Wednesday, November 9, 2011

the weight is over

Yes, that was on purpose.  I do love a good pun.

Today, I leave for San Diego to visit my parents for my dad's 60th birthday.  My grandparents, who are approximately 9 million years old, will be there, and I don't get to see them very often.  Not to mention my parents, who I haven't seen since last Christmas.  And a surprise guest, which not even my mother knows about, because of how she ruins surprises on a regular basis.  I was wholly excited about this trip, until my mother said those three little words to me.  Bring. Your. Swimsuit.

Apparently, my parents' new house has a spa (which, I gather, is like a hot tub, but in ground, and therefore superior in every way and the source of much excitement).  Which is why I will, no doubt, be required to don my bathing suit even though it is scheduled to be 60 degrees or thereabouts, for the duration of my visit.  I could, of course, refuse to go in the hot tub spa, but that would be unpopular and not very festive at all. 

Now.  You would think that I would not be shy about getting into a bathing suit in front of my own parents and a couple of octogenarians.  But we have a weight thing in our family.  Weight is discussed regularly.  I received workout videos from my parents for my 30th birthday (which, actually, I found really fun, but that is beside the point).  We declare WAR on excess weight.  Excess meaning any visible fat deposits, including those protecting one's kidneys.  People in my family (myself included) have tried:  P90X, Weight Watchers, the South Beach Diet, Nutrisystem, Curves, and myriad other weight-loss and workout routines.  In the last 5 years.  I don't even remember what went on before that.  Weight is attacked, and weight is discussed.  Which means, I fear, that my weight will be discussed -- especially since I've gained some.

As I was packing, I said to Kathy, "Apparently, when my mom said 'bring your swimsuit,' she did not realize that we already have on our fall stomachs."  I love to eat.  I love food, even crappy food.  I also love to work out, which is helpful, but does not fully offset my love of food.  So I decided to take the plunge and go buy myself a one-piece swimsuit, so that my fall stomach could not be observed, and therefore would not be noted.  Except that apparently, November is not the time to buy a swimsuit in the Northeast, because they are not really for sale anywhere.  So a two-piece it is. 

I realize I am not overweight according to the body mass index or whatever life insurance companies and doctors offices try to tell you means overweight.  I don't have people making comments about it regularly, I don't get all the horrible biased treatment that people over a certain size get in our society.  But it's still there.  Here's the thing:  Not-overweight people think about their weight all day long, too.  At least, some of us do.  You can be a size 2 and think about your weight, and you can be a size 22 and think about your weight.  There is no magic number, either on the scale or in the clothing store that means "success, you can stop thinking about it now."  There are all kinds of factors that go into what a person weighs, but it's possible to obsess at any weight.  You are a person who worries about it, or a person who does not.  If you are a worrying person, it is always there, at the back of your mind, saying "not good enough."  And I don't care what you weigh, constantly telling yourself you are not good enough is bad for your mental health, which is just as important as your physical health -- maybe more so.

I have tried hard to walk the fine line between allowing myself to gain a few pounds when there is a good meal reason, and keeping myself at a weight that is physically and mentally healthy.  By mentally healthy, I mean I do not have to regularly go buy new pants, which is upsetting to me and tends to trigger the "not good enough" voice.  The real victory, though, is to love your body whatever size it is, while also acknowledging that maybe the fried shrimp and the fried pickles and the nachos and the four beers were not the best decision, so maybe you won't allow yourself all those treats next time.  In other words, shifting the focus from appearance to health.

This shift in focus is what allowed me to enjoy running again.  When running was a punishment for ice cream sundaes, it was, unsurprisingly, not all that fun.  When running became about training for my first half-marathon, it was fun again.  When the workout videos my dad gave me for my 30th birthday were about flattening my stomach (which is impossible, actually) they were gruelling.  When they were about doing more push ups than Kathy (also impossible) they were a fun challenge.  It's also why Kathy and I decided that perhaps fried shrimp and fried pickles and nachos and four beers were not the best way to spend our happy hour -- because we felt like crap after eating crap.  But eating healthfully does not mean counting calories.

So I am hereby bowing out.  Goodbye, Weight Watchers, so long South Beach.  I am done worrying about my stomach or my back or my thighs.  They are what they are.  Yes, I have gained a few pounds in the last 3 or 4 years.  So what.  I eat healthfully because I feel better, I exercise because I enjoy it.  If anyone says anything about my new fall stomach, I'll just tell them it's because I have so much joy in my life that I can't stop celebrating.

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