EDIT: I am entering this post as part of a blog hop. I hope I've done this right!
Delicious Ambiguity: Yummy Mummy Blog Hop
This post by VDOprincess has made me think. It should make you think, too.
I was always a stringbean in my teens and early 20s. I didn't know it at the time, but looking back, I was thin as a rail, tall and lanky. Lots of angles. No boobs. (Oh, how I longed for boobs!)
Once I hit college, though, I noticed my body changing, settling, like an aging house. I've always struggled with my body image, just like every woman who is not Claudia Schiffer or Cindy Crawford (actually, I bet they struggle a lot!). I may have been thin my whole life, but I've never felt exceptionally feminine. Even though I finally got some boobs, my waist stayed too straight, my growth spurts left icky stretch marks on my butt and thighs, my pregnancy left my tummy with dough-like consistency, I have a huge (and sometimes painful) spider vein on my thigh that prevents me from wearing shorts or dresses above my knee, and I'm so pale that I'm virtually transparent. And these are the things I see when I look in the mirror.
But now in my late 20s, having gained that extra 15 lbs post-wedding, and still "working on" (which actually means "ignoring but secretly worrying about") the last 10 baby pounds from my six-month-old, I am realizing that NOBODY CARES. Because they are too busy obssessing over their own body issues.
Like VDOprincess (whose real name is Laura Dye), we only see the negative about ourselves...when all everyone else sees is the image we portray. While I'm busy coveting someone else's womanly curves, dynamite eyelashes, perfectly tanned skin, luxuriously thick hair, or full, symmetrical lips, they are likely pining for my small ankles, high cheekbones, long legs, or toned arms. Because those are the attributes I play up to take focus off the aforementioned attributes that I despise. And those other women play up their gorgeous hair, eyelashes, curves and lips to hide theirs.
So why do we sit around moping about the things we don't have? Or the things we wish we didn't have?
Truth be told, I have never had the dedication, or patience, to count calories, time my runs, or maximize my strength training by implementing chair exercises at work. I take the stairs when I can, sure. I park far away from the mall doors, yes. I eat sprouted grain bread instead of the white stuff, and prefer spinach (or at least romaine) to iceberg lettuce. I try to use whole wheat flour in my baking, and substitute honey for sugar and applesauce for oil. I buy free-run, organic eggs instead of cheap, mass-produced ones.
But I love me some chocolate. And wine. And CHEESE! And my new obsession with coffee includes International Delight - yes,a guilty pleasure. And my rationale is that because I eat such healthy meals, I am more than entitiled to satisfy my sweet tooth. Every day.
The trick, I'll admit, when I am conscious of how much sweet/fatty stuff I put in my mouth, is that I try my best to make it count. I'd rather have a few squares of good quality dark chocolate than a Twix candy bar, and I'd much rather eat five homemade cookies than a donut at Timmy's.
This mentality usually trumps my self-consciousness. The temporary pleasure derived from enjoying food and drink, I'd say, is worth it. But I set myself up with a double standard, constantly living with guilt for this "lifestyle," a choice I make and live with. But guilt is a lie. And women almost ALWAYS believe it.
Don't get me wrong. Being unhealthy as a rule is definitely guilt-worthy. You should want to be your healthiest for the benefit of your spouse, children and employers. (And also out of consideration for taxpayers!) Having to take a break after climbing the stairs is a wake-up call. But living a life of obsession over small pleasures makes no sense to me.
So this is my conclusion:
Make healthy choices about 90% of the time.
Exercise when you can, and don't beat yourself up when you can't (although that would be good exercise in itself).
Use your baby carrier more often than your stroller. Babies get heavier with age!
Walk the dog regularly (or your neighbour's if you don't have one).
Stop fooling yourself by buying "low fat" or "sugar free" products and ask yourself if you need those products at all: low fat Cheeze Whiz (slice some real cheese), "heart healthy" margarine (use butter! It's a real food, not man made), low fat Cool Whip (use plain yogurt, with a drop of vanilla extract, instead), flavoured water (really? Is water that unappetizing?), diet soda (just, no).
Decide what's worth splurging on, and keep it around so you don't resort to a Mars bar (like Purdy's!)
Carry fruit, or fruit cups, and nuts in your vehicle so you're not tempted to stop at Wendy's for lunch (at the very least, hit up Subway so you can tailor your sandwich). Note to self: buy fruit cups and nuts
And relax when you can. I know many moms will laugh at this one, but even if it's for 10 extra minutes on the toilet, reading the novel you've wanted to finish, or the weekend newspaper...do it. You'll be a better mom and wife for it!
What small efforts do you make to stay active and make healthy choices?