About the same time I realized that I was finally comfortable in my own skin, I also decided to work on losing weight. A little weird, right? There are a lot of reasons why I'm finally ready.
I'm not even going to talk about the guilt and fear I feel when I look at my body and then at the bodies of my thin, athletic, beautiful children.
I will talk about how sick I am of feeling exhausted all the time.
Or about all the things I'm not sure I can do anymore.
About how many years it's been.
I will talk about how I'm sick of avoiding my own reflection.
About how strange it is to be resigned and at peace with what I see when I do look. I sort of shrug and move on because I just don't care anymore. I take no pleasure in how I look, but I've honestly accepted that this is who I am now.
Maybe you see that as being bad.
Obviously being overweight is not healthy and it's not setting a good example for my kids. But it's not all bad, at least for me. I grew up thin and did not become overweight until my mid twenties. In some very important ways this change smashed my self-esteem into so many pieces that it did not seem possible to put it back together again. So I didn't bother to.
My self-esteem was pretty much broken anyway. So I made a new one. Who I am and how I feel about myself no longer have anything to do with how I look. And that part is good because there was a time where my appearance and my confidence and my perception of my own value were all tied up together like tangled bits of string. And that is very bad indeed. No one should think like that.
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I was convinced that if I wasn't pretty; or more precisely, if other people didn't think that I was attractive, then I didn't count. Everything that I was, that I could do, was not relevant because I was not seen. The ones who were seen were the pretty ones.
Maybe that's still true. I truly don't care. The rest of the world can think that way about me, about women in general; I can't control that. But I let it define me and defeat me for a long time and I don't anymore. Life is different for me now. The people who see me, see me. The people who dismiss me at a glance or fail to see me at all… They can walk on by. I don't care.
But even if there wasn't extra weight, I AM 40 YEARS OLD. And currently, I'm watching some women my age struggle with what it means to get older and look older. And I see younger women gain a few pounds or start to look differently, and it's as if they don't even know who they are anymore.
So like I said, my resignation at how I look is truly not all bad. I'm free from feeling like I have to look a certain way or that I've somehow failed. I know who I am (as much as I ever will). Maybe more importantly, I know the kind of person I want to be and I'm trying to get there. I'm actually pretty good with where I'm at, all things considered.
But knowing that makes me a hypocrite. Because I always tell my kids that they only fail when they don't try. That trying and failing is totally fine. It's life, it's the part you learn the most from. And giving up is for suckers. And yet here I am, having given up on my weight a long time ago. I stopped paying attention and it stopped being a priority.
My weight is an obvious daily reminder that there is one area of my life where I should be doing better and trying harder. So that's what I'm going to do. Thus far, It hasn't been that hard to keep up with it and be consistent. I know it will be a long, slow process but to my surprise, it's not a painful one. I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I'M DEALING WITH THIS, rather than the pervasive anxiety I'd felt for years because I was avoiding it.
Maybe that doesn't make any sense. But accepting my body and wanting to make it better are sort of a contradiction, too. But it's a healthy, empowering contradiction so I'm going with it.
Wish me luck.
Photo credit: Kristin Merton
-By Julie Miner
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