Monday, September 22, 2008


I have steadily gained weight over the last few years. Not being happy with this, I came up with a strategy, not a diet: I decided to eat like I was living alone Monday through Friday and share meals with Dick and friends on the weekends (unless something special came up). I instituted this new eating policy in the late Spring and assumed it would work well, for I've always been thin when I've lived alone.

I'm a social eater. I don't sit alone and nibble on food while watching TV. I like eating meals. I'm not a grazer. Though I often get cravings for iced cream or popcorn (especially while watching movies), I can live without either. As far as eating goes, my greatest pleasure is eating with others while engaging in lively conversation. The second biggest pleasure is eating in silence and savoring each bite of food for all it is worth.

So, the plan made all the sense in the world. But, it did not work. I have gained at least ten pounds since I changed my eating habits. I went from being chubby to being big, and it's a shock.

I have never stayed the same size for too long. Three years is probably the maximum time limit I've had on any one size. But going from a size 0 to a size 6 is not such a big deal. I was way too thin when I was a 0 (though I didn't think so at the time). Size 6 was nice. It was this past Spring when I hit the double digit number of 10 and decided to do something about it.

And now I'm even bigger. Who is this person? I am unrecognizable to myself.

I needed to buy a new pair of jeans today. Nothing fit. Looking in the dressing room mirror (which I tried to avoid) was frightening. Not only am I fat, but everything is sagging. My extremely white skin makes it all the worse looking. I tried to look and not think such self-loathing thoughts. It can't possibly be good for my mental health to think such things as "you are disgusting." But I could not turn off these sorts of thoughts.

I wound up buying a pair of men's carpenter jeans that are insanely huge. I need to use a belt pulled up tight in order to keep the jeans from falling down. I may be big, but I'm nowhere near a size 38! I've always liked the look of too-big pants and a tiny waist, but now I'm missing that all important component (the tiny waist). And when I cinch in the waistline of the jeans, they ride up so high that there's only a few inches to go before one hits my boob line.

I am a short, fat and middle-aged woman. And I have limp brown shoulder length hair. Ugh.

I loved it when I was really skinny and had a shaved head. I was androgynous. I felt strong. Now I look an awful lot like my grandmother. No one in their right mind would mistake me for a boy. And for someone like me, who doesn't feel all that gendered, this feels almost as strange as wearing a frou-frou dress (actually - it's far worse). Unfortunately, unlike a dress, I can't just remove the excess fat from my body in one fell swoop and throw it on the floor in disgust.

I don't know what to do. I don't eat all that much, and I eat healthy food. I haven't been as active as I used to be, but that doesn't account for it all. I know that I am on medication that can put on the pounds, and that may account for quite a bit. Plus, I am no longer a young woman. No woman in my family was thin in their older years (and I remember none of them overeating).

I may have to resign myself to this. I realize that being okay with it, and with myself just the way I am, is far harder than any diet I've ever been on. And there may be a lot more merit to achieving that kind of self-acceptance and love than being my "ideal size".

Painting note: Rubens "Venus Before the Mirror" 1615 I always turn to Rubens when I feel gross. When I was a kid, folks called overweight women "zaftig". I am typing with one eye open (yep, that's how tired I am), so I'm too lazy to look up what the exact meaning of the word (German, I presume) means. Anyone like to inform me?

Addendum: I tossed off this post in a hurry while fighting sleep. I think this is an important topic. Weight and size are huge issues for women, and theses issues, in my opinion, are far larger than the amount of energy they use up. I may wind up taking down this post and re-writing it when I can think more clearly, and if I do not, this surely won't be the end of the topic.

As an aside, I notice that I write about myself instead of writing theoretically. This, I've discovered, is quite "feminine" of me. I assume that by your reading of my experiences and feelings, you'll think about your own experiences and feelings. I may be making a wrong assumption. But, I suspect not.


Anonymous said...

Oh, the size...
Coincidentally, I went shopping for jeans yesterday as well. Yep, you guessed it, I finally faced the fact that I couldn't fit into my usual size and just had to buy a new pair.
I don't so much mind the look, I dislike the feeling of all that fat hanging around my body and being more constrained in movement that I used to be. When you figure out the solution to this, get back to me:)

Julie H. Rose said...

Well, then - I may be on my deathbed before I'll get back to on this one.