The other day some writer friends and I were talking about bucket lists. One person wants to learn to surf, another to win a blue ribbon in the “seed art” category at the Minnesota State Fair, everyone wants to travel more and to write something amazing.
I didn’t say what was on my bucket list. I couldn’t quite bring myself to acknowledge that my unwritten list has but one thing on it, an item that, after 15 years, appears to be permanently lodged there, forever undone.
Weigh less than 200 pounds.
It is uncomfortable to write that, uncomfortable to put real numbers out there, to admit that someone else’s nightmare (Two. Hundred. Pounds.) is my dream. But it is. Or it has been. I’m honestly not sure which tense to use at this point.
The last time I weighed less than 200 pounds was my junior year of college. At some point during that year, I crossed over that line and have never been able to cross back. I’ve tried diets and personal trainers and bulimia and therapy. I’ve tried to shame myself into losing weight, to bribe myself, and to deprive myself of every manner of kindness. Sometimes things moved the scale. I was 204 pounds the morning I met my husband, something achieved by long sessions with a trainer, a steady running habit and a low carb diet.
And now we’ve been married 10 years, 3 states, 5 cities, 8 houses, 2 children, and a mortgage payment. I’ve steadily gained weight throughout our marriage, with the exception of pregnancy, when I actually lost weight due to morning sickness and an aversion to sweets. Since we’ve been married, my husband took up running and dropped out of the 200 range for weight. He is fit and trim. I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, a hormonal imbalance the makes weight loss difficult but is, just for funsies, best controlled by losing weight. I wear a size 22 these days but still sometimes get tempted to buy things in a 16 or 18 for when I eventually fit into them.
Awhile back, I started trying to think of ways to help with some stomach issues I’ve been having. I’m prone to having what you’d politely call a “nervous tummy.” I’d call it “I get nervous and have to poop a lot and sometimes that is embarrassing but good news I always have Imodium in my purse if you need it” but that is kind of long, right?
Anyways, even though I am possibly the LEAST mindful, woo-woo person out there, I started trying to breathe differently. And when I’d feel myself getting anxious about whether or not I’d get sick or if I felt queasiness coming on, I’d start to repeat “this is my body, I’m at peace with my body” (even though the second part was a damn lie) until the rumble tummy calmed down.
It doesn’t always work, but it works better than I would have expected. But lately I’ve noticed a side effect. I’m actually feeling, well, at peace with my body.
I’m starting to believe things like that when my husband slides his hand between my legs, he isn’t noticing the size of my thighs. I don’t feel an internal need to apologize to anyone for not being sexy. Sexiness isn’t something I owe the universe.
I have a new group of friends and I don’t think they’d secretly like me better if I was thinner. I don’t feel a need to apologize or make fun of myself because of my weight.
Tonight I was eating a cookie on the porch, enjoying the smell of rain in the air and the quiet of a household asleep.
You might always be fat. You might never weigh less than 200 pounds.
The thought came suddenly to mind, and my only response was “OK.”
I might always be fat.
I might never weigh less than 200 pounds.
It feels strange for me to hold those thoughts in my head and to accept them and to still think about the fact that I’d like to go swimming tomorrow to keep training for my upcoming race. I still want to get in a bike ride this week. I still want to start Couch to 5K again.
For years and years, exercise was always connected to the bucket list item. The whole point was to lose weight. But maybe I won’t. But I can still be stronger and faster and have more cardiovascular fitness.
I have often described my weight as the biggest failure of my life. I’ve accomplished a lot in terms of my career and grad school and family. A lot of things I’ve wanted, I’ve gotten through hard work and luck and the support of people who love me. But the weight thing always hovered in the back of my mind as the evidence that maybe I really am a failure. Why couldn’t I do this one thing, the one thing I wanted more than anything else?
But I’m 36 and soon to be 37 and life is too damn short. I’m going to move “weigh 200 pounds” from my bucket list to my fuck it list. Fuck it. I am strong. I am smart. I am a good wife and mother and friend. I weigh what I weigh.
This is my body. I’m at peace with this body.