Making Peace with my Body

It’s the New Year: time to be bombarded by every weight loss, body sculpting, resolutioner’s dream-turned-nightmare advertising campaign designed to remind us that we’re not good enough.  Let’s fix it, now, for the bargain price of 4 easy installments of my first-born child.

But how do I really feel?

12/08 and 11/13
12/08 and 11/13

In my very first blog for CT Working Moms I disclosed my “journey” with my body and weight loss.  I had lost a grand-total of 78 pounds.  More significantly, I completely altered my life from couch-potato-on-a-good-day to a runner.  Since then, 5 months later, my grand total of pounds lost is now 80.  Seems I’ve slowed down to a crawl.  My race schedule, however, is full, and I’m training for my first ever half-marathon.  My family and friends support me, though they do also offer sanity checks at strategic times, like when I run in 6 degree weather, outside.  I blame the dog.

Though I’ve lost little in 5 months in terms of size and weight, it has been a life-altering several months.  I realized with a surprise that living in a profoundly changed body takes significant getting used to.  While some of the changes are quite welcome, others are surprisingly hard.

  • I love being able to get up and move, running a mile or joining a 10k, on last-minute whim.  It is amazing to me, still, that I can actually do that!
  • I live more comfortably in the world.  Cars and venues and bathroom stalls are large enough for my body.  Navigating the world was once excruciatingly difficult.
  • I love shopping the “regular sizes” in stores.  I feel a bit like a traitor to my favorite plus-sized stores, but I love that I can comb through a rack with my spouse, no longer relegated to the other side of a store, or another store all together.
  • I can keep up with my kids, run after them on their bikes, and still have enough in me to toss my daughter up in the air in the living room.

Still, surprisingly, losing weight is not simply a welcome change.  Perhaps embracing it fully would be divine, but I find it complicated and at times painful.

I cringe from the comments and the spotlight.  Losing weight is publicly visible and impossible to hide.  The more attention I get, especially publicly, the more I want to hide.  I know how to hide behind food and with size.  I appreciate that folks notice, and I love them for it.  Yet it is disarming, feels vulnerable and it’s hard.

My body feels unfamiliar.  My eyes are more pronounced.  I have a neck.  My collar-bone is showing.  My calves are diesel!  These things were never true.  I have been obese since I traversed from tween to teen.  When I look in the mirror, I scan for an image I recognize, that I belong in, that reminds me of me.

I can’t put a new me in an old treasured picture, no matter how much I change my body.

Our wedding, the 3rd, legal, marriage!
Our wedding, the 3rd, legal, marriage!

I will never have the body I never had.  If I lose all I need to, I will lose over 100 pounds.  That kind of weight loss means a lot of lose skin, a lot of sag, some ugly spaces and places.  The body I neglected for decades will always wear that neglect.  Somehow, I struggle with that more as I unearth my body than when I covered it in 80 more pounds.

I will always be reminded that, for all the reasons I own but I refuse to judge: my body wore my shame, my pain and my fear.  I can honor my body now, but I can’t undo that choice.  Somehow, I need to find a way to forgive myself for that.

Women are particularly targeted to hate our bodies and our choices.  A multi-billion dollar industry depends on our self-contempt.  In some ways, hating ourselves for not fitting an image is just the surface of what we really feel.  But I wonder if, as we bring in 2014, we can consider granting ourselves a little room, a little compassion, a little less judgment for our choices up until now.  Our imperfect, scarred, sagging, lose-skinned, amazing, strong and resilient bodies will thank us.


13 thoughts on “Making Peace with my Body

  1. Sharlene, you are a stunning person inside and out and thank you for sharing such a personal story. Also, thanks for keeping it real and always being true to yourself!


  2. I loved the honesty of this post Sharlene. I didn’t know you in the “before”, but I am loving getting to know you “after”. The cool thing to find out about such a transformation is that no matter how the outside looks now, the person inside remains the same. (I’m pretty sure it’s a wonderful thing in your case!!)


  3. Wow, what a powerful post, Sharlene. I love your strength in your vulnerability. And raw honesty always makes me love someone even more than I did before. You are a Goddess ~ then, now, and always.


  4. Sharlene, you look fabulous and I am so happy for you and all your accomplishments. I am so impressed you ran in six degree weather! I want to echo what Michelle said in that I look up to you in so many ways. You rock! I want to wish you all the best in loving your body and enjoying all that life has to offer you.


  5. Powerful and true. Thank you for sharing.
    I lost 75lbs shortly before my wedding and was surprised that the feelings weren’t all positive. And the biggest thing for me was that I still felt fat. It wasn’t until I gained the weight back until I could see that I had been at a healthy weight!


    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Elise. I can truly empathize with continuing to feel “fat”. Even as I prepared the side-by-side, I tricked myself into seeing the changes as “small” or “insignificant.” To see myself as healthy is really hard, and so much more about the choices in a day than the scale or a picture (she says to herself as gently as she can muster:)). Thanks again for sharing. Hope you feel healthy today! 🙂


  6. Thank you for sharing this point of view Sharlene. Your honesty and vulnerability is so admirable, I have only known you a short time but already look up to you in many ways. This post really made me think about how I talk to other people about their weight loss. Like, it always seems like the right thing to say to someone is “hey, have you lost weight? you look great!” but then I feel like saying that implies something was wrong with them before they lost the weight. Anyways, that was kind of a tangent but just know that so many of us admire your courage to speak your truth.


  7. You seriously look INCREDIBLE. It took a lot of courage to write this. ❤

    I LOVE your picture and the caption: Our wedding, the 3rd, legal, marriage! – how freaking cool is it that you are the THIRD?? THAT is also an accomplishment.

    Your life is full of blessings, Sharlene because YOU are a beautiful person.


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