I don’t have to stand on a scale to know: my clothes don’t fit as they used to before. My face is fuller. I feel winded when I climb a few flights of stairs. My protruding mid-section makes for a good laptop stand as I lie down on the couch trying to write.
I’ve gained weight. I’ve gained a lot of it.
I can only blame myself for undoing the work of four years in a few months. You see, once upon a time, I came back from graduate school with a degree, a new outlook on life, and many added kilos to show for the time I had spent there. So I pushed myself to do one thing I had avoided doing my whole life: exercise. The habit stuck and the gym became an integral part of my life. There were some weeks where I saw the treadmill more than my friends.
Then at some point, the big occasions started rolling in. I needed to look good in all those photographs. I needed to be at my very best to prove to the wedding industry, that I too could fit in their dresses and look fantastic. That despite needing to alter the dress, it still fit me.
But the big occasions have gone. The replacement has been that mix of welcome familiarity and routine that comes with being in a stable relationship and in a stable job. My biggest concern is what I will cook over the coming week and my greatest disappointment is when I forget to defrost meat because it means I have to improvise a meal.
And that’s where I’ve done myself wrong. I’ve let myself give food top billing. I’ve turned to drowning my frustrations in candy and cake instead of the healthier equivalent of putting on some music and going for a run. There are many, many things that I have cut out of my diet, but clearly it hasn’t been enough. It’s hard when you know your biggest problem is that you don’t have any self-control.
And when it comes to exercise, I’ve somehow convinced myself that I have nothing worth being in top shape for, that it is okay if I skip working out today, tomorrow, and the day after. And since we’re at it, it’s just not my week so I might as well stay at home.
But with that logic, comes the unwelcome appearance and feeling uncomfortable in your own skin.
It’s that feeling that hits you as you’re trying to get dressed for work in the morning. That feeling that makes you want to throw out your whole closet on the bed because nothing feels good enough or leaves you room to breathe. Unfortunately, this feeling comes a little bit too late: by then, the bulk of the weight has come on and reversing the trend is not as easy as it seems.
I only realized this just recently, as I was looking at pictures of us from the holiday. When I looked at those photographs, I became more-self aware, feeling heavier in areas and sensed my skin stretching out in not a good way. All I could think about is how huge my arms look- and I’m sure it wasn’t because of bad camera angles. Since then, I have not been able to piece an outfit together without thinking of what I had done to myself.
Yet the struggle to get back on the right path is difficult. The results don’t come in immediately which can get frustrating and a huge demotivation. I’ve started and stopped so many times that it has done more harm than good. Every single time I’ve gotten myself to the point where I believe I can make a lifestyle change, something inevitability happens that reminds me the older way is easier.
But I know I can’t keep going on like this. When I look into the mirror, I am not happy with the reflection I see. When my weight has become the subject of conversation among coworkers, I am bothered. When I binge on food, I am disgusted. And when my clothes don’t fit, I feel less of a woman and on the verge of tears.
I just need to remind myself of all of these feelings every time I come close to giving up. That I don’t need an occasion to be on the right track. At the very least, I owe it to myself to be healthy and comfortable in my own skin, no matter how hard getting there may get.