November 23, 2012

Perfect fit

What a week this has been! We flew out of O'Hare on Sunday morning for our first babymoon: this one, to Minnesota.

A few folks marveled at the term "babymoon," saying they'd never heard it. A babymoon is like a honeymoon - a trip for the parents-to-be before the baby arrives. We'll be taking two - both to visit our families since they're all out of state. We're hoping to get to Connecticut in January or February, once work slows down a bit for both of us. First, up, though was Minnesota. Meeting some of Matt's family was wonderful, as was seeing where he grew up.

We had a really wonderful few days, and I came home only one pound heavier, which I am pleased with, considering every meal was eaten at a restaurant - and it was my birthday! I think staying hydrated helped, plus we did a fair bit of walking around the Twin Cities and the Mall of America. Tuesday, for my birthday, we went out to dinner with Matt's mom, his grandmother, one of his brothers, an uncle, an aunt, and two cousins. It was lovely, and I definitely cried when his mother and grandmother gave me such thoughtful birthday presents. The best, though, was from his mom: two adorable maternity dresses.

In an attempt to (a) avoid regaining weight and (b) save suitcase space, I got rid of anything that wasn't a size  medium when I left California. Two months later, though, we found out we were going to have a baby, and suddenly I wished I hadn't dropped off those jeans and tee shirts at the thrift store. Since we're definitely in transition right now and unsure about our work/living situations when the baby gets here, I have been trying to stick to a budget and avoid unnecessary expenses. One way that we've done this is that I've been wearing Matt's hand-me-downs.

Matt has also lost nearly 100 pounds, a good portion of it this year. So, all his winter things from last fall/winter are too big for him. Instead of buying a brand new winter coat in a size I don't plan on fitting in next winter, I'm wearing his from last year. It's quite big still, but as my belly grows, I'm sure it will work out just fine. For shirts, I've done the same. Almost every shirt I wear these days is a Wisconsin Badgers tee, because Matt went to school there and loves wearing Wisconsin clothes. I don't mind it most days, because I'd rather spend the money on things we really need, like a crib and clothes and a million other things for Nugget. But some days, especially the days when I get self-conscious about my body, I get a little sad.

I can say with certainty that a lot of it has to do with the three other ladies I know who are pregnant right now: girls from high school and college, all stick thin with adorable little baby bumps. We're all due within a few weeks of each other, but I see their pictures and feel like an outcast. In an oversized tee shirt and jeans, I feel just big, and not so visibly pregnant. I get upset, frustrated, and feel unattractive. My body isn't even huge yet, but already feels cumbersome compared to the lighter version of myself I was 18 weeks ago. Remembering how liberating the break up felt, I cried on the train after making my first purchase at Lane Bryant in nearly a year and a half.

"Have you shopped here before, Miss?"

Lady, you have no idea.

It was a new bra, which I should have bought months ago because my chest is growing with incredible speed and can no longer fit in the largest cup size at Victoria's Secret. But I resisted. Walking back in there felt like failure, and I felt, once again, like the 345 pound version of myself, hoping to get in, get out, and go home with minimal self-loathing at the condition of my body.

It's not right, and it's not fair to myself. In all my months of active weight loss, I never once coveted someone else's body. I never wished for so-and-so's arms or his-or-her flat stomach. I was self-conscious about loose skin, but the skin was mine, and the stretch marks were my history, and I owned the situation. I was in love with my body and all it could do. I'm not sure why I'm struggling so much with it now, especially since what my body is doing is nothing short of miraculous and incredible.

In only a few months, I seem to have forgotten one of the most important things about weight/body confidence: dress for the size you are. You not only look better while wearing clothes that fit properly, but you feel better. By wearing your old, too big clothes, it's almost as if you're still trying to inhabit a past version of yourself. Be present. Enjoy your current state, and work towards whatever you'd like to come next.

In preparation for the trip and for Thanksgiving, I bought a couple of new dresses at a clearance sale. In the dressing room, I found myself sincerely shocked that the best fit was only one size up from where I was in August, not two or three. And wouldn't you know, the simple act of putting on something that fit properly changed my attitude incredibly. I spent my birthday and Thanksgiving in lovely outfits, feeling feminine and genuinely cheerful and content with my body. Looking in the mirror, I finally saw in myself the glowing happiness I've seen on my other friends.

P.S. With this post, I should hit 300,000 page views on this little blog. Thank you so much, always, for reading along and following my journey! I owe so much of my success with weight loss and finding happiness with myself to you, the community I've found here.

November 20, 2012


Today, I am 26 years old.

(And by today, I mean the day this post goes live. As I sit here and write it, it's a few days earlier, and I'm finishing up a few last minute chores before I go to sleep and we head out on our first babymoon - we'll likely have two, both trips to visit our families before the baby gets here.)

But still. 26.

Thinking back to previous birthdays, both blogged and not, there seems to be a common theme. Every year, I marvel at how I'm not where I'd thought I'd be at this age.

At 23, I was depressed. I was nearing 350 pounds, stressed like crazy over my graduate work, and devastated that, at the same age, my own mother was both married and pregnant. I still had hopes that I might meet someone someday, but a year or so before, my doctor told me calmly but sternly that, miracles and IVF aside, children would be out of the question. I'd done it to myself, with years of obesity.

At 24, I was motivated. I had lost just short of 75 pounds, and was feeling fearless and ready to take on the world. On my 24th birthday, I ran a mile without stopping for the first time in my entire life. I don't remember the time, because that wasn't what mattered. I set a goal, and I reached it. I was not only motivated, but hopeful.

At 25, I was uncertain. I was maintaining double the previous year's loss, but through occasionally unhealthy measures. I loved most aspects of my job, but hated the location. My relationships were in transition, and though I spent the morning of my 25th birthday running, I spent most of the rest of the day and evening on my living room couch, talking to a guy who mattered an awful lot to me - the only one who remembered it was my birthday.

And at 26?

Today is no exception to the standard of years past. I've gained weight from last year, but with the temporary justification of the lovely little baby I'm nourishing and carrying at the moment. (I'm also now incredibly aware that even if you still have all your external PCOS symptoms despite losing weight, you may now be able to get pregnant. Play it safe, folks.) I'm changed, for better and for worse. I'm in a different place, both physically and emotionally. I'm at a part-time grocery store job that I don't particularly like, but am grateful to have in order to pay my bills until I find a full-time teaching position. I'll be spending my birthday on a little vacation, enjoying some time with the same wonderful guy from last year - except this year, we'll be spending time face-to-face and not over the phone.

(Sorry your parents are weird, Nugget. And sorry we're not actually sorry.)

Things to look forward to at 26:
... hopefully finding a new job in my field, and possibly moving (we're remaining open-minded, knowing that with a newborn, a full-time teaching salary almost anywhere would be worth relocating for).
... enjoying my time with Matt as a just-the-two-of-us couple, and preparing for parenthood together.
... becoming a family with the birth of our sweet, beautiful baby.
... working back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and continuing on to my goal weight.
... running again, with my little Nugget waiting for me at the finish line.

Even though every year I seem to be in an entirely different place, I always approach my birthday with the same idea: that it's my "happy new year," my chance for resolutions and my opportunity to look forward and anticipate the upcoming changes that will, if history continues to repeat itself, land me in an entirely new condition once again. As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change, am I right?