As I am healing from my surgery, every day I have been paying close attention to how my belly looks. One of my wishes—or expectations—prior to the operation, was that my belly becomes immediately flat, as in the days before the tumors started to grow inside me. I even bought small-size dance leotards and dresses as a “carrot” to encourage myself for going through the surgery—to make the thought of it just a bit easier. I had been dreaming of dancing again in my slim body, just as I once did, not so many years ago.
It’s almost a month after the surgery now. When I got home from the hospital, I was delighted to find that I was six pounds lighter. All that weight of the fibroids had come off and I felt like a bird for a moment! Gradually, the scale gave me a larger number as each day went by. I am at a point where I have gained back almost all the pounds that I had lost, except for two—which is the net weight of the fibroids. While not as big as before, my belly looks a bit swollen, and not flat as I had imagined.
An initial analysis was that I have not been able to do any meaningful exercise due to the internal pain. I have to be very careful with my movements so aerobics or weight-bearing exercises are out of the question. For a Type O person, without regular rigorous exercises, weight gain is an inevitable consequence. Another possibility, which I haven’t really researched, is that the nerves and blood vessels are undergoing self-repair and in the meantime, may be swollen due to the increased activities. At the same time, my body is still feeling the side effects of a synthetic hormone that my surgeon gave me prior to the operation to induce a menstrual period (to avoid it from coming during the surgery and to prevent excess blood loss). So there might still be some water retention as a consequence.
In any case, as I mulled over my slightly flabby and swollen body, I came across this article that talks about the “Body Image Movement” started by Taryn Brumfitt. She has posted a “before-and-after” body of herself which defies the conventional trend of “fat before and slim after” a particular crash diet or exercise regime. Instead, she has shown herself in an extremely fit-looking image as a body builder in the “before” shot, and contrasted this with how she looked after she had given birth to three children. This image has gone viral and shocked millions of people. Her story is that even though she looked “perfectly fit” before, she was not happy and was struggling a lot with her body image. Her conclusion is that health is much more than how our body looks—it also concerns our spiritual well-being. If we can go beyond the habit of body-loathing and self-hatred, which so many women suffer from as a result of what the media show us as the “ideal body image,” we can accomplish and contribute to society so much more. She is working on a documentary that aims to help women all over the world to embrace their body.
Reading about this movement has given me precious food for thought. Even though my passion—ballet—has this aesthetic ideal of a super slim—almost a pre-adolescent body, I, being a mature adult student, need not give myself undue stress to achieve that ideal that is set for professional dancers. In fact, I know that for women who are undergoing hormonal changes such as peri-menopause or menopause, it is important to have a “good” amount of body fat in order for the body to produce enough estrogen for not only sexual functions but a whole host of other important functions that are essential for our well-being.
So, I shouldn’t really stress myself up when it comes to my weight and body fat. The best thing is to allow myself the time to heal, give my body the nutrients it needs, and above all, the self-love that I had previously withheld but that my body had desperately been crying out for.
Another article titled “Secrets of Naturally Thin People” talks about how thin people don’t obsess about their body weight and don’t associate food with guilt or shame. I think that when we are not obsessed, the mind loses that constant stress to achieve a “perfect image” and without the stress, the body will work much better in every possible way.