I’ve never been a crazy fit person but I’ve always been active and up for anything that sounded fun – hiking a trail, beach yoga, rec sports, river tubing or paddle boarding.
When I moved across the country to be with my partner after 4 years of distance, I had difficulty getting outside (the climate was different and I hated the heat), I felt lonely and awkward meeting people (and was too shy to try rec sports without knowing anyone), and my depression worsened, which made being active much harder.
I gained some weight, and I wasn’t happy about it, but I also was trying to accept it for what it was – a really difficult time in my life that had an effect on my body. And truthfully, I expected it to be temporary; I expected that I would feel good again.
After seeing the destruction that self-hate can do (more on that another time) I work really hard at acceptance and self-love. That doesn’t mean I succeed all the time, but it means I actively seek to accept my body as is – I don’t restrict food or crash diet, I buy clothes that fit and that I feel good in (even if I wish the tag was a different size) and I refuse to engage in self-hate with other women: “my thighs are so fat” or “I look like a cow” doesn’t fly with me.
That is, until today. When a man I hardly know (he works at my company) asked me if I was expecting.
“I asked, are you expecting?”
“Expecting what?” [This should have been a clue to him.]
“You know, expecting?” (He then proceeded to make a big, round bump gesture with his hands in front of his stomach.)
For the record, I am not pregnant.
I am, however, mortified.
I actually had to go to my car and scream, because I thought my chest was going to explode.
What this person didn’t know was what hell the past year has been for me. That some days it’s been a struggle to get up and go to work bc I feel so out of place. That some days I feel like quitting and going back to my home state, even though I know this was the right move for my relationship. That this year has been scary, exhausting, confusing. I don’t regret moving for a second, but this year has been one of the hardest of my life. And this guy, who thought it okay to speak out about my body, had no fucking clue.
So today I realized that I am fat.
But while I’m working to gather myself together again, I realized a few other things too:
I realized that I have a dedicated support network to hold me up, and that I’m going to rest on them, because I need the help right now.
I realized that the changes in my body are, in part, due to the major life changes I’ve endured and the associated stress.
I realized that I need to take some time to work on my self care – my emotional well-being.
I realized that with emotional well-being comes physical well-being.
I realized that this one part of me – my weight – is only one part. That I am strong and driven and smart and compassionate, and that those things matter more than my outward appearance.
I realized that I want to surround myself with people who believe their own worth is based on their character too.
It’s amazing how one person’s ignorant little comment can wreck such havoc on our self esteem… if you let it.
I had my freak out scream in the car (I still consider this a completely appropriate reaction). It’s out of my system. Today I choose to reject worth based on other people’s opinions or on superficial characteristics. Today I choose me and my happiness, and that might mean a carb-filled brunch with new friends or it might mean a spinning class that I’ve been wanting to try. My goal is some balance of both.