A conversation about weight

One of the hallmarks of my personality is how honest I am. Asking how I’m doing is a dangerous question because it’s unlikely you’ll get a ‘fine’ or ‘good.’ I’m prone to blurt out deep emotional issues related to my father or anxiety at any point. When people begin a conversation with me with “I don’t mean to pry, but,” I’m instantly overjoyed because I might have the opportunity to spew some of my honesty. There are few topics I won’t freely discuss with little to no prompting.

Except my weight.

It’s something I purposely avoid discussing in length on my blog. Yes, in real life, I talk to my friends and family about my struggles, but I’ve never felt the desire to bring that conversation to this platform. Mainly because I understand how much of an insecurity it is for many people and I don’t want to do a poor me post about being chubby.

I understand that there’s nothing inherently wrong about my current size. My body works well and I don’t have a lot of complaints. Despite not taking great care of it, my body has yet to seriously disappoint me. We’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s always been okay. And then recently by body started to betray me.

Earlier this year, I started taking Lexapro for my anxiety. One of the potential side effects was weight gain, but I wasn’t overly concerned at first. In July, I left my very active position at Sephora to move to a full-time desk job, creating the perfect storm to mess with my body.

It seemed like maybe I was gaining a little more weight, but I wasn’t surprised considering being less active and the medicine. I assumed I would stay within my normal fluctuations. Then, after I decided to stop taking my medicine, I went to the doctor and realized something startling: I’d gained more than 10 pounds in a month and was at my highest weight.

Ten pounds doesn’t seem like a lot when you space it out over a year, but when it’s more than two pounds a week, something snaps. I could no longer deny what I called a minor weight gain was escalating into something more damaging.

Since I was a teenager and these things seemed to matter, I’ve gone back and forth between overly obsessed with getting thin and striving to accept my body as it was. Remember, at no point was my weight hurting me in any way; I just wasn’t skinny by society’s standards.

The last 10 years have been the worst, especially since starting college. It was then I became more aware of my weight and started counting calories. In my final semester, I was eating 1200 calories a day and exercising for an hour every day on top of that. I was at my lowest weight in conscious memory, yet I don’t remember feeling good about my body. It was an obsession I couldn’t maintain and thankfully I graduated before it got worst.

Logically I can tell myself that I’m a fairly normal size. I understand there really isn’t anything wrong with what I look like, except it isn’t how everyone else looks on TV and the movies. When I picture good things happening in my life, like meeting someone or getting married, I’m always thin. This pudgy body feels like Baby Fat Chelsea and once I shed it, I’ll be a real adult.

I wish I could say that’s an exaggeration, but it’s the hard truth of my mental process. Being mildly overweight feels like a waiting period until my real life can begin.

Even when I’m not counting my food or workouts because I want to be at peace with myself, the mental images don’t change. So eventually I decide to start caring again for a few months and the cycle goes on and on.

When I look in the mirror now, I see a body I don’t recognize. My weight gain is noticeable enough that none of my clothes really fit like they used to and everything is a little bit more uncomfortable. I hate getting dressed because it’s a constant reminder of what’s going on with my body.

Saying that, I don’t think I’m so much bigger that everyone in the world will whisper about the weight I put on and thank God I’m not on social media where almost without thinking, we comment on someone’s weight gain.

Side note, but let’s stop doing that. I’m just as guilty. My first instinct is to notice that someone has gained weight and frequently I want to talk about it with someone. Do I want people doing that about me? Absolutely not, which means I owe them the same consideration. Anyway.

This weight gain scares me because it feels like the beginning of a bad road. It’s just a fact that staying thin and losing weight is harder as you get older, and before 30 I’ve started my decline. Before a few pounds felt like no big deal, but now it’s the realization that if I don’t try harder, I’ll keep gaining.

It’s not like I have illusions of grandeur in the form of abs. I’ve heard how you have to eat to get those and no thank you. I just want to get into positive rhythms so for the moment I get back down into a normal weight for myself and then stay healthy. I need to think about my groceries more and make sure I have time to go to the gym at least a few days a week. I live close enough to work that I can bike or walk and I want to take advantage of that when possible.

What I refuse to do is a fad diet that guarantees fast results. I have friends who are keto or whatever and they look spectacular, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my days reading ingredients to make sure I’m staying on my plan. Counting calories and trying to balance my daily percentage of protein is good enough for me.

I know if I cut sugar or carbs life would be amazing for my hips, but do I want to commit to a life with donuts, bagels, pasta, sandwiches, cake, brownies, and everything else that I love? This is probably one of my problems, but that’s okay. God gave humans the ability to develop really delicious food and I want to embrace it and consume it.

My lifestyle needs to change, but in the old fashioned way where you’re active and you practice portion control. Discipline is something I’ve gotten better at with age, and now it’s time to put those skills to use when it comes to my body.

At this point, I’m optimistic, because I’m more at peace with who I am. Before I had no love for myself, which meant trying to get thin was an act of self-hatred instead of self-love. I value myself for the weirdo I am, and I want to value my body as well.

Now, that doesn’t mean I think horrible thoughts about myself every time I look in the mirror. If I truly love myself, I have to love this body too, even if I’m trying to make it better. When I start thinking about how large something appears, I turn the negativity into thankfulness and praise God for a body that works.

I don’t know where you are, but I want you to know you are perfect just as you are. Your journey is your own and more important than anything else is your ability to love yourself, body and soul. Don’t make changes because you feel the pressure to be different or smaller. Let every bit of self-improvement come from your desire to change your life.

We can do this.

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