When it comes to the gym and working out, I’m very all or nothing. And for the past year, it’s been a whole lot of nothing. Then a broken arm in September led to a few extra pounds. As a full-time working parent who’s a little lazy to begin with, the gym routine has gone to the wayside.
So here it is, July, and I have a soft, untoned belly. I’m not really swimsuit ready. But, I need to be in a swimsuit, in front of a very fit crowd. I’m headed to the country club of a relative who is in fantastic shape. I’m not feeling so great.
Then I look at the rest of me. Healthy, clear skin. Naturally wavy hair. Pretty, hazel eyes. And I look at that soft, untoned belly. At other times in my life, I felt disgusted by it. It’s been rounder, it’s been flatter, but I’ve never been totally happy with it.
Today, I decided to change the voice in my head. I decided that my belly doesn’t say lazy or unmotivated or uncaring about my physical appearance. Right now, my belly is the product of being a full-time working parent, making sure there is healthy food in the house, making sure my daughter is doing well academically, and keeping up with our friendships. Right now, this belly needs to be just fine the way it is.
I’ve worked very hard this year to be where I am. Valued at my job. Complimented by my daughter’s child development team at school for all the extra effort we put in at home. I was a class parent this year, too. And, perhaps most of all, I am so proud of myself for taking the high road over and over again with challenging personal situations. I am more than fine.
I put on my bikini. I put on minimal makeup and my face looks pretty. I have a fresh pedicure and fun new flip-flops. And you know what? The person who is the most connected to me–my daughter–has nothing to say about my belly. Because that isn’t what she sees. All she sees is her mother. She sees ME.
There is a moment in the women’s restroom where the relative who is hosting us sees me in my bikini and I can see her giving me the once-over.
For a second, I internalize everything negative about what I think the gaze means. It makes me a little unsteady.
Then I shake it off. I remember my proud body moment back home. I decide to own it. I march into the pool area and don’t give my belly another thought. I swim with my daughter. I catch up with my other relatives. The sun is shining and it’s a lovely summer day. I am not ashamed of my body. I am proud of my body—and perhaps more importantly, my brain.