Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.

Thelma and Louise. Lucy and Ethel. The girls. It’s a woman’s right to name her boobs in some goofy way. Sometimes, other body parts earn their own monikers, too — and not necessarily because of our affection for them.

Many of us struggle with parts of ourselves to the degree that those parts acquire an identity of their own. In my case, it’s the protruding pooch of my lower belly.

This body part has taken on name as unattractive as my feelings about it: “The Blump,” a contraction of “belly” and “lump.”

For years, the Blump has been the albatross hanging around my abdomen.

It first made its presence known during puberty, poking out shortly after my first period. Throughout my teen years I’d marvel at all the flat-stomached girls who could wear bikinis without a roll below their navels.

And even as an adult, when I watch TV or movies, I find myself wondering how many layers of Spanx it takes to iron out female celebrities’ silhouettes — or whether they’re just a different species than me.

In a game of “Would you rather?” on date night, my husband asked which I would prefer to get rid of, the Blump or a mental health condition I suffer with.

On the mission to bend my body to my vision of perfection, my efforts to rid myself of the Blump have been nothing short of epic.

I’ve tried every reverse crunch in the book. I’ve dabbled in weight loss attempts (even though I don’t actually need to lose weight).

When someone told me that lower belly pooches could be the result of poor posture, I made an effort to sit and stand up straighter.

After I happened upon a YouTube video that claimed a tilted pelvis could push the belly forward, I cycled through a series of rather ridiculous floor exercises for weeks, hoping to shift my pelvic bones.

Mostly, though, I’ve just spent a lot of time trying to hide the Blump

I intentionally buy clothing that covers it, believing that with the right smoke and mirrors of fabrics and cuts, maybe I’ll keep it under wraps. (No ill-defined maxi dresses or low-cut jeans for me.) I wear shapewear under any form-fitting skirts and dresses.

And I suck it in — a lot.

In photos, in front of a crowd or when an attractive man walks by me in the grocery store — Whoosh! My muscles contract, my breath holds, and the Blump retracts as far back as I can force it.

Recently, however, my husband posed a question that made me view this body part in a new light. In a game of “Would you rather?” on date night, he asked which I would prefer to get rid of, the Blump or a mental health condition I suffer with.

Without hesitating, I admitted that I would much rather keep the Blump if I could improve my mental health.

It was a moment of sudden clarity. I realized that deep down, I really do—or at least want to—value my health over aesthetic perfection.

After all, there’s no reason for women not to enjoy being soft.

This question of appearance versus health set me to thinking of how fortunate I am to be in generally good health and how much more that matters than one little flap of flab.

I have no debilitating illnesses, I don’t experience chronic pain, and I maintain a healthy weight. Focusing on a single body part takes away from these blessings. Truthfully, it’s myopic and ungrateful.

If I spent more time celebrating all my body does for me instead of wishing to change one “defective” part, I can only imagine how much healthier I would be in body and mind.

In fact, my thoughts about the Blump and my mental health are probably closely related. Research shows that negative body image is a predictor of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Perhaps letting go of perfectionism around my waistline could lead to a healthier emotional state.

A survey conducted by Glamour magazine revealed that women have an average of 13 negative body thoughts daily, and 97 percent admitted to thinking they hated their body at least once a day.

As my husband and I continued our discussion, he reminded me, too, that he genuinely loves the extra chub on my lower belly. He finds it comforting. So do my kids, who like to lay their heads on it like a pillow when we snuggle.

After all, there’s no reason for women not to enjoy being soft. Physically, we are meant to have a far higher percentage of body fat than men.

And if the major players in my life don’t judge me for my Blump (and actually enjoy it), who am I to disagree? I’d like to think allowing my body to bring comfort to those I love means more than how I look in a sheath dress.

Besides, despite all my attempts to eradicate it, the Blump appears to be here to stay.

Even during a period of prolonged illness years ago, when I weighed a dangerous 102 pounds, a little protrusion still rounded out my lower abs.

Looking at the other women in my family, I see that my Blump was genetically inevitable. My mom, aunts, and female cousins all boast belly pooches of their own — and my grandmother, God rest her soul, had the Blump to End All Blumps. (The woman was like an upside-down question mark.)

Contemplating this helps me accept my “problem” part as more of a birthright, evidence of my familial belonging.

In the weeks since that date night chat, I’ve been on a quest to make peace with the Blump

Accepting it not only connects me to my family heritage, but also opens the door for me to extend more compassion to myself in general.

We women are notorious for how cruel we can be to ourselves, especially when it comes to our bodies.

A survey conducted by Glamour magazine revealed that women have an average of 13 negative body thoughts daily, and 97 percent admitted to thinking they hated their body at least once a day.

Caught in a negative thoughts-and-actions cycle, we take out our self-loathing with punishing crash diets and other restrictive behaviors (much like I’ve done with my various Blump-elimination tactics).

What might happen if we let go of the need for aesthetic perfection in favor of the pursuit of health? How might this grace ripple out to other areas of our lives?

I’m seeing that when I “Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Blump,” I’m more likely to speak kindly to myself about other problem areas of my body, too.

When I spot wrinkles and acne coexisting in defiance of all logic on my face, I try to give thanks that at least they pose no major threat to my health (and at least I have makeup!).

And lately I’ve noticed my ability to stop dwelling on other failures is growing stronger. I’m better able to shake off the mommy guilt that has so often plagued me. I take it less to heart when I receive criticism for my work. I have to believe it’s all connected.

Mission Blump Acceptance is still a work in progress. Age-old thought patterns take time to shake. As I’ve obsessed about the Blump over the years, I’ve harbored the belief that if I could just “fix” this one trouble spot, I would be happy with my body.

But I’m starting to believe that the choice of whether to be happy with my body is really up to me.


Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a nutritionist, freelance health writer, and food blogger. She lives with her husband and three children in Mesa, Arizona. Find her sharing down-to-earth health and nutrition info and (mostly) healthy recipes at A Love Letter to Food.