On the cusp of 30, stepping onto the scale after coming home from a three-month stint in New York City, I realize with a mixture of shock and horror: I’ve never weighed this much before. Even my loosest pajama pants, that I had retired to a drawer for years because they didn’t stay up around my hips, now fit snugly around my belly.
Another horrible realization dawned on me, in a phrase that millennials and Mean Girl’s fans alike will know all too well: “Sweatpants are all that fit me right now.”
NEVER IN MY LIFE had I been able to utter those words with any truth….until now.
Up to about the age of 28 I lived by the delusional grace that my metabolism and body type would stay the same forever. Ha ha! In my early and mid 20s, I could binge eat and drink like nobody’s business and if I gained a few pounds, I could quickly work them off in about a week of consistent cardio and targeted exercise, and I’m not talking anything too crazy, either. Like 30 mins or less of cardio, maybe 2 or 3 times a week, plus a little bit of yoga and some crunches, and my sweet 135 pounds of flesh were maintained.
The craziest part, now that I’m standing on the scale weighing in at 151.1 pounds, is that I never thought I was good enough or thin enough or toned enough, even at 135. My stomach was never flat enough, my hips never narrow enough, the “hip dip” that’s just genetics would never be full, and no matter how much weight I gained or lost or how many reps of squats, I never had the round, fat, twerkable ass everyone else seemed to flaunt online.
Now, even with the extra almost 20 pounds, most of which went straight to my thighs, chest, lower belly, and NOT my ass, I *still* can’t twerk. Apparently Doja’s words, “If she don’t got a butt you can get into it yuh,” were about me.
Jokes aside, when you’re in the middle of a weight gain crisis, it feels humiliating, embarrassing, and downright upsetting when you can’t fit into your favorite clothes anymore, or when they just don’t fit right. It can really feel like a blow to your self-image, your self-worth, and your self-confidence.
It’s scary to go out in public with people you know, who you’re so sure will notice all the weight you’ve gained. But the little cute muffin top that’s so obvious to you will most likely go unnoticed by 99% of people you see that day, and every insecurity you feel about the tightness of your clothes or the proportions of your body are practically invisible to everyone but you. In some of my heaviest times, when I felt my least attractive and my least confident in my own skin and clothes, I still had fun, got asked out on dates, met people who liked (and even loved me), and even fell in love with myself a little bit, too. But it still sucks to compare yourself to your past, or to someone that you might view as more desirable than your present self.
Anyway, the point of me writing this article is that hopefully it is *relatable.* I know I can’t be the only late twenty-something that’s had that Regina George quote run through my mind.
I’m trying to be kinder to myself. Easier. I’m listening to her, and more and more these days, I’m imagining that I’m “waking up” into my body and my life for the first time each morning.
Sure, my body doesn’t look exactly the way it did 9 years ago, my skin has aged, my hair falls out, but 9 years of living generates a lot of baggage, some of it emotional and mental, some of it physical, some of it spiritual, ESPECIALLY if those 9 years (heck, why not the full 29) included an “unprecedented” global pandemic, the existential threat of climate change, and an unstable economic and social climate. And with all of this baggage, it’s to be expected that we fall off, we change, we lose sight of what’s important in the moment only to focus on an immediate fix, a fast relief to the problem.
Sometimes we need to live life to the extremes in order to come back to balance. From here it’s much easier to get a clear, healthy perspective on the situation, and to game plan sustainable solutions.
I know I gained weight in my time in New York City. I can pin point several reasons why.
1. I started eating with no regard for the sugar or calorie intake. And I was doing a lot of “unconscious eating” - eating while drunk, high, tired, or in a state of mental or emotional distress or distraction.
2. I wasn’t exercising! Despite New York being a walking city, I was there in the winter and choosing cars and trains more than walking. I never went to a gym and even though I had a yoga mat, I think I may have practiced a total of 1 sun salutation over the 3 months I was there.
3. I was sick! Getting sick really takes it out of me. I know, some people say exercising helps you get better and maybe they’re right, but when I’m sick it takes a toll on my mental and physical health that can takes weeks to fully recover from.
Basically I know that my health should be my #1 priority right now, and that means that changes to my lifestyle are not optional, but mandatory. If I want to lose weight, which I do, I know that I need to eat mindfully, move my body every day or every other day, and stop judging myself or comparing myself to others. (This is a whole other topic for another article by the way.) It’s more than just losing weight for the sake of fashion and appearances. For me, it reflects my overall being – how much sugar am I consuming, how much alcohol am I drinking, how quickly can I process and resolve things that enter my field, be them physical, emotional, or spiritual? All of these things indicate to me how I’m doing, as a being. And the relationship between physical body and overall being is unique to every individual, and is an ever-changing dynamic thing; there is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to the holistic nexus of the mind, body, and spirit that each of us harbors.
Whether you’re in a state of hating or loving your body and your clothes, just remember : it’s always ok to buy clothes a size or two bigger, clothes don’t have to fit skin tight, nothing stays the same, and change happens with you and your decisions, one day at a time.
People, and women especially, need to be easier on themselves about the fluctuations of life. No one’s path is perfect, no one’s health is perfect, and it’s easy (and human) to slip up, lose focus, make questionable decisions, and gain weight! That’s just, straight up, a thing that happens.
I hope this article has reached someone who is struggling with their self perception, or who has struggled in the past. Just know that you are seen, beautiful, lovable, desirable, and worthy of everything you yearn for, no matter your weight, your health status, or the size or brand of clothes you wear.
It’s ok to feel sad about gaining weight, sizing out of favorite clothes, or aging. If you’re anything like me, change can be really, really hard, even if you see it coming from miles away. But just know that as I write this today, about 2 months after I began this article and maybe 4 months after I uttered the words “These sweatpants are all that fit me right now,” I’m happy to report that with minor changes and some extra mindfulness, I’m down 5 pounds, still not fitting in my old favorite jeans, but on the lookout for new favofites, and loving myself all the same, no matter my size. ❤️