I’m currently emerging from a particularly dark season of life. The demons of depression had me in their grasp for the last six months or so, and now I’m starting to come out of the lightning storm and back into the land where the sun shines. This is good. I am very pleased about this.
What I‘m not so pleased with is the fact that over that six month period, I put on some weight — an extra 30 pounds or so. I honestly didn’t realize it was that much until I stepped on the scale the other day. I mean, I knew I was wearing my jeans which are a bigger size, but that never really correlated to such a huge weight gain.
While it makes me sad to see the number on the scale has gone up so significantly, this sort of thing sometimes happens when you’re battling mental health issues. Physical health is obviously important, but you can’t take care of your body until you take care of your mind. My diet and exercise had to take a backseat while I dealt with my depression and anxiety issues. It was an unfortunate and physically unhealthy sacrifice, but it’s one I had to make. I would rather gain 30 pounds than lose my will to live altogether.
The good news, though, is that I’m in that place now where I can see the light and can once again bring my physical health to the forefront of my life. Since I’ve been a bit of a yo-yo dieter over the past decade or so, I know how to lose the weight — even though it comes off much slower than it did a decade ago. I know what foods to eat, what to avoid, how and when to move my butt, etc. I have all the tools to make it happen — and I will make it happen — and I will be back to my pre-depressive episode weight at some point.
But that is in the future. At an unknown time in the future, I will be where I was six months ago. I don’t know how long that will take. It could be six months; it could be three years. The timeline is fuzzy because there are no definites when you’re getting your body back. So, in the meantime, while I sweat and eat salad, I’ve got to learn to do something I’ve always struggled with.
I have to learn to accept my body the way it is. I think I even have to learn to love my body the way it is. Right now. This second. With its folds and rolls and squishy pudginess.
This is not something I excel at. I’ve had seasons of life where I’ve liked, even loved, my body, but those were good times — times when I was at a healthy weight, when I was taking care of myself, when I was, well, skinny. The times I’ve loved my body were the times when it was easy to love my body. All my clothes fit. I only had one chin. My muffin top was of the mini-muffin variety as opposed to the Costco size.
But now…now I’m embarking on a new season where I am going to learn to love my body even though it’s not in its optimum position. Because, even though my belly is bigger and the number on the scale is higher than it ever has been, that doesn’t change me as a person or me as a mom.
My arms may have more jiggle to them, but they are still strong enough to pick up my son when he scrapes his knee. My thighs may rub together more now, but my daughter can still sit on them while I bounce her up and down. My belly is squishier, but my kids can still lay on me and fall asleep on it after a long day.
My body doesn’t define who I am. I will not allow it to be a determining factor about how happy or unhappy I am with my life and myself. I will not scrutinize every damp inch when I get out of the shower. I will not wrinkle my nose in disgust when I look at myself in the mirror. I will not sigh and loathe the extra inches around my waist.
No, I will look at my body the way it is, was, and always will be — as a work-in-progress. It will never be perfect. It will always just “be.”
My body is important. Taking care of my body is important. But it’s just a part of me. And just like I’ve learned to love other flaws within myself — my temper, my insomnia, my impatience — I will learn to love my body, too.