In which we all really liked each other the whole weekend I KNOW
In which I take two terrible selfies

Hoping for a third way: a Fine With How I Look update

Would you like to know how the Being Fine With How I Look is going? It is not going well. Now you know. 

It's HARD. I mean, you know this. I just... I think I expected to move forward and I'm not. I'm still mentally haranguing myself just about every day while not doing much of anything about it. I can say, "Hey, God, I don't want to think like this" for about three seconds and then I push forward to the upsetness with myself because... well, WHY? Is it more satisfying? Feels better? I just think it's easier. 

There are two positive things I can note. 

The first is that, for the first time in many months, the thought of exercising does not seem absolutely repulsive to me. As in, I think to myself, "Huh, I bet that would feel good." I've been thinking this mostly in regard to yoga (as in, maybe I should start going to yoga again) and running, but only running outside. I happened to visit a park with Emma a few mornings ago and it was one of those really glorious autumn mornings. Crisp, clear, red, gold, beautiful. A brand new park with a paved perimeter loop. Not crowded, not huge, quiet, and I kept thinking how nice it would be if I were on my own and wearing a pair of running shoes. So while neither of these things has actually happened yet, the fact that "exercising sounds good" is now interspersed with "I feel super guilty about not exercising" is, I think, an improvement. 

Also, first positive thing part 2, I've had moments of wanting to exercise because I love myself, not because I hate myself. 

Okay, so the second positive thing had to do with All Saints Day. I made it to church! Are you proud of me? I'm not really sure how you other Catholics do it, but I've had a REALLY HARD TIME hitting up all the not-Sunday-days since I've had kids. But Friday I took the big kids to school and Emma and I went to the church by our house for the 9am school Mass. And it was nice! All Saints Day might be my favorite "extra church day", I think because of a homily my old priest gave years ago. This priest at the church I rarely attend was all right, and it was geared towards kids (works for me), and then he started talking about Mother Teresa. Saint, right? Definitely. I am one of those Catholics who want to saint-ify everyone. The more the merrier! Yay Saints! And this priest, of whom I am not particulary fond and whose homilies have never spoken to me, starts talking about how beautiful Mother Teresa was. Even with her craggy face and sad eyes. She was beautiful. And I was thinking: she was! She was beautiful. She was amazing. 

And of course, because everything leads back to ME, I think to myself: would I rather be thin and modelicious or would I rather be saintly? And, because I am ME, I respond to myself: can't I have BOTH?

But it did remind me of the many many women I know whose beauty is enhanced by their faith. My first preference is to have both. I would like to be Sandra Bullock (she's my favorite) AND that Mary Ann lady I met at Urbana last year who seems to have God speaking directly in her ear. But if I have to choose, well, striving for a smaller pants size does not necessarily lead to faith, but faith always brings beauty. And a different, more interesting, more lifegiving, better beauty. 

When I'm this size, I spend so much time thinking about how I wish I was smaller, thinner, better looking in clothes. But I also know, now, that when I WAS smaller and thinner I spent so much time being afraid of getting bigger, of losing my motivation to work out, wondering what other people thought of me, and also congratulating myself on my clearly morally superior ability to lose weight. 

I don't like EITHER of those brain places. Neither one is good for my soul. What would it be like to knock What I Look Like off it's top tier position in my head? Maybe some of you have done this. Maybe some of you have never struggled with this. And honestly, I don't feel like this has been My Struggle, you know? Not to the extent that some women have suffered with body image. I know it could be so much worse, so the fact that it's so hard right now feels hopeless. Will I always feel this way about myself? Can I exercise and diet my way to a point where I never feel bad about myself? Do I just continue to be in this place of giving up and hating myself for it? 

I need God to provide that third way, that way where there is no way. I want to stop worshiping this idol of Pants Size. I want to go run around that park because it's beautiful outside and it feels good and because there's diabetes in my family and running makes my brain feel better, not because I hate the way I look in jeans. I NEED THAT THIRD WAY. 

Comments

Dr. Maureen

Oh, Maggie. This makes me sad, because you've hit the nail on the head. I hear this from so many women: Once they've hit their "goal" weight or size or whatever, they panic about gaining it back. And while it's laudable to want to be healthy and fit and strong, it shouldn't be what it is for so many.

I feel like I'm coming across as a pompous ass, and I don't mean to. I mostly just came to commiserate and offer support. I don't know what the answer is. Magazines tell us that you have to "love yourself first," but... how? You can't just decide to change how you feel and boom, your feelings are changed. I agree that the best place to be is where you exercise and eat right because it makes you feel good, not because it's some kind of moral failing if you don't. But everyone is so messed up about this all.

Lots of people in my own family talk about weight and food and losing weight *all the time*. And then there are the ENDLESS, "Oh, I'm so terrible, I shouldn't eat this, but I'm going to. I'm bad. I feel so guilty." And those comments are often about BREAD, not even cake. I HATE that. My in-laws are forever commending my kids for how much they've eaten, and that drives me bonkers too, because cleaning your plate is not a praise-worthy accomplishment.

Man. It's all just so messed up. I hope you can get to the place where you feel as beautiful as you are. You're one of my favorite people. And I aspire to be as close to God as you are, Maggie. I really do.

Hillary

I love what you said about Mother Teresa, about faith and goodness shining out of someone and making them beautiful. That's so true. Think of all the Blathering women -- all different shapes, sizes, hair colors, ages, but all pretty because they're there welcoming friendship, open to life, content to be where they are.

katie

Ditto everything Hillary just said.

I think the third way is somehow finding the balance of health without worshiping the idol of Pants Size. But how? God gave us these bodies with all their faults and imperfections, but God still loves us. Doesn't it make sense that God would want us to take care of our mind and our body in a manner that respects God's beautiful creation of who we are? I'm bookmarking this post for future reference. I know I will need this reminder of seeking a third way all too often. Thank you for sharing this!

K

While I think your happy smile and sparkly eyes are beautiful, your kind spirit is even moreso.

Laura Diniwilk

First - you are beautiful.

Second - even though I'm not religious, I was raised Catholic and I love reading posts like this from Adult Catholics. Yay saints made me laugh :) I never understood why non-Catholics always hate on saints.

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