Taking the full measure of life

Start Where You Are

December 29th, 2012 · 11 Comments

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You know what I hate? I hate the idea that if we’re overweight, we’re ugly slobs with terrible lives.  In the ‘before’ advertising shots of people who have lost weight, they’re so often slouching miserably, or looking embarrassedly away, or hunched over a plate of food or even a whole cake (Miss South Carolina) as if it’s their only joy. Then in their after shots, they’re standing up straight, smiling, looking straight at the camera with whitened teeth that gleam of a better life.

Losing weight means that you fit into clothes you could not wear before, and that you likely think those clothes look much better on you than they would have in a larger size.  If you lose weight as part of a needed life overhaul, the weight loss can be one sign that you are dealing with some emotional issues, feeding yourself more nurturing food, and overall demonstrating a better sense of self-care than you did previously.

But being overweight, even being at the heaviest weight of your life if that’s where you are, doesn’t mean that your life lacks meaning or joy or health, or that you aren’t a beautiful person just as you are.  In my life, I find it much easier to demonstrate long-term self-care (as opposed to self-control, which for me is temporary) when I am celebrating the good things about where I am as well as recognizing that some things in my life need to shift.

I need to make some shifts right now, and I’m working toward it.  But I was thinking about all this at the salon yesterday.  When I’m at the salon, I honestly hate seeing myself in the mirror during a haircut, because somehow the combination of mirror, lighting, smock, and neck protector strip make me look chubbier in the mirror than I am. I always think, Good Lord, I look awful!  But when my hair stylist is done fixing my hair, and she takes the neck protector and smock off, I always look in the mirror and go, Oh, there I am. That’s me, too. Not just the chubby girl–the chubby girl who has some beauty in her, as well, and whose life is wonderful in many ways. So yesterday, when I got home from a haircut, I put on a littlemakeup (rare for this mom-of-a-three-month-old) and asked my husband to take a few pictures of me outside.  I’m starting where I am. There are changes coming, but there are many good things now, too.

Where are you now in your life? What is there to appreciate?

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11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 carolyn // Dec 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I feel the same way about sitting in the stylists chair. I only want to see the after ;). I also have a policy that I wish people paid more attention too, which is no pictures below the neck line. That being said your pics look lovely. After suffering a horrible sprained ankle I’m starting over this year too. Good luck!

  • 2 Kirsten // Dec 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    This post really resonated with me…I feel the same way in the “hair chair”! I think you look beautiful 🙂 Where are the bags under your eyes from lack of sleep? hahaa, when I had a 3 month old, it was a crapshoot whether I even brushed my hair every day 🙂
    Right now I’m newly pregnant and trying to focus on being healthy and less about how I look. I want to be able to embrace my body this time and enjoy it since this will be my last one.
    Thanks for reminding me to Start Where I am!

  • 3 Hannah S-Q // Dec 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    You’re looking gorgeous as always. I agree with you. I hate those sad and heavy preconceptions about being overweight (whatever that is for a particular person). I think it’s part of society’s obsession with ‘why we aren’t good enough’ and that is so sad.

    I also have those feelings at the hair salon. I feel old compared to the 20-something gal cutting my hair but then I shake myself off and try to get on with my day. Some days, if I see a photo someone else has taken of me, it upsets me for a long time, sometimes months. So I actually avoid events where someone might take a picture of me. Oy!

    Anyway. Thanks for sharing. Love the blog post and the pictures.


  • 4 Terri // Dec 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I really needed to read this, Sally. Thanks. <3
    (and you are gorgeous! You guys should come take pictures of me to make me happy!)

  • 5 KitschenBitsch // Dec 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I’m so glad you said all this. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, looking at old pictures, going through clothes from “another life.” There’s nothing wrong with being where we are — wherever that is — and everything right about slow, healthy caretaking of ourselves.

    Also, Sally, you are freaking gorgeous. And always are. I’ve never seen a pic of you on here that isn’t amazing. <3

  • 6 sally // Dec 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Thanks, y’all! I really appreciate the comment love! And I love seeing where all of you are, too.

  • 7 Amy // Jan 1, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    This is something that I struggle with a lot – feeling like my life is terrible because I’m overweight. Thanks for saying all of this so beautifully.

  • 8 Laura // Jan 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Amen! I totally feel the same way in the stylist’s chair. The lights in salons are horrendous. Can’t they cut our hair by candlelight????

    The pictures of you are beautiful. You look radiant and like you have a deeper inner peace … and that has nothing to do with anything external, but it glows from within. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s literally true.

    I’ve been thinking about this lately, too… maybe it’s something about entering our mid-30s. I’ve been trying to find a new grounding in self-acceptance. It’s hard — it’s always hard — but I think it has to do with our entire identity…. who are we really in our minds? Are we just our thighs and our boobs, or are we what we do everyday and how we relate to people and how we love and how we connect?

    I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about having a family…. and I’ve been realizing on a new level that if I want my kids to feel healthy and confident about their bodies, then I have to model that. No more self-judging, no more beating myself up.

    I look at all of my students and think that they’re beautiful exactly as they are, so I need to turn that same kind of unconditionally loving lens on myself, too.

  • 9 Ann // Jan 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Thank you for this lovely post! It’s my first time on your blog – I came looking for gluten-free, egg-free meal ideas – but this post was the best thing I’ve read all day! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • 10 Dana // Jan 18, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Hi Sally,
    I haven’t read your blog in awhile, since you were getting ready to leave Atlanta. You’ve been through a lot of life changes since then. This post truly touched me because I am in a similar place. Many years ago I lost 80 pounds and kept it off (by unhealthy means) through two divorces and two kids, many moves and job changes and lots of pain and uncertainty. 5 years ago was my second divorce – very painful and traumatic – and slowly the weight came back on. I work full time now, am a single mom and no longer use the unhealthy means of regulating my moods and weight but now, here I am: looking just the same as I did way back when. It is hard to face that same old me after knowing something different for awhile.
    Anyway, please know that I appreciate very much your promise of “self care” vs. “self control”. There is all the difference in the world between those two things. And also, I have learned that sometimes, as you say, you have to start where you are, recognizing that your life (and you) are different now.
    I didn’t mean to go on and on! Just wanted to reach out and say that in all the years I read your blog I’ve always thought you were quite stunning. Your weight doesn’t factor in to that.
    One of the other commenters said we need to look at ourselves as others do. They are always much kinder then we are to ourselves. That has to change!
    Best wishes to you and your lovely family.

  • 11 Mary Beth // Jan 20, 2013 at 11:16 am

    This is a great post. I could have written it. And you are so beautiful!!

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