A Tale Of Tummies, Tails & Thighs

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Post written by Peter G. James Sinclair.

I’m in the process of submitting  a series of books that I have written over the past 15 years to publishers and literary agents alike.

Having self published three of my own books in the past, I have decided to pull out all stops and pursue a literary agent and/or publisher who will assist me to take my works to an even wider audience than what I currently service.

Not that I am not happy with the well over 30,000 unique visitors each month from over 156 nations that visit this blog – but I believe that I have a message that needs to be shared with millions of people from all over the world.

The daily pursuit of such a lofty goal is at times a laborious process, but one highlight has been to revisit  a book that I wrote after listening to my wife’s life stories. Shelley had to overcome a lot, especially throughout her childhood, in order to blossom into the beautiful woman that I love and have been married to for nearly 30 years.

So when I had to submit the first chapter of the book to one publisher the other day, I decided that I would introduce it to you, my precious blog reader, before the rest of the world gets their eyes on it.

Enjoy!

For here is a tale of tummies, tails and thighs…

Whenever I would look in a mirror, all I could think was, ‘I hate myself.’ That’s a tough call when there is nowhere I can go without ‘me’ being there!

I chose to avoid mirrors when we were shopping, but no matter how hard I’d try one would always seem to lurk behind a clothes hoist or a shoe rack. Before I could do anything about it, a mirror would suddenly leap out and confront me with ‘me’. In a complete state of shock I would try to convince myself, ‘That couldn’t be me. Surely that’s some other woman, not me.’

I particularly had a dislike for those video cameras that some shops insisted on having set up in their windows. Being connected to a TV, every body that passed that shop window was captured on the screen. I always rushed past those as fast as I could! Though without fail, out of the corner of my eye, I would catch a glimpse of that woman I hated. It would totally ruin the rest of my day, because the image of that body, visually implanted in my brain, would refuse to budge.

Before I was married I was proud of my body. It was part of the reason your dad was attracted to me. If you ever ask him, he’ll tell you that it was the brown knitted string bikini that I wore as an eighteen year old that clinched the deal. I’m pleased to say that he has since discovered that it wasn’t only for my beauty that he married me, but that it was also for my brains. Though come to think of it, maybe it was for the brains that he stayed married to me – as there was a period in my life when the beauty seemed to fly out the door and was overtaken by the increasingly expanding flab.

Up until I fell pregnant with my first child I was cruising along in the physical department just fine. Married life hadn’t produced any more pounds or kilos. Although I wasn’t overly active there seemed to be no change all round.  Your dad always said that he always wanted to be married to someone with at least a little bit of meat on her bones. Let’s say, from your dad’s perspective, I was nicely rounded in the right spots.

I Hated Myself

But then baby number one came along. Now don’t take offence at this my beautiful daughter, but the fact is that when your body goes into a state of elasticity, because of the growth of a child in your womb, your body changes forever. From that day, and for the next fourteen years, because there were two more babies to come, I developed an increasing dislike of the state of my body. I hated my hair. I hated my skin. I hated my stretch marks. I hated just about everything about me. In fact, in complete fullness, ‘I hated myself.’

It didn’t matter how much you or your dad loved me, or whatever love I was shown by anyone else, I would continually trip over the hate that I had for myself. I despised mirrors. I envied skinny people. I always felt comfortable around people who were heavier and bulkier than me, and it was at those times that I would soothe my hatred by saying, ‘Well at least I’m not as fat as them.’

The trouble with hating yourself is that there is little compassion left in you for anybody else. Sure, you love your family, but to extend that love or real concern for others is tough. For if you don’t love yourself, then how on earth can you really start to love others? As the good book says, ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ If you hate yourself, then you simply rewrite the commandment with, ‘I hate my neighbour because I hate myself.’ The reason a person is often so unlikable, or so unfriendly, is because of his or her low self-esteem. They hate themselves.  Until they have grown to love themselves and the way God created them, then there is no way that they’re going to share love effectively with any one else.

The Turning Point

One morning, your dad asked me ‘What was the turning point that led you to make the decision to take control of your body?’ It was really a lot of things that prodded me out of my complacency.

I attended a dinner one night with women who had trim bodies and looked fantastic in their gear. I felt old and looked like a frump in my outfit; I suppose deep down I also had a fear that your dad wouldn’t love me because I was starting to look so ugly. He assured me that he would love me no matter what shape I was in. I wonder if he meant pear, plum or peach?

Then one morning I found myself looking in the mirror fair and square at my enemy: my body. For once in my life I saw past the ugly and the fat and looked straight into my eyes and declared: ‘Although I hate you I’m going to shape you.’ I suddenly realized that there was only one person who was going to be able to make the decision to change, and that was me. No one else could do it for me. I knew my husband was wishing that I would do something about it, and yet it would only happen if I made the decision.

When I told your dad that I was going to go to a gym to start a regular exercise program, you could’ve scraped his mouth up off the floor! But all to his credit he offered to drive me to a few gyms in order to get a pricelist, and to see what they each offered. The first was rather expensive.  So I asked him to drive me to another cheaper gym.  This one had all the appearances of some sleazy sweatshop from the outside.  As soon as I opened the door to discover bulky male bodies working out on all the apparatus, I decided to return to the first gym

Spending an hour a day at the gym, four to five days a week, totally transformed not only my body but also my image. At first I would make sure that I attended classes where all the participants were fatter than me. This made me feel good. I also bought myself some of that sexy gym gear that the skinnier women get into. Week after week, through consistent effort, I started to take peek viewings of myself in the mirror. Slowly but surely the mirror started to become my friend rather than my enemy. My children were proud of me. My husband was taking more notice of me, and I was starting to feel good about myself, for the first time in many years.

How did I make the commitment? Well I got myself locked into a program.  I made myself accountable to someone else – namely my husband.  I developed a new habit of going for a daily workout. It wasn’t long before I started to see results – I could fit into my clothes much easier. All in all I was beginning to love my body.

Love Your Body

So as you girls grow up, and as you have your own babies, your body is probably going to experience the same trauma. But I hope that you will realize from my own personal example that you don’t have to wait until things are so bad before you take action. I had, over the years, convinced myself that I didn’t need to exercise. I have discovered that to have good health, you are then able to not only help yourself, but your family and society in general.

Sitting on the fence gets you nowhere fast. If you find that you are unable to get off the fence, then you may be required to take drastic action. Rip out the palings. Pull up the posts. Remove all traces of the fence! Then you will have only one choice forcing you to make a decision to change, and then to take action. It is the only way forward. My husband couldn’t make it for me. My children couldn’t make it for me. It was a personal decision to bite the bullet and to push ahead like never before that made all the difference.

I wanted my 18-year-old body back. I wanted my husband to get excited when he saw me. I wanted my children to respect me. But most of all, I wanted my own personal respect back. My one desire was to be able to look in a mirror and say, ‘I’m proud of you.’ Not that my body is of prime importance, but the fact was that if I didn’t take care of this machine, it wouldn’t drive me around for a long and happy life. Long and happy is what I believe life should be all about. A happy person can then bring happiness to others. It’s a natural progression. Take what I have written in this letter and apply it to your lives today.

I love you beautiful bods,

Mum

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