I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it in my lifetime: “Jen, I wish I had your body. You are so skinny!”
Let me be the first to clarify: Skinny doesn’t always equal good-looking.
Anthony and I met in 2003. When we met, I weighed 105 pounds. I have battled a dangerously high metabolism and blood sugar level problems since I was a child. I have always been small. Always “skinny.” Truth be told, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t gain weight. It seemed impossible. And with the low weight and the blood sugar problems came fatigue. What so many people saw as “laziness” was actually much-needed rest. I slept A LOT. And when I didn’t get sleep, I was one grumpy guss.
Stress never helped, either. Stress and anxiety in my life always manifested in weight loss. At one point, Anthony sat me down and said that I needed to talk to a doctor because he was concerned with my weight. He told me he was afraid to hug me because he thought I was going to break. You could see my ribs. You could see my spine. You could see the bones in my face. Unfortunately, not much could be done about it. We changed my diet…again… which helped slightly, but at the start of 2007, I only weighed 112 pounds.
When Anthony and I got engaged in 2008 I weighed 114 pounds. And my doctor told me that I needed to hit 120 pounds before even thinking about starting a family once we were married. A weight I had never even come close to reaching. And the stress and anxiety of wedding planning, being laid off, and moving to southern California was NOT helping the situation. But, once life found a groove, and Anthony and I were back under one roof, things started to turn around. For some miraculous reason, on our wedding day (last year) I weighed 118 pounds. The most I had ever weighed in my life, and I felt AMAZING! Not only did I feel great, but for once, I thought I looked great too.
In high school, people thought I was CRAZY for not liking my body. But just like someone who doesn’t like their body because they are over weight, I can find all sorts of things I don’t like, being under weight. For the longest time, I wasn’t comfortable in my skin. But when my bridesmaids zipped up that wedding dress, I saw the woman I’ve always wanted to be and the body I’ve always wanted to have. And when I saw my doctor a few months later, I’d done it. I weighed 121 pounds. Most of it was muscle weight from being diligent about my Pilates class. I was so happy – I was the healthiest I’d ever been in my life. And my husband wasn’t afraid to hug me.
I started my pregnancy with Abigail at 118 pounds. I lost weight in the first trimester due to all the vomiting. Hahaha. But then I steadily gained right up until she was born. While we didn’t get an official weight at her birth, we guess I was between 125 and 130. Woooo!!! And I gotta tell ya – I loved my body while I was pregnant. I loved my body in a way I’d never experienced before. I looked in the mirror and all I saw was beauty. Confidence. A body worth looking at.
It was short-lived. After Abby was born, I found out that old habits die hard. Stress and Anxiety, mixed with the not-so-great eating habits of a couple constantly in a car meant that I dropped down to 112 again. And I look at photos of the first month of her life and the first thing I notice is how sickly thin I look. And while none of you have seen (or will see) the gnarly scar I was left with from the C-Section, it made me so self conscious. I didn’t want Anthony to see it. I didn’t want to look at it. It was ugly, and that paired with my weight loss just made me feel ugly. Bleh.
I can’t pinpoint when it changed. Obviously sometime in the last 2 months or so. But whenever it was, it couldn’t have come soon enough. I looked in the mirror one day and saw that same woman I saw on my wedding day. She’s back. And the best part is, she’s ME!!! I feel good in my skin. I look good in my skin (or at least that is what Anthony says 😉 ).
So then, I got to thinking. I missed out on the photo shoot I was most looking forward to. My maternity shoot. It was going to be one of my very close friends, Bree, taking pictures of me at the point in my life that I was most comfortable with my body. So when I emailed her to say that I wanted to somehow make up that shoot in an artistic way, she was totally on board.
Well – We did that photo shoot today. And the point was mostly to capture me and Abby – comfortable in our skin. And I think we were able to capture just that.
(And it helps that Anthony liked it, too.)