The Ideal

After we finished walking the Camino last May, we spent the better part of a week in Barcelona.  We spent two or three afternoons at the topless beach, reveling in the perfect weather. I wore my entire bathing suit to the beach, but took off my top with all my other clothes. Five years ago, I wouldn't have thought one second about baring my breasts in a public place, much less one where there were so many other amazing breasts to compare with mine. But after spending time in Korea, becoming comfortable with my own body in front of other women at the public baths, and ultimately becoming comfortable enough to stop caring if other people weren't comfortable with my body1, the topless beach thing wasn't a big deal. I didn't feel stared at or ogled. I had just finished walking over 500 miles for 32 days, and my body was a prize. I wasn't completely happy with my size (does this EVER happen?) or with every part of my body, but I was satisfied enough to feel that I was owning my body in a way I hadn't ever done so before. 

I had gotten up every morning and fed myself well and then walked for miles every day, fully deserving those sweet hours of sleep between yellow arrows pointing the way to Santiago. I felt productive in a new way. I didn't necessarily produce much, except for an exceptional amount of perspiration and dirty clothes. But I was going somewhere; I had direction and purpose to wake up to each morning; I had my body to thank at the end of the day. 

Back to the beach. Back to a time when Kenny and I spent an entire two days of the trail talking about baby names and using phrases like, "In three more years," or "after we hike in Peru" just to make sure we agreed about the timing in our marriage for children. We were leaving the beach the last day when I saw a small girl, maybe a year and a half old standing under one of the showers for rinsing off the sand. She couldn't push the button to make the water come out, but she was standing there with her hands out just waiting. She also happened to be completely nude and adorable with her perfectly round tummy and her pudgy little hands waiting expectantly for the water. And then her mother came up to her and decided it was time to go. Her mom was topless and had another baby in a stroller. And you guys, this woman was breathtaking, both in the usual sense of being a beautiful woman and also in the sense of being a mother. And as I looked at her and watched her chase her babies inside that skin, I turned to Kenny and said, "That's the mother I want to be." 

So far, I'm not the mother I want to be. I started this pregnancy at 66 kilos (145 pounds) and yesterday in my 23rd week, I weighed in at 77 kilos (169 pounds). Now, I am not that woman who was in shape before her pregnancy and is mourning the loss of her figure. I happen to be in love with my big round belly, because that's where Jude's hanging out these days, and pregnant bellies are cute. However. The rate at which I promptly quit living my life and immediately began consuming unethical amounts of carbs have devastated the rest of my body. My boobs are huge to begin with and now I barely know what to do with them. My thighs and my butt have never even concerned me before, and now I find myself gazing at them with an open mouth in the mirror. Where did these come from? And HOLY BACK FAT. I guess Jude is just rearranging all the fat that can't settle around my midsection anymore. He is delegating it to my back and my upper arms. And I know that this post is silly in some respects. That worrying about the state of my body and my weight is somehow supposed to be outweighed by the joys of growing a child, the wonder of making another person inside me. 

But. It's just not healthy, is it? And health should be more of a priority for me. The weight I've gained isn't just pregnancy weight. It's lazy weight. Weight that doesn't have to be here. And it bothers me. I want to be a cute pregnant lady, not the one who uses her pregnancy as an excuse to eat three donuts in one day (hello, yesterday). There are a lot of things I need to work on. In my last post, I wrote about how dissatisfied I was with my inability to DO anything. Well, in the past week, I've volunteered to help at a library story time on Saturdays, volunteered to sing and dance at church once a week in an English play time, and found a prenatal yoga class that I'll start next week DESPITE the fact that I don't really speak enough Korean to understand what the teacher says without watching her the entire time. Add to that my private tutoring and I've got something to do almost every day of the week. So, I've managed to spread out my time and efforts and I'm hoping just having a reason to leave the house everyday will help stall the back fat extravaganza. Oh, and taking nightly walks with my husband, holding hands and talking about our days and our future. Yes. So, now begins the battle: The Ideal vs. My Back Fat. Let's hope the Ideal takes this one, eh?

1. I think this is actually the real issue. It’s not usually about what we think or feel about ourselves when we look in the mirror, but it’s about what we imagine other people to think about us when they look at us. It’s always the pressure of “the other” we’re measuring ourselves against. I’ve worked hard to guard against this and now I mostly try to measure myself against the best version of myself. But of course, this is also difficult. 
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