I hold my breath as I slip the last shirt from the heap of exercise tops that now litter the bathroom floor over my head and tug it down around my waist. I squeeze my eyes shut, then open them one at a time, as if my chances of seeing what I want are increased by gradual revelation.

I stare at myself in the mirror, disappointed. It isn’t hideous, but I’m still not happy. I grab a small hand mirror, turn around, take another deep breath and hold it (“Just suck it in,” I mutter) as I raise the mirror high to get a better view at my reflection from behind.

I feel the tears start to gather at the edges of my eyes. Never mind. It is hideous. Maybe even worse than I’d thought.

“Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat.” The word seeps out of my mouth, like steam from a too-hot kettle, leaving my tongue feeling burnt and my cheeks glowing red with shame.

I let the air out of my lungs in a whoosh, then suck some more in, willing myself not to cry.

“Did you say something, babe?” My husband, Shaun, pushes his head in the bathroom and surveys the tangle of rejected shirts.

I jerk around to face him, and he recoils at my expression.

“Look at this,” I say, biting off each word for emphasis and jabbing a finger at the place where the elastic band of my shorts meets my waistline. “I don’t have anything to wear that will hide this.”

His eyes rest on the offending area, and he arranges his features in an expression of careful neutrality before he says, “I really don’t see a problem, Boo. You look great to me.”

“Great? Are you kidding me? I’m a whale!” I whirl around and start grabbing fistfuls of exercise clothes and wadding them into balls, determined that he not the see the angry tears that are leaking from my eyes every time I blink.

He comes close and tries to pulls me to his chest, but I duck under his arms and mutter something about needing to start the laundry. I don’t want him to feel that bulge at my back.

After all, how could he say I look “great” when I really look like this:


and this:


Disgusting, right?



I hold my breath and struggle to close the clasp on the last skirt from the heap of options that now litter my closet floor. The metal lip slides reluctantly into place, and I exhale triumphantly. As soon as I do, the clasp bursts open again, and I hear a faint ripping sound.

“Shoot!” I bend over to look for the broken piece. As I do, I catch a glimpse in the mirror of the roll of skin that hangs over of the top of my skirt. “Well, that’s attractive,” I mutter.

My husband, Shaun, pushes his head through the door. “You about ready to go?”

“Yeah,” I say, sighing a little at the strip of skin that still protrudes over my waistband, even when I am standing up straight and tall. “Let me just find a skirt to wear.” I bend down, scoop the discarded skirts into my arms, and snag one with an elastic band from a nearby hanger. Then I leave my closet, with one last glance at my rearview reflection.

Oh well. It’ll go away eventually. And even if it doesn’t, big whoop.  



A little over a week ago, I weighed myself for the first time in at least a month, but I’m pretty sure it had been much longer.

I had just finished a day-long involuntary fast (courtesy of a stomach bug), and I wanted to see what I weighed with virtually no food in my stomach. Plus, my clothes had been fitting more loosely for the past several weeks, and I was hoping to like the numbers I saw.

Turns out, I did.

I was three pounds away from my pre-twins weight. Granted, that was six pounds heavier than my nursing-Della weight. But that’s another story.

Almost immediately, an idea for a Move-it Monday post popped into my head. The twins were almost six-months-old. What if I used the momentum of my stomach-bug-weight-loss and worked reeeeeeallly hard all week long to see if I could shed those last three pounds?

Then, when the Move-it Monday right after their six month mark rolled around, I could do a celebratory, “I lost it all!” post. It would be inspirational and just the kick in the pants I needed to get those last few pesky freeloaders off of my abs. After all, it had never taken me this long to get back to my pre-baby weight before.

My plan of action? Exercise every day except Sunday. Cut out sugar completely. And really watch my caloric intake.

Well, today is the day, and after weighing myself this morning, I am happy to announce that I failed miserably.

Wait. Whaaaaa?

Yup. I “only” worked out 4 days last week for a total of 6 hours. And I consumed no fewer than three Coke floats, two cookies, a cupcake, and several brownies. That’s at least one treat every single day. Plus, if I ate dinner and was still hungry, I had seconds. And I didn’t make my weight goal.

Total bomb, right?

Actually, no.

Because not long after I got my “brilliant” blog post epiphany, another quieter idea pushed its way in. It said, “What about your readers who are a year or more removed from having their last baby and are still fighting a little (or maybe a lot) of fluff? What about the ones who have struggled with their weight since childhood? Will they be inspired by your’ ‘LOST IT ALL IN 6 MONTHS!’ trumpeting? Or will they only look at you and say, ‘Yippee for her. Kudos to the girl who has the energy and motivation to exercise. Hoozah for the girl who never has to worry about it.’”

And that same little voice reminded me of the girl from four years ago who was reduced to a quivering mass of self-loathing because of the tiniest sliver of a love handle showing through her shirt as she planned her outfits for an exercise convention. (Could you see it in those pictures? Because I sure can’t now).

It’s the same 8-year-old who despised herself for weighing 60 pounds when her fellow gymnasts were only 55 (I don’t even know what an 8-year-old is supposed to weigh, but that number is still emblazoned up on my brain, 22 years later).

It’s the 11-year-old who wore a juniors size 3 (this was before vanity-sizing took over the world) and insisted that her (nonexistent) hips were “huge” to anyone who would listen.

It’s the 22-year-old who half-starved herself for months before her wedding and sometimes neglected her fiancé in favor of gym-time, only to have her dress hang unbecomingly from her frame on her wedding day.

And it’s the 29-year-old mama of 3 little blessings who was borderline terrified of carrying multiples because of the weight she knew she would have to gain to keep them healthy inside her belly.

I’m not going to lie to you, folks. I do not want to write this post. I have a very healthy and thriving “fear of man.” I don’t want you guys to think I’m an exercise-freak. Or vain. Or vapid. Even though I have been all of those things, and can be again in a hummingbird’s heartbeat if I don’t guard my own heart.

I don’t want you to hear about how, in the past, missing a workout could have panicked me and ruined my day or about how I simply wouldn’t eat any more at the end of the day if I’d “used up all my calories,” no matter how loudly my stomach grumbled. Or even about how—on the opposite end of the spectrum—I can eat at least two of every sweet thing on a table FULL of sugar, even though my tummy hurts, and I don’t even really want them, and I know I’ll hate myself that night.

Because every single one of those scenarios screams, “I have a problem.”

And most people that write blogs don’t do it because they want you to think they have a problem. Oh no. We’re the ones with the answers.

But I do have a problem. And it will plague me until the day I die. It’s called sin.

Of course, the funny thing about sin is that it comes in all flavors and sizes.

Gluttony, pride…(here I am thinking, “Check. Check”), jealousy, self-obsession (two more big ones when it comes to body image issues). The list is endless.

Which got me thinking—maybe I’m not alone in this struggle of mine. And maybe, just maybe, writing about it would be more helpful than acting like I’m curing cancer when I lose my baby weight by 6 months after.

So, I talked to some girlfriends—smart, talented, godly women who know, deep down in that small, quiet spot in their hearts that is sound-proofed against Satan’s lies, that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that their worth isn’t even marginally reflected by their pants size or their waist measurement.

One told me that she weighed 110 lbs in college (she’s 6-feet-tall, y’all!), and she was constantly being complimented on her “model-like” body. Sounds great, right? Not so much, it turns out, since those comments fed the fear hiding in the back of her mind that already had her hustling to avoid ending up like her obese relatives. And when she gained a few pounds after she had her babies, those compliments made it that much harder to accept that she wasn’t fat, just a smidge closer to normal. So, what did she do? She chunked her scale. And it was the best decision she ever made (her words, not mine).

Another admitted that, although she regularly goes to the gym, she doesn’t mind one bit when she misses. Her struggle comes with feeling like she deserves a king-sized treat every time she stops at the gas station. So, what did she do? She limited her indulgences to special occasions and social situations (something I am planning on implementing very soon; pounds gained or not, I don’t need Coke floats every day). And you know what? Now her sweets really do feel like treats.

Yet another—a new mama who is plenty-aware that her post-baby body is several sizes bigger than her usual naturally slender frame—is making conscious efforts to not worry about it. She’s giving herself grace and staying far away from the gym. And she’s tempering praise like, “You don’t even look like you just had a baby,” (because she does still look great) with the acknowledgement that what you wear can hide a whole lot. Why? Because she doesn’t like the concept that an unrealistic comparison would cause another woman to forget that she, too, was knit together in her mother’s womb by a Creator who intended her body to be something beautiful and feminine and unique.

These women are my heroes. And it’s not because they’re perfect. Nope. They struggle, just like me. Just like you. Just like every women in our culture (maybe on our planet). But they refuse to swallow the lie that their identity is tied up in a pile of numbers or in their ability to manipulate those numbers.

It’s a lie I’ve choked on all too often myself. IMG_0781

But I’m allowing God to reveal the truth to me more and more. In fact, I’d been gradually working on weeding the lies out of my heart for several years. I must have been moving too slowly, though, because God decided to hurry things along by giving me twins.

I mentioned how much it freaked me out to think of gaining “all that weight” when I found out I was pregnant with two.  And it’s true. Even though   I knew I’d eventually probably lose it all, and even if I didn’t, my family probably wasn’t going to kick me out on the streets, the concept of eating for two babies overwhelmed me a bit. But, just like God answered my “anything but multiples, Lord!” prayer with, “How about twins?” he answered my, “Okay, but let me gain the absolute minimum of the healthy range,” with, “How about the maximum?”

My “pregnant with multiples” guidebook told me I should gain anywhere from 35-50 pounds. Well, I didn’t weigh myself during week 39 or 40 (I carried the twins to 39 weeks and 4 days), but by the end of week 38, I had already gained 50 pounds.

I know some of you may be mentally scoffing, thinking, “Girl, I did better than that with one!” My former boss, who is 5’2,” used to brag about how she gained 70 pounds with each of her pregnancies. But it really is all about perspective. And, if you had told me 18 months ago that I could possibly be okay with gaining 50 pounds—even because of carrying twins—I would have choked on my own spit. I would have said to myself, “You won’t let that happen.”

But God did an amazing thing with that pregnancy. Not only did he blow my definition of “letting him have control of how many children I have” to smithereens, but he gave me such a love for those sweet little girls in my belly that I cared less and less every time I got on the scale and saw that I had gained yet another 2 pounds in 5 days. And I was determined to do whatever it took to keep them healthy—even if that meant eating more or exercising less than I thought I “should.” (Shocking, I know). Did the rising numbers bother me? Sure, especially at the beginning. But I just kept telling myself who it was for and why it was worth it.

And bit by bit, God pried my prideful fists that held so tightly to my body image open, one fingernail at a time. Until I didn’t mind the sight of my swollen belly and legs in the gym mirrors quite so much—even when they were juxtaposed against the flat, toned abs and non-cankles of my fellow instructors and participants.

Let me clarify something here: I have heard of women who feel more attractive when they are pregnant—more womanly and sensual, etc. That’s not me. I just feel…round. And hippy. And, well, big. So, if it seems like I’m making a much bigger deal of something that really shouldn’t have been one in the first place, please understand. This is my battle. My stronghold. My little area of dying to self. (Not that there aren’t others). I guarantee you have one too, even if it looks so dissimilar as to make you wonder why you’re still reading this never-ending post.

So, am I trying to say I’m “cured?”


This is something I’ve struggled with from an early age. I don’t expect it will ever go away completely.

And I will always have to prayerfully search my heart for my motivation in eating (either too much or too little) and exercising (ditto).

Still, since having the twins, I have yet to break down crying (about that) or feel sick to my stomach at the sight of my thighs. I only ever weigh myself when there’s a change in how my clothes fit. And I’ve exercised an average of 3-4 days a week, with no nervous breakdowns (or even worry) on the days when I can’t squeeze a workout in.

That is progress, people.

And I am able to say, with honesty, that even if I never lose those last three pounds, and even when I gain the inevitable five back that I always do when I’m no longer nursing, I’ll be okay. Better than that. Happy. Heck, joyful, even!

And that, folks, is a small miracle.

As an addendum, I realize that I may sound a bit overboard on the control-freaky, I’m-a-fatty parts of this post. So, I thought I’d add the following:

I do have a “happy size” and feel good about myself for the most part when I’m there. I have not spent my life hating my body (although there have been periods during which my perspective got seriously skewed). Neither have I ever controlled my weight through an eating disorder. But even at my thinnest, I always had the niggling thought that I would be better if I lost another pound or two. That I would be more by being less.. In other words, I have always struggled with body image discontentment. But for the first time in my life, I am able to look in the mirror and say, “You are enough just the way God made you.”

I may wake up tomorrow and feel differently. But that doesn’t change the truth.

scale (source: unknown)

And the truth is that I am His, and He made me just the way I am on purpose. And that is enough.

If this is something that you struggle with too, and you’d like someone to talk to or pray for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com.

I don’t have all the answers. But I know a God who does.


  1. I gave up sugar this week. I wanted to focus on what Jesus did for me, and I’ve just gotten so out of control with eating junk food, pretty much after every meal. I thought this would help me try to get control while focusing on the most sacrificial gift given for my salvation. My mother made a vow to God not to eat sweets for a year when she was about my age. I remember how it really impressed me as a child. She did it because she felt out of control with it and knew if she made a vow to God, she would keep it. I figured, if she could do it for a year, certainly I could for a week. It has been hard. But I’ve substituted with fruit and dried fruit and even made a healthy fruit tart type thing to help when I really feel the urge for chocolate. I know: sounds stupid that it’s such a big deal for a week, huh? :S But everytime I think of how much I want something sweet, I think of His suffering and give it to Him, and I can let it go. It’s been really good. I’ve never done anything like this before. I should. I still need to lose 20 lbs. to get back to what I weighed when I got married, 14 years and 3 kids ago. I hate my bulges, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s so hard to get them off and keep them off. I may extend this sugar fast for a month. I choose better things now to eat, and I know it’s really good for me. And I definitely pray more. Sweets for prayer…yeah, I think I needed that.
    Thanks for sharing. I used to get really annoyed at skinny people like you who complained you are fat. But I understand better now, that it’s a mind thing, no different than the other things that I obsess about, like money and getting my list done (or I should say, NEVER getting my list done now with kids and home-schooling) and the freedom that just letting it go because it will all get done and cleaned up someday, when they are gone and I miss them like crazy. Being in the moment and not letting it get wasted with things that ARE important, but not AS important. 🙂

  2. Abbie Thank you for this brave wonderful post. I have struggled with body image and not feeling good enough for as long as I can remember. Even though I’m an avid runner and feel pretty strong I fall into the trap of comparing myself to others and feeling like I don’t measure up. I do believe comparing is the work of the devil! Thanks for the reminder that we are beautifully and wonderfully made. I’m going to remember that next time I feel those tugs of self doubt.

    1. Oh, Dade, I hope you do remember! It’s like we’re spitting in God’s face when we take good care of our bodies and then say, “I STILL hate it!”
      Ugh. I’m so glad you were able to read and relate. Thank you for taking the time to respond!

  3. Whenever I complain about my body my husband stops me. He said in his eyes I’m like a beautiful sand castle that’s been built. When I complain it’s like I’m stomping all over that sand castle that’s been so carefully and lovingly built. Kind of opened my eyes to a new perspective.

  4. Hi! I’ve been following your blog for a bit now and LOVE it but have never commented before. I hope it’s ok if I do now. A few things that are on my mind:
    1. Thank you. Thank you for being vulnerable and honest and putting yourself out there. Thank you for blessing me today.
    2. As someone who at the one-year-postpartum point was indeed still struggling with how my body looked, I appreciated this revised post probably more than I would have your original one 🙂 however…
    3. It makes me sad that we as a society have become so jealous. You have achieved something – celebrate it! And I would love to celebrate with you! I think there’s a difference in bragging about something that we’ve had no hand in whatsoever (like one’s eye color) and sharing a joyous achievement (like reaching a goal weight or running a marathon or going a whole day without thinking nasty thoughts about your own body). Maybe it has been easier for you to lose the baby weight than for someone else, maybe you are naturally skinnier than others – but it doesn’t mean you didn’t work for it! I’m sure there were days when you would have rather sat on the couch instead of going to the gym…or let your kids watch TV instead of chasing them around…or…well, you know what I’m saying. I mean, you could have had 3 cookies and 2 cupcakes… 🙂
    And I, personally, would love to read how you did it – your tops and tricks.
    So, congratulations! Toot your horn, trump your trumpet (or whatever it is that trumpets do…) and celebrate!

    1. It’s DEFINITELY okay that you commented! More than okay. Comments are my favorite! : )

      And thanks for you thoughts and encouragement.

      As far as how I’ve lost the weight so far…it’s pretty much a combination of exclusive breastfeeding, exercising an average of 6 hours a week, and not (typically) overdoing the sweets/bad-for-you stuff.

      But mostly, it’s the bfing.

    2. That’s awesome! My problem is the overdoing – I either go all out on an eat-nothing diet and my tummy rumbles all day, or eat all the chocolate in the house. All. of. it. Because, you know, if you already ate one piece, you’ve slipped up already and might as well finish, right? I’m praying to find a healthy middle ground. 🙂

  5. Thank you for this! Im two months after baby no.2 and nursing is just not doing it this time around… It’s so hard to shift after babies but our bodies have done miraculous things birthing them so we must be thank ful and look after it the best we can 🙂

    1. Doesn’t it stink when the nursing doesn’t do that job?! : )

      It is hard, and our bodies have gone through a lot. But I think you hit the nail on the head with the thankfulness bit!

  6. After reading your words and all the comments from readers, I thank God for you. I am so thankful that God was able to speak through you in this post. You are His light. Thank you for using your blog for His glory.
    It is interesting that women of all shapes and sizes struggle with body image. As women, we are made to expand to bring life. Yet that is the very thing that many women struggle with the most. I liked what you said about guarding your heart when it comes to body image. I have been trying to practice gratitude for the hard times. Next time I am making a pile of clothes, I am going to thank God for how he has created me.

    1. I’m thanking God for you guys and your encouragement too, Victoria! It would be SO hard to write something like this and feel completely alone it. So glad I don’t have to!

  7. Your description of your struggle mirrors mine. Now I have a 15 year old daughter with anorexia. She was hospitalized and at an in-patient treatment center last year. This year we’ve had to admit that we are unable to keep her safe in our home and she lives at a Christian therapeutic boarding school. As I watched her wilt away, I gained 25 pounds. It was like I was subconsciously trying to eat for her. Now I have to face my own stuff and try to lose this weight without letting my motives and thoughts get out of control. I’m trying to face it bravely, but it is very hard. Thanks for your honesty and for a place to share this.

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. I will pray for her and you. Such a tough spot to be in. God is bigger! But I know that doesn’t means it’s easy.

  8. What a great post. It’s kinda scary how applicable it is since just this morning I decided to cut out everything to lose those last few before trying for another baby. Body image discontentment is a great way to put what I tend to struggle with. Thanks for sharing and reminding me of who I am in Christ 🙂

  9. I have also been recently diagnosed with PCOS while struggling with infertility. It seems no matter how hard I work out or what kind of diet the weight does not come off! The doctor at the fertility clinic told me that one carb for me is like 3 for a normal person. While that really put things into perspective it just made me feel sorry for myself and throw a carb pitty party! It is so easy to think everyone else has it just “so easy”.

    I think having other women “who get it” is the best gift in the world!


    1. Ashley, I have a dear friend who also struggles with PCOS, and it’s been really hard for her too.

      I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for you, but I will add you to my prayer list.

      I hope/pray you get to have a baby soon!

    2. Ashley, I am reading through Abbie’s comments and just wanted you to know you’re not alone (not that you thought you were). I am in exactly the same boat right now and to say it’s hard is quite an understatement. Praying you are able to not just have a baby if that’s what God planned for you but, that you are able to find a peace about your body while still finding a healthy lifestyle–same prayer for myself every day. 🙂

  10. You could not have written this post at a more perfect time for me. Over the weekend I broke down and cried for hours about the weight I’ve gained and will gain while trying to get pregnant while I fight PCOS. My husband and twin worked me out of the funk with encouraging words but to read this from you today helps more than you could know. So… THANK YOU!! And best of luck to you and the rest of the readers who can relate.

  11. Thank you for sharing this, Abbie. I think this is more inspiring than all the exercises and results you can find everywhere in the web. I also struggle with my weight and reading your post makes me want to organize better my lifestyle (especially gym style) and to find the weight I feel confortable with and not the one I see every day on TV or magazines.

  12. Abbie, this was such a good post. Boo on a society that makes us feel like our self worth is tied up in our physical appearance. I don’t ever remember being happy with my size, even when I was much thinner than I am now. I like to work out and eat right to be healthy, but I would rather someone see Jesus in me than notice my pants size. Thanks for the reminder to re-prioritize my mind!

    1. Oh, Kendra, if only I did a better job of listening to the truth I know deep down in my heart. “I would rather someone see Jesus in me than notice my pants size.” AMEN!

  13. Oh, Abbie. I’m so thankful for this. I’m thankful that you took the time to chronicle your journey and thankful that you shared it with all of us. It is good to bring the stuff from the shadows out into the light. Then we can see that we’re all really the same–sinners who struggle with this flesh. But we can also see that there’s a whole lot of grace for all of it. Thanks for throwing the door wide open.

  14. Abbie, I know it took a lot for you to share this post. It is so hard for women in our culture and sometimes we don’t even give each other a break. I have always been a thinner person, and have not had babies, but I too will get upset and ask my husband if I look fat in something. I have watched and my husband honestly gets upset by this, not just because it is annoying, but because I think it honestly hurts him. He has said to me before, “Stop saying bad things about my wife!” I feel like I have even done this at times where I have a new dress on and I can see his eyes light up and can tell he just loves it on me, and then I have to go and ruin the moment by asking if I look fat? We are having a women’s refresher at our church next month about confidence and seeing ourselves the way God sees us, I think my hubby will have me there before the doors open! 🙂 I have also been sick for a long time and miss working out like I used to, so I am trying yoga, but I have to remind myself I am doing this to be healthy and feel good not to drop a jean size.

    1. Susan, your words are so, sooooooo GOOD. (I actually plan on quoting them in a follow-up post for next week, if you don’t mind). Our poor husbands see us as so much more beautiful than we see ourselves most of the time.

    2. Sure that is fine Abbie! Your post just made me think of all the times that I make my husband sad but putting myself down in front of him!

  15. I have fought the same vicious cycle my whole life. I look back at pictures now and think “If I only could be as thin as I thought I was fat.” It took me a long time to realize my thoughts were the biggest enemy. From pride, self-loathing to envy and even anger over my body. Slowly, the Lord is bringing me to a healthy thought process but its a daily battle. The balance of not being a glutton and yet not being controlled by what I think my body should be. We don’t watch T.V., are extremely picky about movies, and I know it isn’t healthy for me to visit certain websites or read certain magazines. The world’s standard has skewed God’s in my mind. I’m still working on a healthy weight but I’m thankful for God’s work in my heart, first. Thank you for sharing. Like the comment from Amy Jo, it’s easy to assume skinny girls don’t have body issues…but it just goes to show, we all struggle and could be kinder to one another. (thanks for sharing Amy). I’m reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book “Made to Crave”. It has been a huge help and blessing to me in this struggle. Thanks again, Abby! I appreciate your offer for prayer also. _Aunt Pippy

  16. Thank you for sharing this. I have a taller, thinner frame and I feel like sometimes our society makes women my size feel like we don’t have a right to have any body issues. But I do! I struggle in different ways than other women might, but I still struggle to remind myself every day that God made me, and that I am special and HIS no matter what size or shape. But I still struggle!

    1. I’ve definitely been guilty of assuming that it’s easy for people that are naturally thin (because I don’t really think of myself in those terms). Why is it so hard to wrap our brains around TRUTH!? Thanks for commenting! : )

  17. Wonderfully brave and honest post. I have been overweight my entire life, and when I see women who are thin and in shape, I cannot fathom how they’d ever have any body issues. It just goes to show that we all have our own issues, no matter what our size!!

  18. I as always slender until I gained 60 POUNDS with our daughter! My problem is I LOVE sweets. Well, my body used to be “okay” with sweets, but not anymore! So, I am seriously considering doing a detox, to get all the “gunk” out, and get my body to more of how God intended it to be. Then, if I’m still 9 pounds heavier than pre pregnancy, that’s OK!

  19. THANK YOU for this post, and applause and to you for your bravery and honesty in sharing. I struggle with body self-esteem, trying to find a balance with what I eat, and trying to remember that what my body looks like does not equate my self-worth. It’s always helpful to me read posts like this and remember I’m not the only one with these thoughts and this struggle.

I love hearing from you guys!