Ask a person who’s lost any amount of weight to tell you their “secret” (and I use the term loosely, because there is no secret) and they’ll cite the oft-told lifestyle change. I can attest that there is no quick-fix, no program that has you drinking shakes and eating bowls of cereal that can help you keep the weight off for a lifetime – at least not one that actually works in the real world, with all of its Sunday dinners, office meetings, and late-night cravings for McDonald’s apple pies. The key for me was to keep moving. I once lost fifty pounds by moving consistently. Having struggled with my weight since I was a child, it wasn’t until I lost those fifty pounds that I noticed a difference in the way people looked at me. Their eyes were softer. They were much more attentive during the smallest of talk. It was as if my words carried with them the weight I once carried in my thighs.
Thirteen and falsely assured that the childhood fight had been over, I stopped moving. None of my peers seemed to move as much as I needed to, and since I’d gotten down to their size, I thought I’d finally won. Not only was there less of me, but people saw me. Even then, I was good for the occasional sweatshirt in the summertime. The funny thing about losing weight is that while you’ve lost some dress sizes, your mind doesn’t shed the pounds.
The mental weight never left. I gained the physical weight back.
And so it goes. Periods of movement and not. Moments of feeling seen and moments of feeling ignored. Socializing amid soft eyes and Sunday dinners with judgmental and sad glances at you, then at your plate, then back at you.
Having just relocated to a new city, I’ve landed with the same hope that follows me into every fresh season of my life: Maybe this time, I’ll lose the weight. I’m usually a proponent for loving the skin I’m in for the moment; while it’s okay to work toward wearing less skin, the current moment is the only one I have for sure. But in that trainer’s office, yet again, I realized that through my corporate triumphs, relationship roller coasters, and academic achievements, weight has been the only thing I’ve allowed to defeat me.
Will I ever get this right? If I do, will it still haunt me so much that I’m still wearing sweatshirts in the summertime? And if I don’t, when does the “loving myself anyway” begin?
How do we move past our shortcomings and our vices, try for the best, and love ourselves now?