Throwback Thursday - Body Image Edition

For today's post, we're going to take a walk down memory lane, Throwback Thursday-style.

But first, I wanted to give a Scooby update since I mentioned him yesterday and don't want to leave you hanging. He's back home - yayyyyy! The preliminary tests are pointing to a urinary/kidney infection - he apparently had blood in his urine, was straining, and one of his kidneys are enlarged. So I'm giving him antibiotics twice a day for a week and hoping it clears up and he starts gaining weight. I've done some research online and these types of infections can be kind of difficult to clear up even with antibiotics, so I also found a supplement on Amazon that is supposed to help support his kidney health.

One thing that concerns me is they found what appears to be a small mass on his enlarged kidney while they were doing the ultrasound, so they want to see him again in a few weeks. I'm hoping it ends up being a cyst or nothing serious. So happy thoughts are still needed, but we're trucking along for now. And no need to fear - Scooby is just as spirited as ever. See exhibit A (this is me, post workout this morning):

What you don't see in this picture are the other scratches on my right wrist and the giant gouge he gave me on my left pinky finger that went into my finger and around the bone, causing my hand to go numb and to swell last night. Super fun stuff. Lesson learned? Wrap a towel around your cat when giving him antibiotics no matter how chill and happy he is to see you, because once you try to pry his mouth open he will try to kill you. 

Onto today's subject, which is...

Body Image

This is such a trigger subject for so many people and like most women, I struggle with my body image on a regular basis. I have times where I feel pretty good and I strut around and take a million selfies, and then there are times where I threaten to cut my stomach off with a knife because I hate it and it's so floppy and gross. Does anyone else totally hate the saying on the right? I just disagree with the fact that it wasn't really having babies that gave me these tiger stripes, it was eating everything in sight and being lazy AF while pregnant that gave me these stripes. And regardless of what I post here, I do intend on cutting them off one day, since I would love to be able to get dressed without having to tuck my stomach in (for real, I have to tuck my stomach into whatever I'm wearing now). Sometimes when I'm feeling super down on myself I'll try to convince myself that there are probably people out there who would be happy to have a body like mine, but that never makes me feel better, just guilty for not being happy with my body. 

With that being said, I feel it's so important for me to try instill a positive body image in my kids and I know the best way to do this is by being a good example and not talking negatively about myself in front of my kids. Unfortunately I think I've failed with my son, at least up to this point, since he has seen me complain about being fat when I definitely wasn't fat. He's recently started complaining about the way he looks and says he's fat sometimes, which I hate hearing and being who I am, immediately blame myself for. Due to this, and knowing that now I have a daughter who has so much more societal pressure to look perfect than my son does, I'm really trying to work as hard as possible to improve the way I talk about myself and the way I feel about myself. And I'm hoping if I do that it will not only help Jules to have a positive body image from the get-go, but will also help Justin improve his. 

First things first, a picture that I swore would never see the light of day.

Shoot, I even blogged a couple weeks ago about my results with Chalean Extreme and that I wouldn't post this picture because no one wants to see it...if you don't want to see it, keep scrolling and close your eyes for a second or something.

Here are two of my results pictures from a couple weeks ago when I finished the program, in all of their unedited glory #forrealnofilter:

As I mentioned when I blogged about this before, I wasn't super thrilled with my results and these pictures are partially why. What did I see when I first looked at them? Stretch marks, droopy belly button, muffin top, upper thighs that are touching #mermaid, dirty mirror, bags under my eyes, and the right picture shows a pretty awesome view of my stomach shelf from my c-section that is the current bane of my existence image-wise. And when I saw these pictures and started picking myself apart I immediately felt bad about myself and how I looked, and it kind of ruined my day and took away from all of the awesome things I was able to do physically during the program. Looking at the pictures now a few weeks later, I'm able to actually see some positive stuff - I have upper ab definition, my stomach is pretty effing flat (other than that damn shelf), and I have a pretty great butt. Not to mention I can bang out a million push-ups, do several unassisted pull-ups, and I can throw around some pretty heavy weights. I just wish I had been able to see that stuff from the get-go and appreciate the NSV (non-scale victory) accomplishments more, so I wouldn't have felt so bad about myself that day. 

There are tons of different things I've heard people mention when they talk about body image and how to improve it, but there are two things that I am focusing on right now to improve mine.

First, I need to remember that there will be some point in my life where I will wish my body would be like it is right now

I have been trying to lose weight basically from high school on. Prior to joining the military I never exercised. Ever. I was lazy AF. Even after joining the military I was still pretty effing lazy. Then I got pregnant and gained a ton of weight - 60-ish pounds - and I ended up over 200 pounds. What, you don't believe me? Here are two pictures that I'm pretty sure no one other than my mom has seen to prove it...

Look at how cute newborn Justin was - he and Jules look so much alike!!

I'm not going to say anything about these pictures, other than this is what happens when you get pregnant and eat supersized McDonalds, ice cream, Christmas cookies, and mashed potatoes like it's your job. Oh, and you get preeclampsia and end up on bed rest for the last trimester of your pregnancy. However I didn't let that get me down for too long, and even though I had never worked out before I knew I wanted to lose weight and started working out and eating better. Within a year of having Justin I was able to lose the baby weight and then some. I even ended up being a Physical Training Leader in the Air Force and was in charge of all of the health-related initiatives at my work. By the time I separated from the Air Force I was in such good shape, yet I still always wanted to lose 5 more pounds and could not stop hating my stomach for being so stretched out and "gross". 

I remember when the above picture was taken and I took a look at it I couldn't stop ranting about how "gross" I looked. Looking back on it now (and ignoring the awful hair color), I see a ridiculously tan mom playing with her son in the sand and some pretty amazing abs. I mean seriously, I can see my abs/obliques. But all I could see at the time was a tiny flap of skin overhanging my swimsuit that was just so gross (and I'm sure Justin heard me complaining about it too...) and that I just needed to lose 5 pounds (I weighed approximately 125 there).

Let's fast forward a couple of years and see if we notice a trend here...

It's the summer of 2008 and I had just finished the entire Insanity program and I was in such good shape. I weighed approximately 126 here. Guess what?

I still "needed" to lose 5 pounds...

All of the above pictures were taken within a year or so of each other, and they're in order from the oldest on the left to the newest on the right. During each of these times I can very specifically remember "needing" to lose 5 to 10 to even 15 pounds because "I just need to do it" and "I hate the way I look" and "blah, blah, blah..." I believe I weighed 128 to 135 here, from left to right. 

In the picture on the left, I was training for a half-marathon that ended up being a new PR for me (at that time). In the center, I was training for another half-marathon (my 2nd in 6 months). And the picture on the right was a month after that half-marathon and right before doing another round of Insanity.  

Finally, in what should have been the happiest day of my life, I couldn't stop talking about how I was the heaviest I'd ever been without being pregnant (I was 136, which is now my goal weight) and if only I could just lose 5 pounds I'd finally be happy. Looking at it now, I see some serious toned arms and I had ran a half marathon 3 months prior that is my current PR (personal record, if you're not in the lingo-know).

Did you pick-up on the trend yet? No matter where I currently am, I am always wishing I was back to where I was. I remember being so embarrassed by how much I weighed and what I thought was a tummy pooch on my wedding day that I complained about it incessantly to my mom and my friend Lucy. I would kill to have that "pooch" back instead of this crazy shelf thing I'm dealing with now from my c-section but guess what?

There will eventually be a day when I will wish I looked like I do right now, mommy apron and all!

And even more importantly than how it looks, there will eventually be a day where I will wish my body would just function as well as it does right now. Because some day I won't be able to get up and run 7 minute miles and set a new 5K PR. There will come a time when I won't be able to dance like a fool around the living room with my daughter or run up the stairs two at a time without losing my breath. I'm actually in some of the best shape of my life right now. So even though I'm still 9 pounds from pre-pregnancy weight and 13 pounds from my ultimate goal, I need to appreciate where I am right now. 

Which brings me to the next way I am working to improve my body image. 

Focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like. 

Guys, since having Jules I have survived an awful c-section recovery that included a hematoma and a 2-unit blood transplant, I helped pack and move our entire house across town 6 weeks postpartum, and I've completed a round of Insanity, ran a half-marathon, gotten first place in my age group in a 5K, and completed a pretty intense strength training and running program. And I've done all of this while working full-time and trying to be the best mom and wife I can be.

My body is so much more than what it looks like.

I took this picture last Friday - you know I'm feeling pretty good when I have to stop and take a bathroom selfie. 

I took this picture last Friday - you know I'm feeling pretty good when I have to stop and take a bathroom selfie. 

The good thing about constantly pushing myself to do more and get stronger/faster/better is that I'm finally starting to believe it. I honestly cannot remember the last time I said I was fat - it's been at least a few weeks and possibly a month or more. That may not seem like much, but I used to complain about myself daily or even several times a day - I am my biggest bully. Do I still look at my stomach in disgust or hate the way I look in clothes sometimes? Ummmm yes. But I've also gotten really good about forcing myself not to dwell on what I don't like and focus more on what I am proud of - for instance, my arms and shoulders are looking super cut right now and I like to flex my arms in the mirror after my workouts to look at them #noshame. I also like to strut into the bedroom and flex for my husband, who raves about how toned I am #teamworkmakesthedreamwork

Am I saying that I won't slip up and call myself fat in front of my kids or complain about my floppy gross stomach again? I'm sure I'll do it or some variation of it here and there. But my hope is that by appreciating my body for what it is right now and what it can do, I will be able to minimize my slip-ups and negative body-talk. And in doing that, I hope to be able to really love my body regardless of what it looks like one day, since I really do believe life is too short to be worried about my floppy stomach all the time. I do have the feeling I'll always want to get a tummy tuck since having so much extra skin is actually a discomfort physically. However if I don't learn to love myself before having surgery I'll come out of the tummy tuck with a flat stomach, but with something else to pick apart. 

TBT - I found this while looking for pics for today and had to share it. Justin would always RUN into my arms whenever we were apart when he was younger and I loved the feeling of his sticky little hands wrapping around me and squeezing me as tight as he could. I'd also like to point out that we were blondes. WTF?

Do you struggle with body image issues? If so, are you working to try to fix them? What has worked for you to fix them?