decide what to be, and go be it

There’s this beautiful woman who’s been a truly lovely part of my life journey so far.  Her name is Melissa, and when I got married, she gave me one of my favorite pieces of marital advice.  I still have the index card she wrote it on in the top drawer of my nightstand.  That nightstand, along with the card of course, is in a storage facility in northern Missouri, and I don’t recall the exact wording, but the main idea has never left me, and probably never will.

Don’t give in to the granny panties.

I remember at the time thinking, “Ha! That will never happen.  The granny panties will never enter my home.”  Says the girl currently wearing the white cotton underwear that she bought in a 3-pack from Walmart.

Don’t alarmed.  This is not a post about my underwear.  My mama would be proud to know that, contrary to her deepest fears, there are actually things that I believe should be kept private. If you’re reading this and you know Linda Spain, feel free to laugh in total understanding right now, and tell her next time you see her that she can breathe easy.

This is a post about me learning how to take care of myself so that I need not befriend the granny panties.

Growing up, I was one of those girls that most people wanted to punch.  Up until I graduated college, I could literally eat anything I wanted and sit on my butt all day and not gain a pound.  And you may have been one of those people I wanted to punch.  The ones who constantly told me to enjoy it while it lasted, because it would change.

This is me, acknowledging that you were right.

And today, I honestly wish someone had told me back then not to enjoy it so much.  I wish someone had shown me how to take better care of my body.  Not just for the sake of staying thin, but because…it’s my body.  It’s the only one I have.  And I spent 22 years taking horrible care of it because I could without any signs of major consequences, and five years after that taking horrible care of it because I didn’t really know how to do anything else.  Because I live in a society that believes it is our God-given right to over-indulge in things that aren’t food at all, and to deprive ourselves at all must be unhealthy.

Don’t you get me wrong.  I’m not one of those “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” girls.  There’s a big difference between skinny and healthy.  Believe me, I’ve been skinny before, and it wasn’t pretty or healthy.  I have no desire to go back there for any reason.  I also well know that deprivation can be an extremely unhealthy thing; I have had many friends who have struggled with eating disorders, and I have been broken alongside them over their broken relationship with food and their bodies.  There’s a difference, however, between often depriving yourself of food for the sake of being thin and often depriving yourself of non-food for the sake of being healthy.  I believe that healthy happens when you find the balance between knowing that what we put in our bodies DOES matter to our overall health and knowing that it’s not the end of the world if you occasionally indulge in chocolate and pizza.

I’m a wife who’s trying to find that balance.  A wife with a husband who needs a wife who is both sexy and healthy.  And I don’t think my husband is wrong for needing a wife who is both sexy and healthy.  One day, God willing, I will be a mom.  And my kids will need a mom who is healthy.  I want to be the mom who can roll around on the ground with my kids, laughing and playing and bear-crawling all over the place.  I want to be the mom who has the energy to teach my daughters how to fast-pitch and my sons how to do a lay-up, if those are the things they want to do.  I want to do everything I can to make sure that my kids don’t have to sit around worrying about Mommy, because I’ve watched too many little girls and boys grow up doing that.  I want to leave my kids the legacy of knowing how to take care of themselves, too.  Of having seen their parents do it.

I’m also a woman.  A woman who wants to feel energetic and not sluggish.  A woman who wants to look in the mirror and know that I’m taking care of myself.  Because to me? That’s sexy.  To me, sexy is not a size two mini-skirt, your boobs hanging out of a too-tight shirt, sky-high heels and perfect make-up.  To me, sexy is walking barefoot around the house in my husband’s button down shirt and knowing that I’m taking care of the body inside it.  Miraculously, that’s pretty sexy to my husband, too.

And the only person who’s going to get me to that place of knowing that I’m taking care of myself? Is me.  Even though I’m ridiculously blessed to have a husband and friends who are incredibly supportive of me taking care of myself, the decision is mine.

I decide to be healthy.  I decide to not give in to the granny panties.

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