We all know the word. That dreaded word that almost every woman has used at least once, and quite possibly many men, as well.
It’s 4:30am and I woke up with severe hot flashes. I’ve been up and down with hot flashes all night, but this time I don’t think I’m going to be able to get back to sleep because of them. Especially since I have to wake up in just 2 hours. And as I was looking through my feed on one of my low carb groups, the same word kept popping up: fat.
“I say I am fat and my 14 yr old says look at ur arm there is skin now say look I am skinny lol”
It was really just a simple phrase, but my half-asleep brain read way too far into it. After all, the majority of the people in this group HAVE to lose weight for their health; me included. Almost. Talking about weight loss in front of our children is a difficult thing to do. This particular person’s daughter is 14 years old, and more than capable of coming to her own conclusions about things. Honestly, I’m really happy for this particular person in my group because her 14 year old daughter is very supportive about her mother’s weight loss and isn’t letting it affect her negatively. On the other hand when I was 13, I was busy being suicidal and trying to kill myself because my mom was always calling me fat and telling me that I should stop eating. The pre-teen years are crucial years in a child’s development, both boys and girls, for the development of their self-esteem and confidence. If they don’t feel good enough by someone else’s standards: their parents, their siblings, their peers, it has a huge affect on how they look and feel about themselves; and how they view the people around them. Because of the weight issues I went through, I was very judgmental about other girls’ bodies. I had it in my head that if people wanted to look beautiful, they had to be skinny. I was always insanely jealous of my cousins because their metabolism was fantastic and they were always skinny. My cousin was a size 0 her entire life, and even when she got pregnant with her baby, she only went up to a size 3 and lost a good amount of that after her baby was born. I’ve since talked with her less, and when I do talk to her, I don’t talk about her weight, so I don’t know if she ever managed to fit back into that 0, but I always thought, “Wow, she is so gorgeous. Why can’t I look like her?” But you know what?
She hated her body.
She used to complain all the time how she wished she could gain weight because it was always so hard for her to find clothes that fit her. She hated how other people had more weight on them, and to her, that was “beautiful.” She hated her small boobs, she hated her small frame, she hated her small stomach. She was always saying how I was lucky to have such big boobs, and even though she didn’t want them quite as big as mine, she still wished she could have gone up a cup or two because her chest was built like a board. There were times where she wouldn’t even have to wear a bra and no one would even notice that she had gone without; and that’s not a criticism from me. I really looked up to her; even though she was younger than me, because despite her issues with herself, she always seemed like a much more stable and self-confident person than I could ever hope to be. But she had an amazing support system, as well. She had an older sister, a step-mom, a mother and father who would always encourage her and build her up. My mom and my sister just tore me down at any chance they could get. But this was just a tangent. Let me get back to what this post was originally about.
As I said above, I’ve always taken issue with my weight. When I found out I was expecting my daughter, I was floored. Not just for the fact that it was unexpected and her father is a deadbeat, but also because among all of the other first time parent questions that were rattling through my head like, “How am I suppose to raise a kid?” But also, “What about my weight?” I had been obsessed with trying to lose weight since I was 13, so the idea of gaining even more weight because of being pregnant did not sit well with me at all. I gained over 20lbs with her because I didn’t know anything about proper diet and nutrition for a pregnant woman. At the time the only answers I could find were just to eat balanced meals and eat 6-8 times a day. In fact, that’s still basically the general idea. Most doctors won’t change their minds about that because they don’t actually realize how unhealthy it is to eat food that your individual body can’t handle properly. Fast forward 3 years later after losing a lot of weight due to exclusive breastfeeding, and then gaining it all back. I was back to my post-baby weight: 190lbs, and I was moving to Michigan with my now-fiancee and my daughter. After being in Michigan for awhile, I finally had it with my weight. I started doing research on good ways to lose weight; I thought I had tried everything, but I hadn’t. That was when I discovered Low Carb eating. And of course everyone I told was blatantly against it; want to know why? Not because it’s an extreme temporary diet, not because it was an unhealthy way of eating, and not because it left no room for a lifestyle change to keep the weight loss off. Sure, those were a lot of the reasons people were against it (even my fiancee at first), but the real reason they were against it was because they didn’t actually know what they were talking about. They were parroting rumors that they had heard over 10 years ago and assumed the same thing held true. Because things never change in 10 years, right? In fact, my fiancee’s sister gave me some diet pills and said those were a healthier way to lose weight than a Low Carb diet; and she was serious. Of course I basically ignored them and did what I wanted to anyway. Jon knew I would, so instead he tried to support me the best way he could…which wasn’t all that helpful…but points for trying anyway. So I began my Low Carb journey. Now, at the time, I was in Phase 1 of the Atkins diet, feeling good, losing weight quickly. And that was when my daughter said something to me that I’ll honestly never forget.
“Mommy! When I grow up I want to have a biiiiiiiiiiiiig tummy, just like you!” She was 4 at the time, and I’ll admit, I was speechless. I didn’t know what to feel, what to say. How do you explain to a child that you’re morbidly obese and if you don’t lose the weight, you could run into all sorts of problems? The truth is, you can’t. I was angry, I was upset, and I didn’t even know what to think about what she had said to me. All of my self-confidence just disappeared. It sounded like she was criticizing me; making fun of me because I had such a hard time losing weight my entire life. I had to take a few minutes to stop and get my head back together. This was my daughter; she loved me. She looked up to me, and she was proud of her mommy’s “big tummy.” She thought mommy’s big tummy was beautiful and wanted to have one just like it when she grew up. That’s really what she was saying to me. After I had put my emotions back together and gotten myself back in check, I had to sit down and have a talk with her. I couldn’t believe that I was having a weight loss talk with my 4 year old daughter.
I explained to her that she really shouldn’t want a big tummy like me, because my big tummy was very unhealthy and was making me sick. Then she got scared. She was a bit on the chubby side because her body hadn’t grown into itself yet. She thought she would get sick because she had a big tummy too. But then Jon and I had to explain to her that since she’s still little, she hasn’t grown into her tummy yet and that her doctor says that she’s at a very healthy weight and her big tummy won’t make her sick like mine would because I’m an adult and I’m not going to grow anymore. She’s since grown into her “big tummy” and she doesn’t even look chubby anymore. In fact, she’s tall and thin, just like my cousin. And it’s very difficult to find clothes, especially pants; that fit her properly. And she still sometimes complains that her big tummy is gone.
I still find myself talking badly about my weight; even though my first journey into low carb took me down by 9lbs before I had to stop doing it because of certain circumstances. Last October I weighed 182lbs and was working on getting back into a Low Carb way of life; but again, circumstances. My roommate forced Jon and I to buy her “gluten free” foods even though she didn’t have Celiac disease, and didn’t actually need to eat gluten free, so we never had enough money for me to eat properly. She never even lost weight with her “gluten free” foods, so it didn’t actually help her. It was all in her head. It wasn’t until the month before I found out I was pregnant, in January, that I managed to get myself some Low Carb foods, and that’s because I told my roommate that if she wants to waste money on gluten free, she can buy her own gluten free foods with her own money because she was the reason Jon and I were always out of grocery money at the beginning of the month. Jon and I were already walking on eggshells with her, so it didn’t matter anyway. I started school in late January and was taking a strength training class and a yoga class, and I was also only eating about 20-25 grams of carbs a day. And in the midst of it all, I still found myself complaining about being fat. I lost 10lbs due to eating healthy, and I still haven’t managed to gain those pounds back (but we’ll see at my doctor’s appointment today if that still holds true). Yet, I still complain about gaining weight. Whenever I find out I’ve gained weight, I start to get upset. I was 18lbs less than I weighed when I moved to Michigan after my first trimester and more than halfway through my second trimester; but when my appointments became more frequent; my weigh-ins became more frequent as well, so the faster my self-confidence tended to drain. Jon has to remind me on a constant basis that I’m not fat. If I hadn’t been pregnant, I would probably weigh significantly less now than I did in January and February. Whenever I complain about gaining more weight, he chooses his words carefully. He always says, “Sounds like the baby is getting fatter.” And that usually snaps me out of it. After all, I should be happy that I’m gaining weight. It means our baby is growing well and getting the nutrition he/she (still on the fence about the gender) is healthy. But this is still my body and it still affects my self-confidence when I find out that I’m gaining weight. I still look in the mirror and hate how fat I’ve gotten. My stomach is bigger now than it was in January, but I still weigh less than I did in October. The reason for that is because my baby is bigger, but I’m not. I’m still hanging onto the fact that because I haven’t actually gained any weight since I found out that I was pregnant, I’ll weigh significantly less once this baby is born. Which, truthfully, even though my due date isn’t here yet, this baby could come at any time. I’ve already had a false labor scare and even as I sit here typing this out, I’m having strong contractions…and they hurt. But they’re not as bad as labor pains…yet. At least if I go into labor today, I’ll be at the hospital. But hopefully the baby can at least wait until my ultrasound today and possibly hold out until the end of the week so we can buy things. Today marks exactly 37 weeks; which means I’m at full term. 37-40 is considered full term so there’s no stopping labor if the baby decides to come.
I still wonder if all of my complaining about weight is making a significant impact on Selene’s psyche. I try not to project my self-confidence issues on her, but she’s so impressionable that chances are, she’s going to be concerned about her weight as she gets older as well. I just need to remember that even if I’m overweight, I’m still beautiful, and there are always going to be at least 3 other people who feel the same way. I may need that reminder every so often. Self-confidence issues never go away; you just learn to cope with them better as time goes on. I’m already worried that I’ve ruined that for Selene. Hopefully I can be her gentle reminder that she’s a smart, beautiful girl. She’s going to need a strong support system as she gets older and I want to give her what I never had at that age.