What Will You Focus On?
Your weight or your health?
The first few years after I became a mother, I struggled with losing the weight I had gained during my pregnancy.
The magazines and the media ruthlessly proved to me that it was not the norm. I would obsess over celebrities who would emerge into the spotlight, three months after childbirth, looking like their pre-pregnancy selves.
It was frustrating that I wasn’t losing weight quickly enough. What was wrong with me? Of course, not to mention, there were those ‘well-meaning’ comments as well reminding me of the fact. Did I really need reminders?
Then one day, as I stepped on the scale, I couldn’t believe my eyes — I was the same weight as before my pregnancy!
But I didn’t feel like I had ‘reclaimed’ my body. Though the scale showed me the number I had so desperately wanted to see, my body told me a different story.
The last bit of loose skin on my tummy, the stretch marks and the scar from the c-section were revelatory. In that moment, I knew that they were like my battle scars and I was proud of them.
I realized then that I could never unwind the clock. I understood that there had been a profound change in my body and in me as an individual. And it would never be the same as before.
And that was alright.
I concluded that I had paid a small price for experiencing the joy of bringing forth the miracle of life. And it was totally worth it.
So, after holding on to my clothes for what felt like a really long time, I donated them and decided to cherish and appreciate my current body — which was nothing short of a miracle in itself.
I must admit, it was a struggle for me to get there.
All through my adolescence and tweens, I equated beauty to size. The number on the weighing scale, the dress size I could fit into, the measuring tape— confirmed to me that I was thin (my brain translated that as beautiful/pretty).
I feel so sad for my younger self today. Being a certain size was a never ending vanity project.
I remember how I starved myself, was always wary of fats/oil/pastries/cakes, you name it. Eating anything delicious made me feel guilty. I made sure to punish myself - if I had a slice of cake - by exercising or starving myself a little more than usual.
I was mostly critical of myself and deprived myself of so many joys — the most important being the joy of eating.
Sadly, the world around me only reaffirmed my feelings.
As a young woman, I was smart, pretty, intelligent, and capable. Why did I then find it necessary to equate my self worth with my weight or my size?
I suppose it stems from the fact that growing up, I had a severe case of acne and obviously people very kindly pointed that out to me. Each time. Every time. Without fail.
Also, living in the shadow of intelligent and extremely smart siblings meant that I was invariably the not so smart one. The only factor that set me apart was that I was quiet and thin. So I suppose, I started to identify with my size to compensate for my insecurities.
And I worked really hard to maintain that identity.
I also bought into the notion that in order to be loved, I had to be special in some way. Being a certain size was my kind of special. Or so I thought.
It was quite a revelation then that my husband didn’t treat me any differently when I had gained weight during my pregnancy. I even remember asking him if it didn’t bother him at all. And he looked at me like I was insane for even suggesting that.
I realized that people who truly love me do not need a reason. They just love me. Period.
I also know that as a friend, I don’t treat my friends differently just because they have gained or lost a few pounds — I still love them dearly. Actually, most of the times, I don’t even notice any change unless they mention it.
So why would anyone that truly cared about me ever bother about my weight or equate that to my worth?
In our quest for the perfect size and shape, we endure. And in the process lose out on our well being, health, and happiness. I did. Through the years, I have had many deficiencies that had to be supplemented and some nagging health concerns.
So today, I choose to focus on feeling fit and healthy. That is not defined by any chart or data. It’s totally dependent on how I feel moment to moment, day by day.
I refuse to check my weight on a scale — in my opinion, that’s for baggage at the airport. If the tag on a dress bothers me, I cut it off (a wise suggestion from Stacey London) so I never have to look at it anymore.
Today, I can eat a delicious slice of cake or something deep fried and not feel guilty about it. I enjoy every bite and relish it.
Isn’t that the point of being human — relishing every moment and aspect of life?
Now that I have become wiser the hard way, I share this story, with the hope that you choose to do better. Please don’t start a diet or exercise program just to fit into a certain dress or to please someone or to get the approval of some person — even if that person is you.
Love yourself the way you are — know that beauty doesn’t come in a certain size. The value and brilliance of a human being cannot be defined by a number - either on a scale, by a measuring tape, or by a dress size.
This new year, if you choose to make a resolution, make one to love yourself, to accept yourself as you are. Know that you may not be ‘perfect,’ but you are better than most in many aspects. Commit to fitness and health. Not the number on the scale or the innumerable unsustainable diets based on starvation, deprivation, and punishment. To your health and happiness!