Humorist Shannon Bradley Colleary is the total package — brainy, beautiful, bold and bodacious. She has a fantastic sense of humor and a healthy body image (wait ’til you see just how healthy). She treads regularly where Not-So-Feisty Lori only dreams of treading.
Shannon and I share a few things in common, though. We are both tail-end baby boomers, still in the throes of child-raising while many of our peers are facing empty nests. We aim to live more mindfully (an advantage that often comes with of aging), even as we watch our youthful appearance retreat in the rear-view mirror (a disadvantage that always comes with aging). We both would like to heal body image issues and love our bodies just as they are.
To that end, Shannon started her #LoveYourBodyNow project. Today I turn over my space to her for this guest post I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
At 48 my weight creeps up quickly. Two years ago I wrote the article Am I Really Fat? which went viral because I discovered, despite my intense self-criticism, that I was a completely healthy weight for a woman my age.
It’s been a cosmic shift for me to feel that 140 lbs at 5′ 6″ is not just a healthy weight but an attractive weight. I spent my young adult life weighing about 120 lbs. I could eat whatever I wanted and that weight just felt normal to me. So shifting to 20 lbs. up felt sinful. But writing the post and taking the subsequent TASTEFUL nude photos at age 46 helped me accept my now mature woman’s body.
I was at peace. Until I stepped on a doctor’s scale a few weeks ago and was told I weighed 147 lbs. What the what? Okay, I was wearing my clothes, but my shoes were off. What did this weight MEAN? Did it mean I was now on an ever-upward spiral that would end on The Biggest Loser?
I stood naked in my bathroom and perused my body from every angle. Maybe I was crazy, but it looked pretty much the same as it had for the last five years. I couldn’t really locate the extra 7 pounds. I could find them when I tried to button my pants, but naked, well, I still looked pretty good to myself.
Then I stood in front of Henry naked. “I’ve gained 7 pounds,” I said in a funereal tone.
Recognizing he was not in sensual, but rather dangerous waters he replied, “I don’t see them” with the flat affect of a person who recognizes the hitchhiker he just picked up is deranged and carrying a shiv.
“I don’t see the seven pounds either,” I said, “but apparently they’re there.”
“How dare they?”
“They’re sneaky little sh!ts.”
“Maybe I do see them. They’ve gone to your breasts. And maybe your inner thighs, which is good because you were too bony there and I was always getting bruises when we had relations.”
“When you say ‘relations’ it makes me never want to have sex with you again.”
“I’m a recovering Catholic. The seven pounds is hot.”
“I love you even if you almost have no hair.”
“I love you even if you have too much hair. And a slight mustache.”
Shannon with 7 extra seven pounds. Totally beautiful.
Even with my husband’s approval and my own favorable impression of my naked body I decided to lose those 7 pounds. I had to close the floodgates somewhere and 140 was my Little Big Horn.
I began logging everything I ate through a free app. I was startled to discover that I eat enough food to fuel the entire USC defensive line. Part of the problem is the wine. Not that it’s so many calories, but after a glass I feel impervious to weight gain so I eat brownies followed by kugel, which, if you haven’t had it because you’re a shiksa, you should think again.
My daughters noticed me documenting all of my food which worried me because I don’t want them doing the same thing and becoming anorexic and dying from starvation. Yes. I go right there into the deep dark pit of hell. It’s the Irish in me.
MyFitnessPal told me I needed to eat only 1290 calories in order to drop the weight. 1290 calories is basically a stick of cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter and air. I didn’t meet my calorie goal for EVEN ONE DAY since I started my quest to reclaim 140. Not. One. Day.
So I cheated and decided to try to eat less than 2000 calories a day. That just seemed like a more sane approach. And then I ran across the most amazing article in HuffPo. Iris Higgins’ An Open Apology To My Weight Loss Clients.
In it Higgins specifically apologizes for putting women who were a perfectly healthy weight on a 1200-calories-a day-meal plan. Her conclusion was that anything between 1200-1500 calories a day is potentially damaging to a woman’s health!
This was a relief to me. I’m glad I’ve started tracking my food intake. I’ve been eating somewhat mindlessly. And also simply out of boredom in the late hours of the evening after spending a day working, picking up and driving children hither and yon and loading and unloading the dishwasher 5,623 times.
I will continue keeping track for a few more months so I can know what it feels like to be satiated and not overly full. So I will be aware of food before I’ve already put it in my mouth, chewed and swallowed. I want to eat mindfully, healthfully and in a way where I respect my body.
But my ultimate, and elusive final goal is to simply love and appreciate my body in all its incarnations. I’m a work in progress, but in writing about it I’ve found I’m not alone. That many of us grapple with loving our bodies and living in them fully regardless of their form.
What are some ways you love your body just as it is?
Shannon Bradley-Colleary blogs at The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful. She’s also a contributing blogger on The Huffington Post; her favorite subjects being beauty, body, babies and larceny. You can Follow her on Twitter of Like her on Facebook. She’s also slightly mustachioed.
Still trying to spot that mustache…
Visit Shannon to read my love letter to my body on her blog.
Have you signed up yet to read and discuss the new novel Apart at the Seams? Deadline to join this virtual book club is August 1.
Finally, to those who arrive here by googling “blogs that accept guest posts,” please see the second paragraph here first.