The Skin You Are In- Respecting and Loving Yourself
I hope you are feeling as fantastically sound in body and mind as I am. I want to talk for a quick second about the magic of a woman’s body. This post is going to get really personal, but the takeaway I want you to leave with, is one of respect for yourself and what your body has to offer you.
Credit: Gina Whalen Photography, LLC 2020
I have had a major growth spurt at the start of my third trimester, and my profile makes me laugh every time I pass a mirror. I am legit huge. Honestly, I have never felt more beautiful in my life. I did not feel this way with my first two pregnancies, I was younger and more self conscious. But as I admire my giant round belly, I am amazed at what a woman’s body can do.
I do not take this lightly, as I struggled for years with infertility. For some reason, at 47, my body decided it didn’t need any help or warning conceiving a child. That alone is a miracle right there. I appreciate every weird thing my body is doing right now as I feel this little guy swim inside of me.
I might not be able to sleep comfortably, wear shoes I have to lace, get up gracefully from sitting, or eat more than a small fistful at a time, but being with my body, and sharing it with the future, is a mind blowing and loving experience I am not ready to let go of yet.
Think for a minute about the grand design of the human body. Male and female. Look at all of the things we are capable of. I cannot imagine abusing this vessel that brings us so much vitality and freedom. Oh, the things I did to it in my youth! I fed it well, but I drank, I smoked, I colleged. I overtrained obsessively.
How are you treating your temple? If I can offer some perspective from an old lady… Yes, I made some unhealthy choices in my youth. I told myself it was fine, since I just ran it off. (Oh man, did I run!) as if that would erase all of my sins. (It did not) I had hormone and pituitary problems. I was vegetarian but ate lots and lots of cheese. I had surgeries and ended up with five long years of fertility struggles before we could nail down a protocol that brought forth life. I had two miscarriages and two beautiful children, who are now 10 and 11.
After they were born, we decided enough with the science experiments, we had a family and we were happy. I leaned more into a vegan diet. I started to move toward whole foods and getting away from junk. I played around with juicing and gluten free.
After losing my mother very quickly to Leukemia, (she had 4 months of life after diagnosis) I made some permanent changes and dedicated myself to an anti cancer and anti obesity diet. My Mom was a nurse, and was taught the five food groups and the Standardized USDA recommendations. She worked hard to give us balanced meals, always cooking meat and cheese and telling us pizza was the perfect food since it contained all the food groups.
Although she suffered violently from a dairy intolerance, she ate cheese and cream and eggs to her heart’s content. She was overweight, but still sassy, and beautiful, and glamourous. She was full of life and spunk, and attitude and humor. She loved ribs and ribeye, seafood, and definitely lived life to the fullest. Always extra. Sour cream and butter and fries and diet soda, supersize it!
When she was in the hospital, she was not allowed to have fresh fruits and vegetables, or flowers, and they gave her artificial sweetener and creamer in her coffee. It happened very quickly. I’m a little grateful her journey through cancer was short, as I have had great friends watch a loved one suffer for years hanging by a thread and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. My Mom had a full and colorful life right up until the last four months.
I don’t mean to disrespect her memory by making her a cautionary tale, however it is important to me that we see the lifestyles of the most well intended and normal happy folks. She embraced life fully.
Yes, diet plays a major, if not THE major role in our health. No question about it. But there is another huge factor that cannot be overlooked in overall health, and that is the effect that stress can have on your body. As I had moved to a near perfect way of life with Whole Food Plant Based, was training and running marathons, and overall being my best self, I was also a workaholic who never took a break. Even on breaks, I would find ways to always be overwhelmingly overcommitted. I would laugh it off and hear myself often say “oh, I‘m really super healthy, but it’s the stress that’s gonna get me!” as if it were a big joke. That was my story. But I was telling the truth. My stress levels reached an all time high when a visit to the chiropractor showed me that my adrenal system was just about completely blown out, and I had to stop. She gave me a real look right in my eyes and let me know that this was a non-negotiable and needed to be changed in that instant.
I had gained weight, even though I was active and healthy, and I had been living on this stress edge since junior high. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t stressed beyond my max. Looking back over my life, I remembered all of the health issues I had, blackouts, seizures, insomnia, infertility, depression. All for someone who was “the picture of perfect health.”
I immediately quit my job and ran away to Hawaii to visit my Dad. I stayed a month and sort of mentally rehabilitated myself. I built a routine of self care, including meditating, journaling, reading, running, swimming, nature, and eating nearly 100% raw fruits and vegetables. Me and the kids had a blast together reconnecting after I had worked a job that kept me from any quality time with them for the past 5 years. I brought all these habits back home with me.
I was SO proud of myself and so happy to be with my husband again who had to stay home and work during my ridiculous eat pray love moment. After a month, I started to feel out of sorts again. I couldn’t figure out what it was. My running times got really slow. My energy got sapped, no matter how much sleep I got. I was super queasy all the time and figured I was coming down with the flu. I started sleeping all the time and I quit training. Not as an actual decision so much as my body just said, “nope!”
Well, it seemed to be good news after all. Thinking that I must be having a stress reaction break down after finally repairing my body and that it must be needing to rebuild, I went about my days trying my best to keep going. I cannot tell you how shocked, surprised and in awe my husband and I were to find out I was pregnant. If taking care of yourself to the fullest can get a 47 and 54 yr old infertile couple to wind up pregnant, then I knew I must be doing something right!
No, it wasn’t the plan, and it has thrown our future for a hilarious loop, but I feel like an absolute magical being. I love every giant inch of my silly body, and I have NEVER been so grateful for good health.
Now I’m not promising everyone the same results as we have had, but I can tell you that your body is also a miracle. We are constantly being inundated with images and selfie culture and celebrities and being made aware of our shortcomings, but I want you to stop what you are doing right this second. And look at every inch of your weird wonderful body. Love it. Appreciate it exactly as it is in this moment. You are a miracle walking, baby. Whatever your current health or weight or whatever is going on, love that body right now how it is. Tell yourself, out loud like a weirdo, that you are a freaking miracle. And now go love your fantastic body and help it express its miraculousness to the fullest extent! Take care of your stress levels. Pronto! Quit whatever is making that impossible. Remove those health intruders from your life.
Immediately quit smoking and drinking. Cut the cheese. Feed yourself optimal fuel, go do some meditation, try yoga or a hike in nature. Give up any mindset that tells you aren’t good enough or worth it, you are the most worth it and super deserving, you precious beast! Let’s together, find out what crazy miracles our bodies have in store for us when we gift ourselves with a life of health and happiness. I am the first in line to attest that miracles can happen when you do.
Let’s create a movement of happiness when we truly accept ourselves, stop with the stories and the self abuse, and lean way in to treating ourselves like the awesome miracles that we are.
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Health Wealth and Happiness for Everybody, Y’all!