years trying to focus on my body and my health. After being a healthy kid and teenager, I went through a spurt in college of bulimia (though never to an extreme – at my thinnest, I was 5’8″, weighed 148#, and wore a size 8). Don’t get me wrong, I was binge eating and purging and definitely messed up for a good part of my junior year, but somehow I got a handle on it before I got too crazy, and I was able to spend the next few years in my 20s having have a fairly healthy relationship with my body. For me, that means weighing somewhere in the 150s and wearing a size 10/Medium.

Infertility sent me for a body image tailspin again, and suddenly my body was something broken that I resented.

Over the two years that we tried to conceive, I went from being the healthiest I’d been in years (I lost 20# and was weighing in at a fit, toned 151#), to struggling with bulimia and weight gain all over again. When things are tough, I turn to food and beer, without question. The sad (frustrating?) part is that you only need to be having one extra grab bag of chips and a couple extra beers a day to really start piling on the pounds. Throw fertility drugs in the mix, and I easily put on 17# in the final year of TTC for Stella before dropping 7# of that right before my BFP.

Pregnancy – while being something I pretty much loathed for the most part thanks to nausea and fatigue – was actually the best I’d felt about my body in years. I gained just 25# (exactly what my midwife had recommended based on my pre-pregnancy BMI) and was fit and healthy at delivery time. Pushing my daughter into this world was hands down the strongest I’ve ever felt in my life – and it was awesome to know that I had done everything in my power to ensure I’d be physically, mentally, and emotionally strong enough to do it. Also, by 6w postpartum I had lost all of those extra pounds. I was softer and rounder, for sure, but there was something immensely satisfying about seeing that BFP number back on the scale. I know it was equal parts hard work and genetics that allowed me to bounce back so quickly, and for that I’m grateful.

Then I started to let myself go again. I bottomed out at about 5# below my BFP weight at 4 months postpartum before shooting up 15# to my “holy shit that’s my line in the sand” weight just three months ago. There are definitely times I think I focus too much on the number on the scale, but even my husband agrees that I’m a different person at 171# than I am at 151# – probably in large part because I take out my frustrations with myself and my weight on my husband when I’m heavier. 😦

Beyond that, I don’t want my daughter to have this life long yo-yo struggle with her weight and body image. So far she eats healthy, balanced meals because that’s what I make for her. We don’t make her “clean her plate” (because I think that teaches kids to ignore their body’s signals that they’re full), and she is a perfectly healthy, happy toddler. I am dreading the day that she’s told she’s fat or starts critiquing her love handles. I want her to love her body and to know that she is strong and healthy.

Oddly enough, I started out this new pregnancy at the exact same BFP weight (161#), but I am infinitely more worried about weight gain this time around. I’m now working full time at a desk job where I rarely move, I’m taking care of a toddler on my nights & weekends, and I’m currently struggling with debilitating morning (all day) sickness that is causing me to spend my days and nights vomiting – this isn’t exactly conducive to getting in a quick run like I was finally getting into the habit of doing. I’m hoping that the nausea subsides before too much longer, and I am able to get back into a healthy mindset and way of living. Eating Cheetos and puking just isn’t cutting it, but it’s the best I can do right now.

Overall, I don’t think my body image issues have much to do with my ALI journey. Yes, I gained weight during “the dark times,” but I’ve also gained weight during this past year of my life, which was arguably one of the BEST years of my life. I have a feeling this will be a life long struggle for me – finding the healthy balance of food & exercise. I’m blessed to live on the Western Slope in Colorado (basically right in the middle of the Rocky Mountains) with easy access to hiking, rafting, skiing, etc — now I just need to take advantage of it, and show my daughter through example that an active life is a healthy life. We are also blessed to be surrounded by healthy, fit people here. Everyone I know loves activities like mountain biking and hiking and snowboarding –  it’s fairly inspiring to realize that yes, we like to sit around and drink beer, but it’s usually after doing some sort of crazy fun, high calorie burning activity for the day first.

That’s not such a bad balance, right? 🙂

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At my healthiest – the spring/summer of 2010!

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This is my contribution to PAIL’s Monthly Theme post topic for May, “Body Image.” Click here to join in and here to read everyone else’s posts!

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13 comments

  1. This is such a tough issue. I am currently working my ass off to get my weight down a few more pounds. I’ve taken two months off from TTC so far (both times it was because I wanted to focus on getting healthier), and I can’t take any more months off. I feel so miserable and cranky though. I would just kill for a Ben and Jerry’s. I think that overall, I actually have a pretty good body image, but it’s the fear of what TTC does to me that makes me feel like I need to get my weight lower even though my clothes fit and stuff. Plus, PCOS is tamer when my weight is lower. Anyways, this post was a good reminder about balance. Thanks!

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  2. Wow, thanks for sharing! I can understand where your concerns are, since I got my FitBit Flex I was shocked to see at how little I walk on workdays. And compared to your bar tending and waitressing like last pregnancy, can see where the concerns come about. However, don’t even think about that now, you can’t do anything while you are sick. The best you can do at this point is take care of yourself and Stella and maybe get something accomplished at work.

    The good news is that it will still be beautiful weather during your second trimester and you will be able to exercise throughout the times you are feeling well!

    I’m glad you are making an effort to show Stella that healthy isn’t skinny it’s strong, that will go a long way with her. My mom’s parents always preached skinny was best and she had some bulimia and anorexia issues. She did a great job not projected it onto me!

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  3. I find I feel my best when I’m focusing more on being active and athletic and eating well just follows suit. My college roommate battled with bulimia and my sister yo-yos with food issues, so I’m very glad I’m pretty steady on my gains and losses and level headed about it. If I put on a bit of weight, I try to lose it healthfully and do it not by numbers on the scale, but by how I feel. It’s hard and pregnancy, man, it’s really rough as you know. You just lose control completely, ya know?

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  4. I worked my butt off, quite literally, before we started treatment in 2010. I looked and felt the best I ever remember feeling. I was doing great with keeping up on all the work until I got bad news….and it all snowballed from there. If I could just get back to that groove…I now know I have to get back in that groove….struggling with body image and losing control of that body during things like infertility treatment and then pregnancy is something we all have faced. I think you’ve done an amazing job, especially with the fitbit craze you’ve started 🙂 Struggling with a history of eating disorders makes it even more challenging. You should be proud of the work you’ve done….and the fabulous example you’re setting for your daughter and your future child.

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  5. Like you, my biggest fear is having a daughter who constantly critiques herself, is obsessed over her love handles and if that piece of cake is going to put her over the edge. I hope and pray that I can get my body image in check so that she sees that her mom loves who she is and so should she.

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  6. mcmissis · · Reply

    You are the most physical-health-focused person I “know.” You never cease to inspire me to try harder in this area. You look fantastic whenever you post pics, and it’s clear you are working hard when you post about the topic. Congratulations in every way!

    But/and/therefore (I’m not sure the best word here) you may need to come to terms with the fact that you might gain more weight this pregnancy than you did with Stella. Your body will have given you two babies in two years. And don’t forget, you will have created, grown, birthed, and nourished them for that long (and however much longer you plan to breast feed new baby). That is an incredible feat! And it’s not an excuse to gain more weight, but it is most likely a reality. I don’t think that’s a terrible thing.

    Think of images of motherhood around the world and throughout history. They don’t look like the images of women we’re used to comparing ourselves (consciously or not) to on a daily basis. But THOSE images are the beautiful reality of our world.

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    1. mcmissis · · Reply

      Also, you might gain LESS weight this time or the exact same. Who knows? I just don’t want you to be too disappointed if the scale goes a few pounds more in the direction you’re hoping to avoid. With Gracie, I gained a ton in the beginning, then kind of evened out. With Lyla, I didn’t gain too much at first, then packed on the pounds as we got closer to meeting each other. I hope you’re feeling less sick soon!

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  7. You are beautiful inside and out Josey, no matter what the scale says. It’s unfortunate that so many women (including me) struggle with that number on the scale or the image in our head. I think it will always be a fight. We are strong women that have high expectations for ourselves, unfortunately that means we have a hard time “accepting” where we are with our goals…we can always be better, do better, but on the other hand it makes us determined and able to achieve great things. For what it’s worth…you have a loyal band of followers out on the internet that think you are absolutely perfect just the way you are. xoxo

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  8. This is completely off the topic of weight but are you still BFing Stella?? Do you know how many ounces per day you produced?? How long do you plan on doing it?? I exclusively pump and get about 40oz/day, and was just curious about what you get?? Also my MIL is pushing me to stop giving breastmilk at one year. And I just don’t think ill be ready to stop.. But she also pushed me to give solids (we just started at 6 months) because she thought she needed solids… Errr!!! She was content with just her breastmilk and there was just something special about me knowing that my body was producing what was nourishing my daughter! Okay so this comment turned into way longer than what I planned. Most of my fiends either are DINKs (by choice) or single so I don’t have many people to get input from! Lol

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    1. Yeah, I was BFing until this week. I never exclusively pumped, so there’s no way to know really, but I’d guess that I had about 30-35oz/day supply when I was pumping (nursing plus pumping to replace what she ate at daycare + one extra pump in the early morning for my freezer stash). 40oz/day is amazing! Every kid is different, but I think kids average about 30oz/day when they’re 6-7 months old. Check out this link – lots of great information: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/

      Babies definitely do NOT need anything but milk for the first 6 months – not even water (there is water IN your breastmilk). Our mother’s generation raised kids at a time where they were recommending food at 4 months – it’s now been proven that is incorrect. Way to stand strong against your MIL.

      How long you choose to breastfeed is absolutely nobody’s decision except you and your child. the World Health Organization recommends at least 2 years – and the vast majority of cultures follow that. I was planning on 1 year, and then at 1 year just didnt feel ready to stop. This pregnancy has thrown me for a loop though, and I’m feeling so awful that it was time to wean (at 17.5 months). We had a good run!

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  9. Phwoar! Love the rock climbing pic!!! Being strong and athletic is better than being skinny. That balance sounds perfect.

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  10. Like some others have said, you are always such an inspiration to me to take care of my body. And also, you are right that it isn’t about the number on the scale at all. The weight that works best for one person’s body isn’t going to be the same for another. You look freaking AMAZING in those photos. Wow! That rock climbing one.. that is just awesome. You are very lucky to live in a place with so many adventures at your doorstep. I think finding a balance between everything (adventures, exercise, healthy eating, beer, snacks) is the key. I am struggling right now with the gradual cutting down of BFing and eating junk even if walking way more. Instead of losing weight (which my fitbit makes me think I should be), I have been gaining little by little. Need to find the balance with food too right now.

    I think you will do just fine during this pregnancy at keeping where you want to be. You are so focused and know what you need to do. Feeling crappy all the time doesn’t help you to do what you want for your body but I hope that phase doesn’t last much longer.

    PS – I seriously think you look great in every photo I’ve seen of you!!

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  11. […] I was trying to continue to get any food down, much less healthy food. I wrote a post entitled the body about my eating disorder issues and trying to have a good body image, and I nursed Stella for the […]

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