My Toughest Battle So Far…

Thoughts have been floating around my head for weeks now – looking for a way to escape. Sometimes the hardest part of being a writer is sorting through all the thoughts, all the words that don’t belong, trying to piece together the right way to say the things my heart and mind are screaming. The problem is that everything I have to say feels so important but nothing sounds right outside my head. Everything seems so intertwined, yet, piecing is all together is enough to keep me up at night.

No – my toughest battle so far is not writing. I’ve struggled with finding the right words since I first fell in love with writing all those years again. My toughest battle is far deeper and more important than my inability to figure out how to write the things that I feel are so important for the world to hear.

After my dad died, I questioned why he didn’t love me enough to get healthy. Clearly, if he loved me enough, he would have taken the steps he needed to live a healthier life so that he could be around for years to come – so that he could watch me grow up, get my first big girl job, hopefully one day fall in love and get married and start a family. But my mind screamed that he must not have loved me enough to get healthy or surely he would have done it.

I’ve grown up a lot since those thoughts. I understand that my dad getting healthy or not getting healthy had nothing to do with me – it was his choice to not take care of himself. He tried countless diets and exercises but never kept it up. His heart got weaker and he got sicker. Although he died, sometimes it still feels like I paid the ultimate price for his decisions – I lost my dad because of the choices he made – choices that were outside my control. Part of me is angry with him for that, even after all these years. Not all the time, but once in a while, when I think about everything he’s going to miss out on; when I think about how I never truly feel like I have a family; when I think about all the struggles I have to face without him there in my corner.

This story is important to my toughest battle so far. It isn’t about trying to figure out if my dad loved me enough; it isn’t about all the things that could have been and should have been; it isn’t about how I still wish he was here with me. My toughest battle so far is deeper than all of that.

It’s my battle with myself. My battle with myself to not follow in my dad’s footsteps. My battle with myself to get healthy and stick to it. My battle with myself to put myself first and to take time to myself and to grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. The battle though is the one I have failed countless times before – the battle to get healthier. I spent years questioning why my dad didn’t love me enough to get healthy when in reality I should have been asking myself that very question. Do I not love myself enough to get healthy?

I’ve spent years putting everyone else before myself. Listening to the drama, drawing lines where they were needed, doing whatever it took to make everyone else’s life easier and along the way I lost the most important person – I lost myself and finding myself has proved to be tougher than I ever thought because it’s often lead me to wonder if I ever got a chance to really know myself at all.

Who am I? What makes my soul come alive? Where do I want to be spending my time?

And why do I not love myself enough to get healthy?

I’ve spent years  avoiding it at all costs – spending my nights working and napping and cleaning and reorganizing and watching tv and anything other than taking care of myself. I’ve started working towards getting healthy multiple times before. I’ve also quit every single time.

I was talking to my friend a few weeks back about all the things I want to do – run a mile without stopping, get married one day, perhaps have children. I’m not very sociable and have a hard time in group settings. We were discussing ways to get out of my comfort zone. She gave me homework to go home and make a list of things I could do. I never did. My heart kept screaming at me – how can you make a commitment to anyone else when you can’t even hold onto a commitment to yourself? You haven’t won this battle yet – you’ve still got a fight left in you – now do something.

When people tell me it’s amazing how far I’ve come, I tend to roll my eyes or look down. It doesn’t feel that amazing to me. Yes, I survived a lot of crap in my childhood. Yes, I’ve made a life of myself. Yes, I can support myself comfortably. However, I haven’t won the one battle I’ve been fighting for years – the battle with myself.

I don’t want to follow in my dad’s footsteps where health is concerned. I would love nothing more than to be the kind of parent he was to me – if I have children, I want them to know they can always come to me for anything and everything and I’ll always be there to listen and help in anyway I can. I want them to run to me when they need a hug and to hide away from the world. I want them to know that I will always be there for them no matter what happens or what they have done. But I don’t want to pick up his health habits – I don’t want to struggle for the rest of my life. I want to live a long, healthy, happy life filled with all the things I’ve always claimed I would do, but have never done.

Which means that I’m in for my toughest battle so far – my battle with myself.

And the lingering question – do I love myself enough to do something?

I can say yes all I want, but actions speak louder than words. I have to prove to myself that I love myself. I have to take care of myself – not only when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. I have to take care of myself on the nights when I’m tired from a long day at work. I have to take care of myself by going to the gym because I know it’s good for me even when I don’t want to. I have to take care of myself by pushing myself harder because I know I have it in me. I have to take care of myself by paying attention to what I’m putting in my body. I have to take care of myself by getting enough sleep and putting lotion on every single day and skipping the foods that I know are not good for me. I have to take care of myself when I want to have a lazy day. I have to take care of myself when my face is breaking out with acne and I’m trying to figure out if I should try covering if up or if hiding from the world is a valid option for the day. I have to take care of myself every single day. It’s the only way.

Do I love myself enough to take care of myself? Do I love myself enough to get healthy? Do I love myself enough to try again?

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Learning to Love My Body – Learning to Love Myself 

I’ve been quiet over the last couple months. It happens from time to time. Words continue to fill my head, yet, I struggle to put them into sentences, paragraphs, and blogs. 

I’ve been doing some soul searching lately. I’ve always had a pretty good idea of why I do the things I do – I just have a hard time admitting to most people how I’m feeling. I want to be seen as a strong, independent, intelligent woman. I’ve worked my whole life trying to prove that I could to anything – I could survive. Yet, I tend to keep so many feelings hidden from the world. Honestly, I question my decision to share those feelings here. However, when I started this blog, I promised myself to always share my feelings openly and honestly – this was going to be my space and a small glimace into my world. Maybe someone would stumble across it one day and realize they aren’t as alone as I feel some days. 

When I originally started the series “Learning to Love My Body” it was about my quest to get healthy and how loving my body meant more than just eating right, exercising, and going to the doctor for checkups. It was about all the different aspects of learning to love oneself. Overtime I’ve come to realize that those blogs aren’t just about learning to love my body – they’re about learning to love myself.

Learning to love my body was easier to admit to than learning to love myself. People have all sorts of “problems” with their bodies that aren’t problems. They’re differences that make each of us unique. Learning to love myself almost makes it sound like I don’t like myself – I do! But it’s about learning how to love myself. It’s about admitting that sometimes I need to take time for me, and I should never feel guilty for doing so. It’s about figuring out what I want and doing it – even when it scares me. 

Learning to love myself means being honest with myself. Not just about the things I don’t want to do, but about why I don’t want to do them. What’s holding me back? Do I genuinely not like the thing I’ve said no to? Am I scared? Is something hurting me? Loving myself is being honest with myself. It’s about taking baby steps to get me to where I want to be – not just health wise by eating right and going to the gym – but whole health wise by taking time to see the people I love and not being scared to step outside my comfort zone. I could be missing out on the greatest experience of my life and I don’t even know it.

However, I understand I’m scared to try new things. Sometimes the past has a way of haunting us. We can put on a fantastic act for all the world to see, but something inside could be eating us alive. We don’t know how to express our feelings and then we feel embarrassed for having those feelings. 

It’s important to recognize that feelings are uniquely our own. No one can tell you how to feel and no one has a right to make you feel guilty for the way you feel. It’s embarrassing asking for help in certain situations – I understand that. It’s hard to put yourself out there and attend that Sunday School class or join that kickboxing class you’ve had your eye on. It’s harder to think about life passing you by while you’re sidelined. It’s about learning to focus on what you can do in the next 24 hours to get you where you want to go – wherever that may be. The rest will fall into place and if it doesn’t fall the way you think, perhaps it was never meant to be. Learning to love myself is about taking care of every aspect of my well being. 

Learning to Love My Body – I’ll Figure it Out

I’ve let a lot of things slide lately – my health, my friends and family, my blog. When I’m  working 70+ hours a week – multiple weeks in a row – sometimes it feels like I can never be caught up with everything else. I work so hard because I know that it’ll help me get where I’m going financially faster. Sometimes I find myself questioning at what cost? Am I scarificing myself in the short term to get where I want to be long term? Is there a way to balance everything?

Here’s the thing though – I’ll figure it out. I’ll figure out how to keep my health on track even when I know I can’t make it to the gym. I’ll figure out a way to stay in better contact with my friends and family, even if it’s just a quick message to let them know I’m thinking of them. I’m continue to write in this blog because it’s one of the things in life that has always helped me clear my head. When you love something, you hang onto it. You hang onto your friends and family because of that love. You have to hang onto your health too – hang onto where you want to go and what you want to be and who you want to become. It’s able figuring out how to be the best you there is. 

Sometimes learning to love my body is about figuring out how to accomplish everything in a day and not feeling guilty over making sacrifices in order to get to where I want to be. It’s about not having guilt about going to the gym or missing a day at the gym. It’s about understanding that taking care of my body is one of the single most important things I can do. It’s about figuring it out – how to balance jobs and gym and dogs and family and friends. It’s about the choices I make when I’m not at the gym and realizing they’re just as important as the choices I make when I’m at the gym. Learning to love my body is about figuring it out – no matter how many times I stumble and fall. It’s about getting back up every single time. It’s about taking care of myself every single day. 

Learning to Love My Body – Falling Off the Wagon

A few weeks ago I started a post called “Learning to Love My Body – Skipping the Gym is Not an Option” – it came from one night when my brothers wanted to get together and I told them I had to go to the gym first. Usually I would have just skipped the gym, but I had made a commitment to myself to go to the gym and I wasn’t going to skip. That post has yet to be published, or even started beyond the title, because in the weeks since, life was about to teach me a lesson. Sometimes skipping the gym is an option and sometimes you fall off the wagon. 

A little background information on my life – I work two jobs. I commonly work anywhere from 52 hours a week to close to 70 hours a week. Yes, I could downsize and work only one job, but I also know that I could have the majority of my debt (student loans, credit card, etc) paid off in the next year if I continue to work both. As someone who watched my dad struggle with debt until his death, getting my debt paid off is very appealing to me – and therefore, I will keep both for the time being. In the previous months, I went to the gym on the nights when I didn’t have to work both jobs. I seemed like it was working. 

Then I got sick. I was sick for about two weeks and during that time I didn’t go to the gym. At first, all I wanted to do was go for a run. As the days went on, I didn’t want to anymore. I enjoyed the extra two hours a day that I use to spend at the gym. I stopped eating well and I started to feel horrible. 

I fell off the wagon. 

Learning to love my body is about understanding that sometimes you will fall off the wagon. It won’t always be easy – even when heathly snacks are in my fridge, some days it’s easier to grab for the more convenient option. It’s about trying again – making a new plan to get back on track. Learning to love my body is about trying again. It’s about never giving up, even when I stumble. It’s about focusing on my goal – be healthy and the weight will take care of itself. Learning to love my body is about never giving up, even when I fall.  

Learning to Love My Body – the Follow-Up Doctor Visit

I had my follow up doctor visit last week. It was scheduled to go over the results of some tests my doctor has ordered. It had been two decades, give or take, since I had even been to the doctor. This time, I wasn’t taking my friend along. This time it would be my doctor and I talking about my health. 

I had access to my results ahead of time, but I had no idea what they meant. A few worried me, but most looked normal. I also had no real idea what I was looking at, so going into that office that day was scary. 

I’ve never felt more relieved than when my doctor told me I was perfectly healthy. Yes, obviously I might still want to lose a few pounds, but I’m already working on it and she saw nothing in my tests that caused her any concern. Sure, my HDL level could be higher, but I was extremely close to the average and she said they would go up as I exercised more and did more vicious excerise. The average the paperwork gave for LDL levels was wrong, so those were perfectly normal too – a relief because that had caused me concern. Currently my only risk of developing heart disease like like my dad is that he had it – I have no other risks associated with it. 

Other than that, we talked about my health. The things I should and shouldn’t be doing. If I should or shouldn’t do something or take something – something I won’t discuss here because all doctors are different and I know that what my doctor recommended or didn’t recommend might be different than someone else’s experience.

The important thing is to be comfortable with your doctor and what they are telling you. I am comfortable with mine – she has my best interest in mind and her approach to health is similiar to how I’ve been trying to change my health. 

I’ve said in the past that I don’t view getting healthy as a diet, I view it as a lifestyle change. I started out making smart substitutions to what I ate and over time, my grocery habits have changed. I’ve started to crave healthy food and although veggies and I still aren’t best friends, I know that over time we will at least become better friends. She said it was okay to still eat what I wanted, but to be smart about the portion and how often – you don’t need pasta every single day, but once or twice a week isn’t going to hurt you, as long as you’re smart about the portion and what else you’re eating. I love that she views it the same way I do, it makes my journey to getting healthy seem that much more possible. 

Learning to love my body is about taking the steps to get healthy and make sure my body is healthy. Going to the doctor was one of the scariest things ever, but looking back on it, it really wasn’t the scary. I did my homework, I found a doctor I believed would be a good fit for me. I dragged a friend along so I would be more comfortable during that first appointment. I kept the communication open with those around me about what I was feeling. My doctor showed that she cared and explained things in a manner in which I could understand and when I had questions, I asked. Loving my body is taking care of it and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. 

Learning to Love My Body – Even on the Days I Don’t

It’s not always easy to love your body. Sometimes I find myself staring at the mirror – completely unhappy with the image I see staring back at me. There are days when the quotes posted around my bathroom mirror do nothing to lift my mood. When I can’t even find something on Pinterest to make me smile. Days when I go to the gym and leave feeling like my body has failed me – or worse, I’ve failed my body. 

No one said loving my body was going to be easy. It’s a struggle. I feel like I should be able to run faster and harder and further. I can’t believe I didn’t go three miles. That piece of candy was too good to say no to. I want to be at my goal now. I’ve inbarked on the biggest patience test I’ve ever taken – being patient with myself and my progress, and sometimes, my lack of progress. 

On the days when I find it difficult to love myself, I focus on liking myself instead. Liking myself enough to eat healthy. Liking myself enough to understand when my body needs a break. Liking myself enough to listen to what my body is trying to tell me. My body and I are on the same side – it’s a team effort and we’re learning how to work together instead of fighting with each other like we’ve been doing for years. My body wants to be healthy and I want to get it there. On the days when I don’t love my body, I like it instead. 

Love is difficult. It easier to be harder on yourself than anyone else. It’s easier to deny yourself love and feel like you don’t deserve it. Even when I know I have a great support system that wants to see me succeed, there are days when I still beat myself up over the little things. Things that will seem so unimportant in ten years, but for now, I think that piece of chocolate is keeping me from my goal.

Learning to love my body is realizing that some days, it’s okay to settle for liking my body instead.

However, I will never hate it. Never. No matter how badly I feel I’ve failed myself, I will never look at my body with disgust.

My body is my home. It’s where my soul dwells. One day it will hopefully house my growing children. It’s a map of all the places I’ve been. My scars and bruises and imperfections are battles that I’ve won. The small mole on my arm is unique to me – there is no one else like me. My feet are big and my front tooth came in at an angle. The scratch marks on my stomach are proof I’ve worked hard to get some weight off and a reminder that I have more to lose. My thick fingers remind me that I’m changing – they’ve already gone down a ring size and there’s more to come. My mind is filled with a million stories waiting to come out. 

There are days when it’s not about loving my body. There are days when loving my body is difficult. There are days when I want to throw in the towel. 

But I don’t – because there are days when learning to love my body is about liking it first. 

Learning to Love My Body – the Doctor Visit

I had my first doctor visit in two decades (give or take) on Tuesday. I actually expected myself to be a lot more nervous than I was. I dragged one of my friends along with me so that definitely helped. I trusted her and I didn’t feel so alone. Plus, while waiting for the doctor, I had someone to laugh and share jokes with (and play with iOS10 with), so that helped to keep me from thinking so much about it. She stepped out for the exam, but just knowing I wasn’t in it alone and had someone along for moral support did me a world of good. 

The doctor was very sweet and no one made me feel bad about not being to see a doctor in so long. Nor did they make me feel guilty for not knowing much about family health history, other than the bits and pieces my mom told me, but even that wasn’t very specific information. From the moment I walked in, I knew they were there to help me. They weren’t there to judge me, but help to make sure I was healthy. They talked me through everything and made sure I understood what they were asking. I couldn’t believe I had been so nervous. 

I told them I was eating healthier and exercising more than I ever had before. No one felt the need to bring it up to me – it was clear I understood this about myself. I did later find it in the paperwork they gave me when I left. But it was put in there as a note. No need to talk to me about it at the moment – I’m making the healthy choices but if I need someone to ask, I have someone to ask. Blogging about weight comes easier to me than talking to “live people” about it – but blogging about it and learning to love my body has also helped to keep me on track. 

Learning to love my body is about doing what I need to do to be a healthier person. Tuesday it was about taking that step to see the doctor, a place that I hadn’t been to since before I could remember. It was about going to a place I knew would help me get to where I want to be – a healthier me. It was about knowing that if something changes with me, I have a place to go and ask the questions I need to ask. I’ve learned how to take care of my skin. I’ve been learning about what I need to put in my body. It was time to learn about what’s going on inside.

Listening to my body is loving it. Understanding my body is loving it. Learning about my body is loving it.