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Genetics Can Be Cruel

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When I was a teenager, I had acne. Not just one or two little zits. I mean, I had acne.

I took antibiotics. I used several different types of topical creams. I used light therapy in my doctor’s office (which, by the way, smells weird). I took birth control pills, which caused me to gain 10 pounds. I took Accutane.

I hated looking in the mirror. I felt ugly. My face hurt. I just wanted to be normal.

I still have oily skin. I still take various and sundry medications/creams to try to get it under control. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel 100% beautiful and “normal.” And now, I’ve passed it on to my kids.

Two of my three kids have acne. My son’s is the worst. It’s red and angry. The problem is that he also has inherited my husband’s sensitive skin, so finding something that works on his skin without causing other irritation is proving difficult.

I took both kids to the dermatologist a few days ago. He prescribed a cream for both of them to use in the morning. My son used his and his worst spots looked SO MUCH BETTER. The problem is that EVERYWHERE the medicine touched is now bright red.

If it’s not one thing it’s another. At least if he were a girl he could wear makeup without thinking twice about it. Being a boy, that’s not really an option these days. Not yet, at least.

I hope that his skin calms down. He’s such a wonderful, bright, fun, beautiful kid, it kills me that he might be thinking that he’s “less than” because of his skin, as I have done most of my life.

Genetics can be really cruel.

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Lessons from Old Photos (self perception and beauty)

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I’m not 20 anymore. Heck, I’m not even 30 anymore. And as I get older, life gets a little less… fun. Or, let’s say more… challenging.

My metabolism has slowed down, for one. I no longer can go to Thrifty to eat a double scoop of chocolate brownie and chocolate malted krunch every other day without consequence, like I did when I was 16. I get winded more easily when doing exercise, and my eyesight is getting worse. I sometimes wish I could go back and tell my younger self that she’s beautiful and to really revel in her youthful body while she has it. Dance, run, jump, play, act – you name it! And don’t listen to those horrible boys who tell you you’re less than beautiful.

Me and the Mr. Young and carefree and skinny as can be.

Me and the Mr. Young and carefree and skinny as can be.

I’d tell my 20 year old self to enjoy wearing that bikini! I’d ask her to get used to eating a little healthier (so that she wouldn’t have to drastically alter her diet when her metabolism slows). I’d tell her to enjoy herself – to embrace herself and love herself. I’d encourage her to be easier on herself, and confident when she looks in the mirror.

 

Me, in my 20s, at a special Universal Studios event.

After I had children, my body changed. I gained the 25-35 lbs you’re “supposed” to gain with pregnancy… and then some! For the first time in my life I had a LOT of weight to lose and sought help. I went to Weight Watchers. I exercised – I pushed the babies in the stroller and walked around the neighborhood and danced to Wiggles videos. When I was in my brother’s wedding 4 months after my first child was born, everyone told me how great I looked. I felt pretty triumphant, until I saw photos of myself that proved otherwise. When my second brother got married, I felt a lot better than when my first brother got married, but was still hard on myself. I wore spanx under this dress so it would fit me better. I felt fat.

What was I thinking? I look pretty darn fabulous!

What was I thinking? I look pretty darn fabulous!

I fluctuated back and forth. I had another baby. I let stress and chocolate get the best of me. But when my third brother got married, I was NOT going to let myself just “be.” I worked really hard to get into this dress, and while I’m no Kate Moss, I look pretty good!

Not like I used to be - a new normal.

Not like I used to be – a new normal.

Why did I think I didn’t look good? Is it because I didn’t look like the women I see on tv? Is it because my body can’t wear a bikini without a muffin top?  Is it because my face isn’t as youthful as it once was? Is it because my 40-year-old body just can’t do the same things that it could do at 20? Is it because at special events and milestones I don’t want the thing that people takeaway, or I remember, is that I didn’t have a flat tummy or looked more tired than I used to?

Comic Con 2010 for "Vampire Knits."

Comic Con 2010 for “Vampire Knits.”

I know women are our own harshest critics. In fact, there’s a video made by Dove about how women see themselves vs. how others see them. I think it’s very powerful, though it’s causing debates all over the interwebs.

Now that I find myself in my early 40s, having gained more weight than I’m comfortable with, and facing the realization that my body JUST CAN’T DO WHAT IT USED TO, I’m trying to find what works best for me and what makes me happy and healthy. I have a closet full of clothes that have recently gotten too tight, and I can’t afford a whole new wardrobe in a bigger size. I need to realize that when I eat too much ice cream, french fries, cookies, or bread that my body rebels and then holds onto it for dear life when I try to shed the extra pounds.

It’s my new normal – figuring out my limitations and making the most of my abilities. Of keeping my heart and body healthy by feeding it right and giving it exercise and enough sleep (something I almost never give it). I hope I can get the extra weight off, and when I do, I hope I can appreciate how I feel, and what my body can do. I also know I need to be mindful not to belittle myself around my girls, but rather let my actions speak for themselves – by dancing and exercising and eating fresh healthy foods and treating my body well, rather than barely maintaining it. And I will smile more. In looking through recent photos, I’m often not smiling. Not only does everyone look better with a smile, but I want my kids to know I’m happy – with me, with their Daddy, with them, with life.

And I hope that in 10 years I’m not so different from myself now that I feel the need to write my 40 year old self a letter about how I’ve been struggling for the last 10 years.

What would you tell your younger self? What would you do differently to take care of yourself now?

 

Me.

Me.

 

 

 

 

You Look Tired

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These were the words uttered to me as my daughter kissed me goodbye and left for school this morning. It’s also the first thing another mom said to me last week, upon entering the classroom to run our reading group.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me I look tired, my mind translates it to, “Wow. You look like shit. Take a little better care of yourself, will you?” Just like when someone asks you if you’re pregnant (and you’re not), someone might as well be saying, “You’ve gotten fat.”

I admit, I may be a little more sensitive than the average person when it comes to things like this, however.

In general, I’ve got dark circles around my eyes. Even when I was younger I had them, but they’re far more pronounced now that I’m older. Part of it is hereditary, part of it is allergies, and part of it is because I know I don’t get enough sleep or drink enough water.

Because of this, whenever I post pictures of my family, I hesitate to post ones of myself because, well… I look tired. And to me tired = old. And I’m trying to keep up the illusion I have in my head that I still look like a smoking hot 25 year old. (Don’t laugh. Come on. Okay, you can laugh a little.)

So, here’s a picture I didn’t post before because if it were up to me, I’d airbrush it. Instead, I just post pictures of myself with sunglasses on.

Now, I’m curious, though to try a few things. First – if I drink a TON of water and actually get sleep, what will it do? And second – I’ve been told staying away from dairy can make those bags disappear. Let’s experiment. I’ll start with the water and sleep (ha) and if either a) I can’t sleep or b) I see no difference, we’ll try the dairy thing for a bit.  Anyone want to join me?

If not, tell me what comment drives YOU crazy.