Yesterday I was fat. I don’t mean overweight; I mean obese, grotesque, waddling fat. Looking in the mirror was like looking at one of those Russian dolls that keep opening to reveal another doll inside. Those dolls are very pear shaped and so am I. It may look cute on them, not so much on me.
You see, yesterday I had to go swimsuit shopping. When you go swimsuit shopping, you are baring your body to the cold, fluorescent hell of the modern day fitting room mirror. No one looks good in those mirrors. Not only is every ounce of fat cruelly highlighted, the lighting washes out your skin color to the most terrifying shades of pale. I have had friends with great figures and tan skin avoid the experience. If they avoid it, just imagine what it’s like for the average woman.
When I was in that dressing room looking in the mirror, there was a part of me that wanted to just throw myself on the floor and let loose with loud racking sobs of disappointment. Another part of me, the part that saves me most times, wanted to retreat into hysterical laughter over how my less-than-ideal figure looked encased in a lacy blue one piece. That was the worst, but not a single suit that I tried on looked good, much less what I would think of as, “good enough to be seen in public wearing.”
I can’t speak for American men, but I know that body image is a struggle for most American women. One day I can put on a pair of jeans, turn around and look at my butt in the mirror and say, “Damn that shit’s hot.” Then the next day, I can be wearing the same jeans, look into the same mirror and say, “Damn, you’re a fat cow.” Obviously, no one can gain 20 pounds in one day, but it sure feels like it in those moments of insecurity.
As I’ve packed on the pounds, I’ve had lots of legitimate excuses:
- I am postmenopausal so of course I have a bigger belly;
- I had collagenous colitis for years and that illness prevented me from eating fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s hard to lose weight when you can’t eat the healthier choices;
- I’ve been through a lot of stress the last six months and I am a comfort eater. Sometimes the temporary solace of food felt better in the moment than the long term vision of staying thin.
With all of these things going on, of course I was going to gain weight. But, to me, they are all just excuses. No matter what was going on, I know how I’m supposed to eat and what my body responds best to. I just got overwhelmed.
I remember back in the day, when I was a teenager, I could just say “Oh, I need to lose 10 pounds!” and it would happen. In a week max. Now, 40 years later, not only are those 10 pounds way too fond of me to leave, they have encouraged about 30 more to come join the party. A loose, jiggly party.
So, the question is, what am I going to do now? My current teaching schedule is 10 or more fitness classes a week. One would think that would be ample, but your body acclimates to what it does consistently. There comes a point where you really no longer get any calorie burning or strengthening benefits when you do the same thing week after week. But, it’s kind of hard to fit more work outs into my routine simply based on the number of hours in a day.
Obviously, I can eat less and consume fewer calories each day. For a long time, I ate everything I wanted thinking you might not be alive tomorrow. Now I have to shift to know you might not be alive tomorrow but you still got to feel good about yourself today. Now that I can eat fruits and vegetables again, I am trying to eat those instead of filling up on cheeseburgers and fries.
The other thing I can do is give myself a break. There is no sin in being heavy, but there is something wrong with despising your body. I’m not 18 any longer and I really have no desire to go back to that stage of my life. I am working on accepting my body as it is, while making healthier food choices one meal at a time.
Today I decided I’m going to embrace my curves. I am no longer going to try and hide my figure by wearing baggy clothes. I am back to wearing form-fitting clothes and I am rocking my curves with confidence and with pride. I may not be the size I want, but I can still turn heads when I set my mind to it.
There is nothing wrong with living, and eating, like there is no tomorrow, but I also need to like who I am today.