I remember the very first time I thought about my weight. I was in middle school and my Granny, not one to mince words, commented, “Yer puttin’ on a little weight aren’t ya?” and then that same summer I was about to go off the diving board when a classmate screamed: “You’ve got a terrible ass!”
Going underwater is already so disorienting, but to plop down with this brand new information about yourself, no time to process, no time to compose…I wanted to immediately scream and cry, but I also had to worry about surviving and getting back to air.
I remember, very well, climbing up that ladder, pulling down my bright blue bathing suit bottoms as far as possible in hopes that no one saw even a little bit of that terrible ass, or worse of all, saw the struggle to fight back the tears. I walked to my family’s spot, sat down, and for the first time, refused Gardetto’s Mustard Pretzels.
And, then my relationship with the scale began. It’s been over two decades of counting, measuring, binging, starving, comparing, a tiny bit of pride, and a ton of disappointment. Only occasionally did I pepper in maintaining my health…I’ve never really liked pepper, really.
Even after begging God to give us a child for ten years, I still rolled out of the hospital pissed off at myself for “letting myself go” during pregnancy.
In the last eight years, I have been on every diet you can imagine. Recently, I started Weight Watchers for the simple fact that it was “the only diet I’ve never tried.” I know what works, how to lose weight…but it’s not really about the weight, is it?
- The number, and always having to know where I measure against everyone else, or even myself.
- Not wanting to be “frumpy.”
- Wanting to look at a picture and not criticize the mess out of myself.
- It gives me something to worry over.
- The comfort in discomfort.
Yesterday, I took my little girl to a water park. It was the first time I dared to show (gasp!) my stomach since delivering her. I spent nine months agonizing over stretch marks, and came out without one. I guess I thought that was the clincher in wearing a bikini. But then I decided I was way too fat. Yesterday, I decided I wanted to be more comfortable than anything, so I went with shorts and a sports bra. Anyway, this isn’t a post about bikinis because really: who cares. Show up, have fun, and seriously…no one is looking at you. If they are, believe me…they hate themselves way more than you can grasp.
After I got home, my friend sent me a few pictures she snapped, and my knee-jerk reaction was to begin the usual self-criticism song and dance. But something changed.
I really, really wanted to be a mom more than anything in this world. To me, that doesn’t mean a life sentence of self-neglect. In fact, I think I have a healthy enough dose of selfishness to never really not practice the posh art of self-care. But, am I really forfeiting self-care if I just say: stop logging your food/ use common sense?
Just to kind of touch base with Weight Watchers (I have faithfully logged every meal for 3 weeks), I weighed this morning. I gained 3 pounds. How does that even happen?
Anyway, I didn’t cry or really bat an eye. I got dressed and got ready to take some of my favorite kids out for a day of (seriously) great fun. We went to their favorite restaurant (McDonald’s) afterward, and I ordered a Happy Meal because… there’s a reason McDonald’s has exactly one salad on the menu. I watched little kids giggle to the point of delirium. I delivered two of them home and then wrestled one into a nap. When she awoke, I made one of my favorite Whole 30-approved Meals. Because I like it. Actually, I love it.
I began running again last week, and omigosh I have missed it terribly. I downloaded this app called “Running For Weight Loss” and I’m going to stick with it not because of the weight loss component, but because it has reignited a part of me that fizzled out a few years back.
All of this to say, it’s not that I don’t think diet and exercise are important. I would still argue that they are the two biggest factors in overall well-being. Hands down, when I am eating better and exercising regularly, the better I feel about life in general. Mental clarity, spiritual connection, and emotional well-being are not merely byproducts of a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, BMI, weight loss, measurements…those should be the happy accidents of a healthy lifestyle. And that, folks, is going to be my mantra henceforth.
It’s easier said than done. I have to change my narrative. I have to let go of words that bear no meaning like “lean,” “thin,” or even (barf) “hot.” Instead, I am clinging to words like “kind,” “insightful,” or even “awesome aunt.” Because none of those words would be possible either if I were a lump on a log.
One more thing: can we please stop calling bikini/ bathing suit pictures “courageous”? I mean, I’m showing off a little back fat, not walking through fire to save small children or going off to war.
Also, I’m still logging onto Weight Watchers because I am the Reigning Queen of Dropping Out, and I am fully committed to three months. I have more to say about this later, like when I actually gave it a shot.