I got on the scale this morning. One hundred twenty nine pounds. Okay. At least I’m under 130. I am hovering between a two and a four jeans. Before you say it, let me. There are millions of women who would bloody well KILL to be between size two and four jeans, so REALLY?
Since I’ve been obese (kindly, for my frame), stick with me here. Anyone who has ever lost a whole person or more, understands the holy terror that accompanies the creeping needle. Not just that, the sudden inability to button the skinny jeans. The OHNONOTAGAINOHMYGOD moment.
As my Medium peep buddy Ann Litts can attest, as we have both written on this before, this is a negotiation of sorts. Let me explain.
Thirty years ago I dropped close to ninety pounds, and have rarely been more than about five north or south of say, 120. Hard work, discipline, exercise. As I age it is far less about being skinny than healthy, and as I age, the body sometimes needs a touch of padding which is insurance against infirmity.
Said insurance has made a fair bit of clothing unwearable.
For Ann, that extra ten might speak to memories of a special meal with loved ones. An extra piece of chocolate every day at lunch just because. And I have to ask, why not?
For me I suspect it has been pure stress. It happens.
But here’s the piece. I’m at peace. And here’s why:
That extra 7–12, depending, is harder to lift when I do pullups. That means more strength.
That extra 7–12 is harder to push when I do pushups. That means more strength.
That extra 7–12 supports harder workouts at the gym. That translates both to strength and endurance.
Last night I was at the gym. Watching the striations in my arms as I did curls. They’re back. In fact, my right bicep, so recently four times its size due to a ruptured tendon, is almost back to normal. But boy has my strength returned. Because of the kinds of adventures I do, I have to have that upper body power. Not just that, but you should try to lift some of the packing boxes I haul to my basement as I get ready to …I have no idea.
It’ll come to me eventually.
My friend Susan McNamee (about whom I have also written) is a marathoner at 67. She also has recently put on about ten pounds. She frets about it. She is as compulsive as I am. I totally get it.
My measurements have shifted a bit. The extra inch or so plus on my waist and hips have caused me to buy a few new pairs of jeans. This is because I have no idea whether this additional bit of my person is here for the long haul or just renting storage space.
Either way I refuse to fret or be bloody miserable because Mama Nature endowed me a bit. People still call me thin. Because I am. A few pounds lighter will make no difference whatsoever in my quality of life.
What will is whether I spend endless hours being angry, resentful, worrying about that extra bit of padding.
Having been much heavier, but certainly not as heavy as some, I know all too well the burden of considerable padding. How society responds. The internal messaging. Having been brutally thin to the point of near-starvation (and still seeing fat), I know the other side of the equation.
I found balance. Stayed there until this year. This year there were some right horrible upsets. BF, major illness. I think the body bulks up to protect itself. At least with mine it does.
By the same token, not all of us are meant to be thin, and even if we do get there, we may not necessarily be intended to stay there for life. What I have learned is that for various reasons, during various seasons, we may change.
Now look. I’ve had a couple of MRIs recently, both of which have indicated that I am constipated. Which, given my propensity to knock off an entire field of barley as well as a wicker deck chair before breakfast, this is hilarious. Still, given that plenty of people have pointed out to me that I am full of shit, and having finally seeing proof of same, it is entirely possible that the poundage is temporary. Given that most of those observations are offered by online dating hopefuls who are disappointed that I am left of center politically, I am not likely to be motivated to move the mail on their account.
On my own account, it’s another issue. My PCP sent me a recipe. I suspect fun is ahead. I might want to table the morning run in the short term. But I digress.
That might be why there’s a bit more hanging out lately. No idea.
Treating the extra weight as an emergency, which I have done far too often, has caused me untold grief. I had no more joy and love thin, as I had joy and love heavy, or anywhere in between.
Within the last 48 hours I’ve seen two bodies that left an indelible impression. One was a far-too-skinny model being featured in a story on exercise in a magazine I picked up at a doctor’s office. This woman look wan. The story discussed muscle tone. She had none.
She looked as though she would bonk trying to pick up a coffee mug.
I’ve been there. It isn’t pretty. I hate slick magazines.
The other was last night.
I was joking with two people over the chest press. The woman, about half a foot or so shorter than I am (I’m 5'8"), was easily 140+. Solid, powerful, gorgeous muscle. A sculpted waist. She glowed with health and vitality and joy and energy.
In a dress, this woman might appear heavy. Squat, even.
Not on your life. What a beautiful woman.
As a fellow bodybuilder I really, truly appreciate women who lift, and the powerful sweeping curves that process bestows upon them. Not the over-muscled, steroid-powered types. These are the fellow athletes who put in the time, like I do, with the iron.
Both of those observations caused me to review my body history. Thin to heavy, heavy to thin, thin for decades, now with a touch more. It happens.
I’m totally down with that.
I didn’t suddenly stop loving my dear friend Sonja when her body blossomed, and suddenly she sported hips. I don’t love my buddy Jill any less because she carries about 12 lbs more than her small frame might like. She loves food. And as she has stated clearly, she loves food more than she is willing to discipline herself to have a smaller waistline.
There is nothing in her life that suffers for that 12 pounds.
Years ago, as my relationship with what I perceive to be God was still evolving, I wrote the following:
God doesn’t care
if I gain or lose ten pounds
He only cares
if my heart is heavy.
It would take me another three decades to evolve into that wisdom. My extra whatever serves me right now. When and if my body is through with it at some point, it may go away.
Time will tell if what I currently consider temporary residency turns into a permanent one. If I fret and worry and piss and moan, it will stick around.
Meanwhile, I love how much stronger it’s made me. There’s a lot to be said for that.
This is true no matter how much we are carrying. Large, small, thin, fat, tall, tiny. Our weight doesn’t determine our value. An extra ten doesn’t mark me as a failure. Any more than a full-court-press battle with morbid obesity makes anyone else a failure. Or worse, speaks to a lack of moral character.
For example #1, I might offer Shannon Ashley, whose forthrightness about her life, her weight, her process, her sexual life and everything else are a monumental gift to all of us who read her regularly. And we most assuredly do. Everything serves a purpose.
Including ten extra pounds, as it were. Or whatever we’re carrying.
Two years ago, I gave my friend Sonja the book The Secret Life of Fat by Dr. Sylvia Tara. Some may not agree with all her thinking or research, but the amount of laughter and forgiveness and education that book offered was worth the price of admission.
A month later, Sonja and I had lunch.
“So?” I looked at her beautiful face expectantly.
With a perfectly manicured finger, she gently pushed the book back over to me. Looked me in the eye and smiled.
“I have peace.”
I haven’t heard her mention her weight or her body since.
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