Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't call me that!

I heard a word this morning at the gym that sounded like nails on a chalkboard.  I've heard it before, plenty of times, but something about this morning just struck a nerve with me.  Rather than get into a deep-rooted discussion however, I opted to take my toddler yanking my arm from its socket as a sign we should just head to the smoothie bar instead.

But even after finishing my post-workout protein smoothie, showering, and puttering around the house for a bit {it's laundry day, y'all...ugghhhh.  thanksbutnothanks.  I'll write instead.}, I couldn't seem to shake this sense that my silly little encounter was actually a springboard for a post.  

So, here I am.  And--added bonus--it just so happens that the laundry room isn't in my field of vision, so it won't beckon me and distract my thoughts.  At least I hope.

After my Body Works class this morning, I headed toward the Kids Klub to pick up a certain mop-topped toddler.  The girl who watches the munchkins while mamas like me sweat it out in classes/hit the treadmill{ew}/workout with a trainer{cha-ching!} has gotten to know me in the past few weeks, and thinks Raegan is just the bee's knees. {man, that girl is good!  She keeps her antics just for mama, which makes me look crazy and whiny when I share her 'latest endeavors' with others.  "Pssst...Raegan...mama's on to you!".}

There is also a new-ish girl there, whom I met last week, when she and the 'regular girl' doted over R and gave her a fun little braid in her hair.
see this is what I'm talking about.  homegirl *never* lets me
do her hair at home, so she looks disheveled 24/7 {except for
about 6 minutes after bathtime [thank you, detangling spray]}.
but when someone else does her hair?  she acts as if they've
woven it with gold.  there's no messing up the braid.
Today, I told the girls how much R luh-uved that braid last week, especially because she could show off for her big sister.  When the newer of the two Kids Klub caregivers heard I had another daughter, she asked how old she was.  So of course, I told her, in addition to mentioning Gavin {and his age.  Which by the way, is almost eight.  My mama heart is in disbelief.  But that's another post for another time.}.

And that's when I heard it.

Unassuming {but well-meaning, I'm sure} Kids Klub caregiver: "Wow!  You have three kids?"
Me: "yep...1, 2, 3...that's enough for me!" {yeah.  I'm a former teacher.  Sometimes that leeches from my pores.  Especially if I'm sweating.}
Caregiver: "ohmygosh!  I'm seriously, like, so jealous.  You are, like, way skinny."

Shudder.  Goosebumps.

To give a nod to the linguistic styling of the well-meaning girl who just hung out with my loquacious toddler for an hour and a half...I, like, totes *hate* that word.  For reals.

Okay, people.  Listen.  I neither blind nor oblivious.  I get it.  People have been telling me for yearrrsss all about my body type.  See that giant kindergartner dressed as a giraffe {seriously} for the play?  Yep.  That's me.  The gangly school-aged wonder who awkwardly navigated the hallway traffic of a busy school on crutches because she fell *yet again* in a less-than-graceful attempt at walking on her legs that grow too quickly for her mind to catch up?  Yep.  Me.  How about the high school girl who was so tired of hearing how about 'skinny and tall' I was that I dressed in horrific fashion in attempts to blend in as a bedraggled heap of laundry, wanting to be overlooked? {thankfully, this worked.  I was definitely one of those 'under the radar' high schoolers.  Lack of confidence can do that to ya.}

Yes.  I'm tall.  And yes.  My body type is considered 'thin'.  It's who I am; because God made me that way.  And trust me.  I've heard sooo many times over the years, "genetics blessed you", or something along those lines, or the whole 's' word that drives me bananas.

It makes me so sad to think that the concept of 'skinny' is associated with being 'blessed'.  It makes me sad for the young girls who view the 'need' to be thin and skinny as a way to achieve a feeling of contentment within their hearts and minds.  It makes me sad for my own girls{and even Gav}, who are both predestined {most likely, that is} with the genetics of their mom and dad, who both fall under the umbrella of 'blessed' tall and naturally thin.  It makes me sad for moms out there who are doing a kicka** job at momming their sweet munchkins, who have just faced the challenge of grocery shopping with the added responsibility joy of having the kid{s} in tow, and who walk up to the registers only to be overwhelmed by magazine covers dotted with images of Hollywood mommies, 6 weeks postpartum, and looking better than ever in their pre-pregnancy fashion.  It makes me sad to know that people envy and strive and starve and hate all in the name of 'skinny'.

The fact that I am labeled by others as 'skinny' is almost as hurtful as someone telling me I'm too talkative {which I am.  I know.  You don't have to listen--or read--if you don't like it...but it still doesn't mean it doesn't hurt to hear.  I'd like to think I don't just spew random jibberish.}  It might sound crazy or even pretentious, but stay with me.

skinny <adjective> \'ski-nee\
1. very thin.  synonyms: scrawny, scraggy, bony, angular, gaunt, undernourished
2. lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantities, qualities, significance {emphasis added by me...because, well, that one hurts.}

See also: rail-thin, bean pole, waif-like, skin-and-bones, string bean.  Not quite the adjectives with which I'd choose to identify, but maybe that's just because with them conjures up images of wispy, wimpy, frail objects that can barely support their own lanky frame.  It brings to mind the way in which I'd slouch down and slump my shoulders in school hallways and group photos so as to simultaneously mask my height as well as my spindly appendages and insecure 'sorta-smile'.  The pain of shame runs deep, runs fierce, and runs into all the cracks and crevices in your heart and mind and soul.

'Skinny' has never been a goal of mine.  Okay, maybe for like a hot minute in high school when I tried seeking acceptance.  But really.  I'm not really hard at work behind the scenes, striving for this abstract idea of skinny {and, no.  it's not because I consider myself  'already skinny'.}.

The truth is, I struggle with my own body image just as much as pretty much every single blessed woman{and man} with whom I've encountered in this whole, big life of mine.  Every.single.person.  We all have something physical we'd love to change about ourselves.  Hair color, facial feature, shoe size, weight, nose, distance between your eyes.  Something {or, multiple things.  it's okay.  join the club.}.

For me, it's my body type.   I long to shed the label 'tall and skinny', and crave a warm welcome to 'fit and healthy'.  Three pregnancies can do a number to your body.  It moves and shifts and softens things, leaves joints creakier, muscle definition less noticeable, and marks you'd rather keep hidden from any and all human eyes.  And mirrors.  And even the bar of soap in the shower.

The best part of pregnancy came in the form of three little energy-sucking minions who have stolen my heart and, most days, my ability to craft an intelligent sentence.  The worst part came in the way I felt about myself in the aftermath.

Weak.  Sustaining life on whatever last few bites of the toddler dinners I could scrape off the plate before dashing off to figure out what they'd just flushed down the toilet.  Enshrined in a depressing and dull layer of 'eh' that left me feeling less than thrilled with my health and physical fitness {especially as I huffed and puffed just halfway up the staircase as I carried a sleeping baby to bed}.

I've never quite been one of those uber-dedicated exercise girls.  When the subject of running comes up in conversation, my typical response is, "I only run if I'm being chased.  And even then, my life had better be in imminent danger.".  So yeah.  I lived life as a 'string bean', with the occasional times of weight gain due to the human I was growing in my uterus {and the packages of Oreos, pints of ice cream, and Italian subs I subsequently fed them before they had an opportunity to voice an opinion}.  And sure, I caught crap because people assumed I could 'eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound'.  Technically, not true, but when you've got a naturally high metabolism it comes across that way.  The fact is, there have been plenty of times when I was eating whatever I wanted.  And while I didn't necessarily gain a lot of weight, I felt like crap.  I resented my choices, I felt shame as I grabbed another cookie or an extra scoop of ice cream {I'm totally a sugar fiend.  My biggest vice.} rather than lifting a few weights, doing some squats, or downward dogging myself until my heels hit the mat.  I felt as weak as my willpower when I'm in front of the display of treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory {oh.em.gee. y'all...their caramel apples are my absolute fave.}

I realized I needed strength.  And not just the ability to resist the treats I bake for my own customers.  But real, physical strength.  Like walk-up-the-stairs-and-not-need-a-breather-at-the-top kinda strength.  Like wrangle my freakishly strong toddler into or out of the car when she's in the middle of her out-of-body experience temper tantrums strength.  Like increasing-stability-to-my-core strength so my back is protected, and I can enjoy activities with my kids, rather than lounging on the sidelines.

strength: <noun> (strĕngkth, strĕngth, strĕnth)
1. the quality or state of being strong.
2. mental power, force, or vigor.
3. moral power, firmness or courage.

Hmmm.  No where does it mention body size, body type, body shape.  And, when I read those three definitions in particular; I realized I was seeking each of these ideas.

So I jumped on the stereotypical 'resolution' bandwagon.  I joined a gym, increase my water consumption, decrease {or at least really, really try to} my sweet treat binges, and discovered my 'word' for the year.


Focusing on strength.

My focus is not, has not been, and never will be on being 'skinny'.  Instead, my daily activities are geared toward strengthening my body, mind, sense of self, seed of courage, and relationships.  My focus is on being a positive and godly example for my children; demonstrating to them what it means to have self confidence and a core set of values that keeps them grounded.  I want to teach them health and exercise is more important than fitting in to a particular mold that has been predetermined by a distorted, materialistic, and of-this-world society.  I want them to be better rounded as individuals for their whole life than I was in my early years {and even my recent years.  and even in my current state}.

Body, mind, heart, and soul; I pray that God will keep them whole.

Skinny is not the word I want to hear.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.                                     ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

3 week progress.  #focusonfit2014