At 41, it’s taken a few decades to become body confident. Like most women, I struggle with insecurity over how my body has changed over the years, especially after two kids via two C-sections. But I also know I’m more fit and healthy than I have ever been.
As a young girl, I never really felt beautiful, but I also never felt ugly. It’s funny, I had horrible buck teeth, bushy brows and that awful feathered hair of the early '80s. I joke now I looked like a mini, unattractive David Cassidy. Looking back, I cringe at those photos, but at the time I never looked in the mirror much or focused on my bad smile or other issues.
The first time I ever realized I wasn’t adorable just as I was (as my parents had me believe) was when I went to a dentist and he said, “You know, we can fix that smile with a retainer.” Six months later, after having gone through the worst of puberty, all of a sudden boys started noticing me and my new smile. That’s when I first started to really care how I looked. I never could afford fashionable clothes, but I would save all my allowance and buy a few nice pieces every season, shopping at discount stores and Air Force base thrift shops. I learned what looked good on my petite frame and to this day I’m a great bargain shopper.
While I started to care about what people thought of how I looked, my parents always emphasized the importance of being smart, genuine, and being a good person who cares about others. I give my parents tons of credit, especially my mom who raised three girls. I never once heard her say, “I feel fat,” or “Does my butt look big in these jeans?”
Yes, like all women she has struggled with weight and has tried some dieting, but it was never an obsession. She taught us to eat healthy foods and never kept a lot of sweets around the house. But as a big Latino family, we love to celebrate with food. So I have learned over the years to make smart choices, eat foods that fuel my body, and get plenty of exercise. I love to eat, so by default I now love to exercise. I don’t deprive myself, but I negotiate with myself; i.e. one glass of wine or dessert? (OK, sometimes it’s both!)
After having two kids, I did worry about getting my body back. One hazard of our job on TV is people are always checking us out and noting every pound we’ve gained or haven’t quite lost. I worked hard after both pregnancies, but some things don’t go back to just the way they were. I had two C-sections and had some abdominal muscle separation (which is very typical) so I don’t have a perfect flat belly.
It’s irritating, though, that I sometimes get tweets from people asking me if I’m pregnant! First, I would never announce on Twitter if I were or weren't but secondly, most of the time those tweets are coming from women! Isn’t that breaking the female code? We all know better than to ask that question.
That said, my body is a testament to all the amazing things I have done, my kids being the most important of my accomplishments. So I have a little mummy tummy! No biggie because I’m stronger, healthier, fitter now more than ever. But every day, I do find myself, like a lot of women, complaining: “I feel fat, I feel bloated.” I know I am my own worst enemy. But rather than let that sentiment deflate me, I chose to let it motivate me to get up, get out and go do something that makes me feel good about myself.