Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Run Momma Run

Love thyself.

When I was pregnant, I took extra special care of my body. I quit smoking, quit drinking, cut way back on caffeine, walked regularly, drank tons of water, ate mostly organic, covered my skin in coconut and almond oil daily to avoid getting stretch marks, slept as much as possible, and listened to a lot of empowering and happy music. After Bella was born, I nursed for 22 months. I got back into running, ate even more organic and stayed away from processed foods. I only occasionally drank and when I did, it was minimal. I slept when I could and tried to keep a positive attitude despite some challenges that came with getting used to taking care of another human being. I lost all of my pregnancy weight plus some and felt amazing.

Today I visited a friend’s pool at a high end apartment complex. The majority of people at the pool, even moms, looked incredible, fit, and happy. I looked down at my body and saw a year and a half of weight gain from eating crap, drinking way too much, and not even attempting to run again. I looked at my hairy legs and my messy hair and realized I hadn’t even showered in two days. It was clear my skin hasn’t seen a drop of lotion in a long time, let alone be covered from head to toe in oil. I also can’t remember the last time I did yoga or just sat quietly to read a book or listen to Bach’s Cello Suite.

Why is it that so many mothers do this to ourselves? We take amazing care of ourselves while pregnant and nursing because we want to ensure a healthy baby. Then, as the child begins coloring our walls and peeing on our rugs, many of us begin to give up to some degree. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard fellow moms joke about how long it has been since they have been on a date, taken a shower, gone out with their spouses, or eaten something other than goldfish and macaroni. This morning my beautiful 3-year old daughter reminded me that the massive treadmill in our living room is there for me to use. She is clearly aware of the fact that I haven’t been on it in a while and thinks that it’s probably time. It suddenly occurred to me that this precious baby still needs me to take care of myself in order for me to take the best care of her as well. Just because sh13920434_10153856682582005_6364152617981029699_oe’s not in my body anymore doesn’t mean that body no longer needs some attention.

I often use the excuse that I just don’t have the time. I work full time and am a solo parent. Like just about every other parent, I am busy. However, in the last two years, I somehow found the time to watch the entire series of about 20 shows, drink at least 100 boxes of wine, and eat enough cheese to fill the Packers’ stadium. I clearly have the time. So, today I came home, did a massive clean of my house, showered, shaved my legs and pits, sat down with a cup of tea, turned on Bach, and began typing. One of the things I also used to do was write. I wrote all the time and it was fun and therapeutic. I have not been in a good emotional place in the last couple of years and if I was being completely honest, I would admit that they have been the hardest and darkest years to date. Writing is my art form. It is how I have always best expressed myself and how I have worked through the good and bad in life. Since I stopped writing, I felt less connected and less like myself.
So, here I am writing again. As I work towards getting back to healthy and figuring out how to find my abs between boxed wine and a block of cheese, I’m going to dust off the book I never finished and share my new adventure here with anyone who is interested. My goal for now is to drink less, run more, meditate and practice yoga, eat more things that don’t come in boxes, cans, or bags, and write, write, write. 

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Preggers

body.

This post is hard to write, but it is important to write. I have reached a milestone in my life and that is something worth talking about. We, as women, beat ourselves up. We abuse our bodies to get what we think is the perfect body. We are not happy no matter how hard we work. Yet, it has taken pregnancy for me to learn that what we have been given is already perfect. We make life and that is beyond any level of beauty we will find on the cover of a magazine or strutting down a runway. Embrace it ladies; every curve, line, and stretched piece of skin. It is gorgeous!

body pic

I have always hated my body. If it wasn’t my short wide feet, it was my crooked fingernail or round tummy. It was my thighs that got wider when I sat down and my hips that stuck out just a little too far. There is a birthmark above my left breast that looks like a small rash. There is a hair that grows on my chin and needs to be plucked. There are faded stretch marks on my hips and belly that came from a growth spurt in high school. There are freckles everywhere…..everywhere! My boobs are slightly uneven and my knees are permanently scarred from soccer. I have always looked in the mirror and hated what I saw.

To alter my body, I have spent thousands on diet pills, creams, books, tapes, and gym memberships. In high school and college, I took laxatives like candy. I have done three Master Cleanses. I have juiced without eating. I have fasted. I’ve done, South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, and even Deal-a-Meal. I have been vegetarian and vegan and carb free. I have gained weight and lost weight and been highly successful at both. Even at my lowest weight, I still found something wrong with my body. There was nothing that made me happy with myself. I experienced a sexual assault in my twenties that made me fuller of self-hatred and guilt.

As a result, it took me a long time to be open to love. I have tried my hardest to hide my body and not share it with anyone. I have lacked the confidence needed to fall into a close relationship. I was thirty before I felt comfortable enough with someone to be intimate. Even then, I still never felt quite right with myself.

Four years ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer and I was broken.  I felt totally helpless and useless and wanted to do anything I could to save him. I am not a doctor, so I turned to charity races. I began running and could not be stopped. I had never run a race in my life and started with a half marathon to raise money for cancer research. I was not able to save my dad through running, but I have completed 3 half marathons, two full marathons, a 10-miler, and some 5Ks here and there. Running has become my therapy and has created a total body transformation. However, I still looked in the mirror and was unhappy with what I saw. I still found myself angry when I just couldn’t run as fast as I wanted to or train as much as I wanted to. I blamed it on my deficient body.

The other day, I woke up. I looked down over my body and saw my little toes. They were beautiful. I saw my hips. They are spreading to get ready for my baby and they are perfectly rounded. I saw my thickening thighs: the thighs that are forming so that they can support my ever-growing belly. I saw my growing breasts that will nourish my child. I saw my ribs sticking out just below my blossoming breasts and just above my swelling belly. It was all covered in freckles, but it was totally gorgeous. I looked last at my belly. That place that I had worked so hard on to get flat and tight was now bubbled up and moving around. It was the home to a miraculous human life. This body that I have detested and tortured is making another body. It is creating a life that is different than any other life that has come before it. That, to me, is astounding. Suddenly, without pause, I loved my body. There was no longer anything to see but beauty.

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