#tbt: Weighing In

12:27 PM

We're a week out from New Year's now (wow! already?) and last week I told you about what my resolution was for the year 2015--to get shit done. I've been doing the best I can so far in 2015 to follow it, but of course life has ways of throwing us curve balls (like malfunctioning products, the flu, late financial aid checks, and piles of snow, for example). But this resolution reminds me of one I've made many times over the years, and I think 99.99% of the women I know have made the same resolution at least once in their life, which is:

I will lose weight in the New Year.

Seriously. Aren't we all a little guilty of this? We want to "be healthier," "go to the gym more," or generally "just stop being fat." I have literally said ALL of the aforementioned phrases. So today I want to talk a little bit more about that. My own history with weight loss, my struggles with self-confidence because of it, and where I'm at today. I know this is a fashion blog, but I think that our bodies and how we feel about them is the perfect place to talk about that. Because I know that I have said to myself at least once that I would look better in fashionable clothes if I was just a little bit skinnier.

I can tell you that as a young girl, the subject of my weight was something I thought very little about. I wasn't a girl who wished she was skinnier, or thought she could stand to lose a few. Like I've said before, I was pretty confident and sassy. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was constantly buried in books and had little time for pop culture. I didn't want to watch television; I don't think I watched any movies that weren't Disney movies. I was mostly alone in my room, eating up the Little House on the Prairie series or creating plays with my Barbie dolls where Barbie or Skipper got abducted by terrorists. (Yes, seriously. I was weird.)

The only thing that I did notice was that the adult women in my life DID talk about their weight. A lot. My sister and mother, who are both stunningly beautiful women to this day, constantly talked to each other about "eating less" and being thinner. I remember distinctly from childhood when my mom would go on Weight Watchers, because her breakfast would always be a cup of Cheerios mixed into low-fat Yoplait. This is not to critique them in any way. I think that their response was normal for the culture we lived in, and the pressures we face to constantly be thinner and look prettier, because it will somehow make our lives better than when we enjoyed more than two Oreos. And they never pressured me to be thin or go on diets. We loved food, and we loved it together.

No, the first time I became conscious of my weight was when I was trying out for the basketball team in eighth grade. (Again, yes. Seriously.) I went to the doctor with my mom to get a physical. I'd already done a lot of working out because I was placed in the athletics section prior to tryouts, and was pretty healthy in my mind. At age 28, I still remember that doctor looking at my mom and me and telling me that I needed to lose more weight, because I was too big for my height.

Yes, a doctor told a thirteen year old she was too fat.

Me, right around "fat" time (far right).

I remember sobbing in that doctor's office with my mom holding me. No one had ever told me that in my life. The nurse apologized, but the "fat" moniker stuck in my brain. My older brother picked up on how much it hurt and started calling me a "whale" at every turn. I became obsessed with losing weight and lost about ten pounds during my eighth grade year. A friend's mom told me I looked good and "skinny" on graduation awards day. Well-intentioned, I'm sure, but probably not the words you say to a fourteen year old.

The "skinny day"

Since that age, I've yo-yo'ed up and down the weight scale. I've gone from 110 (at that age) to 130 back down to 120 and back up to 135 and back down to 130 and back up to 140 and down to 135 and up to...you get the idea.

In 2013, a few months before law school, I went through some serious trauma, and ended up putting on about fifteen pounds to my frame. I tipped up over 150 pounds. I'm a short girl and it wasn't something I liked looking at the mirror. I'd been stripped of my confidence, everything that felt like had given me power before everything transpired. I hated myself. I was excited about law school, but I hated looking in the mirror. I didn't believe I could do anything. I felt weak, like a victim. I tried to smile on the outside, but on the inside I felt disgusting.

I got to Baltimore and found things that made me feel good: city walking and hiking. Pounds came off and I felt better. But then a friend suggested we do something I'd never thought I could do: a Tough Mudder. If you're not familiar, a Tough Mudder is essentially twelve miles of running mixed with obstacles of varying difficulties to test your muscles and mental wherewithal. I'd heard of it before, if only vaguely, but never thought it'd be something I wanted to do. She said she was doing it, and I don't know why, but it made me want to try it. Another friend from school made me a training guide, which was five days a week of weight training and a minimum of three days of cardio (more if possible).

The first month I struggled. The second month got better. The third month, I felt like a bad ass. And by the time I walked out onto the course that day, I felt different. I had muscles I didn't know existed. I completed the course in about two hours, with some shock, some cuts, and a lot of bruises. But I also came out empowered. I'd never felt so strong in my life. It was fitting that the event was in April, a little over a year after the trauma that had set me down the path of powerlessness. I was strong again. I felt healthy, in control of my life and my own world. It wasn't even about being skinny, even if I was the thinnest I'd been since high school. It was about my inner strength.

But gradually, I got lazy again. Quit working out. Got wrapped up in other things. Made excuses. Forgot why it felt so good to be so strong. Gained a lot of weight. A LOT of weight.

Physically, that's where I am at today: about fifteen pounds heavier than I was last April. But where am I at emotionally? Well, it depends on the day. Some days I still hate looking in the mirror and seeing the weight I've gained. But do I truly hate my body any more? No. Do I let my figure define my success, or how I do in life? No. Does it make me feel like less of a person? Hell no.

Obviously, I'd like to be healthier. I'd like to get back to the gym, I'd like to feel strong again. I'd like to run a couple miles (okay, ONE mile) without being totally winded. But the difference between teenage me up to me two years ago and me today is that I no longer think of my weight as the thing that defines my self-worth. I don't hide my body behind boxy tee shirts and jeans so no one can see the weight I've gained. I don't obsess over whether I eat a cookie.

I think that's the lesson about weight and health that I'd like to carry into the New Year: that taking care of me is important, but it isn't about being skinny or fat. It's letting me define myself by the work I do, the person I am to others, not the size of the waistband of my jeans.

I hope it's the lesson you'll take, too: you are more than your size, your clothes, your hair, or any other physical feature. You are the soul you develop and the way you work to change the world around you. You are the love you give to family, the laughs you share with friends, and the grace you give yourself when you're not perfect. Self-confidence, after all, is the most fashionable thing there is.



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