The other day I woke up and started my day like I normally do. I lingered in bed about a half hour longer than I really should have, finally dragging myself out of bed and lumbering into the bathroom. I looked at myself critically in the mirror and carelessly rearranged my increasingly wild mane of hair.
I plop sleepily onto the toilet and am acutely aware of the extra fat around my middle that rests slightly on my thighs as I pee. I finish, stand up, and walk over to my closet, mindlessly squishing my own belly with my fingers. I manhandle my own boobs because they’re big and ridiculous and I’d like them to be at least partially gone. Then I grab onto my bellyfat, too, and say, “You can get the hell out of here, too, thanks.”
I consider that maybe today I’ll eat ONLY Keto-friendly food. Yeah, maybe today I’ll get “back on track.” Probably.
But maybe I want a piece of toast. I can have toast, I’ll just have one slice of Dave’s Killer Bread and then go super low-carb the rest of the day.
My mind wanders to how I’m probably close to the same weight I was at this time last year. Well not THAT close, I had lost about thirty to thirty-five pounds, but started to gain it back little-by-little around September. I think I gained back about twenty. Maybe only fifteen? Hmmm. Whatever. My pants still fit my ass, these ones anyway.
It would be nice to get this weight back off though and get “back on track”, because I had wanted to be smaller by the time we were back in Mexico later this summer. And shit, I wanted to be at LEAST another thirty pounds lighter (again) before I made an appointment to get the breast reduction that I’ve been fantasizing about forever.
So I’m going to have to lose this weight again, and then I’ll make the call for my consultation.
And, as I was walking from my bedroom to my kitchen, I glanced at the scale peeking out from under the dresser. I almost never get on the scale because I had finally gotten through to myself that the number itself wasn’t important. Though when I knew I was in a successful weight loss groove, it was impossible to keep me off of the scale so I could see my progress.
But I stepped onto it, read the display, and promptly laughed out loud to myself, scaring my cat in the process.
I have been this weight before. I have been this exact weight before multiple times. And the last, oh I don’t know, twenty times I’ve seen that exact number on the scale I always think, “Welp. Apparently my body wants to be that weight because here I am…again.” It’s my True North.
I wasn’t really too surprised or even disappointed, another thing that has changed in how I think, because there was a time I would have been devastated. I mean yes, I absolutely would love to get down to a more “ideal” weight…not skinny, just less. I’d like to a certain way, to feel a certain way. But less. That’s cool, I’ll get “back on track” and…
And it hit me.
I’m going to be forty-eight years old this Spring; and I have been trying to lose weight for more than thirty years.
I have spent three decades losing weight, never getting to “the” weight, whatever that weight was at any given time. Feeling like I’ve failed over and over again.
Three decades obsessing about food, being unhappy with my shape, unhappy with my fat, unhappy with how certain clothes hung on me. Or dug into me.
Thirty years losing five pounds, gaining five pounds, losing twenty pounds, gaining twenty pounds, then another ten. Losing thirty, gaining forty.
I have spent an adult lifetime losing weight, shrinking my body a little, and running into friends who praise me for how great I’m looking. And always knowing in the back of my head that the next time they saw me, they would see the weight back on my body, always being angry at myself for the shame that brought me.
It was about fifteen years ago that I read that if you yo-yo diet and constantly lose and gain the same five to ten pounds, that you take five years off your life. I would joke to friends, “Well if that’s the case, I died in 1965.” So funny.
And I continued to yo-yo. To obsess about food, to hate how I felt when I failed at going a whole day without “eating wrong.” I continued to have the things I would do “once I got down to that weight.”
Last summer, I was discussing that breast reduction that I fantasize about with a dear friend. She asked me what I was waiting for, and I responded that, well, I’ve lost about thirty pounds now and really, ideally, I’d like to get down another twenty or thirty.
She said, “Well what happens if you don’t though?”
I was so angry with her in that moment, though I wouldn’t let her know this. How dare she imply that I would fail? It hurt my feelings that she thought so little of my efforts. Hadn’t she seen how much damn progress I had even made…this time? Though, of course, I now see that she was actually encouraging me to stop putting off something I so desperately wanted.
I was angry with her in the same way I was angry with a kickboxing instructor ten years ago who, when I was working out on an extreme level and in incredible shape – for me – but my weight loss had screeched to a halt with a scale that read “189”. I hit a wall and, no matter how I ate, no matter what I tweaked, I didn’t seem to be able to budge that number on the scale. It was lightest I had been in fifteen years, and my instructor was impressed with my progress, but I scoffed. She responded to my annoyance with some words from research she had done on body types, and that some were just not meant to cruise through life in a lean body. Hunters and gatherers, and so on and so forth, and everyone’s body is built differently. And that mine was so strong and I should be impressed with the results of all the work I had put in.
I knew she wasn’t wrong on some level, but I was determined to defy genetics and nature and everything else. I worked my ASS off, goddammit.
And, the millisecond I left the area, moving away from my gym and no longer working out like an Olympic athlete, the weight began to creep back…landing eventually at the weight I saw again on my scale just the other day.
Thirty years battling genetics and my own psyche to attain weight that doesn’t reasonably exist for me – and why?
Thirty years in what now, hindsight being what it is, looks like a hamster wheel, with my chubby hamster body running and running and getting absolutely freaking nowhere, though I do ride the wheel up and around on occasion.
I’m done. I have called a ceasefire on myself. I am battle-weary. While I am absolutely committed to fueling my body with food that serves it, that soothes my aching joints, that keeps me healthy, I am also absolutely going to eat that $#%&! cake on my friend’s birthday. I will have that second piece. If I feel like it.
I can’t undo the damage I’ve done to myself physically and mentally by putting myself through this more than thirty year war. I can’t go back and insert myself into more pictures that I was too ashamed to be apart of. To wear that swimsuit to the pool with my kids, they’re grown. I can’t go back and just have that slice of toast with breakfast or anything else I said I would do “once I got down to where I want to be.”
Everything good in my life has happened at the weight I am right-flipping-now and heavier. Literally every event I look back at with fondness has me in it wearing the same size clothing I am wearing as I type this.
My life was not better when I was working out to the point of exhaustion and injury and counting every gram of nutrients in every bite of food I ate. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t any better then that it is today carrying the equivalent of a giant bag of dog food of weight in excess of where I was at my lightest and still not content.
The war is over. Pass the bread.