Ode to My Belly

This is a little silly and vulnerable, but often the best things are.  And everyone likes it when you do something kind of embarrassing, right?  Here it goes:

Like many women, I have had the hardest time embracing my belly.  Some people don't like their eyebrows, or feet, or wrinkles, or ass.  For me, it's my tummy. 

That sucker refuses to be flat.  It's always had a bit of a bell curve, ever since I was a little girl in a red two piece strawberry bathing suit, with a pokey-out belly.  Throughout my teenage and young adult years, it was a constant battle to camouflage it with empire waist tops (90s), bootcut jeans (00s), and a combination of flowy tops and high-waisted jeans today.

But the thing about pregnancy + a miscarriage is that I think my belly is here to stay.  I've tried, girl.  I've done sit-ups til I near about puked.  I run.  I plank (front, sides, backwards, whatever).  I do those crazy ball exercises.  But it's not budging.

So instead of hating on it, I wrote it an ode.  I know.  This is not The Breakfast Club.  It's not a little crunchy and embarrassing.  But whatever.  I needed something to feel better about it, so I spent about 10 minutes considering it in the mirror over the weekend, then I got out my Radical Self Love Bible and a sharpie, and penned this ode.

ode to my belly - superbalancedlife.com

ode to my belly - superbalancedlife.com

I'm not totally there yet with the belly love, but I'm moving closer.  And it feels good to accept all of my parts.  I'm a whole person, and all of me deserves that acceptance and love.

What body part do you have a hard time with? 

Creativity & Food

One of the things I hated about restrictive eating (a.k.a. dieting, leaning out, etc.) was that it sapped my creative impulse with food.  I love food.  I love choosing it, cooking it, and eating it.  Cooking is a ritual that calms and centers me, and feeding my family, friends, and most of all, myself, is deeply gratifying.

Restrictive eating robbed me of that.  It made it so that I was questioning if I could have this or that thing, frequently adapting recipes to include "good" foods and exclude "bad" ones, and constantly saying no.

I said no to baking.  I said no to happy hour.  I said no to most Mexican and Italian food.  I said no to toasting.  I said no to trying anything with any trace of sweetener ever.

And it was lame.

It was frustrating, isolating, anxiety-provoking, and most of all?  It was boring.

I didn't feel happy or challenged or curious.  Those are all things I love to feel, and their absence was like a big weight on my brain and chest. 

Now that I'm coming out the other side of restrictive eating the biggest blessing in my life is free, unfettered choice.  I had thought that I might go off the deep end - that once the restrictions came off I might go full throttle at the Wheat Thins, mac 'n cheese, and ice cream (my "vices" of choice), but I didn't.  As it turns out, indulgence isn't such a big deal when you're conscious of it.  When you can revel in the decadence of something you've chosen to eat, when you can take your time with it, not scarf it down in secret, afraid someone will find out your sin, you really enjoy it.  You cherish it.  And it's no longer loaded.

I'm sure you've heard this before.  But I assure you, it's not bullshit.  Yesterday, after eating a big salad from Whole Foods for dinner, I then put down the portion of mac 'n cheese I'd gotten from their hot bar, because I was full.  I'd had all I wanted.  And there was definitely a part of me that was like, "Eat this now, even though you're full, because you'll never have Mac 'n Cheese again!"  But these days, I can quietly tell that scared, scarcity-mentality voice that it's okay.  I can have mac whenever I want, because I'm a grown-up lady who gets to decide what she eats.  And that truth was delicious.

So here's an idea of what I eat now.  This was breakfast for the last couple mornings: a pear, banana, spinach, kale, and almond milk smoothie, with turkey breakfast sausage.

Looks like algae, tastes like winning.

Looks like algae, tastes like winning.

And here's what I'm eating for lunch: a kale, quinoa, ricotta salata, and cherry salad, with scallion cilantro chicken nuggets.  All of these recipes were winners, by the way.  I recommend.

Who knew raw kale salads could be so decadent?  Live & learn.

Who knew raw kale salads could be so decadent?  Live & learn.

Not pictured: me licking the juice from a fresh peach from my wrist, as it was a little too salacious for this blog.

But you get my point - not so crazy, right?  When I allowed myself anything, I naturally found out what I wanted.  It looks something like this: a foundation of whole foods - fresh vegetables and fruit that is as local and organic as I can afford, along with nuts, seeds, ethical meat, some dairy, and the occasional sweet. 

Life is about celebration, curiosity, love.  If I can't have those things, what's the point of choosing to live?  When we eat, we are making the choice to live, because to not eat is to move towards non-living.  So let's choose to live a life that nourishes us completely, with more than just macro-nutrients, restrictive eating, and the constant worry and self-flagellation of deprivation.  Be curious about what works for your individual body.  Seek to nourish it with more than just food.  And most of all, love it.  Because you can make that choice.  I did.