This Transformation Week post may seem a bit silly to most, but I always make the assumption that I’m not the only person in the world who feels the way I do and so by sharing honestly, there may be someone who can be helped by realizing that they are not the only ones.
Up until very recently, I gave no effort to my physical appearance. Every day I wore jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt. I owned about three other shirts that were for dressier occasions but usually paired those with jeans as well. I wore no make-up other than foundation and the occasional smear of lipstick. Some days, I even skipped the foundation. It had been almost two and a half years since I even got my hair trimmed! Other than the about once a year when I got a Pedicure for a special occasion, I used no spa services.
I was proud of the money I was saving by not spending on myself, but the money is not the top reason I wasn’t putting effort into how I looked. I told myself (and probably others) that I didn’t have time to spend on hair and clothes and make-up. I certainly felt I didn’t have time to spend exercising. That wan’t the real reason either. I also have said in the past that appearances and what people look like on the outside don’t matter and aren’t worth putting time into. Though to an extent that may be true, it’s not entirely true.
I was hiding behind those excuses. The truth was a combination of feelings.
-not putting effort in and then not feeling beautiful felt like it would hurt less than trying really hard and still not feeling beautiful
-I was using some extra weight and some really long hair (down past my waist) to cover up insecurities
-I didn’t feel I was worth putting time, money and effort into
-I felt that when being compared to models and movie stars, I obviously was never going to stack up, so why bother trying
-in the past when I had made physical changes to please others, the changes were either unnoticed or unappreciated
I finally had to come to a place where I decided that if I was going to make changes to my physical appearance, I had to be doing it for me, not anyone else. I also had to decide that I was worth it. I’m not there yet and so I had to decide that my kids are worth it. I wanted my kids, especially my girls to see a good role model. I wanted them to see a mom who was eating healthier, exercising, taking care of herself, and feeling better about herself so that someday, they would treat themselves well. It’s a work in progress because most days, I still don’t feel it. I feel like a bit of a phoney at times with my new hair and make-up but I am so glad I did it!
In trying to go through photos to find before and after shots, I was sad but not surprised to discover how few pictures there are of me. The ponytail days were most days but I can’t find a picture at all. I have pictures of me at Mandi’s wedding in June but that’s not a very accurate portrayal since my hair is straightened and make-up done. I did manage to find a picture that one of the kids took of me cutting food up before a get-together so I’m wearing a nicer shirt than usual but it gives the general idea.
I also decided that I needed to spend money on myself. This was a really hard one for me to work through. I was in the mindset that I shouldn’t spend money on me until we were out of debt and until we had paid for a shower and fixed the broken things around the house and …
While I am not advocating spending huge amounts of money when you are in debt, I am advocating being reasonable and treating yourself as well as you would treat a friend or one of your kids. I buy shoes and clothes for my kids, so why should I not do the same for myself? In the past, I have bought myself a couple of pairs of jeans every few years and worn them until they fell apart. I have shirts that are over 15 years old. I don’t even know if I can say that I have bought myself one new shirt a year. With the exception of one pair of wonderful shoes, I have bought my shoes in the children’s section at WalM*rt for an average of $5 a pair. Almost all of the pyjamas in my drawer were from when I was in high school (I graduated 19 years ago!). That is not an indication of treating myself well!
So, I threw out the pyjamas with the holes and faded pictures. Filled a big garbage bag between that and the shirts in my closet that weren’t even in good enough condition to give away! And I went shopping. At first, I just bought myself a few pairs of pyjamas. When I figured out what kinds I liked, I went back and bought more. I know that no one sees me in my pyjamas but it really made me feel better.
I went shopping for a dress to wear to my niece’s wedding next weekend and I bought 3! When I went back to pick up one they had to order in in my size, I bought another one that was on 70% off! I don’t ever wear dresses but that is going to change. I have plans to buy myself some shirts at some point and am going to make a point for them not to all be long-sleeved t-shirts! I went and had a bra fitting and bought some that actually fit and aren’t broken! I bought whitening strips for my teeth. I bought a nail file though I have yet to use it!
There has only been one day since this “transformation” began where I have worn sweats and a comfy shirt and not done my hair or put on make-up. Other than that, EVERY day, regardless of how I am feeling, of how much sleep I have had, of whether anyone has said anything nice to me, of whether my stress is through the roof, of whether I feel like even getting out of bed…I have gotten dressed in something decent, done my hair, put on make-up, exercised, and put a smile on my face (even if I had to fake it).
My mom always told me growing up that when you are feeling at your worst (like if you have a bad cold or just got dumped by your boyfriend) you should get up, shower and get dressed and you should wear nicer clothes on those days because it will help you to feel better and you know what? She was right!
I also have started exercising in little increments. I do sit ups in the morning. I love sit ups so I do lots and lots of them and all different types. I put music on while I do them and if I have time, I do squats and push ups and things like that as well. I dance around the kitchen with the kids. I do exercise videos on YouTube. I am particularly fond of one that promises shaking your hips to a smaller waist!
I am doing the exercising to feel more energy and be healthier but as a byproduct, I have lost four pounds and only have one pound to go until I’m back to my wedding weight. I am eating healthier and not dieting but instead, just being sure that I eat breakfast and drink water and try to get some nutrients into my body.
This new effort on my external self is slowly helping to change my internal self. It also is taking less than 10 minutes longer than it used to take me before to get ready in the mornings. My hair takes half the time because I’m not combing through knots. The sit ups and make-up take hardly any time at all and it takes the same amount of time to put on pants and a nice shirt than it took to put on jeans and a frumpy one!
Change can be scary. This transformation inside and out is a process for me, one that has been a difficult journey as I examine beliefs that I have held and determine that some of them are not true. Treating myself badly is not a way to be a better Christian, wife, mom, friend, person. This new way is honouring the body God gave me and teaching my kids how to take care of themselves and hopefully, giving me more energy to be the best me I can be.