Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘weight’

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

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My body has thrown down the gauntlet. My thighs, hips and tummy are challenging me to grow up. I am fighting it the entire way.

I am pretty lucky. Through my teens and twenties, when I gained weight, the fat cells, like little mounds of dimpled orange skin, distributed themselves evenly over my body. I was pretty happy with my body. Okay dokey.

Hah. Until I hit 30. Then the dimples hit the fan. The fan directed them to my thighs.

“What the hell is this?” I said.

“Ah aging,” said my husband.

“No but it wasn’t there yesterday … “

“Yeah it was. Get over it. Let’s get brunch,” said my good chunk younger husband.

Still my butt was a rounded curve. My tummy was flat and firm – a six-pack when I was working out regularly.

Then I hit 40. My ass fell. Where did it go? It fell downward. Gravity took a bite. I asked an anesthesiologist for plastic surgeons about my flat butt. He looked at me.

“Not too bad. You’ve lost too much fat.”

“Huh?” I said. “I weigh the same as I did in high school.”

“You lost the fat pad at the top of your hips that keeps your butt high,” he said.

Good grief. Now I need a certain amount of fat to keep my butt in place. This is a bad joke.

I made peace with my thighs and butt. I decided ‘body peace’ beat becoming a gym bunny, perpetually obsessed with how I looked and unable to eat a Starbuck’s Morning Bun.

In my 50s, teaching 6 to 12 yoga classes a week kept me too busy to ruminate about my changing body. I would say to myself, “I am strong. My body is strong.” I learned to love my body. There’s nothing quite like wearing yoga clothes four or five times a week to get comfortable, even oblivious, to fat. I learned to love the different body shapes of the women and men in my classes.

Bodies became fantastic objects – I know we hate that word but the changes to my body feel less and more personal now. Bodies are capable of beautiful movements, showing our feelings, receiving information, and exchanging pleasure.

Two surgeries, four debridements, thirteen types of painkillers, and five months of antibiotics later, I am six months into a period of enforced rest with a prescription for minimal movement and medications that trigger sugar cravings. I have gained weight on my thighs, ass, and tummy. I have a fluffy tummy. Not flat. To add insult to injury, I have wavy arms. Ick. I had to reassess my self-concept.

“Crap,” I said to a friend.

“Crap yourself. You’re healing from the surgeries. Make peace with your body,” she said with an “I’m-not-putting-up-with-this” attitude.

We were perusing the Spanx aisle of the department store. “Aren’t these just light weight girdles?”

“Yep. I remember them from my teens,” she said.

“Holy crap. I remember my mom trying to get me to wear one. Fuck. I felt like a sausage with stuffing come out each end.”

“Well that sounds uncomfortable. Don’t buy one,” she said.

She’s so smart.

So I didn’t buy the Spanx girdle and the funny thing is, yesterday I picked up my body’s gauntlet.

As long as I am living, I will need to have a relationship with my tummy, hips, thighs, and arms – my body. In whatever shape they are. With however much I am fat or not fat. Dimpled thighs, flattened butt, fluffy tummy, and wavy arms, my whole body with its increase in fat, fat cells, cellulite, is mine. I own my shape.

You out there – I’m tossing you the gauntlet …

20 Pounds or Happiness

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Everybody is exquisite. Truly, stunningly beautiful.

I keep learning one concept over and over again. As a counselor, a yoga teacher, a massage therapist, a writer, and in my own life.

This week, I am collaborating to combine story with photographs. Sunday afternoon at Barnes and Noble, I was sitting with the photographer discussing our model choice for the project.

“Wow she’s lovely.”

“Yes very photogenic.”

“And she’s athletic.”

“Yeah, the long torso implies that she was a gymnast. Bone plates shortened.”

“The other model has longer legs … “

“Let’s use both. Different looks.”

“The differences will spark more ideas.”

We grinned at each other. Two people in their 50s, feeling great about our work and about being able to see the possibilities, sweet possibilities of two very different body types. I went to get some lemonade. Walking back to our table, the beauty of every person in the store stole my breath away. I teared up. We could have used any person in the store. A cascade of memories followed the joyful epiphany.

I thought back to my first husband, initially an art director, now directing TV commercials. He was so very persnickety about how each feature of the model had to line up with his vision. I left the marriage for many reasons but there was a defining moment for me one night.

I never felt good enough, pretty enough with him. He was always checking out other women. I always felt lacking stacked against his model choices. A big issue was my weight.

“You could have made it as a model if you lost 10 pounds,” he said repeatedly.

After seven years of this, I snapped.

“I am a size 8 not a size 4. Get over it. I have other things to do with my life than live up to your celluloid ideal of beauty.”

He had stepped back. I hadn’t yelled but stated the words with a flat and factual voice.

Something changed after that. From then on, I did not let him take my power nor define me. Read that sentence again. The important words were, “I DID NOT.” The power dynamics shifted in our marriage – based upon a realization of my own worth. I wanted to be in relationship with someone who saw the beauty of the entirety of me.

After years of practicing compassion, I came to the conclusion that we had loved each other as best we could at that point in our lives.

I met my second husband when I was working my way through graduate school. Uncharacteristically, I was a size 4. I dated Rod for four years. He did not judge me; he would gently point out when I was judging him. I had unconsciously incorporated the behaviors of my first husband. With much effort, I learned to accept all the parts of him, not to judge him based on one aspect of his being.

A year before our marriage, two things happened. First, I became very ill. Treatment included medications that added twenty pounds to my body.

Second, I had to get a copy of some divorce-related papers from my first husband. The phone call to my ex went something like this.

“I don’t know where the papers are,” he said.

“Well if you remarried, they are probably near your marriage certificate. In a lock box? A file?”

“Oh yes, I remarried. You should see her. She’s young, beautiful and stylish.”

“Aaah. This is why we divorced,” I yelled.

Not my most graceful moment as I took the phone and beat it against the strong metal desk bringing my fiancé rushing into the room. He took the phone from my sweaty palm, said to my ex, “Call back when you have the papers. We’re getting married soon so we need the papers.”

Two years later, on our first anniversary, when I was well and had shed most of the 20 pounds, I felt I could ask my second husband, “Why didn’t you say anything when I gained the weight?”

“What would it have helped? Anyway that’s not all of who you are.”

I didn’t know what to do with his statement of acceptance and love.

Now I know what to do. With every person, I look for his or her one, at least one, beautiful attribute. My heart meets them from that place whether I say something about it or not.

This week, I will thank our models for their courage in showing themselves to us. I will bring them water, sandwiches, pasta, fruit, and brownies – their choice.

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