I am a strong advocate for self love, especially for loving the body you live in, and in doing so celebrating all aspects of what you look and feel like each day – joy and pain. I live in a house filled with mirrors on most of the walls. To avoid your reflected image you would literally have to close your eyes and risk bumping into walls. That said, I managed to gain sixty pounds and miss the hip, butt, thigh expansion. Just missed it. It helped that I lived in long flowing dresses and skirts, sarongs, and naked. You would think the naked part would have shed some light, but I was oblivious to the shift for years. I am quite positive I was between 210 – 220 pounds for over three years. Not much on scales, but an occasional check in offered the information. It was the increased backaches and lack of relief through massage and gentle movement that prompted the check in that found me at 280 pounds.
“Wow!” was about all I could say. I decided that I would go home and give it some more thought. As I lay in bed, I decided that I would rest for the month and then get up and move with some purpose come November. That would be my birthday gift to me. I did exactly that. I joined the gym up the way. It is associated with a health program for people with health challenges and free of the stereotypical gym rats; lots of elderly men and women, some with walkers and wheelchairs, others strong, fit, and active daily. Most of all, it was a setting that welcomed those who had been sedentary for years.
I worked out – lots. The weight came off – lots. I felt better – lots. Was life better? Some. I had found a new focus, friends, and activities. My personal relationship did not fare so well. My partner at the time did not care for movement. While she was supportive of my going to do, she was not interested in going to do with. So, I found friends I could walk with, and with whom to run and bike. The problem, eventually, was that those activities took place early in the morning (meaning 0600) and in order to be awake and motivated at that time I had to be asleep by 2100 (9 pm). No more late nights at the club, or just hanging out. And I didn’t care to have my sleep disturbed. My life shifted, for the better.
The issue I raise is that the one compliment I could count on was how much “better” I looked. Apparently, I looked like a house before and after my workout program I was, what, a tent, and apartment? Over the past five years, I have regained forty of the eighty pounds I dropped. Initially it was because lack of movement due to illness; then the treatment for the pain (prednisone). After three years of treatment I gave up prednisone and decided to adjust to the sensation.
My question that began this monologue questions the concept of support. Without being disrespectful or nagging, I think I expect my friend to say to me, “Hey girl, aren’t those pants a little tight?” “Are you jeans cutting into your thighs?” “Are those cootie cutters?” If I complain about my back, a reminder that walking with ease the pain, or that perhaps a particular yoga pose might help would seem reasonable from a friend.
If is reasonable for someone to comment on the loss of weight (as though you are looking for it) why not the gaining of same? What is the need of embarrassment? Not that either is necessary from the general public and I have to work hard not to say so. This is about best friends. You put on a dress that is so not becoming. You expect your friend to say, “Honey, that color makes you look washed out, etc.” How can we have a truly supportive relationship if the topic of weight gain is off limits? For me, I really didn’t notice. I was living and loving, dancing and singing, playing, camping, and having the best time. Even in retrospect, it is hard for me to understand how I gained sixty pounds in what seems to have been two years. I know I left a seriously troubled relationship and began a new one with someone who cooked all those yummy foods I had not eaten, ever. I was delighted to enjoy such indulgences and did so with others who did as well.
Where were my friends? How is it that no one would offer that perhaps I might join them for an evening walk? No, I am not shifting my responsibility to others, I am just asking, if you can’t count on your best friend to tell you your ass is getting fatter, who can you count on? Strangers don’t count! Neither do rude, nagging family members. Probably not lovers either, unless they also happen to be friends and are signing up for the walk with you.
So, I am that friend. I still live and love in a sweet large body, with a big ass. I also walk, workout, practice and teach yoga. I lay around and stretch just like my cats and dog. I wear long flowing dresses again and scrubs with no give. My scrubs are the voice of reason for me. My indulgences are few. Every now and then I eat chips for dinner. I fine balance after the fact. Balance is the key. This is not a weight loss discourse, but a find support discourse. I walk with my friends and when I notice that their waist line is growing, I speak up.
Some people don’t like scales. Me, I do. I am not ruled by it (otherwise I would have stopped before I was 280, maybe, or not). I count it as information, just like waist size, or thigh tightness of my pants. Here’s another choice for those reluctant to give voice to the concern. Take a walk or class with a friend. Go dancing. Play outdoors. Toss a ball. Jump rope. Balance on line or beam. Find some way to share body awareness with each other. We eat and drink together. Let’s move together too. That’s what friends do.
Friends love each other enough to reach out and offer to help shift the situation for the each other’s highest good; in love.