Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Letter for Daughters

Yes, it's a misquote, but it's still awesome....
I stumbled across this blog on facebook yesterday thanks to AndiGirl. It should be REQUIRED READING for anyone with daughters (political examples aside).
Disclaimer: I did the 1200 calorie, no-carb, super strict, mostly liquid diets. They do work if you stick to them. In fact, it was so immediately "successful", that I did more than 1 of them. But the weight came back on as soon as I got off of them. Why? Not because I was going hog wild. I learned some great eating lessons from them. It just wasn't a sustainable life style - for me anyway. More power to those who can do it.

I hope I NEVER forget what it was like to be an overweight kid. It wasn't until recently that I've really started to realize what a valuable life experience that was. From 3rd grade until 8th grade, I was constantly told by peers that I was 'different'. 'Fat' was just part of that 'different' label. For the record, I was also adopted, one of the tallest girl in tiny class which had an average of 7 girls to compare myself with, and I was the 'artistic' one. (I mean seriously... how many 4th graders do you know that have every character's part of every song in Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, Miss Siagon, etc... by heart and yet would play any sport set in front of me?) So yes- they were right. I was 'different'. At the time, it wasn't something I was proud of. Just something I couldn't help. As if grappling with those larger topics (like what it means to be adopted and all the mixed emotions that go along with that, to one parent that traveled a lot, living in a multi-generational household, struggling with grades, and being the one 'artistic' one in the family) for some reason the lable of 'fat' stuck like glue. Not only were the kids at school noticing, but at home I felt like every plate of food was monitored. Well-intention things like, "Do you really need that?" or special evening appointments at a kids gym for personal training in the evenings while in middle school (which was more frustrating than effective - as the 'bar' just seemed to hight and was the last thing I needed - just another 'grade' was struggling to make) just drove the point home even more. I was very active. I ate things most people consider 'normal' for a kid in the USA. I played soccer and softball during the summers, and every sport they offered after school (soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, even flag football), I grew up with the self esteem of a snail.

 It carried into high school as well. A recent discussion with an old friend from high school reminded me, "You just had no self-esteem! If you'd had more confidence then, the sky would have been the limit." And if I'm being honest, it played a huge role during my first marriage as well - he made me feel beautiful when I felt that no one else could see me. It couldn't have been further from the truth, but our perception is our reality. I needed that constant external validation.

Oddly enough, it wasn't until I got into theater heavily, and got divorced, that some switch flipped in my head. Yeah - it took me 26 years to learn that confidence is a gift we give ourselves. It's not attached to a number on a scale, what a boy or girl thinks of us, etc. We're on this journey to discover our own worth. Some find it early; some find it later. BUT....

If only someone had told me then what I'm discovering now about body image...

Ready to attack the gym
Now, I bench press 75lbs, and dead lift nearly 100lbs.

If I had gone into high school knowing that I would have this kind of physical power behind me in my 30's, well, my life would be VERY different.

I do see how all that prepared me for this phase in my life. It all happened for a reason and maybe this is it. I keep hearing that it takes a 'special kind of woman' to be a Submariner's wife. And they are right - one with diverse interests, passions, and one that doesn't fear the 'lonely'. (I don't LOVE it, but I've made friends with it.) Come to think of it, I don't live with a lot of fear on a daily basis. Anything could happen to any one at any time. All we have is the moment. So make it count. She who has the smallest denim size still dies. ;)

Physically speaking - I'm not 'there' yet. I'm a work in progress and, as TrainerGuy said on our first encounter, "This is a marathon, not a sprint." As much as I sometimes hate it, it's true. Thankfully, I find lifting to be gratifying. (And honestly, it would be cool to be enough of a fit chick that my kids have a "My mom can beat up your mom... and dad... and older brother..." bumper sticker when we do expand the fam.)

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