February 2, 2016

Hair Extensions Are Not Going to Make You Prettier

I have struggled with my self-esteem for pretty much my whole life. I think most people struggle with this in some way or another. But I think this is definitely my biggest weakness.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had very unrealistic expectations about what my body would look like after giving birth. I had many people tell me comments like this: “You’re so young, you will bounce right back…Breastfeeding makes you lose tons of weight…You might even be skinnier than before you were pregnant!…Eat whatever you want, you are eating for two now!” Do you see how contradicting those last two comments are? People say things like this all the time though! Hearing comments like this made me so excited.  Well, after I had my first baby I was quickly proven wrong.

As I have mentioned before, I got married at 19. I had a baby within my first year of marriage. Before I got married, I lived a very selfish, single lifestyle (which was great at the time!) I went to school full time on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then came home and went to the gym for 2+ hours. I paid for a personal trainer once a week. On my days off of school, I was on my feet all day long working full-time. After work, again, I would go to the gym for 2+ hours.  I had to pack all of my food for the day because I was rarely home. Because of this lifestyle, I always ate extremely healthy. I didn’t really have an option because I was never home to snack. Most of mypay checks went to new clothes. I got my nails done on a regular basis for years and I got spray tans every week.

Well, after I got married things changed. I started a part-time desk job at a chiropractor’s office. I was in my first year of marriage. And I was pregnant. It really is hard to continue eating healthy during that first year of marriage, let alone doing so while pregnant! It is hard to start cooking healthy meals every night and it is hard to adjust to each other’s habits. My husband, Mike, was used to eating out a lot or BBQing, as most single guys do. Luckily, I grew up in a health-conscious family, so I was familiar with cooking healthy meals, but I also didn’t complain when Mike wanted to order pizza or go out to eat. Also, because I had heard so many false ideologies about pregnancy, I kind of thought I could eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted to. I ate fairly healthy meals and I continued exercising during my pregnancy, but I ate a lot of treats. I loved my job at the chiropractor’s office, but I hated those tempting little chocolates he always had on his desk!

During my pregnancy, I gained about 40 pounds. This isn’t terrible. Did I need to gain that much weight? Probably not. After I gave birth, I still had 20 pounds to lose. I had to have a c-section, so I was pretty inactive for the first few weeks. I also had a lot of people make meals for me, which were not always the healthiest. As soon as my six weeks of resting were up, I started working out again and eating healthy. I tried so hard to lose that weight! I tried everything. Lucas was 9 months old and I hadn’t lost hardly any weight! It was so frustrating because I felt like I was trying so hard for nothing. My self-esteem was practically gone. My poor husband. I would cry ALL the time. Mike would always tell me to stop being so hard on myself and that I was beautiful just the way I was. I believed that he thought I was beautiful, I really did. But, I didn’t feel pretty. This was something that he couldn’t understand, and I didn’t expect him to. I am just glad that he tried so hard to make me feel pretty. I’m sure that would be extremely annoying to a man. Especially to the man that thinks you are the greatest thing on this planet.

I went to my doctor and asked him what I could do to lose the weight. He said that there was nothing more that I could do while I was nursing. He said that some women actually hold on to weight while they are nursing. Well, as soon as I started to wean Lucas, I practically dropped 10 lbs over night. Finally! I only had 10 more pounds to lose. I continued to exercise and eat healthily.  I also started to train for a half marathon. It wasn’t until Lucas was 1 1/2 before I finally felt good about myself. I still had 5 pounds to lose if I wanted to be to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I was content. I was proud of myself for running a half marathon and for trying so hard. I felt pretty good. After I ran my half, I was ready to try to have another baby.

With my second pregnancy, I ate healthier than I did with my first (although I will definitely admit I ate more treats than I should have!), and I did Crossfit until I was 28 weeks and continued exercising until about 37 weeks. I still gained about 40 pounds, but I felt a lot better, had more energy, and didn’t have back pain like I did with my first pregnancy. After I had my baby, I tried to eat healthy, but my family was going through a lot of changes at the time, and I just got into bad eating habits. I would make healthy meals pretty much every day, but I would snack on not-so-healthy treats. It is hard to eat healthy when you are stuck at home all day! I am now 9 months postpartum, and I still haven’t lost a lot of weight. However, my self-esteem has been higher this time than it was with my first, mostly because I had a realistic post-partum body expectations. I knew that I wasn’t going to “get even skinnier after I have my baby,” or, “lose it all so fast from breastfeeding.” I know that I still need to lose weight, but I haven’t spent one night crying about it, and to me, that is more celebratory than losing 30 pounds!

With that being said, I still have a really low self-esteem. One of my goals for the New Year is to gain a better self-esteem. It is so hard to feel pretty in a world so fake. Everyone seems to have fake eyelashes, fake hair, fake tans, and fake body parts. We are constantly bombarded by women with seemingly perfect bodies through our Instagram feeds, billboards, TV shows, and magazines. We see these beautiful women and immediately compare ourselves to them. It is human nature. For a long time, I told myself, “When I lose weight, I know I will be happier. Maybe one day I will be able to afford to buy cute clothes, get spray tans, get eyelash extensions, and get hair extensions. That will make me feel pretty again.” That is so embarrassing to admit, but I honestly thought that was what would make me feel pretty.

When I heard that the Relief Society of my church was doing our monthly activity on building better body-image, I knew that I had to go. When I was there, they shared a quote from Marjorie Pay Hinckley that stated:

“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”

Upon hearing this quote I immediately started crying. These are the things that make our self-esteem higher! Not hair extensions, fancy clothes, or fake tans. Giving a stranger a smile, listening to someone when they are down, doing service for a struggling neighbor, wiping my child’s tears on my shirt when they are crying, trying to be the best mom and wife I can be–these are things that are going to make me the happiest.

I am not saying that I am not going to take care of my body. And I know I will get my nails done again when it is easier to leave my kids with a babysitter regularly. I might even get a fake tan again! None of these things are bad, but they don’t really matter. Who are you when you look in the mirror at night with all of the makeup off, the hair clips out, and no one to please but yourself? Your self-esteem does not grow from the way you make yourself up; your self-esteem grows in the way you lift up others

Our minds are our worst critics. It is so easy to put yourself down, even when you do something good. I am also extremely guilty of this. I will be spending quality one-on-one time with my little boy and immediately think, “I need to do this more often. He probably doesn’t get enough attention.”  I will get a really good workout in early in the morning and think, “I need to do this everyday. I’m horrible at keeping up on this, no wonder I can’t lose weight.” I will write my husband a nice letter randomly and be super happy when I give it to him and then immediately think, “I don’t do this often enough. He probably doesn’t even know that I think about him.” These are the kinds of thoughts that destroy our self-esteem! Rather than allowing these negative thoughts to enter my mind, I am going to start giving myself praise for whatever it is that I am doing in that moment and always strive to be better.

So from now on, to women everywhere, let’s start acknowledging our inner-beauty. Forgive the mistakes, the flaws, and the imperfections. I want to focus more on serving others and my family. I want to show love to everyone around me and never judge. I want to drop what I am doing and serve someone in a time of need. Because these are the things that are going to make me the happiest.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. You are beautiful!

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