What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
So, you know
? This particular bout of self-loathing was kicked off a couple of weeks ago when I a casual aquaintance approached me with a strange look on her face.
"I haven't seen you!" she exclaimed.
"I saw you like two weeks ago!" I said, matching her weirdly high-pitched tone.
"How ARE YOU?" she gestured toward my midsection while I wondered if she had mistaken me for someone who had recently had an abdominal tumor removed or lost like 400 pounds or something.
This went on for what felt like 10 minutes, her sort of nodding at my stomach while I made a confused, expectant face that I've tried to recreate here:
If you're about to mention someone's presumed pregnancy, and they're making a face like this, STOP.
Finally, she just came out and announced her happys news: "YOU'RE PREGNANT!"
"No. I'm not." I probably sounded a little sad since I had just been alerted to the fact that my torso appears to be gestating a human. She apparently took this as sadness about my babyless womb.
"Is it like, a hopeful kind of thing?"
Yes, I'm hoping to be pregnant and my stomach has expanded in sympathy, I thought. How observant of you!
I said "no" and then proceeded to begin avoiding eye contact with her for the rest of my life.
I've written about this happening to me before. Because I'm tall, and have fairly thin limbs, and because I'm your basic women's magazine "apple" and tend to hold weight in my stomach, even a little weight gain tends to tip me into the possibly-pregnant category.
I have gained more than a little weight. I found this out when I stepped on the scale at my gym, where I'd been driven by my second and third accusations of pregnancy in 2 weeks.
A few days after the initial encounter, one of the workers at our son's daycare leaned closed and asked me if I was expecting. She smartly tried to play it off as something she was asking because my son had been "moody" lately, which didn't really make sense, but at least she was trying to make me feel better. I left with tears stinging the backs of my eyelids and vowed to mention it to the owner.
The next day, when a woman yelled across 5 people to try to give me her seat on the subway, I had had enough. As much as I have been and continue to be on a journey to love my body and eventually stop dieting, I am just not in a place to serenely accept constant speculation about the contents of my pizza belly. I needed to do something about the physical results of my last few months of emotional eating.
I needed to go back to the gym, something I haven't managed to do regularly since my son came to live with us a year ago. Which brings me to that gym scale, one of those especially nervewracking ones with the two slidey weights where you have to guess exactly how fat you are when positioning the bottom one. It started at 180.
I then slid the top one up, up, up, until it eventually settled at 18. I weighed 198 pounds.
To put that in perspective, at this time last year, I weighed 166 pounds.
In the 8 years since I lost almost half my body weight, I have maintained my weight loss within a 20-pound range or so. I've never weighed less than 160 pounds. And I've never weighed more than around 180.
And look, I know people say losing weight won't make you any happier, but to that I say "The fuck it can't."
When I lost that weight, going from a 260-pound size 26/28 to a size 10, my life got better because I gained access to a world I'd never had access to before: a world of thin privilege, where people were nice to me and didn't make snide comments behind my back, a world where I could walk around safely without worrying that any minute someone was about to lob some fat-hating jab at me like a Big Gulp out a car window, a world where people held doors open for me and smiled instead of letting them slam in my face.
The summer after I lost 100 pounds was one of the happiest times of my life.
It fucking sucks and it's not right that I had to lose weight to be treated like a human being, but anyone who has ever been significantly overweight knows that it's a fucking sucky, not-right reality. And frankly, I'm just not willing or able to go back to a world where I am constantly discriminated against for the size of my body.
So since my come-to-Jesus scale moment, I have recommitted myself to working out several times a week, and in what I'm calling my "Stop asking me if I'm pregnant diet," I've had to cut out some of the foods that I can't control myself around.
I know that some people can do portion control, and that is probably the healthiest way to be, but I'm an all-or-nothing addict type. To me, trying to have just one small dessert or a slice of pizza is like trying to drink "just a little" alcohol. I can't do it. So for the past week and a half, it's been no pizza, no cupcakes, no french fries, nothing awesome, you get the idea.
And honestly, I feel great. I have more energy, and some relief from my crazy, body-hating internal monologue. I feel stronger and more confident, as I'd forgotten I always do when I am making and keeping fitness goals.
Everything was going great! UNTIL the universe decided to cackle maniacally in my face by sending me not one, but TWO big bags full of donuts.
Do you guys know I'm into donuts? Donuts are my favorite food. I could easily eat 8 or 9 in a sitting. (Pete once told me I could have 6 donuts at once before he would start judging me.) On any given Sunday, I would like nothing better than to receive a blessed gift of free donuts.
So consider my internal conflict on the past two nights in a row, when I wearily ordered a quick, boring, healthy dinner at like 10 pm after finally getting my son to bed, only to receive an additional, unordered, FREE bag of donuts from my local diner. Why you gotta play me like that, universe?!?
Is God into this booty or what? I mean, free donuts?! REALLY?! When have I ever been handed a bag of free donuts when I wasn't dieting? And how big of an asshole am I that I seriously, really didn't eat them, either time?
It pains me to say it, but I guess even sweet delicious donuts don't taste as good as not being asked when you're due feels.
I'm not going to tell the diner to stop sending them, though. I am just not the kind of person who can form those words, besides which I'll surely want them again someday.
Who wants a donut so bad right now? Have you ever been cruelly sabotaged in your weight loss goals by the universe? Do you think God likes a bitch thick or is this some weird "Jonah in the whale" test kind of thing? Fuck I love donuts.
Find out how much @msemilymccombs weighs on Twitter.