Finding A Skin That Fits, Again (On Fatness and Fitness)

William Penn statue "Toleration" at the Wissahickon Creek, Philadelphia

Celebrating after a climb on a recent hike.

I spent Monday afternoon through all day yesterday battling some sort of stomach… thing. I don’t know if it was a bug or something I ate, but mercifully, it only lasted about twenty four hours. I woke up this morning feeling mostly pretty good and am back at my desk upright and working.

When I got up today I knew I wanted to shower because, obviously, sickness = icky but then I hesitated because I thought to myself, “Maybe I should wait until after the gym…

Whoa. The person I was three months ago would NEVER have had that thought. That person wouldn’t have even considered the gym after a sick day, much less planned to work up enough of a sweat at the gym that a shower would be needed. Because the person I was three months ago had stopped going to the gym, or doing much in the way of walking, or moving, or anything. That person was fat, and sick, and tired, and hated herself.

I spent years trying to learn to love my body as it was, instead of a mythical someday body that I hoped to would happen to me magically. I refused to diet, deciding instead to try to learn my body’s cues for what it wanted to eat, with occasional forays into random eating plans (I’m giving up sugar! No, wheat! No, I’m eating paleo! No, I’m low carb!) trying, desperately, to feel better about myself.

It didn’t work. I didn’t love my body. I instead grew distant from my body and ignored it both how it looked and how I felt.

Before I started infertility treatments ten years ago now I was incredibly fit. And while I wasn’t slim I bottomed out at a size 14 I felt GREAT (fatness and fitness aren’t exclusive). I could go for long walks, hike up mountains, take a crazy tough class at the gym and then work the rest of the day, or even dance all night without breaking much of a sweat. But the treatments required that I restrict exercise, and then the emotional toll of infertility and loss was too much for me and I slipped back into my oldest and most effective coping mechanism compulsive overeating.

By the time I had my daughter, I was well over a hundred pounds heavier. After she was born I lost some weight, but when I decided to focus on weight loss for real six months ago, I still needed to lose 90 pounds to get to my pre-infertility weight.

Since I snapped to reality again, I’ve lost forty pounds. I go to the gym at least four times a week, and I walk or hike on my non-gym days. I feel better than I have felt for years.

Best of all, I feel like my skin is fitting again. Not literally; fatness and pregnancies and age means my literal skin will likely never fit me right again. But I feel like I’ve stepped back into my body, and that I’ve living in it again.

I try not to live in regret, but it’s hard to look back at the past decade or at least at the last seven years since my daughter was born without grief for the woman I’d become. I mourn that healthy body I lost. But I can use that sadness for fuel to keep me on this path to health. I don’t want to head into my fifties (arg!) where I was, or even where I am now.

Fifty more pounds, and I will at least shed the pain of the last decade. After that? Well, we’ll see, won’t we?

PS: I totally showered. I’m nice to my gym friends like that.

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