School started Wednesday and this year I got to go back to school with the kids. I get the opportunity to be a long term sub for the Health/PE teacher while she is on maternity leave. First day was great. Energy levels were high. Humidity was even higher and we were all melted into sticky wet puddles by the end of the day. But it was a good day. Second day was much cooler and the kids had settled down just a little bit. During PE we were talking about the benefits of PE and physical exercise. One of the kids in the 3rd grade class said that one of the benefits was being skinny. Before I could even respond the boy in the front row looked at me and said, "It didn't work for her." Not knowing exactly where he was going with that and wanting to make sure that he wasn't saying anything mean about some one in the class I asked him what he was talking about. (I know, probably not too smart of me.) He looked at me and said, "You. It doesn't work for you." Then I knew what he was talking about and I was ready to fight! I asked him what he meant by that. (I know, still not being smart.) He said, "Well, you must not exercise because you are fat and exercise helps you be skinny. You need to exercise more." With my hands on my hips I informed him that as a matter of fact I exercise every day!
Now, I am going to be completely honest with you. Even though it came from a little 3rd grade boy, it hurt! For one, it hit too close to home. My weight is a very sensitive issue for me. It is something I have struggled with for years. I do exercise every day. I try to eat carefully. My weight however, is ever so faithful and stays with me through all the sweat and tears. I am very self conscious about it and it is something that I struggle with emotionally on a daily basis. To have some one, even innocently, point out my weight almost brought me to tears. That day as I sat in the office and ate my lunch (a salad - no cheese and very little dressing with some fruit), I was quite sad and didn't enjoy my lunch like I should have!
I will tell you why I felt bad and why it is wrong! Growing up if you were fat, that meant you were a lazy slob. You ate too much and didn't do anything all day except get fatter. It was a very negative thing and a person who was fat was some how less of a person. Now as a child I was not fat. As a young adult I was not fat. In fact, I did not get fat and stay fat until after I had Olivia. My first pregnancy I gained a ton of weight. Three months after giving birth to number one, I was pregnant with number two. I only gained 10 pounds that pregnancy and was able to lose all of my extra weight by the time I got pregnant with number three. Then I lost weight again, but didn't quite get down to my original weight before number four came along. Same thing with number five. When number five was 5 or 6 months old I got pregnant again and ended up having a miscarriage. Something happened in my body then. I could feel it but can not explain it. I ended up getting pregnant again and when number 6 was born number one was 6 1/2. So, in 6 1/2 years I had 6 babies and one miscarriage. Yes, it was a choice that I made. One that I feel good about. One that I prayed about. Each child came when we felt it was right for them to come. Yes they are close together and yes there are a lot of them (although I know lots of people with more!). Despite me having no regrets, my body still did not recover from it all. I have had all sorts of testing done. I have had appointment after appointment, but nothing shows up. I am healthy. The doctors tell me to exercise more and eat less. It doesn't work.
Last fall I was running 3 - 4 miles every morning followed by walking another 5 or 6. Then in the afternoon I would go to cross country practice and run another 2 - 4 miles. I would do that 5 days a week! I would count my calories and eat healthy and I lost nothing! There is only so much a person can do right?!
Now, this isn't a blog on weight loss. I was just giving you a little history of me. What this is about is stigmas. The stigma for overweight people is that they must be lazy slobs who eat everything in their path. Well guess what? That's not true! I am overweight. Do you want to know who I am?
I am a mother of six kids. My days are spent taking care of them and my husband. I get up and exercise, shower, get my kids up and help them get ready for school while I am trying to get myself ready for school and get a lunch packed. I drive them to school and stay there and teach all day (At least for the next 6 weeks). Then I come home, do the cleaning, make supper, get the boys ready for football practice and get them where they need to be when they need to be there, I make sure they all get bathed and get their homework done. I make sure they get everything ready for school the next day. I read scriptures with them every single night and pray with the family every morning and every night. I do the grocery shopping. I feed and water the dogs and take them for walks. This summer I did an exercise program for the kids and I and others in our neighborhood. We went five days a week all summer long. I go to their games, I do their hair and cut their hair. I mow the lawn and sew up their stuffed animals that have holes in them. I teach Sunday School. I take the kids to Wednesday night church. I try to make them special treats. I am the Backpack Fairy and Santa's helper. I am the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. We do sleepovers and parties. I make cookies for their classrooms and read stories. I'm on the PTO. I vacuum the pool out in 60 degree weather so they can swim. I pump up bike tires and look for missing earrings. I teach them to be good people and stay up at nights worrying that I have failed them as a mother. I like to write. I like to sing. I like to bake. I like to do things for people. I like to talk to friends. I like to go on walks. I like to snuggle with my family. I like to sit out by the fire and talk and roast marshmallows. I like to take a warm bath. I like to drink hot chocolate. I like to shop.
I am not trying to brag. What I am trying to point out is that I am not lazy! I am not a slob! I am overweight, yes, but I am not that! There is so much more to a person than what you see on the outside. I am so much more than just a number on a scale. I am so much more than a clothing size. I may not be beautiful in the eyes of the world but that is not important to me. What is important to me is what is on the inside. Who am I? What kind of mother am I? What kind of wife am I? What kind of friend am I? What kind of neighbor am I? What kind of example am I? Am I beautiful on the inside? I am a daughter of God. Do you know what that means? I am a daughter of God! He loves me. He sent His Son to die for me. He trusts me with six beautiful children to love and nurture and teach. I can return to live with Him again! Does who I am on the inside please my Father? That is what is important.
Yes, I would love to be skinny again but I will not allow that to take over my life. I do my best to be healthy. I do my best to teach and help my family to be healthy. But I do not allow an obsession with physical to take over everything else. Does it still hurt? Yes. Because even though I know what is important I still have to fight that stigma. I still feel like I have to prove to people that I am a good person even though I am overweight. I still have to deal with people not being able to look past the outside to see the inside. I still have to listen to people say, "Well, it didn't work for her."