As the mother to eight children, I have never frequented fancy stores to purchase things for myself. We aren’t rich, and even if I was, I’d probably spend a lot of that money on the kids’ activities/needs and still manage to put myself mostly last, such as what mothers normally do (which is, yes, sad).
Also, I’ve never been a big shopper and it is pretty much last on my list of ways to spend time. My default response to the need to purchase anything for the home is to wave goodbye to my husband and children while they drive away from the house so that I can do anything else.
Thus, it had been a good long while since purchasing something which necessitated the use of a changing room for myself. I wanted to buy a new dress for a family event and several of my kids also needed items. I did what any self-respecting Alaskan would do and took the kids to Target, graced by the presence of my amazing sister-in-law who makes everything in life easier and more filled with laughter. We unloaded the kids, piled into the store, treated ourselves to Starbucks, and began the long process of Meeting Everybody’s Needs, my own included this time (for once).
I found a few options and went to the changing rooms. The clerk let me into the largest one with about ten mirrors circling the perimeter of the stall. I stripped down to the bare essentials and looked up, realizing I had this rare opportunity to See It All.
There I was. At least 15 versions of myself from every angle, a rather embarrassingly good view of each and every inch of my exposed body.
Ugh. It had been awhile since I had really looked at myself in this way. I do not even have a full-body mirror in my home, and I’m fine with that. I am approaching 40, and I’ve never had to work very hard to maintain a healthy weight, for which I am grateful. But I also haven’t done much to build muscle. Also, the aforementioned kids. Cough, cough. Especially the twins…my massive babies who weighed a combined total of 17 pounds and completely traumatized my abdominal muscles and skin.
I gave myself as much time as I wanted to take in the sight. It was, frankly, eye-opening. I have always had high cholesterol but a very healthy BMI (it’s a genetic thing). In two years, statins will become the default medical recommendation, and I had committed to attempt to fix this issue with exercise and nutrition before taking medication. The exercise had not been happening at all. Not one bit. Frankly, it was much easier to pop a couple tabs of fish oil, slightly easier to eat less crap, yet seemingly impossible to get myself in the habit of regular exercise.
But look. My rear end. My legs. Not terrible…but not what I expected, either. I hadn’t realized they were so devolved from their original state. I started thinking out loud to myself, appreciating my husband in a whole new way. Never once has he made me feel that I am not physically attractive or in need of alteration. But he totally could have made that case. It was a humbling moment, realizing that he has only ever focused on bettering his own body, which is muscular and has received the appropriate attention, but never made me feel like I am lacking in that department.
Still, I could see for myself that attention to my physical health would pay off in the form of more resilience, endurance, longevity, and capability in the long run. My grandmother is approaching 100. Barring some accidental death, it is likely that I will have longevity on my side if genetics are any indication. I want to go into this next stage of life in a dramatically better state of health.
Oh, and I can guess you are probably wondering when I am going to tell you about some amazing weight loss program I’ve joined, and oh, by the way, I’m a health coach now, and just message me for details.
Nope. For reals. Just sharing the journey. In fact, I realize this is a highly anticlimactic testimony of fitness. If you want to read a REAL account of life transformation par excellence, head on over to my friend Taylor’s blog and follow her story from drug-addicted recording artist to yoga instructor who is getting ready to launch her online yoga studio. She’s amazing.
Regardless, taking better care of ourselves requires a step. And then another step. Over and over again. So frustratingly simple.
By the way, a funny thing happened after I got done having a whole conversation with myself in the changing room. It turns out, a work acquaintance was in there at the same time and heard most of this commentary of mine, who also happens to be a competitive bodybuilder. You can’t make this stuff up. It was hilarious. I imagine she did not have much sympathy but she was compassionate. In my defense, I have 800% more children than her. I hereby wield this as my excuse forever.
Anyway, I did manage to get my buns moving. I have started doing aerobic exercise and yoga several times a week. I’d like to do this daily but I haven’t carved out the time and space for that in my life. I’m doing the best I can at the moment. I even went back to Target today to pick up a couple pairs of jeans and deliberately picked the changing room that afforded the most thorough view. I felt encouraged by the change. It turns out, this stuff works. I do, in fact, have muscles, such as what my anatomy textbooks claim. But if I don’t use the darn things, they are not going to accomplish very much or be trim and effective.
It’s still extremely uncomfortable at times to carve that time out for myself. I know I am not alone. It seems most mothers have a lot of guilt about unabashedly doing something purely for their own betterment and self-development. This sense of guilt, and even shame, should not be given much credence. The whole family benefits from its individual members being in better mental and physical health, right? So let’s do this thing.
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