(This is quite possibly the most vulnerable post I have ever written…)
On our wedding day I felt as any bride should: beautiful, confident, joyful.
I had worked hard to lose twenty pounds before that day, and it felt so good to be thinner.
And then I got comfortable, as so many married people do…
Over the years I have lost the same amount of weight several times only to gain it back.
I gained over 30 pounds during pregnancy – pounds I hoped would melt away while nursing. Seventeen of those pounds did go away, but I am still carrying fifteen pregnancy pounds in addition to the fifty that I have gained since getting married almost five years ago.
Sixty-five extra pounds.
That is the minimum that I need to lose. According to the “charts” I need to lose 75-85 pounds in order to be a “normal” weight for my height.
How did this even happen?!
Before Tori got sick I was working on losing weight and I felt encouraged about my progress.
But then our world was turned upside-down and I was forced into the role of full-time caregiver and nurse – a role I never imagined myself in, and one that requires all of my time and energy. It often requires more energy than I am able to give.
I want so desperately to lose this weight and feel better about my outward appearance, but I lack the determination and energy required. I don’t get much sleep these days and that makes everything more difficult.
I went shopping recently and couldn’t believe the size that fit me. It was a number I had never wanted to see. That experience was a reminder that I have to figure out a way to take care of myself AND Tori to ensure that I can continue to care for her with all of me.
I find the same lies and excuses swirling around in my head whenever I am tempted with comfort foods:
- If I don’t eat this now, I may not have the chance to enjoy it again.
- It’s too hard to find the time to prepare healthy foods.
- I’ll just start again tomorrow.
- Everyone thinks I’m fat and that’s all they see.
- I’ll never be as thin as her, so what does it matter?
So, I give up and eat what sounds good, what will make me feel good in the moment. I have so many things to constantly be aware of in regards to Tori that it feels good to be carefree in just one area of my life.
And then I see photos of myself and I am appalled. Ashamed. I am reminded that I cannot just be carefree about what I eat – my genetics and my history tell me so.
I find myself not wanting to see people I haven’t seen in awhile because I don’t want them to judge my weight. I try to hide it, and I try to avoid those situations to prevent embarrassment.
Why is it that we try to hide the most obvious things about ourselves?
It’s as if we are children in our Sunday best who have been playing in the mud, but we try to hide it from our parents even though it’s obvious that we are dirty.
We try to hide our struggles because fear whispers that if we open up, if we are vulnerable, people will judge, criticize, and laugh at us. People will see how terrible we are and how greatly we have failed.
The reality is that when we are honest, others feel the freedom to share their struggles as well. Vulnerability brings freedom.
You know what really holds me back? Fear of failure. Instead of remembering that I have successfully done this in the past, I become intimidated by my current situation with Tori and all that it requires of me and I let that affect my attitude.
Instead of trying, I give up before I even start.
I have sacrificed the care of myself because I have convinced myself that I can’t fully care for Tori AND me.
And that is a lie.
Can I spend hours a day working out? No.
Can I prepare elaborate healthy meals for myself and for Brennan on a daily basis? No.
But I can start somewhere.
And that somewhere is writing this extremely vulnerable post, because, as Jon Acuff so wisely said, “fear fears community.” Fear wants you to feel isolated, alone, defeated. Fear hates accountability and solidarity.
But the power of fear is lessened when it is exposed to the world.
I know I am not alone in this. I’m sure there are other women – especially in my shoes as a caregiver – who struggle with this very thing. And I want to figure out a solution because if I don’t take care of myself, how can I fully care for Tori?
What am I going to do about this?
- To start, I am going to stop focusing on my failures and instead celebrate each success. I’m optimistic in every other area of my life, so why not this? (Examples: I drank all my water today! I ate healthy snacks!)
- I am going to take it one meal at a time and not be overwhelmed by the length of the journey ahead of me.
- I am going to combat those lies above with truth:
- Ice cream will be there when I reach my short-term goals and want a treat.
- I do have time to put together simple healthy meals and snacks.
- I won’t wait until tomorrow to start over – I will start immediately.
- I will remember that people are just as focused on themselves as I am and they likely aren’t focused on my weight, especially given my circumstances.
- I will stop comparing myself to other women. Thin doesn’t mean healthy.
For me, it’s not just about the pounds – it is about overall health. I know that several women in my family have developed diabetes and I am terrified of that being my story as well.
I’ve got to start now.
I can’t change Tori’s condition, nor can I change the fact that she doesn’t sleep much (which makes me so tired all the time). But I can do one thing at a time to make progress. I can focus on what I DO accomplish as opposed to what I don’t.
And I can be patient with myself and offer grace when I fall short.
I am going to blog about my progress as forced accountability, because now that you all know what I am trying to do, I feel “required” to report back to you. :)
These before pictures are from July 4, 2015; not much has changed, yet, but that changes now.