I admit it. I let the numbers get to me. First there was hitting the 200 realm on the scale back in mid-September. That started the panic. I got off my remaining meds and changed my focus from overall health to the scale. My eating grew more disordered as I waffled between methods of weight loss in my panic. Getting my negative blood-test results in mid-October only worsened the situation.
I decided that I had to do something, and chose a lower carb diet, per my doctor’s recommendations. I made some accommodations to (hopefully) keep my mental health from deteriorating as I focused on weight loss, but to be honest, my inner voice yelled f-this, I’ll worry about my brain after I’m where I want to be again. Then three days after I began the lower carb plan, I got very, very sick, and only improved after eating normally again. And one night, in the midst of a new downward spiral – you failure, you can’t even stick to the plan one week! – I forcibly silenced that inner voice and asked Jason to help me from falling again.
He talked me down that night, and the next day, I started working on a new approach. Because no matter how much I’d like to just say f-off brain until I’m thin again, that’s not going to help me in the long run. And probably not in the short run, either. I need to remember my longterm goals: strength, flexibility, kindness, confidence, health. Nowhere in there is a number mentioned. I can be strong, flexible, kind, confident, and healthy at any size/weight, and regardless of how many calories I consume, or how much of my body is made up of fat. I am not defined by the scale or the size of my pants.
I’ve spent years defining myself by the size of my pants, in addition to the scale. It bothers me to no end that people at my same height/weight (for the whole range of my weights) fit into clothes several sizes smaller than I do. For years, I’ve refused to buy pants that weren’t my normal size or lower, even if they fit well, were comfortable, and looked awesome on me (and made me look awesome). But dammit, I’m sick of judging myself this way! What does it matter what the label says if I look awesome and feel great? Clothes sizes are ridiculously inaccurate. I remember once running into a batch of size-8 jeans that all fit looser than my normal size-10s. I snatched them all up. No, I wasn’t any smaller, but hey, I could truthfully say I wore a size 8 now!
Ridiculous. And certainly, that mentality has not helped me as I’ve expanded once more and had to buy up, up, up. A couple weeks ago, I had to hit up the thrift store for new jeans, as my spring jeans no longer fit (grr). This time, I refused to make my decisions based on the numbers. I came home with four pairs in three sizes. One pair of soft cords was a size above my norm, and it’s definitely loose – but y’all? They are awesome! <– Look at them! They’re not just awesome, but brand new, never worn, designer pants that still had the $80 label on them. (Side note: They cost me $8. Thrift stores = amazing.)
And this experience helped me make a choice. I put away my scale for November. From 11/1 to 12/1, I must judge myself on things separate from the scale – or simply stop judging myself. There will be no counting calories, no adding up fitness minutes, no use of measuring tape, no numbers. (Except for NaNoWriMo word count, ha!) This is terrifying – I haven’t been without a scale for a companion in sixteen years – but I need it. And I’m totally giving myself a reward (tbd) when I succeed.
Dear younger Manda,
There was a time in your life that you wore the biggest, bulkiest clothes, thinking you needed to hide behind them because you were “fat” at 125 lbs. There was a time when you only wore the smallest-numbered, well-fitting clothes, as a way to prove to yourself that you were a success when you felt like a failure.
Clothes should not feel like a weapon against yourself or the world. They should be comfortable and make you happy, regardless of their size or the size of your body. Please try to remember that as you go through the years. You are more than any number – scale, body fat percentage, clothes tag – can say about you.
Love, modern-day Manda