A couple of weeks ago, I was walking up the hallway at school on my planning period and a parent who had been at a parent-teacher conference with another team was walking back down the hallway toward me. She was a cute, waddling, pregnant lady. I smiled because I couldn't help but smile at the way she was glowing.
And then the bomb dropped.
As she passed me, she rubbed her belly and said, "Looks like you're doing the same thing I am."
And then I realized that she thought I was pregnant, too.
Boom. The bomb exploded.
I don't remember if this was before or after my nurse friend the nurse assumed the same thing and then went on to chat about the pros and cons about belly fat, but does it really matter when it happened?
Then the weather here changed, and I pulled out my heavier winter-wear: sweaters. Unfortunately, sweaters cling more than the baggy shirts I've been wearing, so more than once I've had students ask me if I'm pregnant (even though I've explained to them that the courtesy is DON'T ASK). No, kids. I'm not.
Last Saturday, I dragged Eli to our teachers' Christmas party even though he was feeling rather unwell (he's such a trooper). He ended up in the TV room upstairs munching on Chex mix and watching the football games on TV with most of the other males at the party. I stayed downstairs chatting it up those who were not interested in football, and in walks a teacher we used to work with that has since moved to another position in another building. We started talking, and she said, "When are you expecting?" She gestured vaguely to my mid-section. I'm not sure exactly what came out of my mouth--some form of verbal diarrhea--trying to tell her that I am not pregnant, but in my mumbling, fumbling, embarrassment, she still didn't get that message, and I finally just said, "I'm not pregnant." She was mortified (though not so much as me, I'm sure), apologized and changed the topic quickly. And then I eased away into conversation with other people in other parts of the house.
I tell you these extremely embarrassing recent encounters because yesterday I got a different message. It's a drill weekend for Eli and one of the other JAGs was getting married, so he was a part of the saber guard. The kids and I drove down to Troy for the wedding and reception (possibly more on that later). At the reception, Elsie was a rocket, firecracker, endless ball of energy, running around, running away, dancing, spinning, turning, making laps around the whole ballroom. Do I even have to mention that I didn't get to eat dinner? She tried to get up on the stage area with the head table, and I had to pull her down. One of the older ladies there was trying to tell me that it was okay if she went up there. I told her that it really wasn't because Elsie would try to jump off the stairs. She laughed and said, "No wonder you're so small--I'm sure she keeps you busy!"
Now, to her credit, I was wearing all my gut-sucking undergarments under my dress (Thanks, Spanx!). But still, the compliment was unexpected.
I have never been a person with negative body image issues. Never. I've never even been on a diet in the fad sense. I have cut foods out (like the time I was able to cut out sodas and drop 10 pounds in six months while simultaneously Jazzercising), and exercised so that I could eat whatever I wanted (when I took up running and training for a marathon--before I was pregnant with Elsie). I've watched my weight peripherally over time, and by that I mean that I don't even own a scale and that I just make a mental note when I got to the doctor for various things. And yes, I've watched it go up, mainly.
And these recent encounters (prior to yesterday's wedding) have caused me to pay more attention. Look--I'm not fat, or overweight, or obese. I know this, but the shape of me is all wrong, and it doesn't help that I have terribly bad posture that emphasizes my shape. "Thick around the middle" would be a good descriptor at this point, but you probably could have guessed that based on all the preceding stories. I don't really have any clothes that fit or flatter me. My clothes are either too big or too small. I bought the big ones to fit me last year when all my clothes were too small, but I've since lost some inches (not sure about if I've lost weight) and I'm in between somewhere. My belt doesn't have enough notches, so my pants are a little droopy.
So here I am, almost 33 years old, and I finally have a complex--let's call it the spare tire complex. I know that I don't have to pay someone to tell me that I need to eat better and exercise more, while paying special attention to those problem areas. And I have plenty of excuses about why it's still a problem, even after the first person mistakenly assumed I was pregnant. And then I filled out 2 pages of a survey that one would fill out if they were going to a physician's weight loss clinic, about eating habits and weight gain, and I forced myself to answer the questions. And I didn't like the answers. Again, I don't need to pay someone to tell me to eat better and exercise--I just need to do it.
I've always been a "group exerciser" and don't do well on my own. So, I've talked to the librarian at school whose baby is a little younger than Oscar, and we are going to be accountable to each other in the spring semester, working out after school. Another friend recommended the book Made to Crave and I think I'm going to get it. Anyone read it yet? From what I understand, it's a Bible study of sorts, and it's supposed to be really good.
Now, all this to say that I'm looking around and am not happy with what I'm seeing--with my body, with my environment. And things need to change. Soon. Or I'm going to go crazy.