A few years ago, I abruptly started gaining weight. Several things seemed to collude around it: I stopped breastfeeding, I hit my mid-30s, and my work became more sedentary all at once. I didn’t worry about it.
Over the past three years though, I’ve put on over 40 pounds. That’s a substantial portion of my body weight. I haven’t really known how to be in relationship with the changes in my body. Do I celebrate my new curves or try to drop them? Is there a way I can be in love with the body I have and also work towards more fitness? What would that look like? Is there a Right Size for me to be? Etc. It’s all been pretty complicated up in my head when I look in the mirror.
Overall, I’d made my peace with these body changes. I exercise, though not as much as I’d like. I eat pretty well and could do better. I like the way I look. In the fall, I had a wonderful brief period where I was exercising all the time and eating pretty well and I felt AMAZING.
Then I started a new job and took up studying Spanish and it got cold. The time and motivation for exercise dried up and my diet slipped into more comfort and less care. I don’t feel as great in my body now as I did six months ago.
Which is all OK. I’m not suffering over my weight, and I don’t think my 25-year-old figure was the Holy Grail. I threw out all my skinny jeans a long time ago.
But my doctor is concerned about how much weight I’ve put on. I trust her, a lot. She’s a really grounded sensitive person. I know she’s not recreationally telling me to drop these pounds because she thinks I’d look cuter in a bikini if I went back to being a size 4.
She first brought this up with me at my annual physical, and I saw her again today for a follow-up visit. She wants me to make some pretty substantial changes to my diet and lifestyle, with the aim of losing the weight I’ve gained. She also wants me to revamp my whole family’s eating habits. Apparently, we are doing it wrong. Where by wrong I mean eating too much starch and cheese. Which, OK, I pretty much knew that.
I have ALL THE FEELINGS about this. I do not want to get on the weight loss roller coaster. I think I look plenty cute as is. I would like to be more fit, and have more energy, and stop eating foods that aggravate my allergies. I hate our cultural fixation on being thin. I would love to be stronger. I trust my doctor and her concerns about my health are real. More vegetables and fewer starches is just a good idea. I’m not giving up chocolate. Etc.
The changes she wants me to make mostly sound good to me. She wants me to adopt a gluten-free, low-carb, high-protein diet, to replace one meal a day with a smoothie (she recommended these) and to get more exercise. That sounds challenging but overall like an improvement to my health.
I think I like this idea more if I don’t see weight loss as a goal of these changes but just a likely side effect of making some healthy adjustments in pursuit of other goals, like supporting my mood stability and increasing my energy and not having a sniffly nose all the time.
I’d love to recapture that sense I had last fall (when I was still slowly gaining weight, fwiw) of taking really good care of myself and feeling really good in my body. I would love to continue not caring what pants size I wear.
So I have questions, and they’re for all of you, the fitness nuts and the voluptuous beauties and the people who love being fat & happy and the people who love weighing out portions and measuring muscle mass and those who are all of the above and those who don’t care at all about this topic but maybe have interesting life hacks around forming new habits or tracking data. Help me find my way through this so I can stay healthy both in my body and in my relationship to food and weight?
What helps you feel good about how you look? What helps you feel good about your body and being a physical embodied creature? How do you make healthy food choices? What supports you in sticking with changes to your food habits? How do you fit exercise into a busy day? How do you invest emotionally in being fit and healthy without caring about the number on the scale?
Etc. etc. etc. Help me figure this out, please? For bonus points, do it in a really body positive, person positive way without any fat-shaming bullshit.
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