Disclosure: Thank you Curves International for sponsoring this post. Ready to get #CurvesStrong?
This is the post where I bare it all. No, not like that. But the one where I eat my feelings (literally), cry a whole lot as I type, and then hopefully, eventually, start seeing things in a new light.
But first, here's a pretty drink. And it's healthy too. And, you'll find the recipe down below ... way down below.
For as long as I can remember I've tried to blend into the background, to not be in the spotlight, and have nobody look at me. While girls out there are clamoring for others to take photos of them as social media becomes more visual with selfies, and fashion, and beauty bloggers, I'm always the one behind the camera. Always in control of how (or if) I'm seen. And while I always read the articles (and nod in agreement) about how partners should photograph each other with the kids so that the kids (and you) have memories of being together, I've only ever been the one doing that. I've secretly wished someone would capture a moment of me with my children, one that I wasn't ashamed of, one where I looked pretty, one that could be framed, but then the once or twice a moment was captured I looked at myself and made sure that photo never saw the light of day. Ever! And I went back to being behind the camera because that's where I've always felt I belong. And, please, don't get me wrong it's not that I think everybody should be thin. In fact, that's far from the truth. Some of the most beautiful women in the world are a plus size. They are simply stunning and I often wonder why can't I look as strong and beautiful as they do.
If someone were to ask me what my best feature is, it would be that I always do the right thing, even when some say I shouldn't, even when others have done wrong by me, I will always do the right thing. And that's not even a feature, that is just who I am. Even as I sit here typing this I'm trying to come up with one. Anything. And not a single thing comes to mind.
I'm not sure when (or how) my self-esteem issues began. What I do know, is that along this bumpy road it has escalated. To a point where some days I literally hide away from the world, behind my computer screen, in the safety of my own home, where others cannot see me.
I remember walking out of the hospital after my oldest son was born and I was wearing the jeans I'd worn before my pregnancy. It was almost like I hadn't even popped out a baby. But after my twins' were born things didn't bounce back. I'm probably close to being the same weight now as I was during the final leg of my pregnancy. And although I've successfully avoided having photographs taken of me for so many years I've still managed to look at myself a certain way. When I get ready in the morning I look in the mirror. I never turn side on. I hide the extra curves, accentuate the right ones a little, and am somehow able to convince myself that I look okay ... just okay. Okay enough that I can probably leave the house. I try never to look at myself how others might see me, the same way a camera would capture me. When my ex-husband would point to the prettiest, thinnest girls on television and say 'you used to look like that' I would eat my feelings. Literally. It was either that or retreat into myself and cry all of the time. And I didn't want to cry all the time. Or at least I didn't want the kids to see me cry. I never wanted my daughter to feel body conscious. I never ever wanted her to feel like I do. To look at herself the way I look at myself. I avoid belittling myself in front of her, and always make sure she knows that she is beautiful, even when she's been told by someone close to her that she could 'do with losing a few pounds off her fat *ss'. Oh hell no. She will NOT have my body image issues. I will do everything in my power to avoid that. For her.
As a blogger, I'm often invited to events. A couple of weeks ago I was invited to one at Curves®. A gym! I almost didn't say yes, but then gave myself a big pep talk, and reminded myself that I really do need to start working out again. And, it was a no men, no makeup, no mirrors event. Just a few bloggers whom I thought I would probably know.
I've successfully avoided working out (other than hiking and walking) and haven't even entered a gym in 4 years. 4 YEARS! Before I ended my marriage, and for a little while after, I was attending weekly yoga classes. I had the same spot at the back of the room where nobody could see me. It was bliss. I did my workout, I left, and repeated the following week. Sometimes, I would go twice a week. I was in my comfort zone though. It was the same class, the same group of people, the same spot at the back of the room. And then I had to move house. It was too far to drive to that same gym so I just stopped going, too scared to walk into a new gym, to join a new yoga class anywhere else. Somewhere new, where people would look at me, where in my mind I was being judged by everyone else there.
So, I walk into the event and know just one other blogger. One! And my anxiety kicked in. And everyone there is beautiful. Gorgeous. And I feel myself retreating. And I wanted to run. Oh, how I wanted to run. Just make an excuse and get the heck out of there. But I did what I do best and sucked it up. Now, remember, I haven't been to a gym in 4 years. I felt like I was dying. DYING! Everything hurt and I couldn't breathe. And the other girls all seemed to have smiles on their faces. They were laughing, and having fun, and seemed to go through the motions effortlessly. I'm sure that was all just in my head, but my head was full of sweat and tears, and I was DYING! I didn't even know I had muscles where some were being worked out. And afterward, and the whole next day I felt great. A little sore, but I felt proud of myself. Proud of myself for sticking it out. Proud of myself for going into a new place. Proud of myself for working out.
But, there was a low point. One that hit me right before the sense of accomplishment had kicked in. After the class was over, I walked out and cried. I cried because I felt so out of place, so unfit, and so ashamed of myself.
And if I thought that I couldn't feel any worse about myself, the photos arrived. Photos from the event. From the workout. With beautiful women smiling and laughing, and who made working out look so effortless. And then there was me. And I cried some more. I wanted to reach into the computer and grab every one of those photos and tear them into a million pieces. And then burn them. And then I remembered that I wasn't the only one who had seen them. Everyone who was there had. EVERYONE! And I couldn't destroy the evidence. And I cried some more.
Because even though when I look into the mirror in the morning I don't look like this ...
That's how other's see me. That's how I was seen through the lens.
And I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Ashamed that I'd stopped taking care of me.
Mike and I don't fight. We haven't had a single one. We literally have nothing to fight about (fingers crossed, knock on wood and all that). But, we do disagree on only one thing, who is the kinder person, best parent, and of all things, who is hotter. He tells me I'm a 10 and he's a 2. I disagree and tell him that I wish he could see himself through my eyes. And I know that I should be seeing myself through his eyes too. It's a work in progress. Every day. And this has given me the motivation I need to step out of my comfort zone a little. Get out of my house, away from my office, and face the world. And the gym. And stop eating my feelings. Because life is far too short to spend it hiding. And maybe, just maybe we should see ourselves through the eyes of those who love us, and not through our own eyes. And maybe if we feel that changes need to be made we should actually start making them. And just maybe, we should start taking care of ourselves, because we are often so busy taking care of everything and everyone else we end up being last on our own list.
Trust me, I know how hard this is. I get it. More than most people know. I'm a single mother (in every sense of those words), who works full-time, has no family to pitch in and help out, and is in a long-distance relationship. There are just not enough hours in the day. But, if it's important we will find a way, right? And it's time I start taking care of me. I may not have made it to a doctor in 2 years, and may not have had my hair cut in over a year, but I need to find time for me. And surely I can fit a 30-minute workout into my week. So please, join me won't you? We can all do this if we do it together, if we build our own support group and keep one another motivated.
Curves® is a one-stop-shop for every woman’s fitness needs. By enrolling in the Curves Fitness® Program, we are able to participate in a 30 minute, total-body workout on strength training machines. The circuit classes are designed to burn fat, increase strength, and kick-start weight loss. You work every core muscle group in just 30 minutes, but also become a part of a supportive group of empowered women. Plus, I really like their No Makeup, No Men, No Mirrors motto.
Learn more about Curves® here:
And, as for that delicious purple Curves inspired smoothie recipe, here it is.
note: makes 2 glasses
- 1 cup frozen blackberries
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 1 frozen banana (chopped)
- 2 cups almond coconut milk
- 1 tbs agave in the raw
Combine all ingredients in the blender and enjoy!
Pin this delicious smoothie for later.
This post was sponsored by Curves International but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.