(This is post #3 in my "Can Mama Get Her Groove Back" series. Click on the links at the bottom of this page to read the previous posts.)
The good news first: I’ve worked out six days in a row. This means that in the past week I’ve already surpassed the total number of times I’d exercised from January to March, before I began my 60-day Mama Gets Her Groove Back program. Progress.
Yesterday, my workout consisted of another 35 agonizing minutes on the treadmill. Can someone tell me why I have a perma-cramp on the right side of my body once my heart rate goes over 100 bpm? That pain is like a neon sign flashing, “You are totally out of shape – what the heck have you done to your body?!” over my head and throughout the gym.
More good news: I’m eating better. With my meals chock full of healthy proteins, whole grains, and lots of veggies, it's been a piece of cake, so to speak. I hadn't been snacking a lot either, until about 9:30 last night, when I scarfed down a handful of cereal, half a piece of plain bread, a piece of Dove dark chocolate, and three quarters of a seaweed salad. In that order.
No, I didn’t scavenge because exercise increases appetite, which leads to more eating, which leads to fat gain on top of muscle gain (I have just enough knowledge of fitness to be dangerous). It was because I tried to skip dinner. Welcome to the life of the perfectionist, overly ambitious, and self-driven mama who wants results and wants 'em fast.
Ironically, I attempted this mini-fast over the same weekend that I read Dara-Lynn Weiss’s article in Vogue about putting her young daughter on a diet. Actually, I haven’t even seen the original article yet; I’ve only read the outrage and online madness that has sprung from it. If you don’t know the back story, here’s the skinny (please excuse the pun): Dara-Lynn Weiss played Mommy Dearest/Tiger Kitchen Mama with her seven-year-old daughter, forcing her to follow a super strict weight-loss regime. Then Weiss shared the saga in Vogue, which could arguably be described as the birthplace of body dysmorphic disorder.
Sure, we can gripe about Weiss’s book deal, berate her for the extreme and shame-inducing tactics she used, and pat ourselves on the back because we either have thin children or would never do that to our own offspring. But dig a bit deeper and you’ll realize something scary: There’s more than a little bit of Weiss in each of us.
How, you ask? Talk to just about any mom you know, and you’ll find an alarmingly similar trend: We loathe our lack of control when it comes to food, and in many cases we loathe our own bodies. Without even reading the article, I can already guarantee you that Weiss has a complicated relationship with food and is someone who feels guilt or angst when anything other than a salad (no cheese, no croutons, and very, very light dressing, on the side) slips down her throat.
We each have our own history with food, but in certain ways our stories are not so dissimilar. For most of us, food was originally about sustenance, fun, family, and celebration. Yet at some point, usually around puberty but often beforehand, we began to treat our bodies and desire for food as the enemy.
My own shift came around age twelve and involved the lethal combination of early and rapid body development (hence the nickname Dolly Parton, Jr.), my parents’ horrific divorce, their utter neglect in the years following it, and the attention I hoped I’d get from them - or from any adult - if I stuffed whole boxes of Ritz crackers into my tummy. Seriously, I ate entire boxes of Ritz crackers in one sitting. If I could have found a way to make the cardboard and plastic sleeves in the box taste even slightly edible, I would have devoured those too.
Following the binges of my early teens, I pursued multiple and extreme routes to weight loss, as did just about all of my friends. Some threw up, some swallowed tons of laxatives, while others exercised for hours and hours at a time. A few simply stopped eating. Rather than hide the dysfunction, we boasted and joked about sharing our techniques. Those who were successful, who managed to eradicate all signs of budding womanliness, were met with envy.
Now, Mamas, our carb-controlled hens are coming home to roost. Weiss’s article, and our response to it, is a wake-up call. We need to come to terms with the fact that, although we may not ever resort to Draconian measures as Weiss did with her daughter (which, if I put on my amateur psychologist hat, was really just a projection of her disgust with herself), we’re still passing along unhealthy relationships with food and disdain for our bodies. The scorn we heap on moms like Weiss pales in comparison to how deeply we long to be thin and beautiful.
Does this mean I’m giving up my 60-Day Get Fit Challenge? Nope. But it does mean I’m done with skipping meals and trying to achieve fast results. I’m ready to change my narrative about food and my body. I’m doing it for me and for my little one, whose story is just being written.
Filed under: Mama Gets Her Groove Back