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I was 10 years old when I started to hate my body…
The first time I remember feeling ashamed of my body was when I was 10 years old. It was a warm summer day, school had just ended and I was hanging out with a group of girls from the neighborhood. We were all wearing shorts and tank tops, enjoying the warm weather and revelling in the fact that we had almost 3 months without school. I don’t remember who suggested it, but one of the girls proposed that we stand in a circle, each put one of our legs in the center and decide who had the nicest legs.
No sooner than my leg was in the circle one of the girls blurted “Well it’s definitely not Crystal who has the nicest legs! She’s out!” It’s true. I’ve never had nice legs. I’m flat footed, I have thick ankles, my legs are like giant tree trunks– it’s a rare day, as an adult, that I expose my legs for anyone other than my husband and kids. It was a silly, harmless comment that was not meant to be malicious, yet the idea took root and wouldn’t go away.
At 10 years old my legs were the vehicle that took me on adventures, whether they were thick or thin had never crossed my mind…
At 10 years old, the thought of whether I had nice legs or fat stubby legs had never occurred to me. In my mind, my legs were powerful, they were what propelled me through the water to get me across the pool in record time. My legs were playful, they helped spin me in circles in the grass until I was so dizzy I fell down. My legs were bouncy, they helped me jump up, oh so high, and then splash down into mud puddles. My legs were adventurous, they took me on journeys exploring the forest surrounding my house, they got scrapes and scratches as I crawled on my knees next to fallen trees looking for snakes and salamanders. Up until that point my legs were amazing, powerful things that helped me do the things I needed to do. Ever since that moment I’ve seen my legs as something different– Fat.
Self Hatred & Negative Body Image.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to figure out the word for how I feel about my body. It sounds like a strong phrase, but I would almost categorize it as self hatred. I know that inside I am a wonderful person. I am creative, caring, smart and worthy of love. The outside though is a different story. My feelings of shame and disgust for my body were sparked that summer and have grown as I have aged and my body has grown.
The saddest thing to me is that I know I’m not the only one. I know many women who look at their body in the mirror and feel disgust. I see girls at my daughter’s school, as young as 1st grade, hypothesizing over whether their clothing makes them look fat.
It’s something we all need to protect our daughters from. But how do we protect them if we are feeling that way ourselves?
High school, the “Friend Zone” and the summer of ice water and apples.
Through high school I was always “the friend”. The friend of the thin pretty girl that all the boys flocked to. I was constantly in the “friend zone” with boys. They would confess to me the girls they had crushes on and ask for advice on what they should do about it. I often had crushes on these boys myself, and on the rare occurrence that I would admit my crush would always have my heart broken. “You’re such a good friend. I’d hate to ruin that!” “You’re the type of girl who you marry… not the type of girl you have a good time with in high school!”
High school, mercifully, ended and I began a relationship with a boy who was a bit older, but who I had been friends with for years. He was beautiful. Tall, dark and handsome, the type of man that women would secretly stop to take a second and third glance at. Friends and family members were always commenting on how handsome my boyfriend was. In my insecure mind everyone was secretly questioning what this demi god was doing with a girl like me. And so I did the only thing that I felt like I truly had control of– I stopped eating. For an entire summer I lived on ice water and the occasional apple. My boyfriend begged me to eat but everyone else around me kept on telling me how great I looked. Eventually, as he continued to plead with me to eat and I refused it ended our relationship. And thankfully the end of our relationship also marked the end of my anorexia.
True love and it’s best friend… 40 pounds
My relationship with my body image hasn’t gotten any better as the years have gone by. When my husband and I got together the opposite of my “summer of ice water and apples” happened– I believed him when he told me that he loved me no matter what I weighed and so I started to eat… and eat… and eat… and eat. As my way of telling myself that I was done with my anorexic days, I didn’t own a scale and was shocked when I went to the doctors office and found out that I weighed 40 pounds more than what I had weighed in high school. And yet I kept eating. If my husband was eating it, I might as well eat it too!
And that has continued to this day. When I make dinner for us, I serve both of us the exact same sized portions (and sometimes take a second look to see which one is slightly bigger and take that one for myself!) I often will have a second helping, even if I’m full because it tastes so good and I’m “afraid” that if I don’t eat it now that my husband will finish it off.
Things got a bit better when Today’s Parent came knocking at my door…
I finally made the decision that I was going to commit to myself and my health after the birth of my second child. I had just started Sew Creative and Today’s Parent approached me and asked if I would like to be one of their writers for their healthy family challenge. I jumped at the chance and lost about 25 pounds in the process.
My big epiphany moment of the challenge was when I wrote the post “Lose the fear, lose the weight“. In the article I write about how watching my daughter overcome a fear in the swimming pool helped me realize that fears and insecurities were holding me back from being the best me that I could be.
Not only was that huge for my weight loss journey, it was also huge for my life in general. It made me start identify why I wasn’t doing the things I wanted to do (fear) and helped me set those fears aside and just “Do It!” Finally, for the first time in a long time I felt confident again.
And so the journey begins again… hopefully for the last time
And now I am at those crossroads again. My weight has slowly began to creep back up. It’s frustrating and embarrassing to admit that I fell back off the wagon after 2 years of doing so good. I’ve been struggling with anemia for years and last spring it got so bad that I was showing signs of blacking out at my exercise classes. Spending time at the gym game to an end. Instead of realizing that if I’m not exercising I should really cut my portions and calories I started to comfort eat and slowly, slowly, slowly I’ve gained back almost 15 pounds of the 25 that I lost with Today’s Parent.
I TRULY believe that women are beautiful at all shapes and sizes, but I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t feel healthy. I want to be healthy. I want to live a quality life and I want to show my kids what it’s like to be healthy and to love yourself.
Thanks to my past “ah-ha” moment that I wrote about at Today’s Parent, I’ve decided to not let fear stop me when it comes to losing weight. I recently met an incredible naturopathic doctor named Dr. Allana Polo, who specializes in weight loss at her clinic Polo Health + Longevity Centre. She is working with me and 3 other Vancouver mom bloggers to help us identify why we have put on excess weight, why we are overweight (hello night time snacking in front of the tv) and help us take off the excess weight that we have put on over the years.
This is the woman who is going to help me change my life and I couldn’t be more excited!
My goals during this process are to:
- To get healthy and to make it become a permanent part of my lifestyle
- Regain my sense of portion control
- Reset my metabolism
- Get a better understanding of the foods that I should be eating (do you know that a lot of the low fat, low calorie foods marketed as healthy are AWFUL for you? Watch Dr. Polo’s video talking about it on Global News here.)
- Work on my self love and gain a more positive body image to pass along to my daughter
- Eventually take off 40 pounds
Want to take the challenge yourself? Visit Polo Health + Longevity Centre and book an appointment with Dr. Allana Polo!
[Tweet “Cheering @SewCreativeBlog on as she takes the #PoloWeightLoss Challenge!”]
Keep up to date on all of our progress by following the hashtag #PoloWeightLoss on social media and by visiting our posts below.