Just A Number

So, I’ve been gaining weight for a while, ever since I broke up with my ex Valentines Day 2009. It is only natural that I should gain, since before the breakup, I had been depressed and stressed and didn’t eat and lost some weight. Then after we split, I became a whole lot less active, but started to eat again, so I got bigger. I could tell because my clothes got tight, and I had to shop for new pants and bras twice. It seems to have leveled off now. I must confess that I really hope I have leveled off and stopped gaining because a) I’m sick of shopping for pants and bras, y’all and b) I am a couple pounds shy of the Big 200.

Yeah, I weighed myself. Went to a naturopath appointment, way back in January, and out of some morbid curiosity regarding the fatness of my body, stepped on the scale. I really wish I hadn’t weighed myself, because when I saw “197” I had an OMGNOT200!DOOOOOOM! moment.

But why? Why is that number so horrible? Its just a number: whether I weigh 199 pounds or 201 doesn’t change me, or any of us, as human beings. Even if our culture does decree that it shall be the Magic Cutoff of Worth(TM). Too many women subscribe to it, like Oprah, and I don’t want to be one of them.

So, since Janurary, I’ve been telling myself that 200 is just a number and that it does not really reflect my actual shape and size and WORTH of my body and myself. It does not make me any less desirable–in fact, while it lowers my attractiveness for some men, it raises it for others, and for the men I ultimately wish to meet and date, it has no bearing whatsoever. And I believe that, seriously, but gaining all that weight still bummed me out, because, yo, shrinking clothes suck.

Yet even with all that internal pep-talking, and the reinforcing I got from y’all, the Fatosphere, I still felt like crap. Of course, I had been feeling like crap for a long time, since before my ex and I split. I thought it was due to my several food intolerances, diagnosed just this October. Eliminating gluten and caffeine from my diet has done tremendous amounts of wonders for my sense of health and well-being. But even though I slept better and lived better (not dealing with painful abdominal cramping and diarrhea after EVERY goddamned meal) I still felt like crap. My energy levels went up, and my mental stability improved, but I still felt sluggish, weak, bloated, out-of-breath, tired, irritable, impatient, and flat out ugly and undesirable. In short, I felt “FAT”. (I use this phrase not to comdemn fatness, but because it is the term so many American women–maybe even other english-speaking women and men?–use to describe their discomfort with their bodies.)

I refuse to diet, in any form. They don’t work long-term and instead just make you hungry and angry and stressed and self-hating, and then you start yo-yoing and shit. I just refuse to go down that road. Hell, my diet is restricted enough as it is, being gluten-intolerant. In fact, I refuse to get sucked into the whole wish-fullfillment trap of the Fantasy of Being Thin, and I have rebelliously denied that fantasy by eating whatever the fuck I wanted, when I wanted. But that hasn’t made my crappy-body feelings go away.

Then a couple months ago, it came to me. I need to move, be active. I used to hike and walk a lot, before the ex and I went splitsville. And my healthier diet and better sleeping habits expanded my energy reserves. But I haven’t been active at all since the breakup. I just work, eat, read, and sleep.

So, I joined a gym.

I hate gyms. I hate machines and the whole thin=fit culture rampant in gyms. But this gym is the regional YMCA. Its got a POOL. Two, in fact. Most gyms in this area of the country just don’t have pools (don’t ask me why, cuz I sure don’t know). I love, love, LOVE to swim, and hadn’t been swimming since I moved out here. And since the whole tenet of HAES is to find activities one loves to do, I opted to join the Y.

I’ve gone 3 times since joining on the 1st. And, y’all, I’m so glad I did this. Swimming makes me feel euphoric and relaxed, calm and tired, and at peace with the cold cruel world. It makes me feel strong. And since I’m not focused on BEING SKINNY, I can actually enjoy feeling my body glide through the water. I can enjoy the bubbling hot tub. I can meditate in the steam room. I can watch the Zumba chicks dance and say “that looks fun, I will try that next week.” And best of all, I can climb on the locker room scale, see the numbers say “197” and NOT GIVE A FUCK, cuz, y’all I feel great! 200 really IS just a number. Whether I am above or below that “magic cuttoff of worth”, I”m still me. I’m still here. Am I still fat? Hell, yeah. Do I still “feel FAT”? Hell, no. And that’s all anyone, thin or fat, can ask for; our worth and our ability to feel good and be worthy, does not depend on some damn number.