Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If I Could Change One Thing About Myself

I had a real dud of a day today. My brain didn't want to function correctly, I had no energy, and I had to push myself to do anything at all. I suspect my general funk was caused by a conglomerate of many little things that have been weighing on me.

I knew there had to be a more productive way to handle my ouchie-grouchy feelings so as I stumbled through the day, I tried to do some self-analyzing. Just what could I do to change my outlook and move on to a "better place?" (Tra-la. Tra-la. Tra-la.)

From inside my head came a little voice (actually it was kind of an accusatory voice, but that was in keeping with the day) that asked the question, "If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?”

Well, shoot, I can answer that. It may sound petty and vain (oh, what the heck), but I think the one thing that would be the most "freeing" for me would be to magically become thin and stay that way for the rest of my life without having to constantly limit the things I eat. YES!

I love to cook, I love to eat, I truly enjoy food. But ever since I was a teen, I've always had to monitor what I put into my mouth. Therefore, eating (and to some extent cooking) has become quilt-ridden and carries a negative connotation for me. I'm constantly having to either deny myself (which is a negative) or feel guilty (a negative again) in regards to how much or what I eat. (Yes,indeedy -do, I seriously could sit down and eat a whole pie for lunch and thoroughly relish it if it weren't for knowing I'd have to beat myself with a large stick afterwards.)

I have a slow metabolism (sometimes I think it's dead) and although I've always worked hard physically and remained active, I have a propensity to pack on pounds quickly if I don't keep my guard up. It's a real drag. (SOMEthing's dragging, I can attest to that!)

Even though I'm not obese or even fat, I easily could be. It's a fact that I feel physically better if I'm twenty pounds lighter than I usually am. Because I'm short, those extra pounds don't ride easily on my frame, and I have to wear clothes that camouflage the extra bulges and bumps. It's so much easier to find clothes that look good on me when I'm thin. Oh, I know exactly what I have to do to drop those twenty pounds in short order. It would happen; there's no question about it. But there goes just about my total enjoyment of eating and cooking. In steps denial to the nth degree. (And I become a big,ol' cranky crab. Or a crabby crank.)

Well. You can't have it both ways, Mama Pea. Make up your mind. Do you want that svelte figure that enables you to wear just about any kind of clothes and look and feel physically better, or do you want to savor homemade pudding, lasagna and garlic-cheese bread (oh heaven's, I make a good garlic-cheese bread!), succulent sandwiches on homemade bread slathered with mayo, waffles with maple syrup and luscious cream soups? Huh? Huh? What's your choice?

If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be? Yeah, I'd like to be thin without having to be irritable with denial or feeling depressed with guilt.

Okay, snap out of it. Back to reality. We're talking fantasy here. No fairy godmother with a magic wand full of pixie dust is going to come by, bonk me on the head and grant my wish to magically change one thing about myself. (The very concept would be downright scary and if it were possible, I sure would want to spend a LOT of time thinking about it in order to make the wisest decision possible.)

What a nutsy tangent I got off on tonight. Okay, I've bared my screwed-up soul . . . now how about you, dear reader? If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?


  1. I appreciate your vulnerability. I totally understand this and sympathize and empathize and moan and groan, too. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and am still gathering my thoughts, hoping to write about this in the near future.

  2. I'm right there with you Mama Pea - I would change the same thing - oh to be effortlessly slim (again). My problem is that I always was slim until this "over 50" menopausal syndrome hit and now I can't beg the pounds to go away. Like you I'm active and not really obese, but just carrying a few to many pounds to be comfy with myself and I do so LOOOVE to eat good food. Not to mention everyone in my family has had heart surgery except ME! So I am constantly in the calorie/carb watch mode and it is tiresome.

    Off topic here a little - I loved the sound of the dried zucchini "chips" - will have to try that. I have never dehydrated food before (except apples the old fashioned way in the sun). Have you ever dried tomatoes? I have lots of Romas that I think would be excellent that way???

  3. One thing I'd like to say - to "balance out" my mom's post, if you will - but I'm choosing my words carefully since Mom has always been sensitive about her body image . . . my mother is beautiful. Physically beautiful. Always has been. I've always thought she looks like Jackie O. Other people have said the same. I would quickly let someone remove my left pinky (with anesthesia, thank you) in order to get my mom's strong body . . . which is a size most women would kill to have.

    That said, I thought about my personal answer to this question all night, and it would be so much easier to answer if I could have 2 things instead of just one. If I could have two things, one would be to be thin & fit while able to eat & drink all that I desired. No surprise there. I'd even be (very) happy being the weight I was when we got married.

    The other wish would be to be more organized.

    But, when it comes down to it, if I can only choose ONE . . . it would be the latter.

    I am comfortable in my skin as it is . . . provided I don't look at myself in a picture which shoots that previously stated mental comfort right out the window!

    But, to be organized? Ahhhh. No, it wouldn't fix everything, but if I were organized, the house would be clean almost all the time. The garden would be weeded and larger. I'd finally be able to get my business website up. There would be more time in the day to . . . .

    Well, you get the idea. ;)

  4. I appreciate you, too!

    I, too, find eating correctly to be a real chore. I have a handful of allergies--waaay fewer than I had as a kid, but the ones that remain are enough to really curtail the ease of meal-planning. Bread and cheese--poor people have lived, rather happily, on these staple foods for centuries. *whine whine whine* I want to eat them TOO!!!

    Actually, though, I think if I could change one thing, it would be my lack of confidence. It would be so wonderful to wake up every morning and launch headlong into the day, sure that whatever I put my hand and mind to would succeed! Sometimes I think this is the worst gender inequity there is: women tend to doubt ourselves, and men tend to think they can do even more than they can!

  5. I too have struggled with body image for years, and have decided that I'd rather be happy and healthy *enough*...and heavy, than fight every day with food. Yes, I'd rather be thinner, but it's taken up waaay more of my life energy than it deserves.

    If I could change one thing about myself, I'd like to be able to relax and have fun more. I feel like I should be "accomplishing" something all the time, not fun!

  6. I think we'd all love to not have to think about health, fitness, weight; but, here's a little reality check. I met a GORGEOUS, tiny (size 0, anyone?) young gal the other day...smart, supportive family, cute boyfriend, etc. And, her answer? She'd get rid of her lymphoma. It doesn't change any of my grumbling when I want to pig out, but it does make me so much more grateful for the great things my body does. What a relief to be healthy, even if I have my chub!!!

  7. To all you readers,

    Apologies for my mucked-up postings. I'm having "issues" but hope I can get them straightened out soon.

    Mama JJ - I'm looking forward to your future thoughts. I know it will be interesting.

    Vivian - Yup, when those dang hormones change, it's like the devil takes over our body shape and it's a fight to the death!

    I've never dried tomatoes but many people do. Whenever I have any extras, I've made them into stewed tomatoes. But I'd sure give your Romas a try!

    Chicken Mama - When do you want the money?

    Your problem with organization is trying to do tooooo much. (The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, does it?)

    MaineCelt - I can relate to your food no-nos somewhat. For 2-1/2 years I could eat just about nothing but organic meats, broths and a few specified vegetables. I did it because I had to but having to stay away from certain foods for a lifetime? That has got to be hard, hard, hard. (Almost impossible to eat away from home, isn't it?)

    When I was trying to narrow my choice down to just ONE thing I would change about myself, I mulled over a list 'bout two feet long, including - right near the top - having enough self-confidence.

    Our society does a piss-poor (sorry) job at instilling confidence in females. We're not doing so great at raising our males either; all those big, fat over-inflated egos (which I feel in some cases are just defense mechanisms) make it so hard to live and work with men.

    Jordan - Relax and have more fun? Ain't that the truth! It's what puts the joy and vitality into our daily lives. And yet we get it drummed into our heads that we must be accomplishing something to be worthy.

    I grew up feeling like I needed to justify my existence. That means a lot of hard work, not necessarily doing what you want to work hard at(!), and not leaving a lot of time for fun and relaxation.

    Claire - I know, I know. A good, good point. I really hesitated posting what I did because I can think of so many people who have serious health issues who would GIVE ANYTHING to be in my shoes. I just want to find a way of growing and maturing (is it too late?!) into a better person with what I have to work with here and now.

  8. Since we're being so honest today...I wish I was a better mom! Oh, I care for my kids like a mother hen, God help anyone who would hurt them, but I am just not very patient! I think alot has to do with the fact that I didn't become a mother until age 35, so my energy is not what it was in my 20's! And some of it has to do with the fact that my husband is deployed for half the year and I am 1200 miles from family. I am with them 24/7 with no breaks (not even a babysitter!) and since I am a perfectionist to a fault with my home and yard, I don't always have the energy to sit on the floor and play Legos or whatever! I really wish I could just let the house go a bit, accept some disarray, and just "be" with the kids. Unfortunately, I tried that last year and ended up cranky and with high blood pressure to boot! To me a disorganized home is too stressful! I even went to the Dr. to find out why I clench my jaw at night while I sleep...he suggested yoga...YOGA????? For someone like me to sit and meditate equals wasted time equals more stress, LOL! So there's my "honest thoughts" on the subject!

  9. Erin - Being a good mom does not mean you are responsible for entertaining your children all day long. By providing them a safe, stable, loving, clean and organized(!) environment to grow in, you're giving them what may be the most important things they need. And they have each other to play with! With a mom right there who they know IS there for them.

    Having your husband gone for half the year is something I don't think very many wives/mothers could handle well. It seems to me you do it very well indeed. You do have the advantage of being able to stay at home with the boys which harkens right back to giving them the basics including a lot of security. More important than ever these days, in my book.

    Hopefully, when your boys look for a wife, they will seek out a woman who wants to put her energies into raising a family and making a comfortable, organized home for them.

    I laughed out loud when you wrote about the doctor prescribing yoga. I feel exactly the way you do about that. I was speaking with a good friend just this morning and sharing some of my current black demons and she asked if I'd tried meditating. Know what happens when I try to meditate? I get all tensed up with a racing mind thinking of all the things I should/could/wanna be doing rather than sitting do nothing (i.e., meditating).

    I wish all of you gals who have commented could come together with me for a group hug. We all battle the very same demons. The remarkable thing is that we hold it together so well and look so good to the average observer. I feel support in knowing I'm not the only one who is still struggling to be better without sacrificing my own true self. (Knock, knock? True Self? You are still in there, aren't you?)

  10. Wow, thanks for the kind words! You know, I was in the Navy for awhile and then did the corporate job thing for a few years, but I LIKE being a homemaker! It seems these days you aren't good enough if you are "just at home". Well, I think working is great for those that want to, but we shouldn't feel bad wanting to create stability by staying at home either. My mom did this for us, and we are all relatively sane for it, and my parents are still happily married! No doubt it gets rough at times with only one income, but I think it also makes me more resourceful, which is a trait I want my kids to learn. I'm with you on the group hug thing...must be that famous "Minnesota Nice", LOL

  11. Oh Mama Pea, we love you just the way you are! And I admit I'm in the same boat. My yearly physical is next month and I'm sure I weigh the same (too much!) as last year, but the doc didn't stress losing any weight yet, so I'm not going to agonize too much. I consider it a blessing that I can still be active and not have to take any prescription meds. I'll try to lose some weight again after rhubarb season!

  12. Ruthie - Aw, thanks . . . but could you make it easier for me to bend over without saying, "Oooof"?

  13. I'm a guy, and you don't know me. I stumbled across your blog some time ago and have been keeping up with your this-n-thats. I'm guessing you are on the north shore---west of the Gun Flint, perhaps? Not important---just an observation.

    Anyway, regarding your weight. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure your guy isn't going anywhere no matter what. You are probably a part of the Twiggy generation? The start of this unhealthy obsession with the female-form-as-sickeningly-skinny. Women are supposed to have breasts and hips and a little extra round the midsection. Sorry, but that is how human women evolved...a little extra in reserve to feed the growing fetus and, later, the growing baby.

    If I could make a suggestion...er...not like you can stop me now, right? I would suggest that, perhaps, you choose to change your perspective a smidge. Rather than focus on your body image, focus on your health. If it requires and act of God to stay at some weight, it is probably because your body requires a little more.

    My wife battles this stuff all the time. Struggling to obtain the "ideal", when her body type (like 99.9999% of REAL women) refuses to conform to Madison Avenue's false and unrealistic choice.

    I'm sayin', I guess, be yourself. Listen to your body, and accept yourself for who you are and not for what you think you ought to be. Besides, I think Twiggy might be dead already. Probably from trying to stay unrealisiticly thin.

    And, hey, I used to be a forester in your neck of the woods...if people don't allow themselves a few pounds of jiggle room, they won't long survive the -50 degree nights.

    Well, good luck! Tell your husband to take a break from splittin' wood and give ya a, "nice ass!" now and then...that always seems to help my wife feel better about her body;-)

    Well, I did say I was a guy!

  14. That is awesome! See, sometimes all we need is a "Right On, Woman!"

  15. Dear Anonymous - Well, bless your little ol' woman-lovin' heart! Can we get you cloned?

    Gotta say it's refreshing to hear a guy spiel forth with thoughts like yours. If your note were to be published nationally, you'd have most of the women in the country in love with you.

    In my rant, I didn't manage to come across clearly enough that I feel I'm not as healthy being 20 pounds overweight as I want to be. I've never aspired to be a Twiggy lookalike; that isn't attractive . . . or healthy. But when my belly looks like it's harboring a 5-month old fetus and my chubby thighs keep me from crossing my legs, I don't think that's healthy either. Being aware of that IS listening to my body.

    Your advice about being ourselves, accepting ourselves for who we are and not for what anybody else thinks we should be is something to be tattooed on all our foreheads. All in all, you made some excellent points and I very much appreciate you taking the time to share them with me . . . and all my readers (both female AND male) who have the opportunity to read them.

    Lastly, I have no complaints about my husband. He tells me I look sexy when I'm in my baggy work pants with my greasy hair tied up in a bandana while I'm helping him split wood. (Wait, maybe it's BECAUSE I'm helping him split wood.)

  16. Glad to have been of some help. As for all the women lovin' me, if my advice were to be presented nationally: I can honestly say that I've got all I want and need with wifey. She puts up with me, which should qualify her for sainthood somewhere.

    I didn't think you would have any complaints regarding your husband That is, save for all those boots! Seriously, is he related to Imelda Marcos or what? We'll overlook that flaw, however, because he seems to be efforting things in regards to your image issue.

    Hehehe...if your splittin' wood does it for him, then he's totally into you! I can only imagine the Mama Pea lingerie drawer: Wool socks, flannel shirt, and a wood splitting ax for striking (not literally) just the right mood. You go girl! As if some skinny-minny Madison Avenue girl with the no-hip body of a twelve year old boy could pull off that look and make hubby swoon!

    Mama Pea, good luck with the weight issue...just remember though, we are not always the best judges of our self-image. Go with hubby on this one...if he says your sexy with baggy pants and greasy hair, well, then, you are probably closer to "just right" than you are to something...er...not-so-just-right.

    Anyway, glad to have been of some small bit of use. Remember ladies, as Red from The Red Green Show said, if you "can't find your husband handsome" you should "at least find him useful."

  17. Well, Mr. Anonymous, you gave me a couple of real chuckles this Sunday morning. Do you have your own blog? If not, you should because you have a way with the words along with some good ol' common sense to impart. Lotsa good vibes coming your way from women who would be much happier if more men felt the way you do. Kudos to you, fella.

    P.S. How'd you know what's in my lingerie drawer??

  18. Mr. Anonymous,

    And, above all, keep yer stick on the ice.


    P.S. I'm in love with Ranger Gord! Seriously.

  19. That's right Chicken Mama! Keep yer stick on the ice and, as every Minnesotan knows, basketball is for kids who can't skate.

    Mama Pea, I've driven the North Shore more than a few times and, outside of Duluth, I don't recall Victoria's Secrets having a foothold up there---its either woolies in your lingerie drawer or flannel; not 'sactly rocket science;-()

    I do have a blog, but it lacks direction, purpose, and meaning. http://www.thatsonesmallstep.blogspot.com/