But I used to. I have struggled with feeling comfortable in my own skin for as long as I can remember. Well, that’s not exactly true. When I was in elementary school, I was active, slender, and fit. Then, in fifth grade, my mom signed me up for tennis lessons. In between my first and second lessons, I broke my arm. So, I gave up on tennis. Then, in seventh grade, I went to after-school track practice and pulled my hamstring on the first day. So, I gave up on anything exercise-related and became a lazy, emo (before emo was cool), poetry-writing, The Cure-listening, stay-holed-up-in-my room kind of gal.
I was pudgy all through high school, which only magnified my feelings of being shy, awkward, self-conscious, and completely insecure.
My confidence seemed to improve when I went to college, but I think it was mostly because I was so excited about my FREEDOM (sorry, Mom–I love you, but I needed to do my thang). Then I ran the gamut of weight ranges in my twenties, weighing anywhere from 125 to 165 pounds. Toward the end of my twenties, things started evening out. I found I could continue my lack of an exercise routine if I could manage my diet. And by “diet,” I don’t mean “being healthy.” I would skip meals, eat tiny portions, and, ultimately, starve myself just to shave a pound or two. I weighed myself EVERY DAY, because every pound counted.
If I was 137 one day, my goal was to drop to 135 by the next day. Yeah, I know — INSANE.
I even knew in my head that operating that way was unhealthy and unsustainable. But every morning I weighed myself and found I had shed a pound, I felt ecstatic and couldn’t stop. When I met my husband in the summer of 2012, I was a comfortable 130 pounds. A couple of years later, I was up to 142 pounds and then found out I was pregnant. Well, obviously, that was my dream come true — I wanted a baby, but also, I had an excuse to gain weight without feeling bad about it (you know, because the baby needed that extra scoop of ice cream). But actually, I ate better during my pregnancy than ever before in my life. So, all the weight I was gaining felt good because I knew it was for my son.
I ended up gaining almost 50 pounds during pregnancy. And still I didn’t exercise. I got lucky, because breastfeeding helped me shed all of my pregnancy weight and then some. But then (27.5 months later) I stopped breastfeeding, and my first thought was, “Drink all the wine! Eat all the snacks! You’re below your pre-pregnancy weight, so you can do whatever you want!”
In the six months since that time, I have probably gained 15-20 pounds. I don’t know the exact amount because guess what?! I STOPPED WEIGHING MYSELF.
It started out as a way to hide from the weight I was putting on over the past few months. I just couldn’t bring myself to step on the scale and find out how much I had destroyed my seemingly easy transition to post-pregnancy weight loss. And while I started noticing the extra weight in my face, thighs, arms, and mid-section, I simultaneously made excuses: “A little weight gain is okay — you had a baby, for goodness sake!” and “You have all those prolapse issues — you can’t exercise like other people can.” and “You have severe diastasis recti — of course your tummy is going to poke out more than ‘normal’.” And then I started noticing my clothes getting tighter and tighter. I sighed and moaned about it to my husband, and he in his infinite wisdom said, “Honey, I think you look beautiful, but if you aren’t feeling good about yourself, then do something about it.”
It has taken me a while to get here, but I think I’m FINALLY at the point in my life where I might…*gasp*…join a gym. But it’s not for the reason you might think. Well, not entirely. I realized that while I’m sad about all the weight I’ve gained, I’m more sad about how uncomfortable and how sluggish I feel in my own body. I feel heavy, but more than that, I feel unhealthy. I’ve heard the saying, “The first wealth is health” I don’t know how many times. But now, less than a month shy of being halfway between my 30s and 40s, I feel its truth.