My Body as Public Property

Yesterday I had lunch with my co-teacher, and I was bitching about the lame pasta salad the cafeteria was offering and he said, “yeah, you’ll probably need something more than that with all your hot yoga,” and I replied with “I know man, I can’t believe it, I’ve lost 30lbs doing hot yoga.” His response shocked me, as he said:

I know. You can tell. Bethany (my friend and co-worker) and I were talking about it the other day. You look good.

There was nothing weird about his statement, though it did catch me off guard. Because I spend a lot of time in my head, I rarely even notice that I have a body. And after 31 years of life as a woman, I have rarely had moments of body image issues (related to weight, because I’ve certainly had insecurities about my height). I don’t hate my body because a) it’s super functional (carrying my brain to and fro is a necessity) and b) it brings me quite a lot of pleasure. It wasn’t until I was pregnant, though, that I really started to notice how my physical body was suddenly on the public stage. Grannies and co-workers and grocery store clerks all had some comment, ranging from “oh, you don’t look pregnant,” to “oh, you’re having a boy,” to any number of other random things. Fortunately nobody touched me, but I for that I blame my 6’1 frame and badass-I-will-cut-you-if-you-come-too-close attitude.

So here I am, a regular practitioner of bikram yoga, 30lbs lighter (yay, I’ve lost the baby weight finally! and actually weighing less than I did at my wedding), and I’m suddenly…doubting myself? Feeling anxious? Feeling uncomfortable in my own skin? Not exactly. Even Boof has noticed, that the regular yoga practice has only increased my confidence level. I feel more in control tune with my body. I feel strong, and flexible, and sexy. And I’m not even focusing on weight.

But.

But.

As someone with an anxiety disorder, I worry. A LOT. And I’m starting to worry about things like:

What if I really like being thin and then I gain weight? And then I start feeling bad about myself for gaining weight? And then I develop an eating disorder?

Yeah, my brain works like that.

But it is an interesting experience suddenly being more in the public eye with how I look. I look back at pictures and I can’t really see much of a difference, though overall 30lbs is quite a lot of weight actually, and think I looked fine before, but definitely feel more fine now. Does that make sense?

 

 

How yoga is improving my life

This week is midterm break for my students, and so my schedule is much more relaxed. We meet with each student individually, but these meetings only take 15 minutes or so, which means I’m done by 2:00 pm at the latest…and am off on Thursday. This relaxed schedule is freeing up time to practice yoga earlier, and so when I dropped Potamus off at grandma’s house, I decided to amble on down to their bathroom to weigh myself. While I rarely jump on the scale, seeing the numbers are merely one portion of overall health, I was SHOCKED to find that I am now at 214 lbs, which is only 5 lbs away from my postpartum weight (okay, really it’s only 2lbs away from my postpartum weight, since I LIED to my midwife about weighing less at the start than I really did. For shame…)

Somehow I have managed, in the past 2.5 months, to lose close to 15 lbs. I really think that the 3-4.5 hours of yoga in a sweaty hot room has really contributed to this overall weight loss. But beyond numbers on the scale (of which I am excited, not going to lie), I have also noticed other things. Like how shitty I felt after eating Jack N the Box for lunch today. And not shitty because I was beating myself up about it, but shitty because let’s be honest, Jack N the Box tastes like garbage.

Additionally, I cried on the way to work today. Not full on ugly cry, but I definitely felt emotion and it expressed through tears. I can’t solely contribute that to yoga, because it’s something I’m working on in therapy, but having all those hours a week where I have to focus on the mind/body connection is certainly helping me tap into the emotions and express them…and express them in a non judgy way.

You know how I bragged the other night about making dinner? Um, yeah, I did it again. Same recipe…ish…which means I’m sorta getting the hang of it, and feeling confident. It was lemon pepper papardelle noodles, and some chicken, and mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and shallots all boiled together in the veggie stock and water. Topped with grated parmesan chese. While it won’t ever take the place of my love for marinara, it was pretty darn delicious and felt amazing that I stepped AGAIN outside my comfort zone and cooked, rather than simply heated things up. Also, I wasn’t too worried about the outcome, and that relaxed approach is much more mindful and like how I approach the difficult yoga poses that I do each week.

My weight has dropped, but I overall feel stronger and more flexible. I’ve been throwing Potamus around during our wrestling sessions in the living room. My clothes fit different and my mama belly pooch is firmer, though sweetly still dappled with the stretch marks. Overall I feel confident, like I can face a lot of things. And maybe that’s the antidepressants talking, but I’m gonna attribute a lot of that to my new yoga practice.

Have you started any new healthy way of life lately? How has it rippled into other areas of your life?

Bread Dough Breathing

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Today was big for me. As much as I’ve crowed about my pretty good body image, even flaunting my adorbz swimsuit in the great Pacific Ocean, I have yet to go to hot yoga in shorts and a sports bra. The room is full of hairy-backed middle aged men, gumby tanned women who have, after class, proudly proclaimed their excitement to go home and eat a salad (true story), and a wide range of others, including a diminutive blonde with amazing dreadlocks and a girl who wore a sweatshirt around her waist the entire workout (wtf?). Almost everyone is stripped down to their bare necessities, but there has been one thing I haven’t seen: pale postpartum belly flab.

I was nervous in the locker room. I had brought a safety tank-top that I could throw on if I needed, but I decided to be tittsey¬†and just GO FOR IT. So, there I was, sweating alongside Sasquatch (seriously) and ashram-goddess-reincarnate. I could see my bare belly in the mirror, but from the distance it looked different than I’ve seen it before. My stretch marks swayed side to side, back and forth, in ardha chandrasana and sweat rolled down.

And, as we were lying in shavasana, the teacher instructed us to belly breathe. And I noticed this image in my mind, of my soft, white, doughy belly rising and falling…like bread dough. In the heat, dough rises, you punch it down, and it rises again. Takes the whole ‘bun-in-the-oven’ metaphor in a different direction. Rising, falling, baking in the warm room. Bread-dough belly breathing.

“Diet and Exercise to reduce BMI”

Keebler Cookies

I ate six Keebler elf cookies on the way to work this morning. It was THAT kind of morning, you know, when you find yourself absent-mindedly perusing the mail left on the table and come across some information from the doctor you saw last week for bronchitis. Remember that story? The hot, older, South African doctor who treated me kindly and prescribed an in-office breathing treatment for my acute bronchitis after taking a walk-in same-day appointment from a stranger who had never been seen in that clinic? Yeah, it was a letter of discharge notes from that visit, that rambled on about my acut sinusitis and bronchitis and the medicine he prescribed. And then, there it was, at the bottom of the list of treatment recommendations:

Diet and Exercise to reduce BMI= 30.1 (bolded added by me)

Nice.

A lovely little note from a doctor I’ve met once, with instructions written instead of verbally given (or even inquired about) with the general statement of “hey fatty, why don’t you eat less and get some activity to lose some weight.”

Awesome.

Way to ruin my perfectly good morning.

And it just got me to thinking about all things weight related. Now, I understand that I could stand to lose a few pounds, but what that insensitive line didn’t ask, or inquire about, was WHAT AM I DOING or WHAT HAVE I TRIED or ANYTHING about my current diet or weight situation. Because, he doesn’t fucking know me, so he wrote on a piece of paper that I need to change my eating habits and get some exercise.

I am annoyed and embarassed because it was handled so poorly. I actually wanted to cry, which is why I ate those cookies. But seriously, this issue has come up before and I want to talk about it.

Before Potamus was conceived, I had reached this ghastly weight of 230 lbs. Somewhere in my mind this had been the weight that I told myself “geez, if you ever reach 230 you need to put the pizza down and start figuring some shit out.” So I did. I lost nearly all of that weight in hopes of conceiving our child, which was done a few months later. I lost it slow and steady with a combination of eating low-fat options and walking, sporadically. As a woman who is over 6 feet tall, I figure that if I were 200 lbs I’d be okay with my weight, and if I were a solid 185 I’d be SMOKIN’ HOT.

The BMI says I should weigh 160, though, which is what I weighed as a adolescent volleyball/basketball player who worked out 3 hours a day for 9 months a year. I don’t think that will EVER happen again. Seriously.

But what this doctor’s passive aggressive note about diet-exercise didn’t take into account, the things that I am doing to lose weight and the struggle it has been to get the baby-weight off. I did Weight Watchers around the beginning of my maternity leave, and nothing happened. I have only lost 20-25 of the pounds that I gained during pregnancy.

DESPITE BREASTFEEDING.

It’s been 14 months people and the weight has not ‘dropped off’ like they promised. I guess I’m following in my mother-in-law’s footsteps, where the weight didn’t come off until after she weaned. I am committed to breastfeeding even if it doesn’t help me lose weight. And I have been eating healthy, eliminating dairy and watching portion control, and exercising (ala 5k training pre-bronchitis days). And I mostly avoid those cookies-in-the-car binges.

I don’t know what else to do. I am not about dieting, and I have been getting exercise. And someone who wants to judge me, like the doctor, without forming a relationship and asking what I have tried and trying to create a plan for change, is not helpful. At. All.

I know that I want to lose the weight, especially since we’re planning on trying for baby #2 in the near-ish future (another post for another day), I don’t want to balloon to an unmanageable weight.

Sigh.

 

Thoughts? Advice? Funny stories of junk-punching a-hole insensitive doctors? Anything?

Body Image

With my smart phone glued to my fingers, especially during nighttime nursing, I have noticed myself compulsively reading new mom forums. Some of the posts or questions I find humorous or insightful, but others I find downright annoying. I am especially annoyed by young twigs who whine about their post-partum body.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really want to be 250 during my pregnancy, for even at 6’1 that felt quite heavy and WELL over what my normal heaviest was. And despite the fact that I only lost a quick 25 and am would love to weigh less because it feels so much better, overall I am not condemning my body for the metamorphosis it went through to make me a mother.

Overall, I have always seen my body as rather functional and not something to hate, so when I read breastfeeding mama’s refer to their “gumball pink” or “floppy skinny” nipples disparagingly, I get annoyed…and then actually feel sad that is their perspective. When they complain about stretch marks I wonder why, as I had a growth spurt in HS and have always loved to touch my fading stretch marks on my love handles because it is a reminder that I grew from a child into a woman. Perhaps I am a unique woman in this way, that very rarely have I had any body image issues, least of all now postpartum. Of course I am not perfect and think it would be nice to have skinner jeans or perkier breasts, but overall I feel good inside my skin. My legs are strong to carry me. My hips wide enough to birth a child. My breasts full of life-sustaining milk for Potamus. It’s all beautiful, really…