Last week the internet exploded when Biggest Loser winner Rachel Frederickson took home $250K and a startling slim new body. As a member of the Sisterhood of Perpetual Diets, I had to admit to equal parts envy and concern when I saw her walk out in her silver flutter sleeve dress. The woman who had watched a sister battle an eating disorder warred with the woman who remembers the high of losing a large amount of weight and transforming your body in the process
When I was 21, I weighed in at 192 pounds—the heaviest I've ever been while not pregnant. This weight was the result of late night nachos, movie watching, and a lack of culinary knowledge. One of my sisters, when she moved in with me, said as only sisters can, "You need to lose weight. So do I. Let's do it together." Four months later, after taking ma haung pills and running every day, I sported a 125 pound body of which I was proud. I'll never forget the feeling, after spending my entire teen years as a "chubby" girl, of zipping up that size six dress and having it be too big.
I still have that dress as a reminder of how good it feels to be fit and healthy. Though, the argument could be said that popping pills does not a healthy lifestyle make. I kept the pounds off until years after marriage and then with pregnancy gained weight. I find it more difficult in my late 30s to drop the stubborn pounds, but I still remember that feeling of being thin.
Thin to me is a number, not a feeling. It's why I decided not to weigh myself this month. When the scale does not match how I feel, I find myself getting depressed and feel like a failure. I'm not alone.
I have a friend who is frustrated at not losing weight even though her exercise regime makes her feel stronger and makes her clothes fit better. I have another friend who sighs in irritation over lettuce because she's gained ten pounds. I read the post of a woman who, while healthy, watches to make sure her weight never goes above a number that is, by most standards underweight.
It's a numbers game. A game that I'm playing. A game that a part of me despairs at ever winning because, after all, what does winning look like? When will I be at a weight that I deem "small" enough? What will I give up to get there?
Most importantly, when will we see to our health instead of our number?
And when, for God's sake, will we begin to enjoy—truly enjoy—food again in a way that will balance with exercise to create a healthy person in both mind and body?
If you figure it out, let me know.