The Hatch-Palucks, Week 9: True Mom Confessions
Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge
I'm no stranger to body-image issues.
In 2002, I began losing my hair after developing an autoimmune condition called alopecia areata. The majority of people who have the disease only lose small patches of their hair, but I was in the 10 percent of people who lose most of it.
By 2003, I was 95 percent bald. One cold January evening, Channing tenderly shaved what remained of my once-glorious mane of hair and I was left with a mostly bare pate. I wore a wig in public most of the time for nearly a year. It wasn't until I gave birth to Emmeline in late 2004 that my tresses had started to grow back.
While I was bald, I trained myself not to look too closely in the mirror. It was just too hard to look at the reflection staring back at me.
That's how I coped.
I did the same thing when I was at my heaviest weight, which was 160 pounds. I avoided the looking glass and the scale, and hid myself in baggy clothes. As someone who was always naturally thin -- and often got compliments on her trim figure -- I didn't know how to deal when my metabolism suffered the double whammy of entering my 30s and having a child.
Fast-forward to December 2010. I have a full head of healthy hair. I'm within 13 pounds of my goal weight of 130 (which is where my doc wants to see it, to help avoid the dreaded diabetes I'm at risk for). And I still can't look in the mirror.
My daily grooming routine is limited to the basics. I'm too busy to do more than brush my teeth and hair, and make-up and I parted ways when I traded life in Corporate Town for a gig as a stay-at-home mother. Now that I'm entering the workforce again full-time, albeit as a free agent, I find myself in the unfamiliar position of needing to look the part of small-business owner, writer and social-media consultant.
I'm being forced to look in the mirror now, both literally and metaphorically, and I'm realizing that I've been neglecting my health for a very specific reason -- one I think lots of mothers will recognize.
What started as a way to manage my emotional response to going bald morphed into a habit of putting myself last. Just as my hair grew back, I had a child and even my most basic needs took a backseat to hers. There were plenty of days when showering felt like a luxury, and it still does.
So you can imagine where exercise and proper eating fit in to my priorities.
The past two weeks have been tough for me in terms of paying attention to my Healthy Families Challenge goals. I was cooking and hosting for the Thanksgiving holiday, transitioning to working full-time and prepping for our annual trek halfway across the country to see our families for Christmas.
Any spare minute I had was spent with my husband and children, giving them whatever attention I could.
My needs fell to the bottom of the list: I grabbed a danish and stuffed it in my mouth at 11 a.m. while trying to hit a deadline, instead of sitting down to eat breakfast; and I skipped the gym altogether to spend an hour playing trucks with Henry.
That isn't OK anymore. I have to put some aspects of my self-care first. I have to exercise. I have to eat right. Not only because I want to look better, but because I want to be alive to dance at my children's weddings.
Putting my health first puts my family first, too -- and that's an epiphany I wouldn't have had without being pushed forward by this challenge.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.