By Leah St James
After writing monthly for some time about the crazy goings-on in a busy newsroom, I’ve decided to give cranky readers a rest and switch gears to something a bit more practical: battling the bulge.
Yes, I mean that bulge – the one around the mid-section that hangs over the top of the waistline if the pants are a bit tight…or that causes people to ask, in tones from solicitous to shocked: How far along are you, dear?? (Okay, I’m a bit old to get that second one, but the first….that comes at any age.)
First, let me clear the air about body image.
I’m glad to see the new ad/marketing campaigns encouraging women of all sizes to be happy with their bodies. I’m glad that many of today’s women don’t see their size as impediments to success or happiness. I’m glad they’re happy with themselves. I really am. We should be concerned about health, not size and not someone else’s perception of physical beauty.
I wish I could have been like them when I was a young woman. But that wasn’t my reality.
I’m of an age where women were not encouraged to embrace their less-than-perfect (in the eyes of the beholder) bodies. I’m of an age where only stick-thin or athletic girls were chosen as cheerleaders or flag- and baton twirlers.
In my teen years, fun or fashionable clothing was not manufactured in larger sizes. Back then, a plus-sized girl hid her fat behind mumu-like shifts or waist-gaping men’s pants. And I was definitely plus-sized, see-sawing from 30 to 50 pounds overweight through my teens and young adulthood. (I’ll leave the WHY of my weight to another blog. Suffice it to say, I love eating, and food is my drug of choice.)
I had a brief period of normal-size-ness after my first son was born. I had a super strict obstetrician who stressed healthy eating and exercise. I have fond memories of doing the Jane Fonda Pregnancy workout – an album – before giving birth. (Don’t ask me what I did afterward to get in shape…it’s a blur.)
When I got pregnant with my second son four years later, I had a different doctor who was NOT so strict, and I took the “eating for two” adage a bit too literally. I gained a lot of weight, and in the years that followed only gained more.
I grew to hate looking at myself in pictures. I have a Polaroid shot of myself at a meet-and-greet with Toby Keith circa 2005. I remember standing there thinking, “This guy is huge, and my hips are WIDER. I could CRUSH HIM if I wanted.” Ugh. I felt so miserable, I stood there with my hands clasped in front of me, like I was dirty and had to keep my hands to myself. (I have that picture, but I refuse to post it. I love you guys, but that picture is NEVER seeing the light of the internet day if I can help it.)
Anyway…finally, about five years ago, I felt so much shame in the number on the scale (which I had to divulge in writing on an employment application for job with the local police department), that I joined Weight Watchers. And I prayed to lose that need for food. And 18 months later, I’d lost 85 pounds.
For the first time in years, I felt good about my appearance. But more than that, I felt good, period. In the months since, I’ve come to understand something about myself: I love eating, but I hate being fat.
There…I said it. I hate being fat. I’m sorry to be bucking the trend, but it’s true.
I hate having to haul my sorry, fat butt up stairs (literally, actually pulling, with both hands, on the hand-rail), fearful my extra tonnage will dislodge the rail from its bearings. I hate the pain that shoots through my kneecap with every step.
I hate losing my breath, even getting tunnel-vision, when I bend over to tie my shoes.
I hate seeing the lumps and bumps under knit clothing, but even more, I hate the strangling, stifling sensation of “foundation wear” underneath. (Who concocted that word anyway? They should have called it TORTURE-wear.)
For the first couple years after my weight loss, the “thin” me was winning. Lately, though, food has been making a comeback, and I’m afraid my love of food is gaining a foothold in my every-day life.
It’s time to get serious again—not because some ad executive is telling me to, but because I’m starting to feel uncomfortable in my clothing, and own skin, and I don’t like it.
So each month I’d like to share my journey with you on these pages. I’ll talk about my successes and fall-backs with food choices, new exercises I’ve tried, favorite websites…you get it. I hope you’ll share yours with me, too. I need all the help I can get!
Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the power of love. Please visit her at LeahStJames.com.