This past year, I spent a lot of time beating myself up for being too heavy. Despite all the body positivity, inspirational quotes about self-acceptance and brands offering extended sizing that flooded my Instagram feed, I looked at my own aging, expanding body with sadness and, I’m ashamed to admit, some disgust.
Everyone was preaching self-love, why couldn’t I do that?
Then my doctor told me that at my age (I turned 50 in May) the only solution was to limit my calories to 1,200 per day. I may be a masochist in many ways, but that crossed a line. I fired her.
Still, I desperately wanted my jeans to fit. I decided the solution was to lift weights, and we spent a few hundred dollars on a squat rack and some weights. I began lifting and doing HIIT workouts a few times a week, and ate a high-protein, low-carb diet. I wanted not to just lose a few pounds but to get seriously buff like the women I was seeing on Instagram before I turned 50.
When nothing dramatically changed by my the time my birthday rolled around, I gave up.
Then a vacation to Italy loomed, and I started up the workouts again. I the keto diet into the mix. My weight stayed the same, I looked the same, and my jeans were still too tight by the time we got on the plane. I ate either pasta, pizza or gelato—sometimes all of the above—every day on that trip and added six pounds to my weight by the time we returned home.
Then, earlier this month, I traveled to Pennsylvania to visit my parents and Brooklyn to visit my best friend. I walked a lot on this trip both through the quiet neighborhoods of my childhood and the bustling streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn. I didn’t sit in front of my computer at all.
When I returned I had lost five pounds and my jeans fit again.
Now that the year is wrapping up and it’s almost Halloween, I’m looking back on the year and realizing how much I ate while working from home while sitting at the kitchen table, and how much time I spent being mean to myself.
My tendency to self-loathe is generational as well as geographical. In the ’80s as a teen in rural Pennsylvania, no one was telling me to love myself—that would be “conceited.” Self care was not a thing. You took care of yourself by showering and washing your hair.
Being fleshy was a thing—a bad thing. Being stick-thin was good. Girls growing up today with Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B publicly loving their own bodies have no idea how good they have it.
On one hand, I don’t want to have to buy all new jeans. I want to be a size that accommodates my clothing. On the other hand, I want to accept my body and myself for what I am at any given moment without having the mean interior dialogue constantly running in my mind: “Ew, look at that back fat. I cannot wear this outfit” or: “My arms are disgusting.” or: “How is it possible to have this much cellulite?” These are just a small few examples and I’m not proud of them.
As the year wraps up, I’m trying to be kind and reasonable with myself, which includes eating relatively healthy but sometimes also eating birthday cake and drinking wine. I’m taking the dog on long walks, nixing the crazy-strict diets, and hoping that all of this behavior allows me to still fit into my jeans.
I’m not ruling out lifting weights though—we did buy that damn squat rack and at my age I need to work on muscle tone and bone density, alas.
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