I’m excited to welcome Jennifer Robinson as a guest poster while I am off hiking, biking and running away from grizzly bears. Thanks for stepping in, Jen!
Scenario #1: You see a photo of yourself that you think is highly unflattering. In fact, you wouldn’t show it to anyone. What you really want to do is throw it into the fireplace and be done with it. But let’s say you show it to someone important to you and she looks at it and exclaims, “What an adorable picture of you!” This leads you to a couple of possibilities: a) You look that way all the time and so therefore maybe it really is a good picture of you or b) Maybe you’re being too hard on yourself.
Scenario #2: You’re dressed up and ready to go out. You haven’t been anywhere at night for a long time because you have small children at home and you’re always exhausted. But tonight, you’re ready to have some fun. You put on your most flattering outfit. Granted, you don’t look like you did when you were 21, but whatever. You and your friends go to a restaurant/bar/bookstore and then you spot her. She’s you ten years ago. Seeing her ruins your night and you go home depressed.
Scenario #3: Each week, you notice that your pants are getting tighter. It’s the pants, you think. Not me. You go out and buy new pants in a size up.
I’m sure that many women can either relate to one of those scenarios. I’m no exception. Two years after my daughter was born, I came to a chilling realization. Over those two years, I had not lost weight (the nine months to put on, nine months to take off rule definitely didn’t apply to me). Instead, I had gained weight – about 30 pounds! It was awful…but I kind of knew how it happened. I had been so busy taking care of my daughter that food took on absolutely no importance. I ate whatever was there, when it was there. The weight had crept on. And now, looking at myself, I wanted it off.
But life doesn’t work that way, so I decided to try Weight Watchers. After my first weigh-in, I was ready to dive in full force. I was completely obsessed with the Points system. Before I could eat anything, I would calculate the points; you could name any food and I would know the exact count. After the first week, though, when I saw I had lost some weight, I started being easier on myself. It became like a game or contest. How many recipes could I make that contained the lowest points possible? What was the highest fiber food I could find? And could I really eat WW ice cream and still lose weight?
Over the next several months, I lost about 40 pounds and went down three sizes. I felt like the Incredible Shrinking Woman as more came off each week. It was amazing.
Now it’s three years later and ta-da! I’m still at my goal weight! That’s not to say that I don’t struggle with the above scenarios (and many, many more), but I’ve recently realized a few things that I wanted to share:
1. We’re too hard on ourselves about how we look. So many of us base our self-worth by a number on the scale – but that’s not a true measure of who we are.
2. Everyone ages. That 21-year-old girl? One day, she’ll be where we are now. So why not embrace the aging process and do it gracefully?
3. If you feel good about yourself and have genuine confidence, it will come through. There’s no such thing as a bad picture. There is such a thing as too much self-judgment. And who has time for that?
Maybe the trick is to re-write our own scenarios. If we have the power to get in body negative mode, we also have the power to take ourselves out of it.
Jennifer Robinson is tickled pink to be entering into the blogsphere. Her writing has appeared various magazines and literary magazines including Writers Monthly, The Readerville Journal, Full Circle: A Journal of Poetry and Prose, Long Story Short, Looking Back: Stories of Our Mothers & Fathers in Retrospect (New Brighton Books, 2003), and 2DO Before I Die : The Do-It-Yourself Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Little, Brown & Co., 2005). She lives with her daughter and husband in Southern California.