One of the greatest parts of my night out with Amanda (apart from the pretty make up and good food and great company and GIRL TIME) was the chance to talk. We had an hour’s drive each way and witty remarks during the group session and an uninterrupted dinner and a nightcap. Those SIX HOURS (Hallelujah!) together gave us ample time to get past the “how are you?” conversations to something a little more meaningful. I love that I have friends with whom I can share openly with and Amanda is one of those friends where nothing is ever “off the table” for discussion. Our husbands (who are also good friends) know this about us and deal with it. We don’t ask about their conversations while on snowmobiling trips, so I think we’re even.

One topic that we often end up on is the topic of our bodies. What we like about them, and what we don’t like about them. I get so tired of hating my body, you know? And yet I keep perpetuating the cycle by tearing myself down and picking at this pinch of waist flab and that pinch of inner thigh and only seeing what I don’t like.

(I feel like I should state for the record that I never say any of these things in front of my children. They will have enough body issues of their own one day; they don’t need to be early achievers because of their Mom’s stupid insecurities.)

The conversation got honest and we talked real numbers instead of vague references and it was so freeing. I think that I should just get real here in order to give myself a reality check and maybe to give you a glimpse into why body stuff makes me a little bit crazy.

I make reference to being a “big girl.” At one point, pre-dietitian, I clocked in at 178 lbs. on a 5’7″ frame.

(This may be the perfect time to interject that I have a large frame. I have had three (Three!) Doctors tell me that I am big-boned and have a large frame but that it is “not the “large frame” that many women claim to have.” Two of those three Doctors were men. I’m not sure what the woman Doctor’s issues were. Regardless, medical professionals can attest to my thick bones and wide shoulders and child-bearing hips.)

Once I learned about exercise and eating a balanced diet, my body found itself at 140 lbs. This was the same year that I got married and got to wear a pretty dress and feel like a princess.

I felt svelte and thin and totally comfortable in my body.

We moved here and I kept eating well and took up other forms of exercise and I still picked myself apart. Before I knew it, I was nine months pregnant, 206 lbs., and 48 inches in circumference. Six months later, I was back to 140 lbs and while happy with my progress, I was still not happy with my body.

Soon after came Baby #2. I kept my weight gain to 28 lbs., and was back to 140 lbs. in no time. When Nathan was almost a year old, we all came down with a horrible flu and I got down to 130 lbs. I managed to keep that weight by keeping my caloric intake to (I’m guessing, here) about 800-1,000 calories a day. For a YEAR. I was gaunt and gangly and skinny. I WAS SKINNY. I had wanted to be skinny my entire life and here I finally was! I was also hungry all day long, but who cared? I WAS SKINNY. My ever-hated inner thigh was all but GONE.

We got pregnant with baby #3 and, again, I kept my weight gain in the 28-30 pound range. I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight in a few months and then when Emily was three months old, I got the flu. Again. My weight dropped to 128 pounds. I was skinny. SUPER skinny. I managed to keep it up for about another year.

But then? But then. I got tired of hearing my stomach rumble. I got tired of being unable to help Matthew move a couch. I got tired of feeling so weak. I’ve always been so strong. SO STRONG. But I’d given that up.

Three years ago, I signed up for Boot Camp for the very first time. I regained my strength. I can do squats when everyone else has given up. I can do Jumping Jacks (assuming I have emptied my bladder) for many repetitions. My core is SOLID; I can plank like none other. My back is ripped. My biceps are HUGE (Welcome to the gun show). My chest, well. Let’s just say that my husband likes it.

As for numbers: I’m in the 140-145 pound range. And yet, a part of me kept longing for the days of tiny jeans and extra small shirts. Where my breast bone is sticking out and I am skinny.

No more. NO MORE. I have a daughter who is built exactly like me. I want to be someone that she can look to as a positive example. She is not scrawny but she is smart and she is tall and she is strong and she is beautiful.

As for me? I am tall and I am healthy and I am strong.

Skinny is overrated.

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  1. Robyn March 10, 2011 12:48 am edit

    Skinny is WAY over-rated! Healthy and strong rocks!!

  2. angella March 11, 2011 8:35 pm edit


  3. Hannah March 10, 2011 2:19 am edit

    Wow, I never realised how skinny you were at those points! 128? I like that you’re at a healthy weight now. Having said that, I am a little jealous. I’m the same heigh as you, and I think I’ve only ever gotten down to 140 ONCE, and I couldn’t stay there for long. When I did Weight Watchers 2-3 years ago, my goal weight was 152lb. I’m currently a little over that, but actively doing something about it. 150 is my “comfortable” place.

    I’ve never been “skinny” but I agree that it’s overrated. I don’t think anybody is ever TRULY happy with their body, no matter how low the numbers get on the scales. Much better to be healthy and happy! I’m glad you are both!

  4. angella March 11, 2011 7:03 pm edit

    I really do think that your body knows where it’s happy if you’re eating well and active. Sounds like 150 is your place and THAT IS AWESOME. Why fight the bodies God gave us, right? :)

  5. K March 10, 2011 5:36 am edit

    I’m 5’4″ and usually weigh in between 142-148. It fluctuates throughout the month. I’m a runner and I’m strong but I definitely could work on my core strength (I have been this year) and I could cut back on some unhealthy eating. I have been at the same weight range for the past 5 years so I guess it’s an easily maintained weight for me. I only ducked down below 140 when I was training for my half marathon last summer.

  6. angella March 11, 2011 7:06 pm edit

    Oh, the unhealthy eating is where I could do better, too. I eat pretty good most of the time, but sometimes I fail. Miserably.

  7. Jill March 10, 2011 7:11 am edit

    I love this post. I have two daughters (5 & 9) and sometimes I really have a hard time editing myself around them to not be negative about my body. They’re also one of the reasons I took up running two years ago. I love how proud they are of me when I cross the finish line of a half marathon. So although I may not always be happy with my body, ask my girls see is a mom who is strong and can run for a long time (slowly). And that’s pretty beautiful.

  8. angella March 11, 2011 7:07 pm edit

    YES! Just like Emily told me that my, “I dare you to run like a girl” poster didn’t make any sense. She sees me run and it’s just part of life. :)

  9. Mrs. Wilson March 10, 2011 7:25 am edit

    When I saw you last July, you looked fit and thin and healthy. And HOT. (You forgot to mention that one. )

    I’m nearly at the 48-inches-around place. (And it’s worth it, of course.)

    Thank you for being so open and willing to share NUMBERS. xoxo

  10. angella March 11, 2011 7:07 pm edit

    It was a bit scary, but even more FREEING. :)

  11. Amanda Brown March 10, 2011 8:06 am edit

    Loved this. You know I think you are are beautiful and strong and how and ripped. Way to write the truth and remind yourself of how far you’ve come.

  12. angella March 11, 2011 7:08 pm edit

    Thanks for always being open and honest and one of my favorite people. :)

  13. Amanda Brown March 10, 2011 8:07 am edit

    Meant to say “HOT” there, not “how.” :)

  14. JoL March 10, 2011 8:15 am edit

    !YAY! for strong and HEALTHY!

    Such a huge difference between “skinny” and “healthy”. And isn’t it amazing how very well “healthy” and “happy” seem to go together so nicely? SO very glad to see an adult female and mother putting this out there for all the world to see =)

  15. angella March 11, 2011 7:09 pm edit

    Thanks! “Me too” is a powerful sentiment, and I thought sharing my struggles might help others see that they’re not alone. :)

  16. kakaty March 10, 2011 8:17 am edit

    Yep – skinny is way overrated. I’ll take strong over a size 0 jean anyday. I can still toss my 37lb. 4 year old in the air and lug the 22lb boy in his 7 lb carseat around. And honestly, that’s way more important than the number on the scale. I never, ever understood the attraction of the waif look – curves and muscles are where it’s at!

  17. angella March 11, 2011 7:10 pm edit


    Added bonus: I now have a chest! It’s nice not to look like a washboard. :)

  18. Sharon March 10, 2011 8:18 am edit

    Good for you! Being healthy and happy with yourself is most important. I’ve always been skinny and pretty athletic, but almost two years ago I started boot camp after I was done having babies and I am finally strong and energetic and I don’t worry (too much) about what the scale says. I never thought that at age 4o I would be in the best shape of my life. Takes some time to smarten up!

  19. angella March 11, 2011 7:12 pm edit


    And honestly, I don’t know my exact weight. I used to weight myself every morning and two-pound swings would make or break my day. I go by how my clothes fit and it’s been a lot easier on my psyche. :)

  20. Brittany March 10, 2011 8:28 am edit

    All I can say is “ME TOO!” and “AMEN!” :)

    You are one strong, fearless woman, Angella. Emily is so lucky to have a mom like you who is honest about her struggles but not content to let them win. Thanks for this post.

  21. angella March 11, 2011 7:12 pm edit

    Thanks for the “ME TOO” comment. That makes my day. :)

  22. heidikins March 10, 2011 10:49 am edit

    I am not where I’d like to be as far as my weight goes (5’7″ and 165), but I am strong. And that’s nice to know. I’d like to be down to 140 again, toned and strong….but I have to get through this semester (and it’s requisite late nights fueled by cookies and diet soda) first.


  23. angella March 11, 2011 7:14 pm edit

    But see? You know your body and your (time) limitations and that is so awesome. :)


  24. vahid March 10, 2011 11:58 am edit

    This post caused me to have the unusual reaction of wondering, “Why the heck didn’t I ever challenge Angella to an arm wrestling match?” I am totally going to start training for our next meet-up.

  25. angella March 11, 2011 7:15 pm edit

    We’ll be at Cannon Beach July 20-24 and plan on heading to Portland one day. You have four months to train. There will be photos, of course.

  26. hillary March 10, 2011 11:59 am edit

    I love that you’re doing your best to teach your daughter than strong is beautiful and skinny is overrated :)

    I’ve had a really rough time these past few weeks as the pregnancy weight started piling on at an alarming rate – I need to follow your example and start celebrating my body for what it’s giving me instead of wishing it away.

  27. angella March 11, 2011 7:16 pm edit

    I’ve seen your belly photos – YOU LOOK AMAZING. But, dude. I totally know how you’re feeling.

    BUT! Soon you will have a baby! YAY! And it will all be worth it. Promise.

  28. Tannis March 10, 2011 2:07 pm edit

    Amen for strong and healthy! I think one factor that gets ignored too often is quality of life. I don’t think the super skinny has a lot of value (for me) if I’m hungry and/or not appreciating what I eat. It’s one of life’s pleasures and my take on it is always moderation. Chocolate? Of course. A whole bar? Almost never.

    I’m in a weird space of being 10lbs LESS than I ever thought I’d weigh (~110, 5’4″, small body frame category, zero cleavage), and I feel fantastic. I work out like a crazy woman right now and love it. My energy is high and I eat plenty of (good) food so I’m never feeling hungry. Funny thing is, I’ve hardly told anyone my weight because it’s not generally a crowd-pleasing revelation and I dread the eating-disorder admonitions. Not sure why we talk about the gains or stresses and down play our successes?

  29. angella March 11, 2011 7:20 pm edit

    I don’t know either. You have the kind of frame and fitness that get portrayed in the media as “ideal”, but are not achievable for people with different body types. Like mine, or others.

    I hate that you feel like you can’t celebrate your successes. I KNOW you. You teach Boot Camp four times a week and play hockey (!) and do so many other fitness-related activities. You are strong and fit and most definitely not STARVING. You’re just wee. :)

  30. Tannis March 12, 2011 12:36 am edit

    Thank you. It does mean a lot to hear kind, supportive words no matter where we’re at. You are an amazing, encouraging woman!

  31. Nell March 10, 2011 2:33 pm edit

    You are stunning!
    I also have a daughter – who is built exactly like me! So help her!

  32. angella March 11, 2011 7:20 pm edit

    Thank you! And :)

  33. Danica March 10, 2011 2:51 pm edit

    I have fought the body image battle myself (who hasn’t eh?) and I feel like I’ve won – a post I’ve meaning to write all month and haven’t yet. I have become comfortable in my skin (mostly – I still have my days but they are few and far between) and yet I’ve never been skinny. Well, except high school, but that doesn’t count.
    It is such hard work to unwind our minds from that whole trap isn’t it? But well worth the effort! For our daughters’ sake, but also for our own.
    You’re beautiful, lady!

  34. angella March 11, 2011 7:21 pm edit

    So are YOU! Loved your post about body image today, too.

    We’re getting there, lady.

  35. Sarah March 10, 2011 3:03 pm edit

    I talk (endlessly) with my best friend about weight. We’ve both gained a lot of weight and we are pretty much the same frame but I’m a little taller. So we compare diets and exercise and everything else.

    We are also in a (slight) competition over who can lose the most weight. One that I am winning. But my goal was never to be “skinny”. I’ve done the no eat skinny thing in high school and i just looked sick. Seriously, people kept asking me what I had.

    My goal is to not be flabby. To have ab muscles and leg muscles and be strong while still be feminine. (No body builder muscle) So to kinda have the body you have.

    That’s what I keep thinking about when I don’t want to run or whatever because it’s cold (but seriously why is it SO COLD?!). I keep thinking that sooner rather than later I am going to be smaller and more fit and able to fit into my old jeans (and probably even a size smaller as I was not in great shape then).

  36. angella March 11, 2011 7:51 pm edit

    Yes! You can do it!

    And this comment was yet another reminder of the different perceptions we have. You said, “no body builder muscle” and I totally feel all bulky.

    But, um, not a body builder. :)

  37. Tannis March 12, 2011 12:37 am edit

    To me you look strong and ripped, not bulky. Just for the record.

  38. Ashley Stone March 10, 2011 3:09 pm edit

    Great post! I think it sucks that so many of us carry the “I hate me” backpack. And that even with positive changes and sincere effort it’s so difficult to shed. I think it sucks that you could stand someone who’s body is the mirror of your own next to you (with a different face) and you’d be totally in love with her body, but your own? Forget it. At least that’s how I am.

    Corey and I talk about that all the time. For the first time in my life I’m 5’8 and 145 but not satisfied. I’m exercising 6 days a week and watching my calories to a T and still I want to be smaller. I don’t feel any different than the day I graduated high school at 174lbs. What I’ve come to discover is my self esteem is where Satan has me by the throat. He tells me I’m not good enough All. The. Time. And I listen. I’ve yet to find the place where I can totally kick him in the balls and ignore his playground taunts but I’m getting there. If not at all for me, for the two beautiful and perfect girls who sleep down the hall.

    Posts like this help – thank you!

  39. angella March 11, 2011 8:04 pm edit

    Yes! That’s totally it. So, so dumb.

  40. Kerri Anne March 10, 2011 4:32 pm edit

    I love this. Healthy and strong and buff, coupled with beauty that radiates from the inside out (see also: YOU) will trump “skinny” in my book all day every day.

  41. angella March 11, 2011 8:05 pm edit

    Amen. AMEN.

  42. Tamara March 10, 2011 6:30 pm edit

    Thank you for posting your “numbers.” You, my friend, are brave, and honest and I love you for it.

  43. Ninabi March 10, 2011 7:17 pm edit

    I gained 40+ pounds with each of my two pregnancies and nursed/worked it off. Menopause and hypothyroidism were the dynamic duo that make me realize that maintaining weight at (ahem) a certain age takes work. Me and the elliptical are good buddies. Had to say goodbye to coffee with lots of cream and sugar in the am. I am not the “skinny minnie” I was 20 years ago but with horsemanship and elliptical time, have gained muscle, pounds to be proud of.

    You look fantastic. You are right. Strong IS beautiful. I want to shout to those women in younger decades- build muscle! Muscles will help with bone density. A strong healthy body is something to be proud of.

    Awesome post, Angella, for demonstrating true beauty.

  44. angella March 11, 2011 8:06 pm edit

    Your comment made me smile, huge. Thank you. :)

  45. bethany actually March 10, 2011 11:37 pm edit

    I actually got tears in my eyes reading this, Angella. As one who quietly worried a bit about you in the days when you were ultra-skinny (but who didn’t live anywhere near you or know enough about your daily habits to ever presume to say anything) I am so, SO glad to read this. I think you are even stronger than you know.

  46. angella March 11, 2011 8:08 pm edit

    I was teary when I read this on my phone this morning and I’m teary again, here.

    Thank you, friend. :)

  47. Kami March 11, 2011 8:50 am edit

    Amen girlfriend!
    You are beautiful and have always been beautiful because of who you are. The icing is that you are also gorgeous and you are perfect, right now, exactly how you are. Strong and healthy. That’s the ticket!!

  48. angella March 11, 2011 8:09 pm edit

    Have I told you lately that I love you? Because I do. :)

  49. Nicole March 11, 2011 10:17 am edit

    Skinny is over-rated. I’ve struggled with body image my whole life, although I’m happy with my body now (thank you, yoga and dog-walking). At one of the saddest, loneliest periods of my life (PPD) I weighed in at 115 lbs, and I’m 5’7”. I see those pictures and I think I look sad.

  50. angella March 11, 2011 8:13 pm edit

    I got down to 120 lbs. in high school by not eating for days on end. I was not happy, but I was skinny.

    I’m so! glad that you are happy and healthy now. :)

  51. Kristen March 12, 2011 8:04 am edit

    Thanks so much for sharing real numbers, Angella. I know that’s a scary thing to do, no matter what, although I don’t know exactly why.

    I’ve also been the big girl — my shoulders are broad, my wrists are thick, and I’ve always, always been more muscular than most of my friends, even when I was really young. It’s a struggle to be okay with that, and to know that skinny isn’t what I need to strive for — healthy and strong and comfortable in my skin, however, is.

    I’m getting there. I’m trying with all my might to find the balance between a diet of steamed broccoli and brown rice with every calorie counted and a diet of eating whatever I want. It’s hard for me, but I want to have that healthy relationship with food and exercise and my body. It sounds like you’ve really found it, and I’m so happy for you. I’m on my way!

  52. angella March 12, 2011 4:23 pm edit

    I’ve *mostly* found it, but the struggle for balance will still rear its ugly head, I think. Sigh.

    I hear you on the muscle thing. That was the hardest part about working out again – I build muscle really easily, which is great, but it makes me THICKER. :)

    I’ve met you and spent time with you and I can verily testify that I’ve always thought you looked amazing. You = hot, lady. :)

  53. Sherry March 13, 2011 5:57 pm edit

    I’m late here but I just wanted to say that you have written many great things and that’s why I love to read your blog. However, I think this might have been the BEST thing you have ever written. Good for you.

  54. Elaine March 14, 2011 11:46 am edit

    Sing it sister! No! Shout it from the rooftops!!!

    Every picture I see of you (and when I met you IRL!) you look awesome! I’m glad you’re not weak anymore, STRONG is SO important.

    I have and always will “struggle” with my weight. It’s in my DNA. Do I still want to lose a few pounds? Sure, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come in the last 10 months, since I started running and changed the way I eat. Our bodies are amazing things, aren’t they? And yes, we must pass on a LOVE of our bodies to our girls… MUST.

    Fabulous post girl! :-)

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