I’d like to begin by saying that I love exercise. LOVE. Exercise.
For the past thirteen years, I’ve been a loyal gym member in four different states, absolutely glorying in the satisfaction of waltzing out after a workout drenched in sweat. Truly, this is when I feel sexiest – when I’m in my wet, smelly gym clothes after a solid hour of cardio.
Screw the make-up, fluffed hair, and coordinated outfits – I feel uncomfortable and phony. The Hot, Messy Molly at her best? She’s wearing yoga pants and a tank top, her sweaty hair is pulled back, not a trace of make-up, and she’s completely at ease with who she is.
Having said that, however… I also love food. And, I love wine… Sometimes more than food.
When I was in my twenties, I could basically eat and drink whatever I wanted – as long as I exercised, I remained a size four. I wish I’d appreciated how fortunate I was back then. I wish I’d appreciated my beauty and my body, but my insecurities were running rampant. All I could focus on was the idiotic, compulsive need to be thinner, prettier, and everything I just wasn’t – and wasn’t meant to be.
There was a three-year period when I completely eliminated alcohol from my life, due to realizing that I needed to focus on excelling in school. Much like many people in their very early twenties, I was reveling in the ability to publicly purchase and consume alcohol, and I’m grateful for the maturity of knowing that I needed to reign myself in.
Once I was a successful college graduate, I began to slowly incorporate alcohol back into my life.
Now that I’m in my thirties, the whole ‘eat-anything-and-stay-skinny’ routine just isn’t reality for me anymore. My genetics have blessed me in many ways, but a Superwoman metabolism isn’t one of them. I often play-bargain with my gal pals, saying things like, “I’ll trade my clear complexion for your cellulite-free body,” or, “I’ll swap my booty for your legs.” Oh, if only.
In all honestly, I’m a fairly healthy eater. I enjoy food that’s good for me, because it makes my body feel good. I made the connection long ago that junk food makes me feel like crap. I’ll definitely enjoy the occasional cheeseburger, pizza night, or the equivalent, but I keep those indulgences sporadic. I also have to consciously remind myself that my body is going to feel the aftermath, and I’m absolutely going to visibly “see” that unhealthy meal when I look in the mirror the next day.
It really helps, to hold myself accountable. It’s a way to remain in control, and to be prepared for the consequences of my choices.
One of my best friends, Jenny, is married to a personal trainer and fitness expert. Mr. Matt Thomas is a badass – not only because of the goals he commits to and wholeheartedly achieves, but also because of how humble and compassionate he is towards the rest of us, who just aren’t willing to put forth that much effort… i.e. fitness competitions, and the extreme training that goes along with them. He is positive and encouraging, regardless of where you happen to be in your fitness journey; and he will ALWAYS lift you up, instead of laying on the guilt. He is someone I’m proud to know and call my friend, and along with Jenny (who is also a health educator and fitness guru), someone I will trust implicitly when it comes to my health and fitness.
I will never forget a conversation I had with Matt a couple of years ago, while having breakfast with him and Jenny. He’d gotten up early to cook us pancakes from scratch with sausage, and cold brewed coffee for me.
I’m including these little details to illustrate that Matt has zero issues with feeding women delicious food, regardless of calorie content. Truly awesome dude… Take note, fellas.
Anyway, I was bellyaching about a few extra pounds I’d gained recently, due to being in transition mode with life, and not having access to a gym. I called myself “fat,” as I often do, because that’s how it feels when I can’t fit into the clothes I want to wear.
Realistically speaking, I know that at 5’4 and 140ish pounds, I’m a far cry from “fat.” But when I’m used to being between 130-135 pounds respectively, those extra pounds feel pretty heavy. (No pun intended.)
Matt looked at me, and said, “Molly, when someone like you gains a few pounds, that does not make you ‘fat.’ You’re just a normal person who has gained a few pounds. And, you could just as easily lose those few pounds if you eliminate the behaviors that caused you to gain in the first place. Try gaining 200 pounds, and then you’ll have some real problems.”
I remember being utterly speechless, because it was the harsh, unveiled truth, and a perspective I desperately needed to hear.
Reality? I have no business calling myself fat, even when I’m fluffier than I’d like to be. Because I’m not. I may feel like I am with every fiber of my being, but still – I’m not.
During times of stress, I tend to eat bigger portions than necessary, and I definitely enjoy numbing out with more wine than the average person consumes. I’m aware, I’m accountable, and I’m once again willing to reign myself in.
As I mentioned before – I love exercise. I’m fortunate, because I can say with confidence that my weight has never, nor will ever be completely out of my control, thanks to how much I love going to the gym. In addition, I now have a canine companion who requires a hefty amount of exercise himself, so I literally have no choice but to be active on a daily basis.
Hippo, my rescue pit bull, gets over an hour of walking every single day, regardless of whether I’m in the mood or not. Rain or shine (mostly rain in Portland), regardless of whether I’m PMS’ing like a psychopath and have no desire to get out of bed, let alone go out-fucking-side, and regardless of whether HE wants to or not – the damn dog gets his hour.
I’ve definitely gained a few pounds of extra fluff over the past few months, due to excessive emotional eating and some serious numbing out with vino… But for the very first time in my LIFE, I am refusing to mentally abuse myself over this.
I am still beautiful. I am still sexy. I am still worthy of great things. I am still a fierce warrior, capable of kicking some serious ass. Just try me… If you dare. I am no damsel in distress, and as another friend recently said, “I’d much rather be strong than skinny.”
Amen to that.
I’m tired of being hateful towards my body, just because it doesn’t meet the Victoria’s Secret Angel quota, or because I don’t look like the women I find to be otherworldly gorgeous. Sophia Bush. Nikki Reed. Katie Holmes. My celebrity woman crushes. No WAY will I ever meet those impossible standards.
Every single girlfriend I have, whether they weigh more or less than I do – they are ALL stunning and have qualities I envy and admire. Why is it so difficult to be so loving and appreciative when I look at myself?
No more. Life is too short, and if I’ve learned anything from this particular journey, it’s that I need to feel good about how I look now. Just as I wish I’d done in my twenties, I need to apply that at 33, because in another decade, I’m going to be missing this Molly. I need to honor her for exactly who she is – in this moment.
It can be a daily struggle, and I have to consciously make an effort not to focus on my flaws – but I’m committed. There will undoubtedly be days when I look in the mirror and see a freak show… but even on those days, I might as well enjoy what I see.
Who’s with me?