Usually I wait until someone has pushed me just a little too far and then snap with a response that tends to get me in trouble.
It's that one thing that is on my mind all the time. After my recent few days away as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say and how to approach it - this blog crossed my Facebook news feed...
with one of the most honest and accurate outlooks on Race and Beauty I have ever read. If you have not yet read it, I strongly encourage you to do so. Like right now.
I have been thin and not so thin and rather very thick. I have seen life from all of these angles and I am yet to find a place where I am comfortable and feel at peace with my weight.
While I get frustrated with society and the people around me who feel the need to be so critical of other people's weight - I don't blame them for my insecurities. I blame me for letting them get to me.
Pregnancy led to a lot of weight gain for me, until then my weight really wasn't something that was ever an issue. After having both children, the diagnosis of Fragile X came. While it was a relief to have a correct diagnosis and answer, an understanding to my anxiety, depression and quirks in addition to what was going on with my children, it was also complete and total devastation. And weight gain.
When I was ready (*which is key in my life. *I* have to be ready and that doesn't happen because you tell me I need to lose weight, or that I'm fat or that I need to so something. All of that, actually, makes me not want to do it.) I started walking. I cut my portions in half as I am way too picky of an eater to give up anything. I wanted to make a permanent lifestyle change and that meant keeping the foods I like in my life, just less of them. The walking turned into jogging/running - for the first time ever in my life. I loved it. I loved that I was seeing results. I loved that everyone was proud of me. I loved it right into an obsession. And obsession that helped me lose 96 lbs but also forever has changed and damaged me.
It's sad to me there are really not any pictures of me at my thinnest. My "thinnest" which exposed ribs, collar bones, hip bones and had people asking if I was sick was still 17 pounds OVER what is recommended for my height but just barely in the "normal" range that is suggested that I weigh (by 2 pounds). I didn't want my picture taken though, as I could only see me as fat.
Watching my daughter, knowing I had brought this awareness of weight into her life became one of the reasons I stopped everything I was doing. I learned to eat again. I did not work out. I put away the scale. I put 80 pounds back on.
With that... came the criticism. I had "let myself go" I wasn't "being healthy" I wasn't doing what was "best for my kids" ... clearly I was killing myself according to everyone around me who had no problems telling me all of that.
The truth was I missed running. Running clears my head in a way nothing else can. So, I set out to start running again. About 1 week into it, I knew it wouldn't be enough. As I was running I would think... "It only takes 3 days until you stop being hungry" and I quickly and quietly fell back into my ways of starving and puking - dropping 50 pounds to a place I was happy being.
I couldn't hold it though. I was going through a divorce. I started working full time. I no longer had time to run or workout each day and the weight started to return.
At this point, even though I was in a size 12, I was now "obese" and people were starting to say things to me. Because you know, people are never aware when they are gaining weight. That's totally something you must point out to them or they'd never know. I was being labeled as "lazy". Yes. Me. Working 40+ hours a week, running a volunteer family support group, multiple fundraisers, and a single mom raising 2 special needs children, sleeping 4-5 hours a night was lazy. I was "making excuses" for why I couldn't work out. Because apparently reality is an excuse. I can't leave my children unattended. I work all day. I pick them up from school on my lunch hour. Seriously. It doesn't matter. I am lazy and don't care about myself and will leave my children motherless soon. Sigh.
Then, dreaded news came. News I don't share, talk about and I won't. My best friend knows, she had it figured out before I told her. I am not dying. I am not "sick". I am, however, on a medication that I must take daily. And not for anything weight related. The medication, like many, has a wonderful side effect of weight gain. And yes, I have gained. Despite being active. Despite using my treadmill, being careful about what I eat or not eating at all, the weight gain happened/is happening. And, when you are in the public eye and gain weight you get wonderful emails from people saying "You shouldn't be a public figure representing the FX community if you look like that" , emails saying I'm lazy, fat, ugly. It comes with being in the public eye. What I was doing - raising awareness, fundraising, educating - was irrelevant as some people can't see past the weight.
50 pounds later, I am back here.
It's been a fight that I'm not yet able to win. A fight of hearing people comment, reading emails and texts and staying quiet. I should not have to explain the why - it shouldn't matter. I should not have to justify myself and I try not to stoop to doing so.
Let me tell you how it feels to be here at this weight or any weight that puts me in the "overweight" or "obese" category... It sucks. I don't want to leave my house. I don't have the confidence I had. I worry about everything I put in my grocery cart and what people might say - because people have no problem saying something. I feel embarrassed to eat in public, go out for dinner, or shop for clothes.I feel guilty for eating anything, even celery - which I happen to love. But it's putting something in my mouth, and after all eating, complied with my "laziness" is the reason I'm overweight... right? Shake my head. Not even close. But it's what people want to believe and will say. Anything else is an "excuse".
The "why" I have put weight on shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter for anyone. It shouldn't matter if it's a time issue, a medication issue, a genetic or hereditary issue because *I* should not be defined by my weight. No one should. Yet we are. Every single second of the day. And your "help" of pointing it out - only makes it harder to be who we really are. You are making us weaker, not stronger.
I do try. I don't eat enough calories on most days, I still spend time on my treadmill, I still run when I get the opportunity, I still jump and flip on the trampoline. I still encourage my children to be active and eat better with me without mentioning or obsessing on size or weight.
I am now a part of the Sole Sisters group and they are some strong and amazing women! They are so supportive of everyone at every stage of being active, whether you are running a marathon or made it up a flight of stairs - they are proud and encouraging and really inspirational. I enjoy their posts and sometimes post my own pictures and work outs.
I have found amazing inspiration from a friend who owns a local gym and am really excited to start going again and having his support as I start back on a more focused workout.
What I have learned these past few years has changed me.
I know I have an eating disorder. I know I have to keep it in check. I know that is not easy.
I know that some people take great pleasure in my weight gain (odd but whatever, true), some people are way more focused on it than they should be. I know that I can't change that and I've stopped trying to justify myself as I shouldn't have to and won't.
Most importantly I know that to the people who really matter in my life, what I weigh will never matter. Who I am will. They will love and support me no matter where I am in this life long challenge to find the right weight. The love me, for me. They see me as beautiful when I can't even look in the mirror. My best friend, will even post in her blog that I'm gorgeous when I feel the furthest thing from it. And I will cry when I read it because I know she can see who I really am and the beauty that is there.
I am never going to be the weight on the charts that put me where the charts want. It's simply not healthy for me to be there - and I am fine with that. It doesn't make me lazy. It doesn't mean I don't care for my children. It means that number isn't right for me.
I love my children more than life. The weight gain is here because I am taking care of me and this is a side effect for doing that. That doesn't mean I can't lose it, it means it will be harder. It also means I can't revert to the "easy" ways of starvation and throwing up. I can't obsess. I can't let others comments add to the weight on my shoulders, which is the hardest thing for me to get beyond - but I can.
In less than 6 months, I turn 40 - which, I am really excited about because I love my birthday! I am ready to celebrate me. I would like to do that in a smaller size of jeans and a cute sparkly top - or better yet in a little black dress. I'm going to do my best to make that happen but if I don't, I won't be any less beautiful, I won't be any less dedicated to my children, my job or my community. I will be, as I always have been at every weight, me.
And I hope that is all you see - me. Not the weight, not the size, not the cute smile - just me. If it's not maybe you should take a look inside of yourself instead of the outward appearance of me. You might just be surprised with what you find when you then really look at both of us.
My very best wishes to everyone on this journey and my extreme thanks to those who are always by my side.