I begin this post with a certain level of wariness–I’m not the first person to talk about body image and I won’t be the last. I’m also definitely not the only “big girl” to sit down and talk about how her body makes her feel. But I still feel like this is something I need to say, and so it makes sense to say it where others can read.
Let’s make one thing clear: for the first time in 23 years, I am damn happy with my life. I love my job, hard as it is. I love my new apartment and the people I’ve moved in with. I love my friends and am so happy I cut out all the toxic people from my life. I have a good relationship with pretty much everyone in the family, praise G-d. Speaking of Whom: I’m finally happy with where I am in terms of my faith. And I’m actually happy to be single rather than in a relationship that didn’t make me happy.
That doesn’t mean it can’t still get better.
I’ve already begun making plans to continue growing and improving: grad school next year, saving like crazy starting right now so I can get that car I really want (Honda Insight EX in frosted silver metallic, if you’re curious), getting ready for the new school year so I can do even better at work and reward the trust my principal has placed upon me. But there’s on area that I remain conflicted about: my body.
I love a lot of things about my body. I love my legs, shaped by dance and soccer. I love my face, thank you genetics! I love my hair in all of its unruly, leonine glory–especially now that I have unleashed my inner redhead with the help of Garnier Nutrisse’s R2. I love having curves and having an hourglass shape that wears a bandage dress like none other. And man, do I love having the chest and the rear to fill said dress out!
What I’m not happy about are my body’s limitations. Okay, I know I’m never going to be tall (but I’ve grown at least an inch, I swear!). And I have a wide frame and legit big bones (just look at my hands and feet), so I’m never going to be tiny and precious like my roommate. But at the weight I’m at right now? I’m happy, but my body is not. My back is unable to deal. My knees are struggling to hold me up. My feet and ankles keep swelling due to the extra pressure. I’m getting sick more often. My entire body is rebelling against me because, while I am not meant to have the weight my height suggests, I’m not meant to be this heavy either.
How heavy, you ask?
I’ll bite the bullet: currently wearing a size 20 at 256.6 pounds.
Yeah, sometimes I wish that number was smaller. That I still fit into that adorable size 16 dress. That I could still suck my stomach in to look flat in pictures. That my cups didn’t have to runneth over. But the real reason I’m unhappy with that number is how limiting it is.
Being so heavy that my body can’t handle it means that today a workout video I used to do twice per session kicked my ass halfway through–and that’s after taking frequent breaks and having to modify some of the exercises because I couldn’t get one leg, one knee to hold all of me. It means that I bought bar stools for our apartment and, as I put the first one together, I noticed that the most it would hold was 300 pounds. And let me tell you, that would be under duress. I almost burst into tears at how shaky the stool was when I sat on it, how much it swayed.
It means that I can’t go on the walks I want to because I’ll get too winded and end up in too much pain. It means that the floor creaks 100 times more when I walk across our apartment (prompting one of my WoW guildmates to innocently joke that I must be Bigfoot when I walked around while on Mumble). It means that I worry when I sit on anyone’s bed or chair when visiting. It means that I have to squish myself as small as possible on buses and trains–and suffer dirty looks by people eyeing the empty seat next to me. It makes me afraid to walk across a plank covering a hole on the street.
It means that, when someone I love says she’s unhappy with her weight at 130 pounds, I want to sob out, “I would kill to be your weight. Do you realize I’m almost twice that? That I would have essentially have to lose a person to be your size?”
That shouldn’t be my reaction. I shouldn’t want to be someone else’s size just so I can do things and wear dresses from Rent the Runway and actually support myself on the gorgeous heels I own but can’t wear. I should’ve been supportive of her concern, offered to help her eat healthy, come up with ways for her to be more active.
After being ashamed of my own pain in response, I have come to accept it and to understand that the day I have been referring to for years, the “when my health requires it I will totally buck up and lose the weight” day, has finally arrived.
As if to cement that thought, I’ve remembered what friend C told me when we were driving back from the draft. “Too busy to work out? President Obama is the president and he still manages to take out 45 minutes every day to exercise. If he can do it, so can I. And so can you.” At the time, it was a humiliating thought, and it made me feel like my ‘reasons’ were being dismissed and taken lightly. Who’s to say I actually wasn’t too busy?
Yeah, I’ve been too busy to do things like sleep more than 5 hours and call my mom back and comb my hair. But, hard-working as I am, I have to admit that a large part of that is that I have a time-management (read: procrastination) problem. And, despite my best attempts, I am a total ‘yeah-but’er, as diagnosed by my awesome boss. My ‘reasons’ have at this point become excuses. So I knew needed to make a change, but I hit the same wall I’ve been hitting for years: “I don’t know if I can do it, if I have that kind of willpower.”
Someone I used to be friends with once said to me, “I admire you. You said that you would stop drinking Coke and lose weight, and then you went off and worked out and lost 30 pounds. I say I want to lose weight and then I go off and eat a cookie.” That was over two years ago, before the 9+ years of depression became stronger than I was–but I think that now, depression-free for the first time in eleven and a half years, I could do it again. I could do it better.
For now, though? I’ll settle for doing it.
Yesterday, furniture and appliances were bought, schedules were drafted, groceries were purchased, and I began to “prepare for my new life…like some people prepare for the apocalypse,” to quote the amazing Allie Brosh.
Today, I actually completed more than half of my to-do list! I pushed myself through a workout, worked on setting up my new room, curbed cravings by anticipating them and having non-junk food, RESISTED THE URGE TO EAT THE LEFTOVER PIZZA, and generally gave myself zero room for excuses. And, okay, yeah, I rewarded myself with a hot bath and a 60-calorie Jello chocolate pudding.
Let’s see how tomorrow goes. 🙂