I have kind of made my peace with it. And kind of not.
There’s irony here, for sure. It’s never about what the scale actually says, or even whether the clothes actually fit. It’s about how you feel. And for the last several years I have felt, to be honest, great.
I survived the stress and confusion of The Boy’s early undiagnosed years, I brought myself back from the brink of a rather nasty nervous breakdown with Zoloft, therapy, running, and marathon viewings of “Community” Seasons 1-3. I got my house in order – literally, cleaning out a basement whose mess predated our ownership of the house – and remodeled our third theoretical bedroom into a literal one, making it possible for us to keep living in our cozy urban bungalow instead of moving to a bigger house in the burbs. And, of course, I found my way back to work in a career that I absolutely love.
Through these happy years, I was gaining. It was gradual. And barely a concern, to be honest. I had no room for it anymore, no room at all for the self-hatred and self-punishing attitude that drove my fitness in the past. I got heavier. But I felt more gorgeous and free than I’d felt in…ever. I didn’t care. What I did with my body belonged to me. Yoga, or not. Dessert, or not. It was based on what I wanted or didn’t want at any given moment. My body. My choice.
Lately, though, my choice has been that this is heavy enough. The last couple of gradual gains have felt a little uncomfortable. Not unattractive. Just a bit physically uncomfortable. I don’t want to gain anymore. I wouldn’t mind losing a little, in fact.
I thought I knew how to do this in a healthy, self-loving way, with lifestyle choices and so on. So I picked the day I would start and woke up with a kind-but-firm determination to simply eat and move with more intention. Seemed reasonable enough.
But my psychological response to these moderate self-imposed limitations was anything but reasonable. It was fierce, insulted, positively raging with self-doubt and anger. There was anxiety, jealousy, impatience, deep sadness, restlessness, fear, bitterness, and an underlying sense of betrayal. Just like that, I’m at odds with this body again. It’s as if I don’t trust it anymore.
How long did I hate my own body? Too long. Starving it in desperation during the teen years, fantasizing about just slicing off whole pieces of it, trying to drive out every last badness in myself, as if badness only takes shape in fat cells. And even though there were plenty of times in my adulthood where I took a more kind, self-loving approach to fitness, that’s not what the body remembers. It remembers being hated and starved and slashed at angrily, and it absolutely REFUSES to go back there again without a fight.
So, here we are. I was happy. I got too heavy. Must I become unhappy to be less heavy?
When I think about it, most of my more triumphant weight loss episodes happened under duress. A break-up, usually. The sheer humiliation and loneliness was enough to drive me to work my body into what I believed was a more sexually viable shape.
The only exception I can think of is, strangely, during The Boy’s first year when I lost all my baby weight and then some. I wasn’t even trying. Honestly. But somehow, between the breastfeeding metabolism and daily postnatal yoga and all those long, dreamy walks with him in the Bjorn, the heaviness just melted away. I was thinner than I’d been in years.
I’d hoped this would happen again after my pregnancy with Little Grrl. I did everything exactly the same. I probably exercised even more because I was chasing a two-year-old around and those long strolls with the baby were considerably less dreamy. I even gave up dairy for nine months to accommodate Little Grrl’s sensitivity to it in my breastmilk. But the heaviness was with me to stay. And after a while, I kind of stopped caring about it. I was happy, after all, and loved. Somehow that made it easier to let it go.
And what about now?
Somehow I need to push past my own fierce resistance that associates fitness with self-hatred and shame. Not easy to do when that’s how I’ve always motivated myself toward fitness in the first place. But it has to be done. Can I somehow find a way to believe, deep in my heart, that yes I am loved, yes I am good, and yes I will accept some moderate self-denial in my daily life? I mean…that’s totally reasonable, right?
Well, I hope so. Because I’m not really up for going deep into the psyche to untwist whatever’s twisted in there. Wish me luck, gentle readers. Luck, strength, patience, self-kindness, and…what the hell, how about a few sincere compliments, too? It couldn’t hurt.