Monday, November 22, 2010

I Learned To Love My Body When I Gained Twenty Pounds

When I was an incredibly obnoxious and slender twenty-year-old, I remember discussing weight with a friend of mine. We were both diving on the swim team then, which meant that we spent two hours each schoolday practicing our dives - which were videotaped - and then watching playback on the pool-side monitor of our dives (Read: of a side view of ourselves in our swim suits). For two hours a day. Imagine how much that leads to obsessing about your figure... especially when the lighter you are, the easier it is to whip your body around into various crazy positions and aerial cartwheels before smacking into the water.

Anyway, we were talking pounds in the locker room as we dressed after practice. I was 5 foot 7 and 122 lbs at the time; I said, "Man, I can't imagine weighing 140 lbs. I don't know what I'd do. I'd probably have to kill myself!"

Yes, I was a likable young thing. Yes, I want to go back and punch myself in the face, too.

Here's the funny thing. Now that I've gained twenty pounds (without a single suicidal thought) I can look back and see how perfect the body was that I hated then. But my motivation is low to lose those twenty pounds again, since I feel this is also a healthy weight - and since I've realized something odd.

When I was that skinny twenty-year-old, I thought:
  • I look pretty good, so close to perfect, I should stop being lazy and eating junk on occasion and just lose five or ten pounds...
  • My tummy is nice except for this little bump of fat I can't rid of.
  • My thighs are just too thick.
You know what I think twenty pounds (and, erm, a few years) later?
  • I look pretty good, so close to perfect, I should stop being lazy and eating junk on occasion and just lose five or ten pounds...
  • My tummy is nice except for this little bump of fat I can't rid of.
  • My thighs are just too thick.
Hmm. The same things that bothered me then, when I looked damn good, bother me now? Like I can't just glance into a full length mirror and see myself non-critically? If that was how I thought back then, then I probably look great now too and just don't see myself.

It's too bad that I couldn't appreciate the body I had when I was younger. But I can appreciate the one I have now.

I know this is not a writing related post, but I think and write a lot about finding the unique beauty in ourselves, and I wanted to share my thoughts.  It's hard to be a woman in this world, where we are constantly bombarded with images of airbrushed perfection that we are going to fall short of - but we can learn to be kind to ourselves anyway. And hopefully, we can even forgive ourselves for saying positively ludicrous things in locker rooms in our foolish youth! :)


Old Kitty said...

It's amazing how we (men and women but maybe more pressure on women) obsess about their body image. I do and did all the time but when I was younger but it was with lots of negativity and feeling of worthlessness. These days I'm still as vain as a peacock but by golly I'm enjoying myself! I may never have a flat tummy or have skinny legs but I enjoy my chocolate and actually look forward to my very gentle aerobics sessions!

Oh it's ok to be foolish when young!! LOL!!!! I hope as I blush at how I used to be 20 years ago...yikes!!!

Take care

Lynn Colt said...

dude, I feel you on this! I had the same criticisms of my body in high school as I do now, 20 lbs heavier. I've learned it's not about the weight, it's about confidence :)

Katie said...

I'm 5'8" and 118 lbs. so I understand. I would be ok with gaining ten pounds or so. Maybe then I would not be told I disappear when I turn sideways. Although, I'm content with how skinny I am since it's natural. I do wish people would rid themselves of the need to comment on my weight. Honestly, would you walk up to someone who's overweight and say, "Oh, my gosh, you're so fat! You need to eat less." Then why is it ok to do it to someone who's underweight?

<>< Katie

Rachelle said...

I appreciated your post. This subject is so relevant. My 7 yo girl is already worrying about her body and she's the perfect healthy size she should be.

Jennifer Ambrose said...

This is so true and something I have to remind myself regularly. Over the last couple years I had back-to-back injuries and went from a kickboxing instructor and runner to completely sedentary while my body got better. I gained 20 lbs and swore to myself that if I could just move freely again, I would appreciate my body. Just for being healthy.

I'm healthy now and back teaching kickboxing and every day I break that promise to myself. Every single day I have to remember to thank my body for what it can do, and to love it no matter what.