A friend of mine told me how brave I was for writing about something as sensitive as my own obesity. I disagree….
For me, talking about my weight when I was large was easy. It is easy for me to poke fun at myself and show vulnerability through jokes about something I’m shamed about.
Now we get to the hard stuff. Now I am putting on my brave….
When I left for this trip, I was wearing a 42/44 inch waist. Now, I can squeeze into a 34 inch waist, and the 36 inch shorts that I am wearing right now are a bit loose.
Now, before you ask, there is no magical weight loss plant that I found. I did find a protist that helped, but that was malaria, so I wouldn’t recommend it. And it wasn’t solely malaria-pounds that I lost. Through the hiking, and carrying, and walking, and exploring, and working, I have lost a bit of fat, and gained a bit of muscle. And my physical stamina is the best it has been in a long time.
Right now, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in a long time, if not my life, and yet I am so much more sensitive about it than I have ever been. Now that I have something to be invested in, I am invested in it. And that scares me.
I am scared that my weight will be something that I obsess over. I already have an unhealthy relationship with food, and “eat when you are hungry” simply does not work for me. Previously, I was heavy, due to my love of cooking, and eating, but the alternative is so much scarier. Now that I have begun to celebrate lost inches, I am fearful that I might develop an eating disorder when left to my own devices as a busy academic back in the states. Until then, I am focusing on not focusing on it, and refuse to give my mind footholds to climb on to an obsession. For example,I don’t weigh myself, for fear that I will begin to count the ounces of gain or loss. But I know myself. I know I obsess over things. Sometimes I give my obsessions too much control, and sometimes I lose sight. And I am scared that I might fall into a bad place, where my weight and appearance take up more of my mind than I care to give it.
I am so scared…
And I am sensitive. In the USA, it wasn’t hard to find clothes that fit. I sometimes had to be satisfied with a smaller selection than my more slender compatriots, but I generally didn’t have to look hard. When we were in Ghana, I looked, and searched, and investigated, and I couldn’t find a pair of pants that were larger than 34s. And that crushed me. My companions were mostly supportive, and helped me, and helped me look through markets and stores, but it was still difficult.
And one desperate night, fresh with frustration at my inability to clothe myself, I made a joke about how in a country rife with malnutrition, poverty, and extreme hunger, how could I expect them to carry clothes that could fit my lardy-self. And a Westerner who was nearby was vocally upset.
=How could I say something that is so shamming to skinny people? Not everyone who is skinny is impoverished=
And I broke down. Normally, I would bite back, explaining that that is not what I said. That there are skinny people everywhere, regardless of economic status. I might bring up how I’m not talking about skinny clothes, just the lack of large clothes. I might even be empathic and charitable, and agree that skinny shaming is a serious issue in western society, then state why I need to vent about things. I would likely explain why the shortage of nutritious food is certainly a factor in the lack of obesity in developing countries. Instead, I just broke down. Two of my traveling partners could see how upset I was, and gave me comforting hugs, and held me up as I choked back tears.
And the utter joy I had when we were in the Dominican Republic, just days after that desperate night, when I found a selection of clothes in my size, and sizes larger, at several thrift shops and other retailers. I am not sure if I have ever had that much joy in finding clothes.
I don’t know how I feel about this. About all of this…
I have new sensitivities.
I have new concerns.
And in a few months, I will have to get a brand new wardrobe.
But right now. At this exact moment, I am so happy.
And on the 26th of December, 2013, I looked in the mirror at myself with my shirt off, and I wasn’t ashamed of what I saw. I think maybe for the first time, I was happy with my body. I was proud. I was proud of the progress I had made toward my goal, and excited that I would be making more.
This is new territory for me. And I am eager to explore it.