The Story of My Body: Krista
It sounds pretty odd, but I have never really been connected to my body. I have always (since very early in childhood) had a distorted image of what my body looked like and what it was capable of. I have always attributed this to coming from a home where everyone was far more concerned about building my self-esteem, than being honest about what food was doing to my body, and the bodies of my family members. These family members were always very well-intended but not being 100% honest about our family reality made me question their honesty and integrity in what they told me about my body.
I can remember more times than I would like to count when my mom uttered the phrase, “Don’t eat that, you don’t want to be fat like me.” She said it with the best of intentions, but what really happened was that I started to believe those school bullies who picked on me solely because my mom was fat. I swore to myself I would never let her down and turn into the fat girl she desperately didn’t want me to be. I am sure you can imagine my devastation when the first child in the 6th grade uttered THOSE words, “You’re fat just like your Mom.” I couldn’t believe it; I had let her down and become everything she never wanted me to be, and everything I swore I would never allow myself to become. I immediately embarked on yet another “diet” which quickly turned into me not eating anything except dinner to keep mom and dad off the trail of my anorexia. That, plus hours of working out as a volleyball player and a basketball player worked for a while until my attitude turned ugly from the lack of appropriate nutrition. I had amazing friends that forced me to choke down something at lunch, and a teacher that watched me and reported my eating habits to my parents, and they took me to the doctor who scared me into eating again. The sad truth is that I wasn’t accepting enough of myself, body mind and spirit, to realize that while the number on the scale was bigger than the number on my friends’ scales, it didn’t mean I was “fat”. My body was built with more curves than the average 11 year old, and I just didn’t know how to embrace that. I looked different than my friends. I had boobs, a butt and hips. I had a J-Lo booty before it was fashionable and desirable, or spoken about for that matter.
There is more than just a physical piece to my journey; there is also a HUGE emotional component. A large portion of the experiences I have had have been incredibly difficult emotionally. Even the things that were a success physically have felt like a massive failure in the emotional arena. I don’t really know if this is because folks have felt the need to protect my feelings by lowering my expectations and making me feel like it is ok for me to not succeed; or maybe there was a need to be sure that my very athletically inclined sister didn’t feel that I had infringed upon her territory by actually excelling athletically. I made the volleyball and basketball teams in middle school, which I admittedly only tried out for because she didn’t make it, and I felt I had something to prove. To this day, I have family members who discount my making those teams as being because the coaches just liked me better personally because, “Even you must admit that your sister is better than you.” Do these people even know how much it hurts to have your few physical accomplishments minimized and disregarded? Do they care? Who knows. The fact remains, I don’t care anymore. I know what I am capable of doing because I HAVE DONE it. I have lost 40 inches off my body in 3 months. I have made athletic teams that my own family didn’t think would be possible.
Since my middle school years I have been an emotional eater. I have gained 8 pounds in a day. I have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder. I have tried every “diet” known to man. I’ve done the grapefruit diet, the beet diet, the Atkins, a medically supervised diet with shakes and B12 shots, Weight Watchers and even the South Beach diet. I’ve auditioned for The Biggest Loser and The Revolution. I have even investigated the possibility of having Gastric Bypass or Lap Band surgery. Just for the record, I don’t feel like these surgeries are an easy way out, they just aren’t right for me with my blood clotting disorder and the fact that I have 3 children I need to be around to raise, and dying due to a blood clot to my lungs or brain just doesn’t fit into my already jam-packed schedule.
My body has carried my 3 beautiful children to term. It has also betrayed me, by allowing my precious Henry to die in my womb, and having to go through 24 hours of labor without an epidural to have him. (Remember that clotting disorder? Well, the drugs to prevent clots also mean an epidural can paralyze you, so no epidural it was.) While I feel like my body betrayed me, I also know that all of this was for a purpose known only to God.
I have spent years being afraid of my body, and feeling like life was just unfair because of what my body does with food. I am afraid of compliments, and question their voracity. I question the vision and the sincerity of the people that offer them. I have been friends with “those” women; you know the ones, the girls that complain about not being able to gain weight. In all honesty, I married into a family of healthy weight people. I go out to dinner with my sister-in-law and her husband, and my husband. I ask for a box to take home my leftovers, and the waitress looks at me as if to ask, “How are you the fat one?” You see my husband and his family look like they have licked their plates clean and are all healthy weights, if not bordering on skinny. I have recently realized that whether it is fair or not, my body processes food differently than many of my friends. It may be because of my year or so of anorexia slowing my metabolism down to a crawl. It may be that my family history has reared its ugly head, and I am genetically pre-disposed to be a bigger girl with a lot of curves. Regardless of those possibilities, I refuse to accept them as my only option, and my destiny. I am going to be embarking on a training plan to run a half marathon this November in preparation for the Princess half Marathon at Disney World next February. I attempted it this year, but due to a foot and ankle injury and because I don’t have a history of health and fitness, I didn’t even begin to realize what I needed to do to be ready for a half marathon. Now, the idea of a full marathon is eating away at my psyche.
The interesting thing about this is that the mind can play such horrible tricks on us. I have been told that I am beautiful. I have had folks claim I couldn’t possibly weigh what I do, because I don’t look like it. When I auditioned for The Biggest Loser, numerous people told me that I didn’t get on the show because I’m not heavy enough. I even remember being in college, deciding to tell the truth about my weight on my driver’s license, and having the DMV employee tell me that wasn’t possible, so SHE lied about my weight on my license, even though I told HER the truth. But I just DON’T see it! I don’t see beautiful. I don’t see myself in the mirror the way that others apparently see me. My mind has spent the last 25 years telling me that my worth was determined by the number on the scale, not by who I am as a woman. I think the simplest explanation for this is that very early on my mind became hyper-sensitive to weight, and thus, I have since looked at myself in the mirror, through a pair of weight-centric glasses. Doing so has made me spend too much time focusing on the number on the scale, rather than the reality of who I am as a person. We all live in such a superficial world, where people talk about our looks and we are bombarded with unrealistic, airbrushed images of women who themselves don’t look like the ads we compare ourselves to.
I think we ALL need to learn that who we are as people has nothing to do with the number that is on the scale. The circumstances of our lives do NOT determine our value or our worthiness. The fact that I was raped at a party in college is irrelevant. The fact that my first husband found it entertaining to call me degrading and disgusting names and threaten my life doesn’t matter. What others think of the image they see when I walk toward them means nothing. More importantly, the image I see looking back at me in the mirror and the size of that image doesn’t mean a hill of beans about the kind of woman that I am. I have put this body of mine through the wringer. I have been anorexic, and double my ideal weight. I have carried 4 babies, and have 3 amazing children to show for it. I have had 3 cesarean sections to deliver my amazing children, and one “natural” delivery to have my angel that now lives in heaven. I have gained weight, and I have lost weight. I have a college degree which I busted my butt for. I was a teacher until I decided not to be anymore. I am a loving and generous woman. I love to dance and I try to sing, even though I know I can’t. I am a girly girl who loves sports, and would take a night at a sports bar with beer and wings over a mani and pedi any day. I am a walking contradiction, but I am who God made me to be. I have the exact body that God intended me to have. My refusal to accept this body and be a good steward of the gift God has given me has been irresponsible at best. Love me or don’t, take me or leave me, I am who I am. Those are the things that really matter, not the number on the tag in the waistband of my pants.