|My son, me, and my father, Kent.|
We’d just unloaded the horses from the trailer and were going to move some cows who’d wandered into the winter range back up to the summer range (higher in the mountains). There was a lot of brush to ride through, so my dad handed me a pair of his old chaps to protect my legs.
I zipped up the left leg. Snug, but it fit. Then I went to zip up the right leg. It wouldn’t zip. My upper thigh was simply to big. I immediately deflated, feeling like a failure because I couldn’t fit in my 55 year old father’s chaps (granted, he’s a bean pole, but still).
Even though I’d been running 2-3 miles three times a week, I knew I was “bigger” than I’d ever been. At 5’11” and 32 years old, I am a size ten. I’m big boned and muscular (at every one of my c-sections, the doctor has made a comment about my “excellent musculature”, lol!). It’s the reason I played center for my high school basketball team. It’s a reason that even at my thinnest (19% body fat), I was still a size 8.
I went on the ride without those chaps. In the truck on the way back to the bunkhouse, I stared out the window, feeling like a complete failure. I’d asked someone I loved recently if I looked “okay.” Her response, “Just don’t gain anymore weight and you’ll be fine.” Those words hurt. Like I was on the cusp of failure.
I said something derogatory about myself to my dad. I don’t even remember what. But I do remember his answer. He shrugged. “What matters is you’re healthy and you can do the things you want to do.”
|My daughter and my dad|
My eyes welled with tears. My father loved me. He didn’t care that I wasn’t perfect. And he was right. The size of my pants didn’t matter. Whether or not I had “thigh gap” didn’t matter (I’ve never had it, btw).
What matters about our bodies is that they’re healthy and strong enough to do what we need them to. That’s it. That’s the measurement that should dictate our happiness.
How tragic and unkind of us to hate a beautiful, god-given gift because it isn’t perfect. I needed to hear that. I needed to feel loved and accepted. And I needed to remember that being and feeling strong is my goal. Not being skinny.
So if you’ve never heard it from your parents: What matters is you’re healthy and strong enough to do the things you want to do. That’s it. Stop worrying about having a “perfect” body. Instead, work toward making your body healthy and strong.
Remember that as you make your New Year’s resolutions.
This is my body. It’s not perfect (apparently one of my thighs is bigger than the other). But it’s strong and healthy.
And that’s what matters.