Tuesday, March 15, 2011

what i CAN do

I've been chatting, in person and via email, with a close friend of mine.  Like us, she and her husband endured painful losses before having their miracle daughter and, like us, they've had loss afterwards, too.  They married, had 2 miscarriages (one took her tube with it), and then had their sweetheart.  (And, like me, her birth experience wasn't what she'd hoped it would be and, after a day of induced labor at 42 weeks pregnant, she ended up with a c-section.)  When they decided to try again, they had a few months of infertility before a happy positive that ended very shortly afterwards.  In addition to losing her fourth pregnancy, she also lost her surviving tube.  They've made the decision to not seek out ARTs and have concluded their childbearing.  Just typing that, my heart breaks for them because I know how much she longed for each and every one of those pregnancies- how they both did- and how each one took a piece of her heart with them.  It hurts because those feelings are ones I'm intimately acquainted with.

As you can imagine, years of pregnancies and TTC has done a number to her waistline, something else I'm quite familiar with.  Many of our conversations in recent days have centered on weight and how our weights impact our self image and self esteem, how it's hard to lose weight, and things of the like.  And, from our conversation today, this blog post was born.

She asked me how I find the will power to do it and to keep on.  

It's a funny question (to me at least) and one I've been asked a lot.  Most people who know me IRL know that I'm pretty flaky when it comes to will power.  I mean, I want to do well... I really do... But it usually only lasts a few weeks (at the most!) and then my old free spirit takes hold and I'm fluttering around to something else.  So, seeing as I've actually been at this since October and (gasp) seem to be following through, it is a valid question.  I had to think about it a while before I responded.

There's no denying that seeing the picture of me at the September wedding was an eye opener.  I really had no idea that I was that heavy.  And it shocked me.  A lot.  But, let's be honest, shock value has very little with keeping me on track with something.  I was upset and wanted, desperately, to lose weight.  But it was because I didnt want to look like the woman in that picture!  Sometime between when I saw that picture and when I decided to make a serious change ( a matter of days), I noticed that Bobby and Maya watched me during meals.  We all eat together, so this isn't such a surprise, but then it hit me.  They are looking to me as an example for how to eat.  And what an example I was.  Plates heaping with food... second helpings... eating when I wasn't even hungry.  And then, the biggest slap in the face: the whining about how overweight- how obese- I was and how I wanted to change but it was the PCOS and the Hashimoto's (all the while shoving a cookie in my mouth and washing it down with a Coca Cola).  Nice example.

It wasnt about me fitting into a size X; it couldn't be, not after that light bulb went off. It was about showing Bobby and Maya how to live a healthy lifestyle.  Something clicked.  It stopped being about me.  It wasnt "eat better" or "diet" or "go to the gym" because "I" wanted to lose weight or look better or fit in smaller clothes.  It was more "live a healthy lifestyle because that's what you want Bobby and Maya to grow up with".  I dont want them to have my issues.  I dont want them to see a mother who is so unhappy with herself in the mirror, who has such self-loathing that she's counting this bite or that to try and be skinny or, worse, who simply blames something she "can't change" when she could stop ignoring the things she could.  I dont care what they weigh; I just want them to be happy with themselves and healthy along with it.  

That realization hit me deep in my gut.  I couldnt give them their older siblings on earth; I cant give them younger siblings on earth; I couldnt give them a 40 week pregnancy or a natural birth or 2 years of breastmilk.  But I can give them a healthy role model.  I can give them a healthy mom.  That is 100% within my power.  It's made me a changed woman to realize that this is something I CAN do for them.  They deserve everything... And becoming a healthier mother was something they deserved to have.

But it's for me too.  I'm constantly telling my friends that they deserve to be loved for themselves.  Taking my own advice is hard but worthwhile in this endeavor.  I'm more than the sum of my weight and measurements.  I'm me, for better or for worse.  People keep commenting on how much I've changed and how they barely recognize me.  While I don't see that so much in a physical sense, it's true on a deeper level.  I have changed. I still battle the demons that make it so easy for me to overeat; I will always, I think.  But nine times out of ten, I win the battle.  I take a smaller helping (that, really, is the right size helping for me) or eat smaller meals throughout the day.  Maybe it's drinking my espresso black (it really tastes better that way) or choosing to dress my salad with one teaspoon instead of a glob.  Maybe it's eating a bite or two of that decadent dessert (because that is when I'm full and those two bites are the best anyway) instead of cramming as much down my throat as possible.  

In some ways, my mind is trapped in that "if you can get more for less, then you should" mentality.  But as I walk this journey, I'm finding that the measure of my food happiness really is quality over quantity.  I dont need the large; I'm good with the small.  I'd rather have the one bite of organic chocolate than the whole Snickers bar.  I'm so grateful that I don't have a microwave anymore; being able to really prepare meals from scratch and to take the time to touch the ingredients and truly make the meals that feed my family, nourishes my soul.  I wouldnt have believed this a year ago; but today, all of this is part of the healthier- and happier- me.

When I took my fitness assessment at the gym last night, the trainer marveled at how strong I was.  "It must be from lugging around those babies all day," he chuckled.  I laughed because I'm sure that is part of it.  But my physical strength pales in comparison to my inner strength.  All the time, I was angry when people told me how strong I was after the children died... How they could never have survived.  I wanted to tell them how I didnt get a choice, how I wasnt strong but was trapped in a no win situation, how I had no option but to go on because, if I didnt, then my babies died with me.  Who would remember them?  Who would say their names?  

But all this time, they were right.  I am strong.  I may battle with my demons and sometimes they may have me in a headlock (with a cookie!!) but I'm winning the war.  The size 10s in my closet say that.  The fact that I can now fit into Peter's 32" pants say that (I KNOW!! I'm pretty thrilled!).  The fact that I dont hover in the kitchen when I'm not hungry nearly as often as I used to says it, too.  But I'm stronger than my food issues.  I'm stronger than the PCOS and the Hashimoto's.  I'm stronger than the grief- stronger because of it, too.  Without Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander- and without losing them-... Without the journey to get Bobby and Maya here safely... Without the letting go and simply letting... I wouldn't know how strong I am.  Maybe because I wouldn't be.

What could you do if no one told you it was impossible?  Everything... You could do everything...  Because you're strong too.  Not just because of what you've gone through (although I'm sure it has made its mark on your soul) but because, even though you wage your own battles of light versus dark, you're winning the war, one day at a time.

What will you do today?


Terri Jones said...

I'm so proud for you. I really love seeing you happy & healthy. You deserve it. Great post!

Emerging Butterfly said...

Great job! What would I do if no one told me I couldn't? Oh wow....I would pass my math class in spite of a disability that seems intent upon stopping me from gaining my diploma that I've worked as an honor student for for six long years. sigh....I keep trying. I keep trying. It looks like I may have to give up though because my midwife thinks I'm under too much stress. :o(

Anonymous said...

Michele, you are truly an inspiration. I gotta get myself in gear and get going on my own weight loss. Thank you for reminding me that although there are some things out of my control when it comes to fertility/pregnancy...I can control what I eat, how active I am etc.