The diaper on the left is a micro-preemie size; the diaper on the left is a standard preemie size.
I have a confession.
In my letter Baby Body, Baby Fat Part Two: The Plan I told you one of my big goals for 34 is to shift how I think about myself and my body. Regardless of how big I am, how far I can run, or how “clean” my diet is, I want to look in the mirror and be proud of the woman I see. I don’t want to berate her, or hate her, or wear all black to conceal her. So the past few weeks, I’ve put special effort into banishing those negative thoughts from my mind and replacing them with something more positive. I’m getting pretty good at it.
That’s a good thing.
Here’s the not so good thing.
I’ve replaced my negative self thoughts with comparisons. Instead of saying to myself, “Ugh, you’re so out of shape. How did you even get here?” I say, “Well at least you can do more sit-ups than her!” Instead of saying to myself, “Skinny jeans look terrible on you. Your body will never fit into trendy clothes.” I say, “Yikes, I thought I looked bad in skinny jeans, but look at her!”
Do you see the problem?
My thoughts aren’t so much building me up as they are tearing others down. I don’t feel more confident when I think that way, instead, the moment I feel good about myself because I’m running faster than the girl on my right, I notice the girl on my left– the one who has the treadmill on a steep inline and the speed up to 8. (Is she even breaking a sweat?) I see her and before I know it, my mind is wandering: is she looking at me, I wonder, thinking, “Well at least I don’t look like her”? And down I dive again, into the rabbit hole of negative thoughts.
In a few weeks I’m going on a trip to Napa with some girlfriends. I am beyond excited. It will be warm; there will be wine; there will be a pool, there will be good friends and lots of laughter. But do you know what I keep thinking? I keep thinking about how I’ll look in a swim suit next to the other girls. The last time we were all together, one of my friends encouraged me to bring my running gear so we can jog together. She’s knows I’m on this journey; she’s wonderful and wants to be supportive. But my first thought was not gratitude for good friendship, but fear. She is in great shape. How will I look next to her? What will she think when I need to stop and walk for a bit?
What was once excited me is now creating waves of stress and tension in me. I’m already worried about what I’ll pack. In my mind I keep eliminating outfits; nothing seems flattering enough. It is ridiculous. Because who cares. I am on my journey, and it is a different from those of the women going to Napa with me. It is different than either of the women on the treadmills next to me. My story is different; my body is different, but in both there is strength and success and joy and blessings.
When Guy Guy was born he was rushed to the NICU. At first the doctors assured us he’d only be there a few days– he was a big baby, 5 weeks early but over 6 pounds. They predicted he’d be home in 3 days. Then the bottom fell out; he took a big turn for the worse, and they told us not to expect him home until his due date– 5 weeks away. On the night of the third day, the day I originally hoped to bring him home, I stood over his isolate and wept.
The nurse came over to hug me; we talked a few moments, and then she brought me the micro-preemie diaper in the picture above. “And that’s not even the smallest one we have,” she told me. “He’s very sick, but he’s big and strong. Don’t forget that.”
I don’t think she gave me that diaper so I’d compare Guy Guy’s condition with the 5 other babies in the room. Knowing he was bigger than the baby next to him did little to comfort me. I think she gave me the diaper to remind me to focus on the positives. Knowing Guy didn’t have to fight for size gave me hope. It was something glad to cling to.
I think the same is true for my Unfat and Healthy journey. My task is not just to stop saying rotten things to myself; my task is also to STOP comparing myself to others. Instead I need to start taking stock in what is lovable about my body and health. And there is a lot to love. (No! That was not a pun :)) As you pointed out to me in Body Image, my body produced two incredible human beings. What’s not to love about that?
Thanks for listening to my ramblings on this topic. It is good to have friends who support me so much!