“By choosing healthy over skinny you are choosing self-love over self-judgment. You are beautiful!”
― Steve Maraboli
Last week I went to my doctor’s for my annual check up. As part of the routine, I, of course, had to get weighed. Of all the things that are done in the process of a woman’s visit, I find this to be the most dreaded piece. It is the one part where I wish that I could be totally naked in order to get the “most accurate” reading of my weight. Of course, this is impossible so the only part of my clothing that I can remove is my shoes.
Although I possess a scale, I never weigh myself. I feel that I will note any poundage fluctuations through how I fit into my clothes. So far this method has worked fairly well. After all, I am very fit; I exercise about 7 hours per week and I eat very healthy food. I am well aware of my body changes as I have entered my fifties and have come to accept these shifts. In fact, I really believe that middle age is called that because we all (male and female) get thicker in the middle!
Still,this number sort of freaks me out despite my doctor’s assurance that I am the right weight for my age and height (5′ 4″) and the amount of my body’s muscle mass. (I have been strength training 2-3 times per week for at least 17 years.) So what is the deal here?
I believe that some of it stems from the fact that my weight reached an all time low of 109 lbs just over four years ago. I had not weighed that little since my senior year in high school when I was a running maniac and just entering puberty. The weight loss had everything to do with the trauma of the divorce process followed by my mother’s fatal diagnosis and subsequent death. As a colleague of mine said to me recently, “It hurts to eat.” That was certainly true in my case. There would be days that I would actually forget to give myself nourishment. Other times when I did eat, I would immediately get sick. I had to be carefully monitored by my therapist who eventually diagnosed me with borderline anorexia. As a result, I had to strategize ways in which to feed myself. Part of it, of course, was to keep a food diary of the items that I ate each day. Another- more unique way- was to ask my friends to feed me. There were times when I would literally call someone and ask them to stop at the store and buy me a meal ( my therapist encouraged me to give in to my cravings). This was especially helpful during those times when the legal matters of my divorce were especially intense. Other times, I would happen to stop by a friend’s house to drop off something and subsequently (upon taking a look at me) be invited in to share a family meal. As a part of the strategy, I also had to weigh myself in order to keep track of any more loss or perhaps some gain in weight. It is a strange feeling to watch the numbers descend when you are making (what you believe at least) your best effort not to lose, but to gain pounds.
Yet, underlying this so-called “effort” was the reality that I needed to buy new clothes in smaller and smaller sizes. No woman in her right mind would scoff at clothes shopping of course! And shopping for clothes because of weight loss is usually a celebration and not a burden. So, I had lots of fun trying on clothes that were a size 2 and fit like a glove (especially the little black number that I got on without having to unzipper it). The piece de resistance, however, came when I was about to go on my first romantic date with my now finance’. The black lace skirt and deep pink one shoulder satine top were a size 0!
Truthfully and biologically, however, I was in the wrong state of mind. Anorexia (no matter how mild a case) changes your brain. What you view in the mirror and what others see could not be more different. And this is the image that has stuck with me even until this day. When you are caught in the anorexic vortex, weight gain is seen as a failure of control. It didn’t help that my body was at the same time undergoing its middle age changes. It was only through therapy, yoga and the love and concern of my sons and friends (as well as my beloved) that helped me get back on the road of normalcy.
Our culture celebrates ultra- thinness even while we as a nation have a severe obesity epidemic. What a paradox! In fact, being thin is part of white girl culture. Latinas and black women proudly display their beautiful curvaceous bodies and we should too. As Gloria Steinem says: “Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.”
The black lace skirt and pink top still sit in my closet. The photo of our romantic date sits atop the dresser. The romance lives on but I will never wear those clothes again. And I am not afraid to reveal my weight: a strong and healthy 130 pounds!
“…..this very body that we have, that’s sitting here right now…with its aches and its pleasures…is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” ~Pema Chodron