My body and I have had a tumultuous relationship.
I started out a skinny little thing. My parents actually worried because I didn’t put on weight. I have no idea what happened. Actually, I kind of do. First, I moved from my small, three grade elementary school that was about a mile from my house to the Big elementary school in town. It was a hard transition. All of the kids I had known for three years were scattered around in different classes and I ended up in a class without any friends. On top of that, my best friend had moved out of state at the end of second grade. My third grade teacher was kind of mean and I have never handled being yelled at very well so she reduced me to tears so many times that she actually called in my mom for a meeting to see if “something was going on at home.” Nothing was. Home was great. School was miserable. I started gaining weight. Food was my friend.
The next year we moved closer to town and got a big, new house with lots of land to explore. Only, now I didn’t have any neighborhood friends either. And my weight gain from the year before, which continued, started to develop into breasts which the other girls noticed and teased me for. I never really got that because I wanted to look like Jessica Rabbit when I grew up and she had BOOBS. Why were they bad? Because nobody else had them yet, not even the other overweight girls. But I did have some friends. The next year I was in a friendless classroom again and I gained more weight and I broke my arm and my friends from the year before pretended not to know me in the halls. I was on my way to becoming the Fat Girl.
And I was the Fat Girl. For years. I got some really good friends after fifth grade, people I’m still friends with today. In fact, in seventh grade I got my Bestie who is really like a sister to me. The lonely years were over but the damage was done. I was fat and I was weird and I got fatter and weirder, topping out in eighth grade. By the end of that year, my size 18’s were too tight and I need to go into a 20 but refused. That year, I had to shop in the plus size women’s department because nobody carried plus size juniors clothes. That year I had my first boyfriend who was dared to “go out with the fat girl.” That year one of my tormentors started calling me Fat Sweaty Betty, a name that caught on, and even managed to convince a teacher to call me Betty. I was devastated.
Then I started to lose weight. We got a pool, always a big help for me because I love to swim. I dropped down to a size 14 by the end of the summer. I fell for a goth boy and discovered Manson and Korn and Coal Chamber and a whole new world of music that I recorded onto mix tapes and listened to religiously as I walked around our pond every day after school until dinner was done, making it through at least one side of the tapes, sometimes two. Throughout high school, the weight kept coming off. By the time I graduated, I was a size 7. 7 was a dream size for me. I couldn’t believe my luck.
But I was afraid of the freshman fifteen that everyone kept talking about and by the time I finished my first year of college I was wearing a size 5. The following December I was down to a size 3 and I was barely getting 1000 calories a day. I worked out 45 minutes a day and walked when the weather allowed. I wasn’t healthy. Looking back at pictures, I look a bit like I just got out of a concentration camp. I’m bones even though I only got down to 105 lbs.
Then I got sick. That December I only managed to go to work five days. I was out the whole month, so sick that I could barely get off the couch. I laid around and I ate because those were the only things I could do. I started putting on weight. I was a 7 again by the time I was 21. Then I kept gaining. At 23 I hit a size 12 again and, disgusted with myself, I set about to becoming “perfect.” I wanted to be perfect to save my long term relationship, which I knew was on the rocks. If only I could be perfect he would marry me (we’d been engaged for 6 years) and it would be alright. I did it all. I got in the best shape of my life, strong and healthy at a size 8. I cleaned and cooked and worked extra hours and budgeted and pulled straight A’s in my graduate program and raised his dog. And when it did end I lost more weight because I couldn’t eat.
But then I moved on and I started gaining again. I started hanging around with a band my boyfriend was in and I drank more without throwing up at the end of the night and I gained more. I got out of shape because I just didn’t have the time to work out and I was tired from late nights. And then we broke up.
And I met my husband. And he was awesome and loved me and loved my shape and loved beer and good food and then I started to love beer and good food. And I kept gaining. I got back up to a size 12. Puberty does funny things. My weight topped out last summer at the exact same weight as in eighth grade. It didn’t matter. I looked completely different and still wore 12’s. I knew that I was not in my best shape and not at my healthiest because I can remember what it felt like to be in that place. (Wonderful. It felt wonderful.) I needed to do something but I just couldn’t bring myself to. Finally, I bought a fucking pool because enough is enough and I knew it would make me active and healthy.
Then I got pregnant.
When I went to my OB for my first appointment, the thing I walked away with was the word “obese.” Yes. I am obese. My BMI put me at 32.6, in spite of the fact that I was in a size 12 and wearing medium sized tops. “This is obese?” I asked, looking at myself. I had been feeling okay with myself. The nurse went over what this meant for the pregnancy: higher risks, more appointments, more tests. But I didn’t feel obese and I didn’t feel particularly unhealthy. I mean, I drank too much and smoked and that was a lot of the ick I felt. I admit it.
I was told that I could only gain 15 lbs with my pregnancy.
I still have problems with this. I have a hard time being pregnant anyway. I hate feeling this bulky and slow. I had no idea how to eat because the suggestions (2000-2300 calories/day or 300 calories more than you usually consume) made no sense to me. So, I either need to eat 1500-1800 calories or 2000-2300? And I worry. I worry because I know how easy it is for me to get on that track. I catch myself putting off eating and eating less than is satisfying because I feel challenged by this number. 15.
I lost weight in my first trimester, probably because of the lack of beer. When I weighed in last month I was only 2 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight. I weigh in tomorrow and already I am dreading having gained too much, being reminded that I am fat, being reminded that I don’t have control of myself. At least, that’s what it feels like. And I cannot wait to have this baby and go back on a diet and be able to work out a little harder.
And that’s the story of me and my body.