Category Archives: Body Image

When the royal bump makes as many headlines as the royal baby

Britain's Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge hold the Prince of Cambridge, Tuesday July 23, 2013, as they pose for the media outside St. Mary's Hospital's exclusive Lindo Wing in London where the Duchess gave birth on Monday July 22. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Britain’s Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, hold the Prince of Cambridge, Tuesday July 23, 2013, as they pose for the media on Monday July 22. The duchess’ postpartum profile made just as many headlines as the arrival of her newborn son. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Big news hit this week when Prince William and Duchess Kate appeared with their new bundle of joy for the whole world to see. There was much ado about something – from the excitement over the new heir to the unofficial town crier.

But one thing that shouldn’t have made waves among news headlines and the wide world of the mommy blogosphere was Kate’s “bravery” in showing off her post-baby belly.

What a back-handed compliment that is, isn’t it?

It’s a sad day when “bravery” is the word used when a new mother is shown sporting the natural inflation of her belly one day postpartum – as if she should be expected to hide all proof of pregnancy once her baby is born. The honest truth is, bravery shouldn’t even be associated with the acceptance of this reality – that a swollen abdomen is the natural state of a woman’s belly in the weeks, even months, after birth.

And yet, not everyone accepts this truth.

In an AP article, one woman was quoted as saying the best piece of advice she got before her first child was born was to pack a girdle in her maternity bag, and admitted to even wearing it to bed at night to hide her changed figure. (Read the article here —> http://bit.ly/11gZSxA)

One shapewear company wasted no time in using Kate’s figure to remind new mommies to hide their protruding belly.

If we were to believe Hollywood, women skip out of the delivery room wearing the same size they wore pre-pregnancy. In fact, many actresses take to hiding from the public until they’ve lost all effects the pregnancy has on their bodies.

And the pressure continues for women to feel awful about themselves if they look anything less than perfect.

Here’s the truth. The weeks after having a baby, a new mother should expect to still look pregnant. And after having a child, her body will NEVER look the same as it did before pregnancy. Some may never lose the weight, some will only hold on to a few pounds, and a few will manage to work their way into the same size. But a post-pregnant body is changed forever – from a few new stretch marks, wider hips, smaller or larger breasts, increased shoe size (seriously)….

Sixteen years ago, my mother tried to tell me this truth. I was three months pregnant, still holding on to my teeny tiny pre-pregnancy frame despite a cute little bump where my flattened stomach used to be. I had just gone shopping earlier that day, and found the cutest form fitting dress in a size I could have worn easily three months earlier. At this point, it still looked cute, though my baby belly stretched out the material at the waist. My plan was to save it for after the baby was born. But my mom pointed out that after carrying a baby for nine months, my body would never fit into that small size again.

I didn’t believe her. I reluctantly returned the dress, but I told her that she’d see, I would walk out of that hospital wearing a size 0 carrying my delicate little bundle of joy.

That little bundle of joy ended up being 9 lbs, 12 oz of solid baby. And my body was most definitely transformed after gaining FIFTY pounds throughout the whole pregnancy. While I lost 30 pounds in the hospital (thank you, gestational diabetes and extreme water gain), I held on to the rest of that weight long after the day my daughter was born.

Sixteen years later, and I don’t think my stomach has ever been back to flat.

By refusing to girdle her stomach, Kate was not being brave, she was being honest, and she was showing the public where her priorities landed – on her new son and his first appearance in front of the world. Isn’t that where all our priorities should land – on the miracle of new life instead of how large or small the mother’s belly is?

A body that has been through carrying a human being to full term should not be expected to stay the same – whether the day after birth, or when your child is getting ready to start driving a car. And the pressure of perfection being placed on a woman’s shape at any point in her life needs to stop – especially when it comes to what her body looks like after giving birth.

Bridge over troubled water weight

Here comes the bride
17 pounds ago

Roughly 9 months ago, I was wearing a white wedding dress, and was the smallest size I had ever been in my adult life. I had worked hard to get there, eating healthy foods with no cheating whatsoever, and exercising daily. I was motivated to look my best on my wedding day. Once I set my mind to it, my willpower became unbreakable. I was so successful, in fact, that my wedding dress was a little too big on my wedding day.

I had spent so many months being “good”, that when the honeymoon came, I allowed myself a week of indulgences. “I’m married now,” I joked to my husband. “I can now be fat and happy.” I enjoyed high calorie alcoholic beverages, lots of rice and beans (we were in Costa Rica, after all), BREAD, desserts…pretty much anything I wanted. I figured I was allowed to enjoy myself, that I had earned this after so many months of discipline, and that once I got back home I could get back on the wagon.

17 pounds later...and NOT pregnant
17 pounds later…barefoot and NOT pregnant

I gained 7 pounds on that honeymoon, weight I figured could be chalked up to food weight and lost easily. But I never did lose it. In fact, I ended up gaining 10 more pounds. And here I am, stuck at 17 pounds heavier and NOTHING I do can make it drop lower than that.

I’ve been eating healthy, watching everything I eat and packing my lunch daily. I am exercising, though I just can’t get myself to work out with the intensity I had before. Perhaps it’s because I just don’t have that one thing that motivates me. There’s no wedding dress to fit into, no hundred or so people to stand in front of, no photos to look my best for.

And yet, I am in a slump because I am keeping myself from eating foods just like everyone else, and I might as well be eating cupcakes and hamburgers and ice cream because the scale is not moving and my stomach is starting to look like there’s a bun in the oven.

I’ve done it before. I’ve done it several times before. So why is it so hard to lose weight now? Is 35 that age when the weight comes on….and just stays there?

P.S. Speaking of NOT being pregnant, somehow my name got on a baby mailing list. It might be because I got married last year, who knows. But I have been getting free samples of formula, free diapers, ads for baby life insurance, etc. It’s quite humorous to see my almost 50 year old husband have a near heart attack whenever these mailers arrive at the house. Perhaps it will encourage a little snip-snip, if you know what I mean… Until then, I like to tease him that we can always have another baby so he can watch his kid graduate high school when he’s 70. He’s getting closer to making that call. 😉

Enhanced by Zemanta

Battling the baby bulge (excerpt)

I’m getting close to finishing my first round of edits on my WineCountryMom eBook.  It’s been kind of cool to read through those old entries and see where we’ve traveled from – all the things I struggled through and overcame, and how much the kids have grown since then.  It’s also pretty eye-opening to see the things I struggled with then – and still struggle with now.

Weight issues being one of them.

Granted, I’m not fat.  I’d like to get a little slimmer and a bit more firm, of course.  But we’re only talking 15 pounds, not 150 pounds.  However, I think weight will always be my issue, whether I’m big or small.

The one thing I’ve discovered differently over the years, though, is how important it is to love yourself no matter what size you are.  Our bodies are just our shells.  Whether we’re fat or thin, who we are on the inside doesn’t change.  You can lose all that weight on the outside, and still be that fat girl on the inside.  If you can’t love yourself with a few extra pounds, you won’t magically love yourself when they’re gone.

I’m working on my next article for the newspaper, and think I’ll touch on this. But for now, here’s an excerpted peek into retro WineCountryMom, and one of the chapters of the upcoming blog eBook.

BATTLING THE BABY BULGE

babybulgeI’ve been fighting the baby bulge. No, not the kind that you have when you are newly pregnant and possess a cute little bump that later turns into an adorable basketball on your tiny frame (uh, yeah, unless you’re me and even your ankles get a baby bump). I’m talking about the baby bulge you battle once the baby is already out. To be fair, I did just have a baby (eight years ago), so I can’t claim a Heidi Klum body anymore (stop laughing). But for the past year I have been trying different diets and exercises to lose the weight once and for all. And in one year I have lost (drumroll please)…..

Ten pounds.

Yes, that’s right. Only ten pounds. And do you know why? Because of yo-yo dieting. It’s getting ridiculous. I have pretty much lost and gained the same ten pounds more times that I can keep track of…

End of excerpt. Read the rest in the eBook “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows“.

 

Oh, fat baby.

How did I do it before – the effortless way I lost weight before the wedding, when I actually said out loud that I needed to figure out how to stop the weight loss so that my dress didn’t fall off?

How arrogant of me.

The official tally of weight gained since the day I left for the honeymoon is in. Are you ready for this? 7 pounds. That’s the weight of a newborn. You guys, in less than a month I have gained a child in my thighs and belly. And it’s not a cute widdle baby.

It might be the fact that I am doing more writing than ever this month – not just the novel, but the articles I signed up for this month that have me facing heavy deadlines every week on articles that require more time than I have (which is  a burden, admittedly, I totally love).  It might be the fact that I am getting hardly any sleep, my body clock thinking 3:30am is a perfect time to wake up when I really don’t need to be up until 5am.  It’s probably the fact that my stomach stretched out from a week of overeating, causing me to sit at my desk with a need to put food in my face at all times.

7 pounds.  One month.  Sigh. At this rate I’ll have twins by the New Year.

Thank god it’s bundle up sweater season.

Tempting fantasies

I dream in chocolate. It taunts me. That luscious dark brown color, the smoothness in its texture. I want to inhale its aroma and then slip it in my mouth, savoring it as it melts down my throat in a satisfactory climactic explosion of cocoa bliss. I want to bite into salted truffles, guzzle thick hot chocolate with whipped cream, lick creamy chocolate frosting, bury my face in chocolate cake, devour chocolate covered strawberries, slip into a Cadbury Egg, and sprinkle chocolate shavings on everything from pancakes to soup to toast to straight onto my waiting tongue.

But I can’t. I won’t. It’s the last of my Lenten promises that I have yet to break, and so I’m refraining from submitting to this momentary pleasure that might be worth the guilt.

Instead, I’m eating everything in sight to compensate.

I admit it. I’m in a rut. I’m so sick of eating clean. It’s not only chocolate I fantasize about, but big juicy cheeseburgers in a fluffy white bun, greasy pieces of pizza, milkshakes, buttered popcorn, moist cupcakes, melted cheese on crackers, strangely addicting red vines, sour cream….. All the stuff I can’t have. I haven’t had dairy in over a month. Besides one slip-up over the weekend, I can’t remember the last time I ate bread.

Frankly, I’m bored with Paleo.

To save my system from fully paying me back, however, I’m sticking to it. But I need to find a way to stop compensating with endless snacking to make up for the unsatisfaction left by my boring food. It does no good to eat clean if I’m snacking every time I feel anything – hungry, bored, the wind blow…. The worst is when I’m sitting at my desk and having a brain fart. Automatic reply is to reach for some nuts, or eat the part of my lunch I was saving for later, or cave and go to the vending machine and get some potato chips because, hey, they’re potatoes and not bread, right?

I need a distraction from food.

A personal battle with child obesity

One of the lowest points of this past year was when a reader left a comment on my blog, remarking that the Taz had gained a considerable amount of weight. I deleted it as soon as I read it, afraid that he might see it. And then I hemmed and hawed over that comment, whether I should have left it or was right to leave it off.

In the end, it remains deleted, even as I print the words on this blog post.

I mention that deleted comment because weight is a very huge part in our resolutions this year. The Taz is overweight. He knows it. I know it. And it’s been known for a while. It’s something we’ve struggled with all year long. Last January, I mentioned the weight problem and our goals to tackle it. I received a lot of support from other people struggling with weight issues of their own – either with their kid or with themselves. And it really helped to motivate us in our health journey.

But somewhere along the way, we lost track.

Maybe it was busyness, or maybe laziness (or maybe a combination of the two), but I stopped paying close enough attention to what the Taz was eating and how much screen time and play time he was getting. I allowed him to make his own lunches, trusting him to make the right choices in what he was eating. But at 10 years old, willpower can be a very nonexistent thing. A corn muffin and chips sound like a way better lunch than a turkey sandwich and an apple, right? He hadn’t developed healthy habits that were strong enough to be able to make good choices. And yet I was putting the power in his hands.

We were both bound to fail.

What the Taz really needed from me was to take control of the battle for his health. With the New Year fast approaching, I knew I needed a game plan. I was afraid for the Taz’ health, and afraid that he’d be destined towards a life of obesity. Thing is, I didn’t really know where to start. And that’s when I came across the book, Healthy Choices, Healthy Children, by Lori S. Brizee, MS, RD, CSP (a registered dietitian and certified specialist in pediatric nutrition) and Sue Schumann Warner (an award winning journalist and author).

Now don’t get me wrong, I was mailed this book with the hopes that I would do a review on it. And being that faithful book reviewer that I am, I put it aside and almost forgot about it. But in a moment when I was going over a meal plan for the first week of January, I suddenly remembered this book and pulled it out to start reading. What I found were chapters that gave step-by-step instructions on how to turn around bad habits and change them for healthier ones.

The first thing the authors are clear on is having respect for the body. The book comes from a spiritual point of view, but the message is relevant whether the reader is religious or not. We should treat our bodies more kindly, respecting them with healthier food and keeping them active so they can continue to do us good. The authors go on to encourage parents to involve their kids in the shopping and cooking process, teaching them the “hows” of eating. And at the end of each chapter, an action is listed for the week to help continue down a path of healthy decisions.

What I love most about this book is the fact that it is step-by-step instead of all-or-nothing. Each chapter is another rung up the ladder towards instilling good habits in eating and exercise. The guidelines offers small changes that can be made each week – making it the ideal model for busy parents (like me!) to help our families be successful in establishing healthy choices. Real recipes are offered in the book (I’ve actually included a couple on my meal plan for the week), and there are different ideas listed to encourage activities for the whole family. There’s even a chapter on helping picky children (like my veggie-averted son) to eat well.

I’ve found this book to be incredibly useful to help me get the Taz back on a healthier track, and to give me the tools to know how to do it. If you’re interested in checking out the book, Lori S. Brizee will be at the Petaluma Copperfields (140 Kentucky St) on January 28th at 7pm to promote her book, “Healthy Choices, Healthy Children”. I hope you can make it to hear her speak and pick up her book for your own family.

For more info or to purchase this book ($13), visit paracletepress.com.

How to answer "Does this outfit make me look fat?"

DQ was in our room this morning putting her hair up and borrowing my make-up – our usual morning routine while I’m getting ready and Mr. W is getting his coffee on. “Does my hair look bad like this?” she asked me. And I paused long enough for her to realize I wasn’t crazy about the look. “You hate it, don’t you,” she asked.

“No, I don’t hate it. It’s just not my favorite,” I admitted. She messed with it some more before finally taking it out and brushing it to start over. Mr. W came back in the room and I booted her out so he could shower. “Sorry, DQ,” I said, knowing she was struggling for her hair to work the way she wanted it to.

“It’s ok,” she said, leaving her mess on the counter for me to clean up. “I think my hair looks better down.” And she closed the door behind her.

“Sorry you have to kick her out,” Mr. W said once she was gone. “I guess this is like your bonding time, right?”

“Sort of,” I replied. “It’s more like her opportunity to use up all my make-up and hairspray, get an opinion on her hair and see if her outfit makes her look fat.”

Mr. W paused thoughtfully, mulling that over before turning back to me.

“How exactly do you answer that question – ‘Does this outfit make me look fat?’” he asked me seriously.

“Well you never say ‘yes’,” I told him. “Even if it does, you never say an outfit makes a girl look fat.”

“So what do you say?” he asked me.

“You say ‘Well, I’ve seen you look better,’ or suggest an outfit that is really flattering on them.”

“Really? That’s like 6 words compared to 1.” He held up his fingers to mimic people talking.

Finger 1: “Does this make me look fat?”
Finger 2: “Yes.”

Or…

Finger 1: “Does this make me look fat?”
Finger 2: “Well, I’ve seen you look better…”

“See?  It’s just way more effort than just telling her that it does,” he said.

“Except that’s not exactly how it would go,” I corrected him, then held up my own fingers.

Finger 1: “Does this make me look fat?”
Finger 2: “Yes.”
Finger 1: “Really. So you’re calling me fat?”
Finger 2: “No, wait. That’s not what I meant.”
Finger 1: “Oh I know what you meant. You think I’m fat.”
Finger 2: “You’re not fat. That outfit doesn’t make you look fat. In fact, it makes you look really skinny.”
Finger 1: “It’s fine. Whatever.”
Finger 2: “I’m serious! Have you lost weight?”
Finger 1: (no longer speaking, but finger manages to give a dirty look)
Finger 2: “I’m really sorry, sweetie.”
Finger 1: (still not speaking, but gives him the finger)
Finger 2: (sighs) “Can we just go now? You look really great.”
Finger 1: “I’m no longer in the mood. Just go without me. I’ll be here starving myself so I’m not so fat.”

Or…

Finger 1: “Does this make me look fat?”
Finger 2: “No, but I think those other pants make your butt look really hot.”
Finger 1: “Hmmmm…. You know, you’re right. I think I’ll wear those. Thank you sweetie!”

I smirked at Mr. W and went back to doing my hair. “See? It actually saves you a ton of time.”  He laughed out loud.

“Really?” he laughed.

“Really,” I told him matter-of-factly. I concentrated on my hair that was having it’s own issues. I had blow dried it, curled it, put it up, brushed it down…and it was flat as a pancake and just not cooperating. “Ugh! I hate my hair! It’s just not working!” I said. I managed to finally get it up in a messy bun that looked almost decent, and then checked it from the back.  I looked at Mr. W and raised my eyebrows quizzically to see what his opinion was.

“Well, I’ve seen it look better,” he said, then ducked behind the bathroom door to take his shower before I could smack him with the towel.