I had cookies for dinner last night. Who over the age of 4 does that?
They were oatmeal, so I think that counts as a grain? Cereal maybe? And there were raisins, so as far as I’m concerned, I practically had a salad.
When I was 13, I was convinced I was fat. I can still remember the piece of paper I taped to my desk, in full view of where I would see it each morning and evening.
The ’80s were a time of taping a photo of your favorite bikini model on the refrigerator to scare yourself straight out of eating, I guess. The number was my own attempt at self shame. So, I put that “big” number on a piece of notebook paper to remind me of my failing.
The number: 122 pounds. To reiterate: I was 5 feet 7 inches, and I thought 122 pounds was “fat.”
In my teens, I remained slim and was a bit more comfortable in my own skin — and my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. Still, the commercial catch phrase of the day was “Can you pinch an inch?” extolling us all to lose weight on an all cereal diet (see oatmeal cookies for breakfast, above). Never mind that even the thinnest among us can probably pinch an inch of skin.
The truth was that from the first time a playground frenemy called me fat (I wasn’t, and yet the word still hurt) — I have been at battle with my own body. I would say one of the few times in my life I blissfully did not pay attention to what I weighed was when I was pregnant. I honestly wish baggy overalls and smock dresses were more acceptable in everyday life because they really take the burden off of wondering “does this make me look fat?” The answer is always “yes” but people smile and say you look cute anyway.
I officially weigh more than I did when I had our firstborn child, and I’m not proud of that. I’m just being honest. My friends and I have had some friendly debates on whether it is “harder” to be a former thin girl turned overweight or to have battled your weight all your life. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer. I think women are never quite going to be happy with their weight, no matter what.
Shout out as well to my sisters who battle the “too thin” label. I know that struggle is real, as well, and all we “jolly” people giving them grief about it, are not helping matters one bit.
I have now reached that (middle) age where doctors — if they care at all about me and their hippocratic oath — sigh and say “now about your level of fitness” (read: none). They remind me that even losing 5 pounds would be helpful, and they are so right.
Last year, I lost 35 pounds and felt amazing. Full of energy! Happy! Healthy! New cute jeans! Then I got lazy, and proceeded to slide back into the bad habits born of four decades and slowly but surely gained, and if I’m not careful, my former “I will never be so big that I would wear that!” will be too small.
I’m too old to be acting this way. The truth is that I’m simply too old to be eating cookies for dinner. My diet is best described as “unsupervised toddler at a birthday party.” I figure I’ve got just a few “good for her age” years left and I’m not wasting them being a slave to sugar if I can help it. I have no dream or desire to be the size I was in high school. I’ve got a few decades more life experience and a pronounced love of good wine and great food.
What I do want is to feel good in my own skin — and a nice pair of tailored slacks. I want to be able to run upstairs without getting winded. I’m also O.K. with someday letting myself go (back) a bit.
There is something to be said, far, far in the future, with being a “soft grandma.” This is no disrespect to the many slim and sassy grandmothers and great-grandmothers out there.
For me, I’m a bit of a realist, and if it’s this hard in my 40s, I can just imagine what the next 20 years might bring, God willing. I want to be the comfy grandma. Not “fire department had to cut me out of my house” big. Just ” she probably knows how to bake some darned good cookies” sized. Even if I am finally grown up enough to know I can’t have them for dinner anymore.
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