Last month, I booked my family’s summer vacation, what will be our first getaway as a party of four since the birth of our baby girl last summer.
We’ll be returning to the same state we traveled to with my son a few years ago, and I couldn’t be more excited about seeing my kiddos play in the sand together while taking in the beauty and wonder of the water and waves. Since having children, I’ve loved nothing more than seeing Christmas and vacation through their eyes.
But, lately, as I look forward to this upcoming adventure with my little ones, I can’t help but glance in the rearview mirror at where I was with food, my body, and life just a handful of years ago when we were vacationing as a family of three.
I think about how far I’ve come and how, if you’d told me back then that I’d ever have a healthy, peaceful, and pleasurable relationship with food, I would’ve seriously doubted you. And if you’d told me that we’d ever be a family of four, I would’ve called you a liar (well, not to your face – I’m too much of a polite Midwesterner to do that). 😉
If you’ve followed me for very long, you already know that my struggle with food began when I became a new mom five years ago. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there is an undeniable connection between becoming a mom and our relationship with food. It just changes things.
Anyway, I’m a super sensitive gal, so the big tsunami of feelings that came along for the ride during my first year of motherhood was just too much for my sensitive little ecosystem to handle.
So I did what any other upstanding citizen who didn’t want to break the law to secretly manage her stress would do. I used legal drugs: Sugar-laced nut butter (Nutella) to cope.
But despite all that, I still always longed for a sibling for my son.
And because it took us all of five minutes to get pregnant with our first baby after saying our marriage vows, I neatly wrote down in my fancy black planner when we would like to get pregnant with our second baby, thankyouverymuch (as if I were placing an Amazon Prime order).
Except this time, the universe did not comply with my wishes. (how dare it?!)
So, my relationship with food became even uglier. Before trying to get pregnant with our second, I was already in the throes of calorie-counting, daily weigh-ins to decide if I could have a good or bad day, and insane consumption of Diet Cokes, coffee and anything else that would stave off – GASP – my appetite (I used to treat my hunger signals like a scary spider you’d want to squash the second it surfaced from behind your couch).
So, when becoming pregnant became an official struggle after several months (which turned into several heart-breaking years) of trying, I tried to control the situation EXACTLY how I attempted to control the challenges of being a new mom: with FOOD (you guys, old habits die hard).
There is simply not enough room in this post to share how many insane food rules I followed to get pregnant (because desperation knows no bounds). But my recent vacation planning brought up difficult memories of how I was completely incapable of “letting go” and relaxing around food, even on the beach with the loves of my life.
At the time of my last vacation, I was reading a book that promised to make me skinny AND help me become pregnant (what looked like a shiny lottery ticket with my name written all over it). It pretty much became my Bible and I followed every rule to the letter. Because: control.
The protocol this time around was to consume a VERY green and VERY expensive smoothie every single day forever and ever, Amen. So, OBVIOUSLY, I brought my very fancy blender (that this author said I had to have) on my vacation because what if I didn’t drink the smoothies and get my greens? How else would I look good in a bathing suit, and also boost my chances for becoming pregnant?
So every morning like a good little soldier, I got up before everyone else, washed my kale, spinach and collard greens, and tossed them in the blender hoping it would produce a magical potion that would solve all my problems.
And, it took me a long time to figure out that food can’t solve your problems. Only you (with the help of God), can do that. Food is a powerful force for sure – but sometimes, we give it too much credit. Not to mention, the stress of trying to follow all the rules can diminish or negate the positive impact food is designed to have on our bodies in the first place.
Sometimes it’s necessary to peek in on painful memories, not only to see how far we’ve come but to see the hope of what’s possible.
When I think about my mindset a few short years ago as I planned for our vacation as a family of three, it is truly a 180-degree difference of how I think about life today. Back then, I was worried about how my post-partum belly would look on the beach, how I would track my calories in restaurants without nutrition charts, and, for the love of God, which suitcase I would use to pack my ginormous Vitamix?!? I was seriously packing unnecessary baggage (physically and emotionally).
I have chills up and down my spine as I write this thinking about how much I have to look forward to in our upcoming vacation and how fear has taken a back seat when it comes to my relationship with food.
This time around, all I can think about is not only how grateful I am to be traveling as a family of four, but how I no longer have that (food) monkey on my back, weighing me down.
Instead of caring about what I look like on the beach, now all I care about is that I take care of myself in a way that helps me show up as a happy, healthy mama – on vacation and in life. Because you know what? Your kids would rather have a HAPPY mommy, than a skinny one.
I’ll leave you with this to consider. If it’s not the struggle of infertility (and I pray that it’s not), chances are, there is something deeper than calories that you’re trying to control.
I know it’s hard and scary to go into those dark places without a night light. But you don’t have to do it alone. I would be honored to hear what you’re trying to control, what you’re afraid of, what keeps you up at night (either in the comments or you can message me on the Contact Page page).
Shining a light into the darkness is the first step in healing your relationship with your food and your body. It is a holy opportunity to care for what’s being neglected in your life. If I can do it, I have no doubt that you can, too.
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I stepped out of a long overdue, hot and luxurious shower, feeling refreshed and human…09 May 2016