My sister introduced me to a blog called Tamara Out Loud. Please check it out. I especially like Tamara’s posts on parenting and body image. She is so funny! And so real. Maybe too real. She says things I think but I sometimes don’t want to admit that I think them. A very recent post Tamara published was a letter to her body. It choked me up a bit. Again, she’s too real. She suggested at the bottom the post for her readers to do the same. And I thought I would give it a shot.
Here we are, nearly 38 year later. That’s a long time to be with one person! But it does not seem that long because I really didn’t even realize you were here until I was close to nine. To say I have taken you for granted is an understatement. But even before I realized you were here for me 100%, you were propelling me through childhood allowing me to run, climb those red rocks behind the house, do cartwheels in the living room and live each day with unlimited energy. Back then, I never thought fondly of you. I never thought of you at all! It was all me. You were the unsung friend. Then one day, when I was doing cartwheels in the living room I remember my dad saying I had “thunder thighs.” He was obviously talking about you. Thunder thighs? Looking back I’m shocked how delicate my feelings were at nine. He could have meant strength. He could have meant power. I heard him say fat. I knew fat was bad. And then I realized you were there.
As I am sure you realize by now, the next 29 years we have had quite a love hate relationship. I remember trying to fit in with the athletic girls and blaming you for the fact I could not keep up. Looking back, it was probably my will power but I couldn’t admit that so I blamed you. And I never really became very athletic. Instead I was an athlete poser and that did a doozie on my psyche. And what happens when we start messing with our psyche? That’s right, we start neglecting and abusing those that we should love the most. Like you.
Yes, those lard filled chocolate cupcakes with pretty icing swirls drawn on the top were so good. And soda! Yum. I have no idea why I could not equate eating well to health but lucky for me, back then I could fill you up with some of the worst poison and you would bounce back! I don’t know how you did it. Lord knows you can’t keep up now.
Do you remember graduation day when my boyfriend commented on a little pudge on your bicep? I know I should have been pissed with him for such insensitivity but I blamed you for making me feel bad. So what did I do? Yep, I had the last straw with you, or so I thought. That summer I gave up fat and picked up running. You shrank. I lost about 20 pounds. I also remember picking up the attention of a 28 year old Marine. Scary! So now, and through collage, I realized you did indeed have some untapped power. But that was difficult power to wrangle as I introduced you to the “freshman 15.” And yoyo dieting. I remember feeding you a diet of hard boiled eggs, hotdogs, grapefruit and red beets for two weeks. I think the weekend alcohol use negated the promises of the results if this crazy diet. The good news for me was I knew I was not alone. The love/hate relationship we had was so similar to that of my great college friends and their BFFs. But I remember liking their BFFs so much more than you. Sorry.
But you still stood by me. Even after marriage and a 20 pound weight gain, you still gave me your all and I ended up birthing (yes actually birthing!) two humans! How did you do that? You are amazing. And you made milk for them? That really shocked me. I did not know I had it in me. You. And I think it was at this point when I realized, I need you just as much as you need me. And I had not been good to you. You produced miracles while I was ignoring you. Again, sorry.
And now here we are. Approaching 40. Yes, forty. Four, Zero. 40. Ten less than fifty. And at last I look at you and admire how hard you are around my arms and shoulders. You have this curve on my calf that I never knew was possible. You might feel like I have been abusing you even more this year with pulling you out of bed at 4 am. You might sometimes hate me for making you run when you are creaking in the knees. You might call me bad names when I increase the weights and expect you to lift another twelve reps. But I hope you realize how good you look and how good you feel. I still see the soft pouch covering what I expect are strong abs. I do wish you would let that fat fall off somehow. I know some of our clothes still don’t fit great and you may not feel 100% in them. I don’t either. I too see the twenty something year old girls who just started at the gym and who don’t have the tummy or the thunder thighs. I know we won’t be able to look like that again. But I do wonder if they will look like us when they’re 38.
Please, hang in there with me. I hear the creaks and I also feel the pain that I cause you with these work-outs. Your sweat suggests tears but I really think they are your way of telling me “we did good today.” I promise to give you more good food to allow you to do these things I make you do. The things I expect from you. I promise to stop judging you with the scale and stop looking at you with disgust in the mirror. I realize you are only as good as me and I have control over me. No, you don’t bounce back as easily anymore. I hope you will continue to remind me of that fact when I drink too much or eat too much crap. Feel free to stick it to me. I may need those reminders now and then and I promise not to blame you for that pain. I have no one to blame but me and my choices.
So these are my promises to you. And here is a promise to my kids. I promise to lift you up. To complement you and be cognizant to your feeling and plights. I promise to look out for the best interest in your mental, emotional and physical health. I promise to limit your sugar, make you eat your veggies and find healthier choices. I promise to encourage you to find physical activities you enjoy and want to partake in. I promise to love you at any size and never judge you or allow you to judge others on how your body is growing and propelling you through your life.