the first day at the gym i was mortified. the picture taken for my ID card was horrifying. i couldn't believe i looked like that. and when i discovered i could only do five minutes on the stairmaster, i was shaken to my core.
"i'm only 19," i thought, "i have no excuse for being out of shape. i should be HOT..."
and that was it. fueled by 19 years of feeling like i had no control over my body or body image, i became obsessed. i spent the next year of my life determined to prove to anyone and everyone who had ever thought less of me for being overweight that i was better than stepford material.
better because i was also smart. and aware. and funny. and i'd known the other side of thin. and i finally realized that being curvy might actually be an advantage. maybe, it occurred to me, i had no reason to feel ashamed for being sexy.
i'm not sure how much weight i lost, but i went from a size 16 to a size 6.
the world was a totally different place, then. everyone treated me differently. i stopped hiding under my clothes. i stopped being ashamed of my curves. i relished everything about having a body that both women and men wanted.
except that once i knew what it was like to be thin, i wanted to be thinner. i wanted to get a breast reduction. i started thinking about different kinds of surgeries i could get, like lipo, or having my stomach stapled so that i would never want to eat much of anything again. i started working towards becoming a size 2.
i started thinking that the thinner i got, the more rewarded i'd be. and you know, it was almost true.
but it wasn't sustainable.
don't get me wrong. being thin was (and is) sustainable -- but what i didn't understand then was that keeping the weight off has to be fueled by something other than resentment.
because when i met my husband -- a guy i ran into in college who validated all of me -- i started to feel less angry. and when we got engaged, and it seemed like the pressure to prove myself worthy of a guy (and life) like the one i was getting was off, i let that resentment go.
and gained almost all of the weight back.
then came the numbness. after i graduated college and was engaged and started my career, i returned to my old pattern of not liking my body. except this time, i didn't feel there was nothing i could do about it. this time, i felt like it didn't matter.
even if i'd be treated more professionally,
even if i'd be considered more attractive,
even if i'd be healthier and happier in better shape,
i couldn't find enough motivation to do it.
on the surface, i thought that my weight really didn't matter because who was i trying to impress?
on a deeper level, though, i had found a new resentment. i hated the idea that i was living in a place where no matter what i'd accomplished, my size would always been seen first. where my weight made me feel like a second-class citizen. where shopping was an embarrassment, and where people would question my husband's level of attraction to me, given...well...you know.
so try as i might, i was never going to lose weight so long as i felt like i had to.
(anyone who knows me knows i do NOT deal well with being "forced" to do ANYTHING.)
and so when my marriage fell apart (for many reasons), i decided maybe i should see if it would be possible to break free from the stifling stepford standards.
and thought if it'd be possible anywhere, it'd be possible in san francisco.