I don’t like my body anymore. I don’t feel okay with my weight gain. I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t feel like myself. I don’t feel good. I don’t feel like going outside. What DO I feel? I feel fat, and very ashamed.
This is new for me. I mean, we’re all always somewhat ashamed of some aspect of our body – even if it’s just those fugly elbows or our weird pancreas. But for most of my life I’ve been relatively comfortable with my body. I may have occasionally wanted some parts flatter, and some parts less flat, but I was mostly OK. Having been a long-distance runner and bodybuilder for most of my adult life, I had my body fairly under control. Since childhood I could eat pretty much whatever, and as much, as I wanted. Save for despair over body hair or the odd pimple, I focused most of my self-loathing on parts above the neck. My face and hair were the enemy; my body and metabolism were my friends. (Or at least my frenemies.) In my 20s when my body fat was low I was anxious about my ‘puny’ C cups and fretted about getting implants constantly. That’s how pernicious the Baywatch culture was; it made the idiotically low self-esteeming even more insecure and more idiotic. Of course, now I see how stupid and crazy I was. As Nora Ephron said, if I could go back to those days now I’d just walk around naked. (And insanely jubilant.)
But Father Time kicked this daughter’s perky ass. First, all those years of running 20-60 hours a week totally did in my knees and lower back. I can no longer run — even walking hurts. As if losing all that calorie-burning weren’t enough, menopause did a drive-by and threw a serious wrench in my metabolism. The “change” came in and changed a shitload. My get-up-and-go got up and went. I need to take all kinds of meds that sap my energy. No more 5am runs, no more 140lb bench presses. It’s a good day if I manage to put on a bra and only watch three The Good Wife re-runs. To make a thin story fat, I gained almost 40 pounds. Goodbye denim cut-offs, hello caftans.
Now, let me be clear. There is absolutely nothing wrong with people being on the heavy side. Every day I see lots of people my size and heavier that I think are genuinely gorgeous. All kinds of body types are beautiful. But not on me. This isn’t the body nature gave me; this is the body age and my lack of portion control gave me. I’m not used to this new physique. I don’t feel good, and I don’t look good. I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin. Each time I see my reflection in a store window I wince. When I run into people I used to know, I can see it in their faces, the surprise of my new size. I know that look of sad surprise because it’s in my own eyes when I look into the full-length mirror. (I try not to.)
I’m not taking this lying down, though I do lie down an awful lot. I exercise. I still weight-train twice a week when I’m well enough. I can bench 115lbs for reps. I’m strong, but fat. I already had my blood checked and I take meds for my hypo-thyroidism. I tried to diet but my self-control is horrible when I’m hungry. I can go a long time without eating, but once I eat anything – bam! It sets off some kind of hypothalamus-y trigger. No idea what the hypothalamus does, but it sounds legit, right?) I don’t want to eat celery sticks and drink protein shakes for the rest of my life. I want to lose weight, but I guess not enough.
There was a 20threunion party for a job I loved a few weeks ago. I loved all the people that would be attending. A good friend was going with me. But my broken brain and big ole body made me bow out at the last minute. Bottom line: I felt ashamed. I know it’s stupid, I know no one cares.
But I care. I feel fat. I feel horrible. I feel ashamed. Now you know.