My body has done wonderful things: It birthed two beautiful, large babies (8lbs+) who nursed diligently through sleepless nights for three years and played its part in forging a long-term loving relationship. It participated in all the typical family things, including focusing on cultivating a happy home full of well styled furniture and walls full of memorable family portraits. I have fed it well, and healthily. And somewhere in there I even found time to have it “lean in” with my career, as I was committed fully to rising in the ranks in a primarily male-dominated field by carving a niche focus and literally becoming an expert in my space.
By rights I am entitled to let myself - my physical self – slip, correct? And I also reserve the right to not love how it looks sometimes.
Here is the story I told myself:
“How you look doesn’t matter; look at how much you have accomplished.”
“Oh, don’t worry; you are healthy, and health doesn’t have a size.”
“You have a beautiful family, a solid marriage, a booming career. This should be all you need or want.”
And all of these things are actually true. But these things were also the ways I was lying to myself, because they became the way I avoided having a deep and wholehearted appraisal of where I was in my life, and in my body.
The truth is, I was avoiding getting real about looking at my insides.
This is where I will to pause my story to again acknowledge a couple critical things to soothe the sure-to-be-coming flame wars in my post comments section. Please read the above again, and I reiterate: all of the above affirmations are true. You should not define your worth by how you look, how much you weigh, or what size you wear.
But, I am recognizing that now is the time for me to get real about how I feel about my outside self – my physical body. Fast forward to me getting real and reconnecting with myself by making my whole self a priority. I will no longer value other things above my own health and my own heart, and I will now tend them with the respect and care they deserve. I’ve started to look deeper at what was going on with me as an individual and not tied to the identity of me as a mother, a worker, a wife, or a homemaker. This meant re-prioritizing my responsibilities so that at the top of my list was a scheduled commitment to sweat daily. At first that meant a quick 20-30 minutes of exercise in my basement, and then it was running and more running and then lots more running. I am now at the point where the motivation to run gets me up in the morning. I do this work; I am an athlete.
I also gave myself the permission and blessing to take time to go see specialists who were willing to pull the thread and ask questions about the medications I had been given in the past for issues that were not resolving themselves. It also meant taking a hard look at what I was consuming in food, drink, thoughts, and images. I will say that some of those images confused me and had me celebrating my stretched-out belly button in one moment because “I grew people,” but then also having to say the old way of living was unhealthy for me. I wanted more, and I wanted better, and I wanted better not because someone told me I should want it, but because I finally recognized that I deserved it. This is such a hard distinction in the body positive movement because women are made to feel like pariahs for wanting to make physical changes to their bodies. If you are body positive, you are ALL bodies positive.
This personal acceptance journey has been difficult, and it is far from over. In fact there are many days when I want to turn back and simply slide back into the mode of doing things for everyone else first by checking the boxes of getting things done and ignoring what is happening with me. But I am pushing forward because I want to continue to be better and push the limits of what feel comfortable for me.
I’m exploring ways of getting some extra support in my journey and in addition to honouring my body’s needs for proper nutrition and sweat, I am checking out CoolSculpting services. CoolSculpting is a non-surgical, non-invasive treatment that has lasting effects and can reduce pockets of fat in some areas I choose to target. CoolSculpting is the leading targeted, non-surgical treatment option (See footnotes - 1) to reduce stubborn fat (2), and is used to complement existing health and wellness regimens.
We all have a set number of fat cells in our bodies (3), and when we gain weight, those cells grow larger (4). When we lose weight, those cells grow smaller (5). CoolSculpting® takes advantage of their vulnerability to the cold by using cooling panels to freeze them. This damages the cells causing them to die (6,7). The body's immune system then clears these dead cells and fat (8). Stubborn fat areas can be targeted and become eliminated approximately 2-6 months following treatment and can result in a 27% reduction of fat in those areas (9). This treatment, combined with my own efforts to become stronger and healthier, is the path I am choosing in reclaiming my body for ME.
I know I’m not alone in this journey, and I have heard from so many other women in this similar life stage that they too have allowed their non-mom selves to slip away. Part of finding yourself again means digging deep - and then even deeper – in order to acknowledge where things went off the rails and what you have the power to change.
You DO have the power. Go find it. If you are interested in following my journey – or beginning one of your own – please find me on social or find a CoolSculpting location in your area!
Do you have questions about CoolSculpting? Share with me in the comments!
1. ASDS 2016 survey of top medically necessary and cosmetic procedures.
2. Zelickson B, et al. American Society for Dermatology Surgery 2009;35:1462–70.
3. Body Contouring 101: Understanding Fat Reduction vs. Weight Loss. Available at: https://www.isaps.org/blog/2017/03/01/body-contouring-101-understanding-fat-reduction-vs-weight-loss/ [Last accessed March 18].
4. Spalding, K. L., Arner, E., Westermark, P. O., Bernard, S., Buchholz, B. A., Bergmann, O., ... & Concha, H. (2008). Dynamics of fat cell turnover in humans. Nature, 453(7196), 783.
5. Body Contouring 101: Understanding Fat Reduction vs. Weight Loss. Available at: https://www.isaps.org/blog/2017/03/01/body-contouring-101-understanding-fat-reduction-vs-weight-loss/ [Last accessed March 18].
6. Klein KB, et al. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 2009;41:785-90.
7. Body Contouring 101: Understanding Fat Reduction vs. Weight Loss. Available at: https://www.isaps.org/blog/2017/03/01/body-contouring-101-understanding-fat-reduction-vs-weight-loss/ [Last accessed March 18].
8. Body Contouring 101: Understanding Fat Reduction vs. Weight Loss. Available at: https://www.isaps.org/blog/2017/03/01/body-contouring-101-understanding-fat-reduction-vs-weight-loss/ [Last accessed March 18].
9. Sasaki GH, et al. Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2014;34:420–431