Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If you can't say something nice...

We've all heard that phrase, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Sometimes I find that the hardest person to have nice things to say about is myself. Now, I understand that I am growing a second human being in my body, but as the numbers on the doctor's scale creep ever-nearer that dreaded 200, I kind of start to hate myself. Okay, so hate may be a strong word, but I am definitely repulsed by myself. Ugh. The cankles. The double chin. The stretch marks. I try to console myself with the fact that the vast majority of this excess is water-retention and baby, but it just doesn't seem to help. I miss running. I miss the elyptical machine. I even miss my sometimes-boring-but-more-often-than-not-incredibly-painful Pilates video. Brendan and I have gotten sucked into "The Biggest Loser" on Tuesday nights, which is really just masochism on my part. I sit there, obese and unable to do anything about it until this kid leaves my body and watch other people diet and exercise. While watching the numbers on their scales decrease, all I can think of is the ever-increasing number on my own.

"Is she really that shallow?" you ask. "Is she seriously complaining about being 'fat' when she's pregnant? Is that really her biggest concern?"

In short, yes. At the same time, the answer is a resounding "no."

Let me explain first the "yes" portion: You see, I don't like how I feel these days. I don't like weighing so much that my pinky toes literally feel like they are going to fall off by the end of a long day of hauling me around. I don't like not being able to paint my toenails, put on lotion, or tie my shoes (or even wear real shoes, for that matter - it's been nothing but flip flops for me for about three weeks now). I'm tired of the serious struggle I go through several times a night getting into and out of bed. I'm sick of having to walk slower than an arthritic old man to avoid getting a bright red face and gasping for breath. I just don't enjoy the general discomfort and limited mobility that come with packing 200 pounds onto a five-foot frame.

Now for the resounding "no": Deep down, I know that I am more than what I weigh. I taught a lesson this past weekend to the junior high girls at our church about being a daughter of the King and how He has called each of us exactly as we are to a specific purpose. We talked about how being God's Princess is an incredible blessing that comes with some serious responsibilities. We aren't to live like the world does. We aren't to care about being pretty and skinny and best-dressed and most-popular. We are to be concerned with living in a more Christlike way with every day that passes. We are to be more concerned with making sure we consume enough spiritual food rather than concerning ourselves with counting the calories of every item of physical food we consume. We have to conduct ourselves in such a way that people recognize that we are different and they want to know what makes us act like that and how they can get some. No more gossiping. No more lying. No more cheating, stealing, or constant dating to try to feel popular or fulfilled. God doesn't care about what we look like or if we have the coolest clothes or sit at the popular lunch table. He loves us from the inside out.

Now for the flip side: Our bodies are the living temple of Christ, and it is our responsibility to take care of them. I look at my flabby arms, swollen legs and beach-ball belly and wonder, can I seriously say that I am taking care of this body? Again, I understand that I am pregnant and a weight gain of roughly 40 pounds is to be expected, but I just keep thinking about the fact that I was about 30 pounds overweight when we got pregnant with this baby and wondering how on earth I am going to lose that 30 along with the nearly 40 I have put on so far (and however much more I may gain in the next month before this kid comes). That's at least 70 pounds, friends. That is no small feat, especially when I've been sedentary for so long (like, the past 6-9 months). The bright spot in this is that I have already adopted some pretty decent eating habits during this pregnancy: I eat at least one serving of fruit, vegetables, and granola every single day. I've cut back a lot on excess sugar and sodium and have switched to leaner meats (ground turkey instead of beef, for example). Of course, I am not a saint. I'm pregnant. I have cravings. In the beginning I am sure I ate entirely too much pizza, and now that I'm nearing the end, chocolate calls to me from all the ends of the earth. Thankfully, I have learned when to say, "Okay," to those callings and when to say, "You can stuff it, Mr. Chocolate-Pants." I find some comfort in the fact that I still have a strong desire to be mobile and to work out. I just hope that after all the exhaustion of labor and delivery and the sleepless nights that will come with this baby that this desire remains strong enough to drag me to the gym five days a week instead of making me a big, fat slug on the couch all day every day. I read stories about women who don't even have the time or energy to shower daily once they bring their kids home from the hospital, and I pray that doesn't happen to me. I can't let myself go at this age. I can't stop taking care of myself this early in the game. I want to have other kids - lots of them - and I'm not going to be able to do that safely if I don't take care of this body. I don't want to wake up when I'm 35 and have the sudden realization that I may or may not live to see my kids graduate from high school or get married (yeah, I know, you're not supposed to be thinking about the whole 'college, marriage, etc.' thing when the baby isn't even born yet, but I find it nearly inevitable).

Perhaps this is the hormones talking (again/as usual), and I am being overly dramatic. All I know is that I can't find many nice things to say about myself these days, and every day I find it harder and harder to not say anything at all. I am a daughter of the King, and He doesn't want me to tear myself down and hate myself over something as silly as a number on a scale. It hurts Him when I hurt myself by saying ugly things to and about me. It is flat-out sin to refuse to believe Him when He tells me I am beautiful and useful and cherished, regardless. I'm tired of believing a lie. I'm tired of feeling disgusted and disgusting. I'm tired of my own defeatist attitude, and it's about time I do something about it. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Someday (sooner than it seems), this baby will be out in the world, and I will be able and motivated to fulfill my responsibility to take care of myself so that I can care for her. There is nothing I can do for now about the excess weight that I put on before I got pregnant or the normal and necessary weight I have gained during this process, but soon enough I will be able to start taking it off, and I will. In the meantime, there's no point in letting Satan win. He will no longer drag me down and trick me into believing a lie. I am a beautiful, cherished, useful daughter of the King, and as long as my desires line up with His (i.e. being a good mom and taking care of the body and resources He has blessed me with) He won't let me fail.