Incremental Change

20140512-234954.jpgThe treadmill at this hotel gym is positioned right in front of a giant mirror. While running (sloppily), my chest and thighs bounce but not in a Baywatch way and my right foot turns slightly inward with every step. There is no television on this machine so I am forced to watch myself run.

Losing the baby weight of two consecutive children is a journey of tiny transformations. It’s hard to watch.

Comparison is a killjoy too. I can’t seem to stop pitting myself against the other people at the gym, the moms at the playground, my sister, my partner, myself. It’s tough being on a platform of critique that no one else can see. It’s draining.

One minute I’m happy with my three mile run, the next I hate my hair. These jeans looked okay yesterday, why are they so disgusting today? Who bites their nails as much as me? Who wears as much eyeliner?

It’s not just my body, it’s my skin. It’s not just my skin, it’s my clothes. It’s not just my clothes, it’s my teeth. It’s always something.

And then, when I have the courage or audacity to acknowledge my ridiculous narcissistic obsession with my aesthetic, some do-gooder reminds me that some people can’t walk. Some people can’t breathe without assistance. Some people can’t have babies at all and those people would be thrilled to give up their physical beauty for a tiny bit of the grace I’ve been afforded with these two beautiful boys. And it’s true. So then I feel bad about feeling bad. I’m spun out.

I’m not sure if this is a hormonal problem or not. Maybe six months post-baby brains are still a little bit scrambled. Maybe it’s me – maybe I’m so used to spending a lot of time at the hairdresser and the nail salon and the gym and the shops that I am drastically out of touch with natural beauty. Or maybe it’s Photoshop’s fault.

All that aside – I ran on that treadmill this morning in front of that giant mirror for 30 full minutes. And then I went to a petting zoo with my boys, anxiety and all. I figure hey, it’s not about beating it – it’s about not getting beaten by it. I think I’m doing it right – one foot in front of the other, incremental change.

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Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

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