As the end of 2023 speedily creeps upon us, I’ve started reflecting on the year. While doing so, I realize how much emotion and mental capacity was put into my struggle with my body, how I view it, and all the internal changes. The world of our body is overwhelming. Exercise, vitamins, diet, hormones, clothes, the products we use, healing diastasis recti, continually caring for your c-section scar, healing your gut, etcetera.
The mental capacity I spent this year worrying, critiquing, stressing, researching, shaming, and crying about my body is overwhelming. I thought body image wasn’t something I struggled with, but this year has proved that wrong.
Since delivering my twins by cesarean section three years ago, I’ve lost most of the weight I had gained. I believe I dropped the weight fairly quickly due to high stress and sometimes not eating, but have since gained a little back. Am I overweight? No, but according to the BMI doctors use, I am. My doctor never mentioned it and it shouldn’t have bothered me so much, but it did at the time. I try to avoid mirrors when changing clothes because of the excess skin hanging off my belly from carrying the twins. It’s physically uncomfortable at times. I’ve considered getting it removed because I’m told insurance would pay for it since it was caused by a “medical condition.” However, I am not in a phase of life where that would be an option since I still need to be able to pick up my kids. Plus, it’s a really big surgery. And who knows? Maybe when that time comes, I’ll be in a totally different place than I am now. I’ve been ashamed at times for my husband to see me and I’ve cried about it to him.
Not only has my body changed on the outside, but it has changed on the inside too.
This year, I turned 35. With this birthday, I discovered that between the ages of 35 and 40 is when all the hormone imbalances start. It’s gradual for some and quick for others. So that leads me down an internet rabbit hole looking into balancing hormones: vitamins, eating a particular way, certain exercises (like less cardio and more weights), walking vs. running, drinking bone broth, and more. Then, the diet and exercise category has a million different opinions on what’s best for you too: gluten free, dairy free, Weight Watchers, carb cycling, intermittent fasting, carb cycling and intermittent fasting together, intuitive eating, metabolic eating…the list goes on. There are millions of different exercise options to choose from too. I thought I was doing well in the exercise department and then our son kept waking up early. It felt like every time I set an alarm to get up early, it was a guarantee he would too, so I stopped setting an alarm and fell out of the habit. Then, when his sleep was back on track, I was so tired all the time that I would turn my alarm off and fall back to sleep. I’m hoping to ease back into exercising by getting used to consistently waking up early and then adding it in.
I find taking vitamins after meals makes me nauseous. I’ve gone searching the internet again for what’s better and all the options are overwhelming. Liquid vitamins could be the way to go or maybe it’s beef liver/organ capsules which are supposed to be better for you. Plus, it’s supposed to improve your sleep and energy which would probably help with my consistent tiredness. Then, there are turmeric capsules to help with inflammation and pain from my bursitis, but not all turmeric pills are the same. There is also magnesium that we are told needs to be incorporated into our diets because we don’t get enough from food, but again, not all magnesium is the same for every issue. The list of minerals and vitamins seems to be never-ending these days. I wish there was a one size fits all pill or unanimous agreement of what works best.
Then, we come to clothing ourselves. Maybe this is the area that hasn’t helped me much in the way I view my body. I opened my drawer one day and felt like I wore the same three shirts all the time; the rest are volunteer shirts from different VBS years. I don’t know my style and I don’t know what looks good on my new body. I walk into the stores and feel like everything is geared toward the younger generations and I don’t want to wear crop tops. Where do the mid-thirties fall in the fashion world? I used to hate shopping online because I didn’t want to have to deal with the return process, but I’m finding that has changed since having kids. I don’t have the time or sometimes freedom to shop for myself, so online shopping might just be the way to go, plus the return process has gotten better. I’ve tried thrift stores but they’re a bust most of the time and so I’m over them for now. I’ve actually thought of getting a curated thrift box from Third Sister Thrift since she seems to be amazing at clothing others. I recently got a Created Colorful consultation to find out my colors which I thought would help and it has. There are lots of gaps in my closet from being a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t have the daily office job or events to attend; however I’d like to have some things to choose from for church, date night, going out with friends and life in general. I think I need to build my wardrobe one piece at a time instead of lots of pieces at once.
My body has made it 35 years and carried three babies, two of them at once. I should be in awe about what my body can do and how I am able to move it every day. I keep thinking that maybe one day I will wake up and it will all be different, but that day hasn’t arrived yet.