Yesterday, a friend posted a link to a blog post about “before” and “after.” The blogger’s weight loss was extreme and she was having problems adjusting to the “after” aspect of her journey. I’m in the before, and the during, but I highly suspect my after will be quite different than hers, because I’m also in my after.
I’ve struggled with an eating disorder and with my weight since I was 14. I was skinny as a teenager, but I was on the flag team and we had a horrible coach who was an ex-cheerleader and baton twirler. Jayne was overly focused on our weight and would make us step on a scale every Friday morning. If we weighed more than what her little insurance chart said we should, we supposedly wouldn’t be allowed to perform. Of course, she let everyone dance anyway, but the fear was instilled in us all. I already had ridiculously low self-esteem, so it was easy to see my 125 lb self as humongous.
At 5’4.5″, my frame is not meant to weigh 125 lbs. I missed periods. I fainted regularly. And I starved myself daily. I developed bulimia, but not the throwing up kind. I wished I could throw up, but I thought it was gross and just couldn’t make myself do it. Instead, I learned to “calorie shift.” I would starve all day so I could binge on junk food at night. Starve and binge, binge and starve.
While I was pregnant with my son, I gave up on the starve bit and just binged. And binged. And binged. I weighed 183 lbs when he was born. I’ve never been below 163 since. Even during my two years with Overeaters Anonymous, I was a size 8 and to me, I still wasn’t thin enough. I wanted to fit back into my junior size 13 skirt that I wore in college (at 163 lbs), and dammit, I did eventually make it, but I still thought I was fat.
This time is different, though. Why? Because this time, I’m not in it for a number. I’m not in it for a size. I’m not trying to make an old boyfriend jealous, or get a new boyfriend. There is no magical thought process of, “If I’m thin, I’ll be happy.”
I am happy. I absolutely LOVE my life. My husband loves me unconditionally. My friends could not care one whit what size I am. It’s been years since I let my mother’s not so subtle jibes about my weight bother me. I am not the number on the scale, I am not the size on the label of my shirt. I weigh what’s on the scale. I wear the size on my shirt. Those things do not define me, no more than having fibromyalgia defines me.
This time, weight loss is secondary. Maybe even tertiary. The reason I am swimming is the same reason I am gluten free. Swimming makes me feel better. I want to feel better. Therefore I swim. I count my laps because I’m OCD and I’m competitive, although this time, I am only competing with myself.
Along with swimming, I’m trying to eat better. Yeah, at the moment I’m still eating junk food, but I’m eating less junk food. I’m trying not to eat out. I’m piling my plate with veggies. I will not weigh my food, I will not count portions or points or calories. I WILL NOT let my food make me crazy. Crazier.
I am not exercising and eating better because I hate myself. I am exercising and eating better because I LOVE MYSELF. I want to weigh less because I want to be healthy, not because I want to be thin. Healthy is my goal, which I know includes weight loss, but that weight loss is just a side effect of exercising and eating better.
I am living in the after, but I’ve only just begun.