I found it hard to focus on the Jennifer Weiner novel I was reading while Isabelle was in dance class yesterday. Three other moms were gabbing while our daughters were dancing. Their conversation was almost identical to the one they’ve had the past few weeks. It focused on their weight. All three were dieting (perhaps as a New Year’s resolution). All three were, admittedly, depriving themselves of food they love in an effort to shed pounds. All three were craving food. All three have been on my mind since last night since I know how hard it is to diet when you feel hangry.
One mom, who talked about using different and smaller bowls and plates so she could eat less, said her daughter was curious about her dinnerware changes. She swore to the other women she doesn’t talk about her weight in front of her daughter. While I was thankful for that, I did notice she was conversing about her weight in front of her young son. (And we wonder why some men in society contribute to some women having negative body images. I believe we have to be just as mindful of the things we say around boys as we are with girls. But that’s a topic for another blog post.)
I weigh a lot more now than I did when I got married in 2007. Maybe it is because my metabolism slowed down once I turned 30. Who knows? I am a mindful eater who tries to eat healthy foods. For instance, I drink a green smoothie every morning. I have been gluten-free for over a year. However, I don’t count calories or obsess about everything I put in my mouth because doing so makes me miserable.
The only way I’ve found to counteract my love of cooking and baking is to exercise regularly. When my daughter asks why I’m exercising, I explain doing so helps me feel strong; it gives me more energy. I edit my desire to shed pounds from my rationale. I’d much rather Isabelle understand I exercise to feel good about myself rather than doing it because I don’t like the way I look.
I’ve accepted — although I don’t love — that my arms, tummy, and thighs are not as taut as they were in my 20’s. They may never be “perfect” again since plastic surgery frightens me. Therefore, instead of paying attention to calorie counts, I prefer to look at my exercise stats from the month that’s passed with pride rather than regret.
Yes, I keep stats — the old-fashioned way, not with a FitBit — last month. (I have considered getting a FitBit. If you have one, please convince me why I need one.) Here’s what I accomplished in January:
Elliptical: 9 sessions for a total of 366 minutes.
Pilates: 7 sessions for a total of 305 minutes.
Swimming: 7 sessions for a total of 2 miles.
I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, person to write about body image. I wonder what would happen if everyone reframed the conversation for themselves. Instead of berating ourselves for overeating, what if we were more mindful about the food choices we made? What if we indulged and were thankful for treating ourselves rather than guilting ourselves into an extra 30 minutes of cardio. And, what if we exercised for the sake of living a longer life and having better internal numbers (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) rather than worrying about the number on the scale?