There are lots of people who believe in the mind-body connection, and I’m one of them. For a 40-year-old woman who has really only broken a sweat in the past decade of my life, I feel much healthier now than when I was in my 20s, sitting pretty and not perspiring.
Truthfully, I didn’t start working out because I wanted to feel better. I started running every day because I wanted to look better, to lose the baby weight that three babies (one every other year) added to my petite frame. I felt like I still looked pregnant even after my peanuts were no longer in utero. And because I didn’t have the time or the money for a gym membership, I opted for an old pair of running sneakers and our long driveway.
Hence, my “Lose My Marsupial Sack” plan was born: Run five laps (1 mile) in the driveway, drink more water than wine, and eat only one sweet a day. Let me tell you, it was tough. I could jog five slow laps, add another glass or two of water, take away that second glass of wine after dinner, but the scale didn’t budge.
Plus, I felt as crap-tastic as I had before I hatched my whole “Hot Mama Kangaroo” scheme.
It took a while for me to figure out what was wrong, and surprisingly, it had nothing to do with my weight. My issues didn’t start on the outside with the extra pounds I’d put on. They came from the inside, from that place that kept buying glossy magazines and feeling envious of all those stick-thin cover girls I saw in them.
I couldn’t walk through the mall without hating the mannequins. (Side note: size zero plastic perky boob people are not real.)
If I wasn’t as skinny as those models, then I wasn’t attractive anymore. If I couldn’t squeeze into my old favorite jeans, then my husband would no longer want me. If I didn’t update my look, then I was going to be one of those women who had “let themselves go” when they became a mom. Really, I was my own worst enemy because I couldn’t stop comparing myself to impossible ideals.
My “aha” moment didn’t come all at once. Please. It took about a year of pounding the pavement, drinking more water, and changing the way I viewed food and alcohol to make the mind-body connection. Here’s what I realized:
Running for a half an hour every day helps me clear the worries running haywire inside my head. Drinking more water helps me quench my thirst instead of feed my hunger. Sugar isn’t my reward for surviving the day just like alcohol isn’t the only way to unwind. For me, limiting my intake of both has kept my moods more even instead of riding the up-down cycle of stimulants and depressants.
The bottom line is, when I started treating my body better my mind followed suit. Yes, after a while, my jeans fit again and I did the happy dance in them, but in the end, my goal wasn’t to look in the mirror and cheer. My hang-ups came from how I saw myself, not what I saw. I was caught up in unhealthy ways of living and thinking and both parts of me needed changing.
On good days, I get up early and have a hearty breakfast with my husband. My baby joeys are now 11, 13, and 15, and they run with me in our driveway. When we sit around the supper table at night I drink tea and help them with their homework. Sometimes we catch an old “Friends” episode and snuggle on the couch with some homemade chocolate-chip cookies.
My son dips his in milk and I tell him, “You know, my secret ingredient is love.”
He laughs and I realize that’s what was missing in my “Lose My Marsupial Sack” plan. Back then, I didn’t love myself enough or believe that motherhood could be beautiful, but I’ve made the connection now. Plastic perky boob person didn’t breastfeed my three children. I did. And that’s something to be proud of.
This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s March 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.