There was some stuff going back and forth recently on the internet around Kim Kardashian posting her weight, as if a number on a scale is our worth. Emily Rossum had an amazing response outlining all that goes into the “weight” of her (i.e. all she has accomplished to date)
It got me thinking about how much weight we put on weight.
And then I remembered a funny (as in funny haha, AND funny weird) scene from the movie “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”; Andie MacDowell says to her therapist “Being happy isn’t all that great. Last time I was happy, I got so fat. I must have put on like 25 pounds.”
This always stayed with me, perhaps because there is a deep truth somewhere buried in the funny haha, funny weird.
The skinniest I’ve ever been often aligns with my lowest points. Or at least when I was at my most stressed.
I’m no scientist but it seems to me, that when anxiety is always running in the background, massive amounts of calories are burned. It takes a ton of energy to worry like crazy.
An example of this is when I bravely (fool-heartedly?) decided to make not one, but three, giant changes in my life, all at once. We moved to Portland, OR from NYC with no local family support. I started my own business AND we had a baby. Holy shit. Who does that? Am I insane? Certifiably!
There was so much that was uncertain and so much that was out of my control – not to mention, 3 huge learning curves all at once (learning a new city was certainly the easiest!). I didn’t know shit about keeping a baby alive. And I’d never built a business from the ground up.
Here’s where the diet kicks in. When I am a little bit unhappy, I can certainly eat (or drink!) my feelings like a champ. But when I am hyper stressed, I simply forget about food. Or I eat to survive, but not for enjoyment. Before I got myself in this tangle, I used to scoff at people who said they forget to eat. I didn’t buy it. That’s like saying, I don’t like cheese or chocolate. WHAT!? These must be lies people tell themselves to avoid gaining weight. There just cannot be truth to it. Guess what, when I worked in a slightly stressful career which included wining and dining clients, I ALWAYS found time to eat. Whether it was at my desk for lunch, or out at an expensive steak joint with clients. I ALWAYS made time to eat.
Being a new mom and developing a fully functioning business was overwhelming and terrifying most of the time. Eating suddenly seemed irrelevant, or a time waster. Or something I needed to do, later. Anytime but NOW.
Before I had a baby, I never used a scale. Never even owned one. I just gaged my weight based on how I felt in my clothes each day. But didn’t sweat it much either way. If the jeans were tighter, I went for a run. If they were loose, I ate a cheeseburger.
After having a baby, getting back to my pre-baby weight actually felt like something I knew how to do, and something I could control. I’ve run marathons, I’ve played soccer, I’ve had a strong yoga practice. I knew how to do THIS. So I committed to Bikram Yoga three times a week.
And I bought a scale.
It read 117 lbs. pretty soon after the baby (thank you, breast-feeding! That’s another great diet haha).
Then when I was at my most stressed (plus a stomach flu courtesy of my child), I was at 110.
My pre-baby weight was 120.
Here’s one ugly truth about being skinny (there are many). Skinny looks great in clothes. Naked, it’s a lot of sharp edges. 110-115 pounds on my frame looked unhealthy. Another ugly truth: my man didn’t think super skinny was super hot.
And I most definitely wasn’t happy. (that polaroid is me pretending to be happy)
I was frayed around the edges, wound too tight, and headed for a breakdown.
If I look back on my past, conversely, one of the happiest times in my life, I was probably my “fattest”.
I’m guessing I weighed 128 lbs. (because, again, I didn’t own scales back then).
It was the summer after my sophomore year of college, and I lived with a fun group of young people in Boston.
I had a job that I enjoyed and utilized my best skills (I was a “sales associate at EXPRESS, and I crushed the upsell. “you know what would look great with that outfit? These earrings!”).
I was making enough money to support myself.
I had someone who loved me, and who I loved back (ahh, young love!).
And I was drinking tons of booze and eating McDonalds for breakfast. I probably went running two times that entire summer. I was too busy having fun. Besides, being fit didn’t matter. I had someone telling me every day how beautiful I was. That was proof enough for me.
I can still remember coming back to college (Trinity College was Eating Disorder University!) and being astounded about how big I looked compared to other girls. One girl told me that I was glowing, and that I must be in love. She was right, but I also assumed that was thinly veiled commentary on how much collagen I had in my face. (I mean, look at that picture – my face is PUFFY. lol)
When I talked about that specific summer later in life, my mom said I was “soft”. Thankfully she had the good sense not to say anything in real time, or I might have spiraled into an eating disorder!
I’m pretty sure “soft” is euphemistic mom-speak for “fat” haha.
What I do know is that I was happy.
So where am I now? A much better place. I have a better sense of what my child (and my business) needs. And, maybe more importantly, I have a better sense of what I need.
I’m at 118.2 and it feels great. I’m exercising regularly, and eating more mindfully. (that’s new age speak for remembering to eat!)
But like Emily Rossum, the number doesn’t represent who I am. All my hard work raising a child, running a business, being a good partner, being a decent friend (when I have time!), a kind person… those are the things that give me real weight, and worth.
Disclaimer: I didn’t say it was good for you. I just said it works!