I gained some weight when I got married. I haven't been "skinny" since the seventh grade, when I could consider a big bowl of ice cream a healthy after school snack without the scale's dissent. By the time I got married last year, I was a healthy 145 pounds. Over the course of the year, that weight went up. You've heard about the Freshman Fifteen? This was the Newlywed Nineteen.
It was more, actually. We didn't even own a scale, so I was shocked when, at an annual doctors appointment, I suddenly weighed in at 162lb. At another routine exam a few months later: 177lb. What?! I knew I was carrying some extra weight, but I still looked pretty good and hadn't thought much of it. Even so, I didn't feel too great and I knew it was the extra poundage I was carrying around.
Around Shavuos I decided to kick it into high gear and really do something about it. Since then, I wake up early to workout before school, get on the scale every day to track my progress and carefully (or not so carefully, depending on the day) count calories. Not so glamorous, but I steadily lost 15 pounds. At 162lb., my old high is a new low. I decided to publicize my weight because it is just a number. I resent the notion that women should feel we have to guard this number, as if it holds so much meaning, as if it is an intimate reflection of our inner selves. As if.
I deeply appreciate privacy and its connection to sacredness, but I think women's sense of secrecy about our weights comes more from a sense of shame than from anything else. And that's a shame. One's weight is just a number and it conveys little about one's actual figure. You already know more about my figure from seeing my pictures every day than anything the three blue digits that popped up on my scale this morning could reveal. Even if there was more of a correlation between one's weight and one's figure, how someone is shaped doesn't convey much either. My weight and body type shouldn't affect how you feel about me or how I feel about myself.
I'm proud of myself for this Weight Loss Journey, as I like to call it, though it's still not over. I like how I look and I like how I feel, both physically and emotionally. I would venture a guess that this is less due to the weight loss itself and more to daily exercise. Once I drag my sorry self out of bed, the endorphin rush from the cardio and the sense of accomplishment for having started my day in such a healthy manner is incredible. I can't even believe I just wrote that sentence, because I've never been one to enjoy working out and I've really never been one to voluntarily wake up for school any earlier than is absolutely necessary.
I'm pleased to have recently rediscovered my waist, but I'm not pleased when people praise that fabulous new waist. I haven't gotten many comments from friends and acquaintances because I don't think they even noticed that I gained weight in the first place or that I had much to lose. The comments are from my nearest and dearest, the ones who love me the most and who most want me to succeed.
"Wow! You look great! I mean, you always looked great, but... now you look even better!"
"What have you been depriving yourself of? Whatever it is, it's working. Keep it up!"
"Just wait, when you lose a few more pounds that skirt will look even better!"
I know they mean these as compliments, as encouragement, as offerings of love. I appreciate the thought behind the words. But the words themselves don't make me feel too good. In fact, they make me downright uncomfortable. I'm thrilled to be living a healthier lifestyle and I do love how I look, but... these comments seem to imply that something was amiss about my appearance before.
Nothing was amiss about me or my appearance before. I wasn't so healthy, but I was the same intelligent, beautiful young woman then, as I am now. The only thing that has changed is I've learned how to eat a bit healthier and gained more physical stamina. I had the same talents, the same hopes and dreams, the same insecurities then as I do now.
I'd rather be recognized for real accomplishments, like my writing abilities, like making dinner every night even though I'm not always in the mood, like waking up early every day to work out even though I'd rather sleep in.
So, next time you see me around and want to strike up a conversation? Please tell me how fabulous my website is, ask me about school, let me know that my winged liner is on point. Just don't mention my weight.