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My Struggle with Body Image

I feel silly writing this post.

I feel like I’ll be judged or people will roll their eyes at me for struggling with body image.

I’m thin by society’s standards. I don’t have trouble finding clothes and I can move through this world easily.

People don’t mock me or tell me how I should eat so I don’t struggle like many others unfortunately do.

And that makes telling my story feel silly.

But this is my blog so I’m going to tell it. 😉

Because I want to remember feeling like this. In 10 years, I want to look back and remember working through this struggle.

The Tipping Point

I’m not really sure when it happened. When the need to feel better became the quest to look perfect.

I distinctly remember wanting to get healthier. I had just delivered my first daughter and I felt like a shell of a person. Sure, I was carrying extra weight, but I really just wanted to have energy again and take better care of myself. So I got healthy and felt excited about the changes.

Then I started following social media accounts to motivate me on this new health journey. Back then, Instagram was full of #fitspo and bikini competitors and not so much postpartum bodies and body confidence.

Suddenly, I got a glimpse into this “wellness world” and I wasn’t healthy enough.

Not fit enough.

Not lean enough.

I led a healthy lifestyle by working out 2-3 times a week with some girlfriends and truly loved it. I ate healthy foods, fell in love with vegetables and also enjoyed dessert if I wanted it. But when I looked in the mirror and saw my soft belly and love handles, I felt like I was doing something wrong. I was doing all the things – why didn’t I have a flat stomach?

Dieting

After a few years, I became hell bent on getting the body that I felt like I deserved. I was finally healthy… why didn’t my body mirror those fit girls? What more did I need to do?

I learned how to count macros and I finally did it. I achieved my *perfect* body. I convinced myself that it was worth all the measuring and weighing and eating cold tuna on the road and working out at 11 pm.

Then, I was blessed to become pregnant again. A healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

And soon it was time to “bounce back!!”

I think back to that time and feel sad for the pressure I put on my body to be “perfect” again. Because now it was so much worse. I knew that I had done it before, so I didn’t have those doubts of whether I could do it. I knew that with enough determination, I could do it.

I lost all the baby weight (breastfeeding definitely helped) and thought “Now I can be happy. I got to my goal weight and “skinniness” and life was good.”

The Second Tipping Point

Until I couldn’t sustain it. I couldn’t track my foods in an app for the rest of my life. I couldn’t look at foods and mentally count the calories anymore. I just couldn’t.

I would look at my daughters and think, “What if they get to high school and think they need to mentally track their lunch or calorie intake?” “What if they go through life thinking that they, too, aren’t healthy unless they look perfect?”

I just couldn’t anymore.

But instead of just, you know…not dieting (duh) and going back to the healthy lifestyle I lived before, I stopped everything.

I had to separate myself from all forms of media that equated thinness with worth, beauty and acceptance. I couldn’t go to gym classes where they talked about working off the food they ate. I couldn’t follow food bloggers who talked about calories or macros or even used the word “healthy.”

For months, I just ate what I wanted, lived off coffee and cookies and watched all my weight come back.

Now, I’m not saying that is an ideal lifestyle. 😉 It’s just how my story went.

Instead of fighting the weight gain, I bought bigger shorts. I discovered the miracle of high waisted leggings. And I just ate food without analyzing it to death.

And now…

After the cookies and coffee diet, I slowly made my way back to my version of healthy.

I eat well and I enjoy dessert. I love a good salad but also won’t pass up a donut with my girls.

I’ll be honest, I could exercise more consistently. 😉

My stomach rolls over my waistband and that’s okay.

My pant size has gone up 2 sizes and that’s okay.

I feel more comfortable in loose fitting workout clothes because of those two things and that’s okay. I don’t have to be totally confident in my body to decide that my body is still good.

I was recently weighed at a doctor’s visit and I’ve put on about 20 lbs from my leanest. I’m exactly the same weight as I was when I started to diet.

I look in the mirror now and I’m not met with thoughts of “Wow. I look good. This is what I’ve been working hard for and it’s totally worth it.”

But I’m also not (always) met with thoughts of “Wow. I need to lose weight.” (I’ll be honest, sometimes a thought of “Ugh, my stomach is outta control today” will sneak in. I’m a work in progress.)

But mostIy, I just look in the mirror and think “That’s my body. It is a reflection of my lifestyle and you know what, it’s still a good body.” <3

I am beautiful and healthy, even at a higher weight. I am not “less than” the Pam who was fitter. I am still the same person and because I live a far more relaxed lifestyle, my weight has gone up. And I don’t need to diet myself into leanness to inspire other people to live healthy lives. <~~~ This has taken me years to learn.

The Comparison Trap

On a grander scale, when I take a big step back and look at the privilege of my life, I realize that my obsession over being ripped and “perfect” can feel like a slap in the face for someone who desperately wants to be a societal normal size. I try to be sensitive to that and it’s why I don’t share a lot of my inner struggle. I mean, even when I look at the picture above, I want to roll my eyes at what my mind tells me.

But I want to speak to the mom who compares her post-partum body and life to the fitness person on Instagram and thinks that something is wrong with them.

Look, you may never look like that chick. But that’s not because you aren’t healthy. It’s just because you are not her.

You are YOU.

You can be the healthiest and fittest version of you and there’s nothing wrong with striving for your personal best. If you are on a weight loss journey, I hope this doesn’t make you feel judged. That is not my intent at all. There are plenty of wonderful reasons to want to lose weight and there are plenty of sound methods to do so.

But don’t compare your body to someone else’s who doesn’t live your life. They may not have the joy of eating ice cream with kids or need the escape of a few glasses of wine on a mom’s night out. They don’t live your life and you don’t live theirs.

Now what?

I’m not here to tell you how to fix your body image. I’m struggling right along with you.

But the thing that is helping me every day is hearing more stories like mine. Share your story with someone you trust. Talk about it. Write it in a blog post for the world to see. 😀

But don’t silently struggle on your own. We live in a society with some pretty messed up beauty standards. By talking about it, we can fight against the trap of comparison and the pursuit of perfection.

Thanks for listening, friends. This was really hard for me to write but I feel better getting it all out there. Let’s see how this journey evolves over time. <3

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Building a Camp Loft Bed

I built a bed!

My dad came up last week to help me get more comfortable with our power tools and I picked quite the project to start us off. ;P

Amy helping her Grandpa build

The main tools we used were:

Lots of wood planks to sand and paint!

We used these plans from Ana White and added 6″ to each of the posts to make it a standard loft size instead of junior loft height.

We also made a matching twin bed that can go underneath (if you didn’t have an 8 year old who insists on having her desk underneath.)

A twin camp style bed
Amy helping place the screws

For finishing, I chose to paint it with Valspar Chalk Paint in Beaded Reticule. After one coat of paint and one coat of clear wax, I dabbed some antique wax in random spots and spread it out with a paper towel. Super fancy, right? 😀

The finished Vintage Farmhouse Camp Loft Bed
The finished Vintage Farmhouse Twin Bed

We love how it came out and I just love walking into their room!

Vintage Farmhouse Camp Loft Bed

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October 2019 Spread

I’m just loving the new Plan Like a Boss digital planner release in this Vintage colorway! I used free digital planning stickers from Holly Pixels to decorate my October 2019 spread. You can sign up for her list and get access to her vault for free goodies!

Wondering how to find more free stickers? Watch this video to peep my process!

Finding Free Digital Stickers Online

To purchase this planner, head on over to the shop!

Hope your October is off to a great start!! 🎃

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Why We Aren’t Homeschooling This Year

Little Who is going back into the public school system.

Before we ever homeschooled, she went to public school Kindergarten. She was in a fantastic school in Kansas City and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Well, except for having to get up so early and pack lunches – that is seriously the worst part of all of this. 😂 Other than that, it was a really great year. 

But we were always curious about homeschooling and after we moved to Washington, I had some concerns about sending her to school.

You know, the normal worries like “What if she gets teased?” and “What if we want to travel outside of break times?” But there were (and still are) bigger concerns like “What if there’s a school shooting?” At the time, I felt like homeschooling was a good way to avoid all of that until I was ready. Also, I really didn’t want to go out in the rain to wait at the bus stop. 😂

So, we ventured down the homeschooling path and honestly, I loved it at first. It was really fun to go through school alongside her. We slept in, took our time, figured out how she learned best, and we genuinely just loved being together. And we were pretty successful! She is right on track with school standards, so we’re good right?

Y’all, the second year was rough.

Part of it was adding on the extra responsibility of tutoring her Classical Conversations class every week. As much as I can be extroverted, it was really hard for me to be “on” for other people once a week. I’m glad I committed and saw it through but it was a struggle. I quickly learned how much teachers pour into other kids so I will never take them for granted. I only had 8 students and there was always another parent or two in there with me! 😂 It was rewarding and I loved those little people but man, it was utterly exhausting!

The biggest challenge at home was having a 2 year old running around, being… well, a 2 year old. I would get frustrated at every turn – at Lea for not wanting to do schoolwork, at Amy for being so wild, but mostly at myself for feeling like a failure

Maybe the novelty of homeschooling wore off. I’m sure all homeschoolers go through this at some point. Wondering if they made the wrong choice. Asking themselves if they are only doing this because they are just scared of the alternative. 

Or maybe, while I really enjoyed being with my child all day, I didn’t enjoy teaching. I had to ask myself if I truly felt called to homeschool or was I doing it just because I didn’t want to be a slave to the school system. 

I’m sure it’s a combination of all of it but by the end of the year, I was convinced that we needed a change. Most days ended in tears and I felt like I was throwing my hands up and walking away more than I was actually teaching. And Lea is a very compliant kid so I couldn’t imagine continuing homeschooling a child like Wild Amy. 😂 

The biggest frustration was hearing the (completely normal) moaning and groaning about having to do school everyday. Listen, I know every homeschool parent deals with this. But it was incredibly annoying to have to push past it when I was thinking, “Dude, I would much rather be doing anything else than this.” Call me selfish but I didn’t wake up everyday excited to teach and then to have to deal with the whining? No, thank you.

Every day, I told myself, “You just have to get through this year.” That was my light post. “Just get to the end of the year.” And when we cut our year short in March, to move across the country… All I felt was relief. We could just “be” again, without the pressures of being student and teacher. I instantly felt lighter, knowing that I was done. 

Fast forward a few months and today, we are going to the local public school to meet her new teacher. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I failed at homeschooling. I love that she just wants to be next to me every day. I love having her with me where I can protect her and build memories. But playing the teacher role was really hard. I felt she could sense my frustration and I don’t want her to ever feel like it’s her fault.

There are so many things that I loved about homeschooling. The flexibility of our schedule, being able to tailor her education to her interests, having the freedom to explore things outside of a standard curriculum, and most of all, letting her just be a kid without any peer pressure. But none of that really matters if my relationship with her suffers.

I hope that we’ll come back to homeschooling one day. I still want that for us when the time is right.

But at this moment, I need to just be Mommy again. She needs to just be my daughter again. 

And we’re excited about that. ❤️