I just want to finish this pregnancy weighing less than President Physical Fitness claims to weigh, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
My body, however, has other plans.
Here’s where I should say that if you’re someone who’s triggered by discussions of weight, now is an excellent time to hit the back button. The last thing I want is to make other people feel bad by reading this post. That doesn’t really achieve our group aim, which is to destroy the patriarchy and create a better future with no scales in it.
Still here? OK. I currently weigh over 200 pounds. Jealous?
I haven’t gained all that much during pregnancy, either. OK, fine, I gained more than my doctors recommended … but they recommended that I gain 15 to 20 pounds. I’m sure that somewhere out there, there’s an overweight pregnant woman who managed to stick to that recommendation, and I am very impressed by her. However, given that the baby weighs about eight pounds and the placenta and amniotic fluid, etc. weigh about six pounds and your breasts might add another two pounds, sticking to the low end of that recommendation would actually mean losing weight during pregnancy.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far by the fact that my doctors haven’t harassed me about my weight. Other than making that initial recommendation, no one has said a word about the creeping numbers on the scale. It helps that my fasting glucose is actually lower than it was when I started pregnancy.
(Turns out, walking two miles a day is good for your blood sugar, even if you have to waddle slowly the whole time. I think I’ll mention that to my endocrinologist next time, just to watch him grit his teeth in frustration. When I leave the office, he’ll pull a mirror out of his desk drawer and ask his reflection, “Why won’t they listen to me? I just want them to live long and healthy lives. It’s not like I suggest they all start running marathons. I JUST WANT THEM TO GET SOME WALKING IN.”)
Sorry. I’m back.
Anyway, if I seem surprised about the lack of weight-related harassment, it’s because I am. Ever since I started getting fat, which is about nine years ago now, I’ve come to dread my doctors’ appointments.
At first, the problem was that no one believed me when I told them I wasn’t eating more, was still exercising, and was putting on weight. Then, I finally found a doctor who agreed to test my thyroid hormone levels, and the focus switched to, “OK, but now that you’re on medication, you should be able to lose the weight.”
And I have been able to — but only on very extreme diets, and not permanently. And, to be honest, losing weight has always been hard for me — my body holds onto every pound.
Years ago, I was thin — 120 pounds thin — and here’s what it took:
- Eating 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day
- Exercising intensely for at least an hour, almost every day
- No restaurant food, alcohol, or desserts
- No social life, for the most part, because see above
I was also single, 25 years old, in an entry-level job with no management responsibilities, and my thyroid still worked.
Oh, also: my period stopped for eight months under this regimen, and my hair started falling out, and I could only sleep for about 45 minutes at a stretch. However, I was thin, so awesome, right?
You won’t be surprised to hear that the feedback I received from people, some medical professionals included, was a lot more positive when I weighed 120 pounds and didn’t get my period than when I weighed 160 pounds and felt better than I had in years.
Finally, last year, I decided to give up. This was in direct opposition to my primary care doctor’s pleas — direct quote: “The important thing is not to give up.” — but it was necessary for my sanity.
Being on a diet makes me feel poor and angry, and it never works for long. When it fails, I inevitably wind up weighing five to seven pounds more than when I started. I gave up dieting because I didn’t want to diet my way into a bigger pants size.
At a certain point, you have to listen to your body. Mine has been telling me for years that it wants me to stop torturing it. So, I did, and I’ve been pretty happy. I also got pregnant, after three years of trying, which might not be a coincidence. (Acupuncture also had a lot to do with it.)
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about getting older and body image. She was thinking about getting fat-dissolving injections in her chin.
Now, I am very pro people doing whatever they want to their bodies, whether it’s refusing to diet or getting a million tattoos or getting plastic surgery. You own your body, and you can damn well do what you like with it. And if anyone tries to stop you, I will sit on them until they apologize.
I was also curious about the procedure, so I asked her a bunch of questions about it, because science is amazing in all its many forms.
Finally, she said to me, “You know, you’re the only one I’ve talked to about this who didn’t immediately explain your chin fat problem to me.”
I said, “Oh, I have more fat under my chin than I did 15 years ago, but I think I just don’t give a fuck.”
And as I said it, I realized that it was true.
I’m not telling you this to try to convince you that I’m enlightened. I still grimace every time I see the scale at my OB’s office, and I have lines and wrinkles on my face that I could do without.
But after spending my whole adult life trying to get my body to do what I wanted — be thin, be fit, have a baby — and giving up, only to get what I really wanted — health, happiness, a baby — I feel like I’ve finally learned something.
Here’s what it is: whatever else you do, you might as well be kind to yourself. Nothing else works.
Image: Christopher Campbell/Unsplash