Reframing My Weight Gain: Thoughts on Body Positivity
In early January, I hit my lowest weight to date in this 12+ year journey and I was thrilled. Beyond thrilled. I was so unbelievably proud and rightfully so; Over the last two years, I worked hard for that number. I felt strong and incredibly confident in my body. My clothes fit better than ever. At Orangetheory, I was hitting paces on the treadmill that I didn’t think were possible for me. I swore to myself that I would fight to stay where I was, weight-wise.
You can see where this story is headed. About the day I made that promise to myself, everything started to unravel. Quickly.
Fast forward to early April and over the course of only three months, I gained thirty pounds. That’s right — thirty pounds in three months. It somehow happened without me even realizing it had happened. I think it was a solid mix of denial and complacency. My doctor increased the dosage of my antidepressant in mid-February, so it was easy to point the finger there, and I’m sure that did factor in somewhat. In the back of my mind, I was aware the numbers on the scale were going up the whole time, yet it didn’t fully register.
It wasn’t until I saw a picture of myself from a work event that I realized just how out of control things had become. I hated what I saw in that picture, how my body looked. Sure, blame the lighting, blame the angle, blame whatever you want. For me, it was a true wake-up call. All the positive vibes from January vanished.
I went through a lot of negative self-talk in the days that followed. I beat myself up for how my eating habits had spiraled – increasing in quantity, decreasing in quality. A brutal combination, if there ever was one. I looked back at my fitness tracker with regret and anger with myself for how many days remained blank. That went on for a few days, each thought more negative than the one before. My mental health suffered considerably, which just added fuel to the fire.
In the days and weeks since, I’ve worked hard to reframe the situtation to live from a place of body positivity. I felt strong, confident, and beautiful in January. The fact that I gained thirty pounds shouldn’t take away from those feelings. I am still strong, confident, and beautiful. I am proud of my body for all that it can do, no matter what the scale says. I’m grateful to women like Cassie, Krissie, and Sarajane who are such strong, powerful voices for body positivity. Listening to them has helped in reframing my weight gain.
These recent events are a reflection of a much longer battle of self-loathing. I spent most of my early adult life overweight and hating my body. Even as I lost weight, I still found myself focusing on what next? If I hit one milestone on the scale, it was a momentary cause for celebration, but an almost immediate shift to focusing on the next milestone and the next. Where I was never felt good enough: I never felt good or worthy enough. My Type A personality raged hard and it created extraordinarily unhealthy patterns for well over a decade.
And so, it took this recent season of first reaching that lowest weight and then rebounding for me to come to this place of self-love. The number on the scale does not define me or my worth. In truth, this post sounds a lot different than it did when I first started writing it a few weeks ago. In those initial days after seeing that picture, I wrote of the shame I felt and my determination to lose the weight, again, and to refocus on my priorities.
But, that’s changing. Yes, I still want to lose some of the weight because I don’t feel I’m at my healthiest where I am today. After years of trial and error, I know at what weight I feel my best, healthiest self. For the first time since I started writing in this space, I don’t feel the need to turn this into yet another series of Weigh In Wednesday posts or to share progress pictures. I don’t want to feed into the culture that we are defined by our weight, or to make anyone feel less than.
What I hope to do is add to the body positivity conversation, to encourage people that they are worthy just as they are. Whatever a piece of equipment on the bathroom floor says in the morning should not dictate how we feel about ourselves or what we put in our bodies. Yes, I want to lose a little weight and I know that I’m not alone in this. And, that’s okay, too. One can be body positive and still want to lose weight. As with most things in the health realm, balance is key.
Photo credits:Oleksandr Pidvalnyi