I recently listened to Jim Gaffigan’s memoir, Dad is Fat. Besides having so much to say about fatherhood (each essay is like a blog post, and there are a lot of them—I found his observations so relatable and true-to-life), he doesn’t apologize for liking to eat. He is not ashamed of his body. He acknowledges it, and then he doesn’t talk about it again. Why should he? (And actually, I think he’s a pretty handsome guy.)
There’s no easy way to talk about weight, especially when you’re a woman. My story is similar to yours, I would guess. I thought (or have been told) all my life that I’m fat. Overweight. (My current BMI puts me in the category of overweight, actually). But I wasn’t. In high school I swam two hours a day, ran stairs, and lifted weights during the swim season. I weighed 126 lbs. Yet because I had a small, miniscule, barely even noticeable to anyone else but overtly obvious to me, stomach pooch, I thought I was fat. My mother would constantly tell me to skip dessert, but my dad would treat me to a milkshake after a particularly grueling practice. He knew I was working hard, he knew I wasn’t fat, but the stigma was there. Is still there, today.
High school was the first time I really took notice of my weight. Naked girls in the locker room will do that to you. But since then, my weight has fluctuated. I’ve been 50 lbs heavier. I’ve been 10 lbs heavier. I’ve never been back to my high school weight (and don’t plan to be). But throughout my life, no matter what my weight, there’s been constant negative self-talk. My inner voice was relentlessly berating me about my weight. And it’s enough, you know?
After I had CJ, I lost my pregnancy weight quickly. It was summer, and I spent those long days going for walks with my new baby. But then fall came, I went back to work, and I quickly gained back everything I’d lost. I wallowed in self-pity, eating my feelings and putting on my winter layer. I hated how I looked yet I was powerless to do anything about it. To be honest, I didn’t care. Until it was summer again. Then I found a trainer, and she helped me lose the weight in a healthy way, with a plan that was tailored to my body type.
I reveled in my new body until we decided to have Sam. It took a year for me to get pregnant with him, and with the depression every negative test brought, I ate. I was no longer seeing my trainer and my visits to the gym dwindled. Everything became about getting pregnant. When I finally did, I completely let myself go, buying cute maternity clothes that accentuated my growing belly, and eating what I wanted “for the baby.”
Now Sam is almost three. I’ve done Weight Watchers, and it helped. Plus it’s summer again, and I always seem to eat less in the summer. My weight has been the same for a few months now. I’m eating what I want (within reason). But most importantly, I’m not thinking about it. I’m embracing it. It’s my body, and if I’m not going to get myself to the gym, I’m also not going to apologize for it. I’m going to be happy with who I am, what I look like, and about the fact that I can eat a hamburger and fries with ice cream for dessert and not beat myself up about it later. I LOVE food. I truly do. I love all, good-tasting food, and I will not sacrifice something I love any longer for a body shape that’s so difficult for me to obtain.
Actually, I think I look pretty good. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. And that’s so hard, because I feel like I should be apologizing for this newfound confidence, but I’m not going to. And I don’t think you should either.