Image Is Everything

I am not, nor will I ever be, a size 2. I would like to be a size 10; I have three sizes to go. I am overweight and out of shape, but I’m working on it. As an emotional eater and very busy person, that’s not an easy task. As a new mom facing down celebrity mom weight loss photos, it’s down right daunting. I know I’m never going to look like a magazine cover, but, sheesh, why can’t I melt away pounds like one? The one I really hate right now is a before and after picture floating around Facebook that shows Jessica Simpson at her heaviest (which was PREGNANT) and then slimmed down, with the tagline, “I lost 25 pounds in 5 weeks.”

This is TOTALLY unrealistic for anyone who doesn’t have a personal chef, personal trainer, personal assistant, and nothing better to do than exercise for hours and hours a day. Realistically, I can eat well and commit about 30 minutes per day to working out – if everything goes perfectly with my routine, which it never does. So, realistically, I can shape up, and I might eventually reach size 10 nirvana, but the bottom line is that my bottom line isn’t going to perk up instantly. I’m trying to make peace with that.

I am not giving myself a free pass for the bad behavior that landed me in overweight/out-of-shape territory. I am, however, looking for ways to remind myself that I am healthy and that my body is amazing just the way it is. With this body, I have completed a half-marathon, a sprint distance triathlon, and delivered a baby. That’s a pretty great list. It would be easy to beat my own drum every day because of my little list, but then I’m not likely to do the work I need to do to get back in shape. On the flip side, I’ve realized that when I’m critical of my own body, I’m usually judging everyone else’s, too.

My new experiment is to find something beautiful in each lady who crosses my path, especially when I find myself thinking something negative. I tend to be less judgmental of guys, so I largely exempt them from my thought experiment. So, when I see someone who doesn’t meet my ideal in some way, I pause to find something to appreciate. It’s also cheating to let myself off by thinking, “She has a great personality.” I find something physically attractive, no matter how small it may seem. If I happen to be in conversation with the person, like a cashier, then I try to compliment them while we’re talking (unless it’s weird, like “You have nice eyebrows” – then it’s just creepy).

I have never seen an ugly smile when offered sincerely. I have seen people more beautiful than have ever graced the covers of fashion magazines. And I have found that this thinking spreads to other areas of my life. It’s no secret that I struggle occasional with mostly mild bouts of depression. I know I’m having a rough time when I realize I am short fused and cursing like a sailor when I talk to myself. Those are also the days that I come as close as I get to road rage; it’s still really road annoyance rather than rage.

This afternoon, I was cut off in traffic twice by the same vehicle, which I found terribly obnoxious. When the other vehicle finally swerved to another lane to exit the interstate I expressed my relief as a quick, “Thank goodness!” But as I passed the car, I happened to glance at the driver, who was an older middle-aged woman who looked completely frazzled. My road annoyance disappeared, and then I felt a little guilty. This poor woman was probably following directions in an unfamiliar part of town, and the exit ramps were a little tricky. Instead of telling myself how badly this woman drove, I prayed for her to find her destination easily and to feel more calm about driving in strange territory. And then I hoped that someone would extend me the same grace next time I’m acting like an idiot. Maybe they’ll think I have nice eyebrows, too.