How a Pizza Changed My Past

I have cellulite. Lots of it.

I realize this may come as a shock to you. Sometimes it still shocks the hell out of me despite the fact that I’m 39 years old and expecting our third child. Don’t get me wrong, I intellectually understand that unsightly body fat is mostly likely a truth for about 98% of women who fit that criteria…yet it still shocks me nonetheless.

You see, my whole life I’ve been naturally thin. I realize this doesn’t garner me a whole lot of sympathy from my audience, but it’s my truth. I’m naturally thin yet I have an unseemly amount of ripples and indentations in my thighs and ass. It’s been my source of humiliation and shame for the past 23 years.

The measures I’ve taken to eliminate it, reduce it, and hide it have cost me an enormous amount of energy. Energy I’m sure would have been better spent doing ….well, absolutely ANYTHING else.
So why am I writing about it? Because it’s time to come clean. Maybe if I confess my darkest, most hidden secret I can free up my energy to do something more productive.

Let’s go back to the very beginning of my cellulite history.
I’m 16 years old and on the brink of an eating disorder.

I’m in my room reading a Seventeen Magazine. In it there’s an article about doing sit-ups to rid yourself of any tummy flab. I look at my tummy and think it looks fine. Good for me! But then after my next meal I notice that my tummy is distended a bit. Whoops, looks like I am a candidate for sit-ups after all.

And THAT is how I first became conscious that I didn’t have a perfect body ~the body I was told I was supposed to have by the popular media. Thank you, Seventeen Magazine. (Hey, I was young, impressionable, and didn’t realize that a full stomach was just that, a FULL stomach, NOT tummy flab.)

Shortly after reading that enlightening article, I broke up with my long-term first love. I wasn’t necessarily traumatized by this (I’d always known when to let go ~ that and I had a new boyfriend waiting in the wings) but decided to engage in the usual teenage-break-up drama by starving myself that day to appropriately mourn my relationship. So at the end of the day, I’d eaten only 4 oreos and then gone to bed. The next day I woke up and checked out my stomach (as had become my usual morning routine) and realized it had never been flatter. I had woken up with the perfect body! I had found the solution to a perfect body ~ starvation!

And that is really how it all began. Many people will tell you that eating disorders are not about food or body image at all, but about control. I’m sure some psychologists would read my little story above and chalk up my eating disorder to really being triggered by my break up with my first love coupled with low self-worth. But none of those people were there. I was there and I can quite certainly state that my eating disorder started because of an article in Seventeen Magazine and a day where I ate only 4 oreos. That was the perfect volatile combination I needed to get a one-way-ticket to the heinous world of disordered eating, self-loathing and yes…cellulite.

“You have the perfect body.”
“ You can wear anything you want.”
“ You have the body of a fashion model.”
“ I’d kill to look like you.”
“How do you keep your tummy so flat?”
“ Your body makes me sick!”

These are some of the things that have been said to me over the years. Again I realize that I’m not winning sympathy from my dear readers. But I had to try to live up to all that. How could I let them all down? Moreover, how could I make myself vulnerable and admit that NO, I don’t have the perfect body.

By 18 years old, I’d moved on from my stomach obsession because that’s when the two years of disordered eating and screwing with my metabolism had caught up to my thighs. I had much bigger things to worry about…these ripples in my skin that the magazines, by all means, tell you SHOULD NOT be there! I applied for a Filene’s card just so I could afford the $84 cellulite cream that would solve all my problems.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that cellulite cream doesn’t work but I won’t bore you with all the details of my tortured youth, maxed out credit cards, and dimpled-disillusions.

Let’s fast forward a few years to my early 20’s when I discovered the mini-trampoline. Exercise, I’m pleased to say, rescued me from my disordered eating if not my deluded self-image. Over the years rebounding gave way to Buns of Steel which gave way to a gym membership.

I was working as a mental health counselor (ironic, no?) when I fell in love with the gym. Soon after, I got my certifications for teaching group exercise classes and personal training. I quit my job in the mental health field and became a full time personal trainer. I admit it, I had become a professional exercise and nutrition expert all in the pursuit of a cellulite-free existence.

Now, lest you think I’m more pathetic than I actually am, I don’t regret the path I took to get where I am. While personal training I met my soulmate (another personal trainer). Together we relocated 3 states away so I could pursue my Master’s Degree (in what else, but Health and Fitness). Once I graduated we started our own very successful personal training company and even had our own Fitness Radio Show for 3 years.

By 30 years old I was in the best shape of my life. I was healthy, fit, and strong…yet much to my chagrin, still not perfect. I could hide it well, though.

Somehow I knew all along that having children would take me out of myself a bit and rearrange my priorities. There was this knowing that even if I was not in the best shape after children, for some reason my body image would be better. Thankfully, I was right.

After the birth of my first and second sons I had much more important things to concentrate on than my thighs. I even had a new-found respect for my body in that it delivered both babies at home naturally and was making milk like a champ. My relationship with food went back to being intuitive rather than regimented. I exercised for the energy it gave me, rather than how it made me look (and I exercised far less).

When my second son was 3 months old and I was carrying a lot of extra baby weight I even wrote a love letter to my body in appreciation of all its wondrous abilities. In this letter I apologized to my body for how I’d treated it over the years. I wrote out all the things I loved and admired about it. And then to prove that I really meant it, I did something that scared the hell out of myself. I went up to my husband and said “I need you to see me. I mean REALLY see me.” (In all our years together I’d taken extreme measures to prevent him from seeing my backside full on and close-up. Suffice to say I’ve backed out of many, many rooms.) So I took off my robe, turned around and showed him my ass and thighs. “This is me and I have cellulite.” Of course he didn’t care nearly as much about my cellulite as he did about the fact that there was a naked woman in front of him, but it was a big step for me. It was a commitment to loving my body and not hiding it anymore.

And this is where our little tale brings us to the present.

As I said, I’m 39 years old and pregnant with my 3rd child and for some reason my body image issues are coming up to the surface full-force again. After a few years of semi-contentment with my body, I’m finding myself being obsessed with the notion that this pregnancy could actually reverse my cellulite (hey, pregnancy has been known to reverse ailments such as lactose-intolerance, so why not dimpled skin?).

Moreover, there is this incredible New Energy now here on our planet (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about I certainly can’t explain it) where anything is possible, where we can create anything we absolutely want. Yes, I’m visualizing world peace, the end of taxes, and a disease free-planet…but I’m also visualizing the thighs I had when I was 16 years old.

And there’s this little voice in my head telling me it’s time to REALLY heal my body image for good ~ and I mean for once and all and TOTALLY.

It’s been coming up so strongly in my head that I know it needs to be addressed. Perhaps healing my body image for good will energetically help others heal theirs as well…I don’t know. All I know, is that here I am at my computer, using my precious alone time to write about my life-long battle with my cellulite and how it’s deranged my body-image.

So, one night recently as I lay awake in bed with visions of smooth, firm thighs dancing in my head, I decided to mentally go back in time and talk to that 16 year old who was me on the brink of an eating disorder…

There I am in my childhood room, lamenting my first love with a Seventeen magazine in my hand. The present me goes up to the 16 year old me and sits down next to her. I tell her what an important moment this is in her life and that her decision on how to handle this day will affect the next 23 years of her life.

I confess to her the decision I made at her age and what it felt like. I tell her about the painful years of disordered eating where my self-worth was determined by how many calories I ate in a day and what the number on the scale was. The obsession with cellulite, that frankly wouldn’t be there in the first place if I hadn’t been on a quest for the perfect body that absolutely no one has. The wasted energy on worrying, agonizing and hiding. The measures taken to keep my cellulite a secret from the world ~ the days I avoided at the beach, the pool-parties I didn’t attend, all in fear someone would see I wasn’t perfect. I tell her about the many ways I tried to control my body by over-exercising, and following every diet that crossed my path. I admit to her that my body image did heal a bit after having children, but under the surface there is still this mild dissatisfaction that taints everything I wear and how I present myself.

As the 16 year old me thinks about all I had just said, I lovingly replace her Seventeen magazine with a book called “Anastasia.” I tell her that “Anastasia” is the first in a wonderful series of books filled with wisdom from a magical, real-life woman who lives in the Siberian forest of Russia and who, quite simply, is an amazing and inspirational example of someone living up to her full human potential. One of the many things Anastasia addresses is the fact that young people should be focusing on developing their passions and talents. They also should be focusing on being healthy, and becoming examples of radiance and well-being rather than trying to emulate models, which she describes as “walking coat hangers.” Pursuing our passions and talents is what makes us whole and healthy and draws to us people who love us for who FULLY are.

Then I ask the 16 year old me what she loves to do. She tells me that first and foremost she loves to dance and does so often in the privacy of her room. She also loves to write and tells me she won first place in a short story contest just recently. She plays the piano, but doesn’t practice as much as she feels she should (she admits that boys are a distraction from this). She also quietly shares with me that she likes the idea of magic, of talking to Nature, and making potions.

The present me thinks it’s a wonderful list, and interestingly enough, all of these things are interests I’ve decided to pursue, continue, and develop as a 39 year old.

I suggest to the 16 year old me that she throw out all her Seventeen magazines and everything else that tells her that looking like a walking coat hanger is the only sure way to happiness. I tell her she should look at her fabulous list of passions and pursue them wholeheartedly, for that would make her truly happy and also draw the boys to her that she truly deserves.

I can tell something is being switched on in her 16 year old brain…and perhaps from this night on she’ll never be the same.

“And for tonight,” I tell her, “Write a sad poem about your first love and then order a Domino’s pizza.”
She smiles brightly exclaiming “I will!” Then she asks, “And what should I do tomorrow?”
“Why, tomorrow…” I say, “We DANCE!”

***********

It’s taken me 8 days to write this little true story (actually, it’s only taken me about 3 hours, but with 2 small boys those 3 hours have been spread out over 8 days) and in those 8 days something has shifted in me. I can’t explain it really, but I can FEEL it. Something in me is definitely different.

I’m trusting in my body. I’m believing in my body. As it grows and changes to accommodate a growing baby, I’m feeling a contentment about my body that feels unfamiliar, yet oh-so-welcome.

Yesterday, after months of shopping-frustration, I discovered a new store and came home with a new wardrobe of clothes that are comfortable AND make me feel beautiful. I have to say, that even my reflection in the mirror is different. My thighs look slimmer, my ass feels firmer. Is it really my body that is changing or is it just my mind? Maybe it’s both. Perhaps my body is changing in response to the changes in my mind. Whatever it is, I’m feeling extremely grateful and I’m intending it to continue.

I’ve had a feeling all along that this pregnancy would very healing but maybe it’s not my cellulite that needs healing, it’s my mind. My mantra has changed from “Cellulite, be gone!” to “I’m blissfully at home in my body,” and that feels much better and much more freeing.

Maybe those psychologists are right after all, maybe it’s not about Seventeen magazine and eating only 4 cookies in one day. Maybe it IS, in fact, about control ~ about having enough control over our own self-worth that what the media says we should look like and what others think about us doesn’t even factor enough to interfere with what WE think about ourselves.

I’m having trouble ending my tale, because there really is no ending. This feels more like a beginning. Where it will take me, I can’t even predict.

But don’t be surprised if this summer you see me with a big pregnant belly dancing on the beach in a white bikini….feeling blissfully at home in my body.

A smidgeon of what I've been hiding

Me on a beach 5 years ago, covering up my jiggly bits. Stay tuned for a new pic this summer of me pregnant and GORGEOUS and baring it all in a bikini!

 

Inspire us with your story and pic! Post in comments or email katestreet@comcast.net to be added as a contributor.

33 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Apryl
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 03:35:13

    Beautiful!!!

    Reply

  2. nataliaerehnah
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 18:01:19

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful journey. Take pregnant dancing pictures and share!

    Reply

  3. flirtyfairy
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 19:07:41

    I keep telling you, there is nothing cuter than a pregnant woman in a bikini!!

    Love you so much… I wish you could always see yourself the way we see you – as ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY AMAZING.

    Reply

  4. Kate Street
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 22:39:37

    Thank you, Beautiful Women, for your awesome support! I love you!

    Reply

  5. Graeme Street
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 23:14:18

    So proud of you babe! You rock.

    Reply

  6. Plethora
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 23:37:58

    What a beautiful and inspiring post.

    Reply

  7. Sabrina
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 09:39:17

    Kate,
    tears in my eyes, you never fail to inspire me!! You are powerful, insightful and an amazing gift of a friend. Thank you for being so real and honest. It has a ripple effect that can not be measured. Love to you!!!!!!

    Reply

  8. Heather
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 09:56:14

    I hope to see you at Seapoint in that bikini this summer!! Your story made me cry… how could you do that to me?!?! ;-) Hugs!!

    Reply

  9. Anna
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 17:09:31

    Love, hugs and gratitude Kate. You have touched me so many times and sharing this sacred journey – wow, thank you for that. I need to sit with it for a while and reach out to my own inner critic. Thank you!

    ~Anna

    Reply

  10. kelly
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 18:34:10

    Kate – What an incredible story and what courage it took to not only write but share with all of us!! THANK YOU!!! You made me cry and more importantly do some thinking and soul searching of my own! Bug hugs and good luck to you on your continued journey!!!

    Reply

  11. Michelle
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 19:33:34

    Thank you for sharing this story! I’m 6 months pregnant with my first baby and I always thought that during pregnancy would be when I’d love my body the most because it’s doing something so amazing. But, I find myself having a daily battle with body image as I grower bigger, and reading your post helps me feel a little better.

    Reply

    • Kate Street
      Feb 06, 2011 @ 19:59:23

      Oh, Michelle, I’m so glad. I felt that way with my first baby too…worried I was getting too big too quickly and worried that I was gaining weight in all the wrong places.
      This time around I’m eating what I want, exercising lightly most days (for energy and peace of mind) and just letting my body do what it needs ~ and that feels SO much better. Congrats on your baby!!! Much love to you!

      Reply

  12. El
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 22:55:06

    YOUR AMAZING!!! your beautiful on the inside and out!! after reading your story i feel like sharing my story, well not a story but well…. here it goes,
    i never had a problem w/ my body image, i never understood why one of my good friends, a very thin and beautiful friend, in high school would cut her food in half, –to trick herself into thinking she was eating more than she actually was so then she would stop eating it all, when i went to college i just loved the cafeteria, i would eat ice cream for dessert at all meals after a huge meal, while my friends were counting calories, i have always been very active, in sports, oh how i loved sports!! i had no problems wearing leotards in hs for gymnastics, or the little skirts for field hockey, or even in college the bloomer for xcountry and track, i had cellulite, and still do, my nick name my dad used to call me was “thunder thighs” and in hs gymnastics my coach called me “tree trunks” yes both referring to my thighs, luckliey i did not take it to heart , i did not let those comments hurt me, i thought my thighs were beautiful and strong, heck they helped me run 3 marathons, run hills, do flips, bench 350 lbs, and come in handy for many things in my daily life!!!!
    i felt perfectly fine taking a shower in front of all my teamates and competitiors in college and when i went to france w/ my very thin and very beautiful friend i embraced the topless beaches, (and ever before children my boobs were small and low hanging–nothing to write home about )where she covered herself up and rolled her eyes at me, but we were in FRANCE!!!
    with that said, i gained 15 lbs freshman year in college, but only knew that b/c i got weighed for track, one of my guy friends commented on how much i weighed and couldnt belive it, he thought it was too much, i didnt do anything about it but thought maybe i should, then again while running one day in the park an old man told me i should go on a special “mustard diet”, again i did nothing about it but thought maybe i should, after college i moved and stopped doing sports, and i guess i gained some weight b/c when one of my brothers visited he gasped at the sight of me and told me i needed to loose weight, which i did nothing about but thought maybe he was right,
    so why am i saying all of this well b/c i think our society esp in the way women “should look” is freaken crap, –if i listened to society, the magazines, and my friends, family and coaches i most likely would have had an eating disorder, but just as i embraced my big buck teeth when i was younger i embraced my body–big buck teeth and small boobs and all!!, and today i feel comfortable in my body,
    now similar to kate i am pretty lucky when it comes to the thinner look, but i eat what my boday craves, i take care of my body, i embrace my pregnant body when its pregnant and i embrace my post baby body, according to our society standards i should probablly not be wearing a bikini on the beach but i do because thats what i feel comfortable doing, its my body and i will wear what i want!!!
    so i raise my glass to you my dear friend Kate and to all the women who embrace thier wonderful magical bodies, and Kate ill be right next to you in your bikini (bare-pregnant belly -and all) and ill be in my post -baby bikini body– this summer!!!

    Reply

    • Kate Street
      Feb 07, 2011 @ 17:23:15

      El! What an amazing sense-of-self you were born with (or developed) that made you ignore all those stupid comments!!! You are my idol, Dear Sister! Thank you for sharing!!! I love you!

      Reply

  13. Rachel T.
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 23:56:21

    Hey!!! That was BEAUTIFUL!!!! And YOU are beautiful!!! I’ll be right there with you in a bikini this summer……I’m still scared however!!! Why is it that I feel beautiful naked…but in a bikini I feel fat and ugly?????

    Reply

    • El
      Feb 07, 2011 @ 14:38:22

      omg Rachael i also feel more beautiful naked than w/ my clothes on!!!

      AND FYI—-YOUR BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so completly naturally beautiful!!!! :)

      Reply

    • Kate Street
      Feb 07, 2011 @ 17:24:04

      I’m so glad we made that bikini-pledge together! Now the key is finding one that can capture our beauty!!! ;)

      Reply

  14. Shell
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 00:09:47

    Kate! Just now getting to respond to your AMAZING post about AMAZING YOU. Truly inspiring, your courage to expose yourself in the name of authenticity and sharing the healing…so Magical dear sister! And I am joining in with you on this remarkable blog you’ve started! Lol, though I’ll probably follow you whatever it is you are doing, since we have so many eerie and wonderful synchronicities and parallel happenings!!

    Reply

  15. rainfallfairy
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 00:32:26

    Thank you for sharing this story. You are amazing!

    Reply

  16. Marcia
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 22:24:09

    Kate, you are beautiful and brave woman my dear sister. I admire your open heart and your courage to share always in a beautiful way. I want to share with you that I was always skinny ,is a gift, I always eated everything that I wanted. I always had very small boobs and a beautiful butt. I am proud of my butt!!!I always used humor to laugh about my boobs , now I am 46 years young and they are much smaller after 3 pregnancies and breastfeeding, they look like 2 small olives!!! I embrace my body new design, with the little tummy too,and cellulite is good for belly dance!!! About bikine , I will come with my brazilian bikine in the summer as always!!! I was pregnant with Michael with a brazilian bikine in Old Saybrook beach 4 years ago I shaked all this people , but I thought that I was the goddess pregnant and I wanted a beautiful tanned belly. You are a beautiful goddess pregnant woman!!!I love you so much you always inspire!!!Be free, be you!!!

    Reply

  17. sunshinefaerie
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 10:25:53

    Thank you!

    Reply

  18. torontosmostwanted
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 13:39:53

    Reply

    • Fire Fairy
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 19:44:55

      Beautiful Kate, thank you for pointing this post out to me.

      You have a gorgeous butt and thigh curve, very lovely. Now I understand your bikini comments you made earlier this year and why it was so important.

      Thank you for sharing this piece of your journey.

      Reply

  19. Trackback: Magical Mondays! 1/16/2012 « Connecticut Working Moms
  20. ctgems
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 07:47:01

    Wow! Just found your blog and LOVE it!
    So real and open, thank you so much for sharing such a personal thing with all of us! All girls and women need to know whatever they got, they are beautiful!!
    ~Ctgems.wordpress.com

    Reply

  21. Trackback: Magical Monday: Love Notes From Your Body | CTWorkingMoms
  22. cluelessfirsttimemommy
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 14:33:42

    You are so amazing and I love that you shared this story! We all strive for perfection, which doesn’t exist so what are we doing? You are my hero :-) so inspiring

    Reply

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