Loving My Body in Pregnancy

Loving My Body in Pregnancy

I Am Not Defined By My Weight - Part VII Pregnancy

This piece is Part 7 of a 9 Part Series called I Am Not Defined By My Weight, inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face". 

My pregnancy did not meet all of my expectations. I had to stop running mid-way through my pregnancy due to pelvic pain, and I gained way more weight than I wanted (maybe 35-50 lbs.). Even still, I loved the journey I was on.

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Why Everyone Should Send Care Packages & 52 Ideas to Include

It wasn’t until I deployed that I truly understood the importance of mailing care packages.

Prior to my experience, I thought the purpose of sending packages to deployed members was to give the person something they needed. Having now been on the receiving end, I realized it goes beyond fulfilling a physical need for some deodorant or beef jerky.

When you’re away from family and friends, there’s a void that you are left with. You miss the interpersonal communication, the personal touch of a kiss or an embrace. You long for something that just isn’t available to you.

Then, on those few sporadic mail days, you are blessed with something totally unexpected and super exciting.

It is on those days when I receive a care package that I feel the love emit from the contents inside.

From the card or note that cheers me up or brings a tear to my eye, to the k-cups that restock my stash and keep me going throughout the day.

These moments make you feel like a child on Christmas all over again.

I regret not sending packages to friends that were deployed; I just didn’t realize the emotions that could travel with these small blessings.

From here on out, I vow to be more diligent to care for friends, near and far. To send them love when they are away or when they are at home and need something a little extra because a little goes a long way.

When should you create a care package?

  • When you can’t physically be there for the person on the receiving end.

  • When you want to show them you love them and you care

  • When you want them to know you were just thinking about them

  • When you’ve identified a need and want to fulfill it

  • When someone is deployed or significant other is deployed, had a new baby, is going through a really rough season, just moved to a new location.

Is there ever a bad time to send a care package?

  • I don’t think there is ever a bad time to send a care package, but ultimately you should check the motive behind sending it. Don’t feel obligated to send something; you should genuinely want to send something out of the kindness of your heart.

  • Don’t replace care packages with actually being there for someone. Things are nice, but you can’t buy love. Sometimes, an individual needs a shoulder to lean on or a person to talk to and if you are hiding from filling that need by sending a package, I would encourage you to reconsider.

 
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What should you include in a care package?

For the Coffee Lover:

  • COFFEE (k-cups, refillable K-cups, Ice coffee packets)

  • Creamer

  • Mug

  • Syrup flavors

  • French Press

For the Food Addict:

  • Different seasonings (adobo, garlic salt, etc.…)

  • Variety of hot sauce

  • A mix of healthy and guilty pleasure snacks

  • Healthy microwavable meals (quinoa packets, protein oatmeal, etc.…)

  • Something homemade

For the Book Worm:

  • Amazon gift card

  • Creative book marks

  • A motivational book

  • A book in their favorite genre

  • A book for their season of life

  • Book darts

  • Book décor

  • A book box subscription

For the Creative:

  • Coloring book with colored pencils and a sharpener (don’t forget the sharpener)

  • Journal + multicolored pens

  • Stationary + stamps

  • Inspirational wall art/decor

  • Command hooks and strong tape to display art

For a Stranger:

  • Anything motivational (book or art)

  • A variety of snacks

  • Water enhancers

  • Activity books, brain teasers, or puzzles

  • Amazon Gift cards

  • Holiday decorations (Christmas lights, American flags, posters, mini Christmas trees, New Years poppers, Easter basket, etc.)

For the Mom/Dad:

  • Pictures of their child doing every day things

  • Child artwork + tape to hang up artwork

  • A book to record themselves reading

  • Create a care package for the parent back home

  • Coupon for a free babysitter for a night upon return

For the Gym Junkie:

  • A jump rope

  • Motivational Tank / Tee

  • Refillable water bottle (aluminum keeps water cold for a longer period of time)

  • Protein snacks

  • Water enhancers (Gatorade, Spark, Fizz sticks, crystal light, etc.…)

  • Running socks (something about deployments make you go through socks quicker)

  • Wireless/portable speaker

For the Christian:

  • A new bible / study bible

  • A bible study workbook

  • Bible highlighters + pen

  • Scripture art

  • Scripture memory note cards

For a Woman:

  • Face masks, spa-day type stuff

  • Nail polish, remover, nail clippers, file

  • Body spray

  • Light makeup (favorite eyeliner, chap stick,

  • Foot scrub

For a Man:

  • See any of the other categories...

  • Beef jerky (lol)

 

Care Package blog

How Physical Fitness & Self-Worth Affected My Relationships

I AM NOT DEFINED BY MY WEIGHT - Part V Relationships/ROTC

This piece is Part 5 of a 9 Part Series called I Am Not Defined By My Weight, inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face". 

Recently, I decided to take the 5 Love Languages quiz to figure out my love language. The quiz determined my love language is “Words of Affirmation," meaning for me, actions do not speak louder than words. Unsolicited compliments, kind/encouraging words are genuinely life-giving, and the opposite can be earth-shattering.

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Understanding this love language brought a lot of things into perspective.

From growing up obsessed with physical appearance, to listening to immature boys call me fat, I started to believe the lies that I am what I weigh. Strangers repeated these words often enough, it consumed me and crushed my spirit.   All throughout college, I unknowingly battled these misperceptions, trying to discover who I was and what my purpose was in life. When I joined ROTC, it exacerbated the belief that I wasn't enough.

Firstly, please realize I am not faulting the Air Force, Ohio State or ROTC for any of my self-esteem problems.  I had fantastic cadre members (the officers/enlisted members in charge) and peers that encouraged and motivated me. My story is more than the four years in ROTC.My struggle is a culmination of my culture, my perceptions, and my individual experiences.

ROTC Experience

From day one in ROTC, I was aware I did not meet standards and would have to lose weight to wear the uniform. I also could not pass a PT test (physical training test) to save my life—another requirement to serve in the Air Force.

Knowing this, I continued on.

I went to mandatory PT twice a week, and watched, as every single person was faster, skinnier, and stronger than me. I was also one of a few cadets who did not meet standards, thus was required to march around campus in civilian clothes.

You can say I stuck out like a sore thumb. Because of this, I regularly had people asking me why I wasn't in uniform and what did I mean by "not meeting standards."

Talk about awkward.

I had to explain to people I was too fat to wear the uniform. I would feel sick to my stomach.

ROTC PT.jpg
ROTC PT .jpg

To make matters worse, we would have PT tests once a quarter where we would get weighed in, tape measured, and then tested on pushups, sit-ups and a mile and a half run.

If I didn't make weight, it was an automatic failure and no more uniform for me.  So instead of fueling my body appropriately to do well on those PT tests, I would starve myself the weak prior and spend hours in the sauna wearing a sweat suit to make sure I could make weight.

You can probably guess my performance during those tests were subpar.

It was a lose-lose situation.

In hindsight, I wish I had reached out for help on how to lose weight the right way. I knew there were standards I needed to uphold, yet every Friday after weigh-ins I would binge on Taco Bell as a reward for surviving another week. When I would go out with friends, I would enjoy massive amounts of food and then force myself to puke it up. Not only would the calories not count, but it also prevented hangovers. Pretty distorted, am I right?

Thankfully, that season is behind me, but there is still more to the story.

Self-worth and Relationships

“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” – Robert Holden

Even after I had finally achieved the Air Force's goal weight, I still struggled with self-worth. I was finally wearing the uniform, but I was the slowest person on the track. It wasn't enough to make weight, nor pass the PT test. The next expectation was to get 100 points on the PT test, and I was rarely hitting 90.

I felt like a failure, a big fat failure.

It was during this time I started developing feelings for one of the guys in ROTC, except I tried my hardest to fight those feelings.

See, this guy was white, skinny, and came from the suburbs of Ohio.

I, on the other hand, was Puerto Rican, chubby, and from inner-city Cleveland.

What the heck would people think if they saw a big Hispanic girl with a skinny white boy? 

What would my family say? 

I was not going to allow myself to be embarrassed like that. Plus, why would a thin person want to be with a fat person? I genuinely believed I was too big to be loved. That I needed to find someone bigger than me or else it would never work.

I fixated on these beliefs so much, I pushed this guy away from me, into the arms of another girl.

It wasn’t until I realized the other girl was not interested in him that I decided I could not suppress my feelings any longer.

I had to tell him how I felt, despite feeling unworthy of him or his love.

Lessons Learned

♥ Determine your long-term goals and ensure your short-term goals help you achieve your objective. I  solely focused on making sure the scale moved down, I practiced unhealthy habits that hindered long-term weight loss.

♥ Progress is progress. Celebrate all of your small achievements. Every little achievement adds up to big success.

♥ Ask for help. Don’t allow your pride to get in the way of achieving your goal. I relied heavily on my own strength that it took me longer than it should have to reach my target.

♥ Don’t compare yourself to other people. No one has walked in your shoes. You were uniquely created, and no one in the world matches you. Comparing yourself to other people steals your joy.

♥ Love is not dependent on weight. I was so afraid to date someone because I thought I weighed too much, I almost missed out on the best relationship of my life.

Happily Ever After . . . 

Thankfully, I learned how to stifle the negative opinions I had for myself long enough to enter into the best relationship of my life—my marriage. I wish I could tell you that I learned how to love myself before we said our vows, but that would not be true.

I entered my marriage thinking; finally, I would be happy since I had someone who loved me for me.

But that was just not the case.

Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have, and my relationship with myself was not the best.

It was in marriage and motherhood where I learned how to “love” myself.

If you would like to read more, feel free to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or email. Next week I will explore the beginning of my relationship and marriage, and how I learned that I needed to love myself before I could truly accept my husbands love.

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3 Things I Learned From My Childhood Weight Issues

I AM NOT DEFINED BY MY WEIGHT - Part II Childhood 

This piece is Part 2 of a 9 Part Series called I Am Not Defined By My Weight, inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face". 

If you have read my intro to the series, then you already know I have struggled with weight my entire life.  I can trace it back to my childhood when I remember not wanting to get undressed for the doctors. I didn’t want them to see me unclothed. I also hated wearing bathing suits that showed off my stomach or thighs and absolutely HATED taking any kind of pictures.

I don't remember expressing these feelings vocally, but I do remember the dreaded belief that I was the fattest kid in the birthday photo.

Now, I look back at most of my childhood photos and I realize how delusional I was.

 
Yes... I was a chubby baby! But look how cute I was!

Yes... I was a chubby baby! But look how cute I was!

 

Cultural Significance

I don't remember the exact origins of these feelings, but growing up in a Puerto Rican family surely didn't help. Puerto Ricans, actually most Hispanics, focus a lot on physical descriptions.  That's why you will hear nicknames like "La Gorda”, “La Flaquita”, “Blanquita”, “Negra", "Gringa” etc… Can you imagine your family calling you “the fat one”, “the skinny one”, “the white girl”, “the dark girl”, etc...?

That sticks with you.

To top it off, it wasn’t unusual to go to a family function and have relatives comment on your weight/appearance.

This story isn't uniquely mine. If you talk to enough people, you will probably learn that it's pretty normal. By no means am I blaming my culture nor am I saying I had a horrible family. I love my family and know that no family is perfect. It's just that this constant discussion of weight and appearance created this obsession with being a perfect size, the perfect color, and just perfect in general.

So as I grew up, I always focused on it. If I had gained weight, I had to prepare myself in advance for any family functions knowing that someone would make a comment about me gaining weight. Or if I lost weight, someone would make a comment that I wasn’t eating enough and getting too skinny (blasphemy for a Puerto Rican).

You could not escape someone pinpointing that you gained a few pounds since the last time they saw you. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that they meant any harm by it, it was just how my family operated.

Culture vs. Media

It’s important to note that at no point in my life have I ever been too skinny, at least according to US standards for BMI, in which I have always been considered “overweight” or “obese”. Yet, there were minor occasions when some family members thought I was getting too skinny. I was living in a world where the media glorified a size 0 with an hour-glass figure, but my community glorified a well endowed and curvy woman.

Talk about confusion!

I look back at my pictures and wish I saw then what I see now. Sure, I had some extra fluff, but not to the point that doctors needed to be concerned. I look back at those pictures and I pray that my baby girl wont go through the same issues I went through. I know that she will go through her stages, but I hope that I can help her see the beauty in her that I couldn't see in myself.

What the devil used for destruction, God used for a purpose.

Every stage of my life has had a unique impact on my self-worth. There isn't an exact moment that helped me love or hate my body, instead it was a journey through years of believing lies rather than truth. I hope that through my story, you can identify your own lies and start believing the truth that you are not defined by your weight.


3 Things I Learned

  1. Character qualities far exceed physical qualities, yet the compliments that come out of my mouth almost always center around physicality. Instead,  intentionally praise your children for their confidence, intelligence, curiousty, courage, and kindness.

  2. Strong is beautiful. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, encourage children to be active (and lead by example). Strength is more important than what number is shown on the scale. Weight loss is the unintended outcome when a healthy lifestyle is the goal.

  3. Despite the pain caused from my sufferings, God used all those opportunities to mold me.  Teach your children to embrace the trials and know that God has a purpose for their life. Easier said than done, I know. But the effort will not be in vain. As we pour into our children, God will cultivate it in their heart.

"...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4