I was looking in the mirror at my shape and size and was thoroughly disgusted by what I saw. Initially, I saw a body that didn’t look like it did in my 20s. And it had to be true that I was overweight because not only did I look overweight to myself, my doctor had told me I was overweight and needed to lose a few pounds.
A moment of grace, which is so unlike my brain and body to give, overwhelmed me and reminded me of the whole story of what my body has been through.
Sure in my 20s I was much more fit and trim. But in my 20s I went to war, and I spent a year trying to survive both physically and mentally. And I have learned since then that the body never forgets our traumas no matter how slight they feel later on. The body always remembers what it went through. And the body will remember all the emotions and hold them in until we learn to deal with those emotions.
In my late 20s, I had my first baby. That first baby was a healthy nearly nine-pound baby. And after that first baby, just like every new mother, my body went through a very bumpy hormonal shift. A hormonal shift that no one really explained to me, and I was very unprepared for.
After that first baby, my body decided it needed to give me a warning signal that it wanted more attention. The first warning signal I got was a miscarriage. After reviewing what may have caused our miscarriage with my doctor, we learned I was hypothyroid. Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland in your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. This very small part of the body in our necks can cause a lot of havoc when it doesn’t produce enough hormones.
Fortunately, after starting treatment for hypothyroidism, my body was able to conceive and give birth to our second baby. Who was also very healthy and almost nine pounds. I have been a little jealous of mammas who have had smaller babies than mine, but I also know how super blessed I am to have healthy babies, and that is all that matters.
My body has been through a lot both physically and emotionally. And in the middle of all of this, I have run many half marathons and one marathon. Running has been a mental and emotional outlet for me, and physically my body has kept up with all of this. For more than 13 years, I have been fortunate to not have had that many injuries. My body has been so amazing.
That shape in the mirror that is not model perfect is perfect for me.
This body I have been given has given me so much, so I owe my body love and respect. Not hate, shame, or guilt.
Yes, my body has gained a few pounds, and I should definitely give it more of the food it needs and not necessarily what I want. As I get older, I have noticed that the food I want no longer serves me as well as it used to. But I will not watch what I eat out of shame or guilt from anyone else.
If you saw me out on the street, you would probably not think I struggle with body image as much as I do. But I struggle a lot. I want my body to be able to maintain the look and abilities I had in my 20s—and that is just not going to happen, very few people can live that way.
From now on, I’ll focus on praising what my body can do, giving it grace when my body needs it, and doing my best to only give my body the food it needs without the extra side of guilt or shame if I don’t get it right all the time. I will also move with joy and pride knowing my body has so much more to give and do. And I believe we should all look in the mirror and only see the story of how it has been formed, not just the image looking back.