Leading by example

Life as an overweight kid was pretty rough. You definitely notice that you’re not one of the pretty ones and that you don’t look like other kids. Where exactly does that leave you? Kids can be ruthless and downright mean, but so can adults. Probably even worse. The world doesn’t like overweight people. I know with social media now there’s a whole “body positive movement” that seems to be spreading, but the fact of the matter is that it’s crap. Don’t get me wrong. I love the movement. I may even feed and promote the movement. I’m all for the message, but I’ve also lived as an overweight child and adult. It’s not nice. Most people don’t care why you’re overweight or that you feel good about yourself anyways. Being overweight is seen as laziness, lack of control, poor choices, gross,etc. However, don’t lose weight either, because a lot of people will hate and criticize that too. I know this from personal experience. The first thing someone is going to attack is our looks. Most people aren’t going to attack my lack of book smarts or that I’m a scaredy pants. They’d call me a fat cow, before that would happen.  The first thing someone will judge is our looks. Sad, but true. Even with the spread of body positive bloggers and plus size models, it’s an uphill battle covered in insults and judgement. Children are not excluded from this. I remember adults calling me chubby or commenting on my body. Trust me, if a child is overweight, they know that they’re overweight. Kids at school have called them fat. They’ve discovered they don’t look like other kids. They probably can’t play and run like the other kids. They know their clothes is bigger than others their age. Being an overweight adult is hard. Being an overweight child might be even harder. How do you cope with that as a child? How do you learn what to do with that? How is an overweight child supposed to learn to stop it? It’s a child. I was a child. Children aren’t meant to cope with being fat. Heck, most adults don’t even cope with it. It’s horrible. It’s like a tunnel that people just get stuck in and can’t get out of. Children included. 

As a little kid, I didn’t understand or know why I was overweight. I only knew that people called me fat and that’s what I was. I can remember my own family members, classmates, and even random people calling me fat and various insults based on my weight.  As I child, I don’t believe that I had any control or power over my weight. I was a child. I didn’t know I had the option or ability to be a normal sized kid. I didn’t know how that was even possible. I didn’t know why I looked the way I did. I would get older and stayed overweight. I hear people say, “kids stretch out. They’ll outgrow it.” Yeah, I’m still waiting for that. Most children that are overweight, turn into overweight adults. It sucks let me tell you.  I started as a girl that would eat to the point of sickness, so that I wouldn’t go to sleep and have nightmares. I would get older and just learned unhealthier habits that settled in even harder. I never learned to be anything else. 

Of course, at some point we become responsible for our own actions, bodies, choices,etc. I stayed overweight. By then, I wasn’t just overweight. I had issues way bigger than my weight. I was dead on the inside. Do you think I cared what I looked like on the outside? No. All I wanted was to shut my mind off. To not feel anymore pain.  To erase everything from my mind. Oh hello drugs. Then, I found that if I use drugs like meth and opiates, it’ll make me lose weight too. I signed myself right up. For years and years. Guess what? I stayed overweight. Just my luck huh? 

I talked a big game about giving birth to my daughter and using her as a weight to exercise. (Give me a break.) I talked about having her and getting right back out to running and two hour gym sessions. Prior to the fertility treatments, I was probably in the best shape of my life (until now.) So I was hopeful that I’d have her and get right to it. Haha. That was cute. The only thing I used my kid for was a reason to eat like crap and not exercise. What happened to all the work I had done prior to having her? Physically, mentally, and emotionally!  I had promised myself I would show her better. That I would be better. I had retrained my head. Read books. Counseled myself.  I told myself I would lead by example. I had done so much work to just drop the ball. Ugh back to square one. I had to start over. This time fatter than I had ever been in my life. I started to change my lifestyle little by little. 

I worried about my daughter ending up in the terrible cycle of the overweight world. It used to scare me. Now it really fuels me. I truly believe in leading by example with children. I believe our children are the way they way are, because of us. They know what we teach them. Hence, children being mean to overweight people and kids. Following lead. 

My daughter is three years old and she wants to be just like me. She moves her hands like me, she talks like me, she wants to wear a shirt like mine, she wants to eat like me, she wants to sit like me, she wants to love her daddy like me, she wants to exercise like me, etc. I can’t tell you how terrifying, adorable, and motivating this is. I’m not scared my daughter is going to end up like me. I’m not scared she’s going to walk around being made fun of and not have any control over it. I’m not scared she’s going to have to deal with all the crap that comes with being an overweight child. These things used to scare me quite a bit. Except for the first time in my life, I finally have the education, habits, tools, and power to control my fears of my daughter growing up overweight. I finally know how to be healthy and what it means. I finally know what I’m eating. I no longer roll my eyes at moms who don’t give their children sugar or processed foods. I’m not trying to be a perfect mom or a hippie mom. I’m not trying to be better than anyone. I’m trying to raise a healthy child that learns healthy habits. I’m trying to break the cycle. I’m trying to give my child the best chance at this hard game of life. I’m trying to make it so that she doesn’t grow up addicted to sugar and food. I’m trying to make it so that food is not a coping mechanism for her, but fuel for her body. I’m doing that by example. Life is hard enough without having to worry about being overweight. My job is to protect my child and prepare her to become a healthy functionioning adult. I use that as fuel. Fuel to eat right. Fuel to exercise. Fuel to show compassion and forgiveness. Fuel to keep learning and advancing. Being the best version of myself. 

I’m no longer on a weightloss journey. That moment has passed. It turned into a lifestyle at some point. I won’t ever stop this. I make the choice everyday to make health and fitness an important part of our life. This is how my body and my mind feel best. Yes, I am losing weight, but it’s just what’s coming with living a healthy lifestyle. My daughter deserves a fighting chance. She deserves to feel good and be healthy and that’s my job.  This three year old carries so much power for me. She fuels me like no other. I started this journey for myself and now it’s for my family too. It’s not just me anymore. So when I don’t want to for myself, I do it for my girl. She’s watching. 

Right beside meĀ 

At 32 years old, I am working on not being scared of everything. We all have our fears. Some more rational than others. Most people are not controlled by these fears. However, as previously stated, my brain is not like other brains. This year I found out that I suffer from panic/anxiety attacks. Come to find out I’ve been suffering from them for years.  I always thought it was something else. I thought I would get motion sickness, fear of heights, my stomach was upset, etc. Then, I was flying alone with my daughter. I started to feel off and uneasy like I had felt so often before. She was sleeping in the seat next to me and I was just getting worse by the second. I looked over at her and remember asking myself what I was going to do. I was alone with my daughter and not well. It went from bad to worse instantly it seemed. No matter how I tried to control my brain, breathing, etc., I continued to spiral. I was dripping sweat like a faucet, my entire body was tingling, I couldn’t breathe, etc. I remember praying telling God to please let someone take care of my baby. I remember thinking about who was going to get her, when she woke up and I was dead next to her. I honestly believed this was it for me. This was how I would die and leave my daughter alone. It started from nothing. I’ve flown countless of times alone with my daughter. That’s how this goes. I’m aware of certain situations and things that will give me anxiety. I’m also aware that it can be nothing that gives me this anxiety. This isn’t anxiety that makes someone bite their nails and be hesistant. This is crippling anxiety that makes you feel physically ill. Have you ever had anxiety so bad that it makes you say a final prayer and black out? 32 years old and I’ve been suffering with anxiety as far back as I can remember. 32 years old and I just find out that I suffer from these anxiety/panic attacks? Wow, that was embarrassing. 

When I learned about panic/anxiety attacks, I tried to think back to the first time I could remember feeling this way. It took me a while. As mentioned previously, my memory is shot and takes some work to sort through. I traced it back to my grandparent’s house. I remember it was storming outside and my grandma had sent me upstairs to shower. I was afraid of storms, but I was even more afraid of my grandma. I went upstairs and let the shower run. I can feel it right now. My heart starting to race. My skin getting clammy. I sat still, because the floor squeaked and I didn’t want her to know I wasn’t in the shower. I remember being so scared that she would find out I didn’t shower. I made myself get in the shower. I cried as I told myself to just let the water wet my hair. As I tried to go back in time to find anxiety or fear, I remembered a lot of similar stories. I remembered every time I had a runny nose, I was so scared to sniff around my grandma that I would let it run into my mouth and down my face. I remembered gagging down food that I didn’t like. Literally gagging and convincing myself, “just one more bite.”  I was a little girl. How could I have been feeling like that? How could a little girl be so scared? How could I still be feeling like that now? 

I’ve always considered myself a pretty chill person. Turns out that I’ve been tightly wound this entire time.  I’ve been in knots for years. It was never “nothing” causing my attacks. I had been on edge my whole life. I never let that go. I knew that my grandma had messed me up. Sounds mean, but it’s the truth. I have a lot of scary and hurtful memories with my grandma. Years ago I chose to take all that and forgive her. She has been one of the biggest healing points for me in my life. She made me cry, fear, panic, and hide. She took the little self esteem I had then and threw it out. Little did I know that what she would give me in return would be invaluable and one of the greatest lessons of my life thus far. She taught me to truly accept people just the way they are. She taught me that I am capable of loving all, even if they have hurt or are different than me. She taught me to forgive. She was the first person I truly forgave. 

I like to believe that people do the best they can with what they have… most of the time. My grandma never left my side. To this day, she is right beside me. Through my mistakes and triumphs, she has stood beside me. As a baby and now as a 32 year old wife and mother, she has stood beside me. She has loved me. She has never turned her back on me. She has never stopped sending me cards on every holiday and birthday. She never stopped praying for me.  No matter how bad things got with me, she stood right beside me. I’m sure I’ve hurt her feelings too. I’m sure I’ve let her down too. She stood right beside me. She’s one of the most important people in my life. She plays such a huge role in the person that I am today.  I’m so lucky to still have her by my side. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a anxiety attack, since the one I had on the airplane. 

Hide and Seek

When I decided to have a baby, I knew it was going to be a journey. Not only reproductively, but emotionally. I had garbage from my childhood and adulthood up to that point that I carried. Garbage that I could pass on to our child unintentionally. I knew that I was a work in progress, but I knew that I needed to be honest with myself and confront all aspects of myself. 

When I found out that I was having a daughter, I screamed and cried in joy. She was on our vision board. Her name, her personality, her outfit it all hung on our vision board. Holy crap, a baby girl! Oh my gosh, a girl. A girl like me? Oh no. No, she can not be like me. I will be damned if I pass my crap onto her, because I don’t want to deal with myself. No. So it began. 

I thought about reading books on how to raise a strong daughter, but quickly realized the way to do that was by example. I started to read and learn about ways to improve my self esteem. I learned about ways to change my thinking. I trained myself mentally daily. I would go through lists everyday (I continue to do this) of all the good things not only in my life, but inside myself. My head tells me differently everyday. My head wants to tell me that I am depressed. My head wants to tell me that I want to kill myself. My head wants to tell me I’m not worth anything.  My head is a crazy B. So I have to make these lists. I have to see what is real and what is in my head. These lists help me to see my current life so that I don’t wander back to the past. I had to do the same thing in the mirror. I stopped myself every time I was thinking about how fat I was or looking in the mirror disgusted. I changed it over and over. Try not doing that while you have cankles and hormones ranging through your body. 

I told myself that I couldn’t let my daughter know this horrible world that so many of us are stuck in with our body issues and self loathing thoughts. I decided my daughter would know different. I wouldn’t be the one to teach my daughter to not appreciate her body. I wanted to be able to show her a woman that works to be the best version of herself. I want to be the one to show her self love. 

When I had my daughter, I was in a good place mentally. I felt strong and I felt confident. I really had been working hard on myself for a few years. Then, I was hit with post partum depression. I’ve struggled with depression all my life and had been pumped full of hormones for two years to have a baby. I had my baby and bam, I crashed. I felt horrible. The amount of guilt that followed was unreal. We fought and worked so hard to have this baby girl and I had her, but here I sat depressed and wondering why I ever thought I could be a mother. It was a struggle that my husband and I pushed through together. Poor guy. I’m not sure how he still loves me, but I’m so grateful. 

For the first year of her life, I did put myself on the back burner as most parents do. We moved back to Texas and figured our new life out alone just the three of us. I wasn’t taking care of myself physically and it showed. I continued to gain more and more weight. Before I knew it, I was the biggest I’d ever been.  I hid. I deleted any and all pictures that others or I would take. I don’t have a picture of just how big I was, but the biggest pair or shorts I had was a size 26 (but they ran small šŸ˜©). A few months before my daughter turned 2 years old, I decided I was done. I was done being the fat girl that I had been my entire life. That journey led me right back to my childhood. 

I do suffer from memory loss. Whether it’s intentional or because of the drugs isn’t known, until memories start to come back and I sort through it. As a child and into adulthood I hid everything. I hid my fears, my sexual abuse, hell I even hid my period,  my rape, my drug use, my self hate, I hid EVERYTHING. Deep inside only myself. When I decided I couldn’t be fat anymore, I had to go right back to where it started. It took me back to things I had hidden deep inside myself. As I started to talk and think about where it started, a memory hit me. It took me back to a nightmare. Literally. As a child and even into adulthood, I had horrendous nightmares. I remember them very vividly. To the point that I’m not sure all were nightmares and some weren’t real. To this day, I’m concinviced some were real experiences. After everyone would go to sleep, I would get out of my bed and sneak into the kitchen and eat. I would eat so much that I would end up sick and in pain on the bathroom floor. However, I was awake and not in a nightmare. Well I was in a different kind of nightmare. So there it began. My journey to becoming physically healthy and losing weight for good brought me right back to being a scared little girl. To be continued…