Disclaimer: This post is a little outside the realm of what I normally share on this website, and I recognize that these types of articles about weight are a dime a dozen these days, but it’s important to me to put these thoughts out into the world. So, if you’re still with me, buckle in, because it’s about to get real.
I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time. For most of my childhood and teenage years, I was very active and had a faster metabolism, so I stayed quite thin. The summer before my senior year of high school, I gained about 25 pounds very quickly, and despite the fact that I was still well within a healthy weight range for my height, it was hard on me. I felt uncomfortable. My clothes didn’t fit. Relatives made comments about it. In the end, it set me up for over 15 years of preoccupation and shame about my weight and clothing size.
“I think about my body every day. I have my whole life, but I decided that even with my pain, my fear, my self-judgement, other people’s judgements, I wanted to be happy. And I am.“Jasmine, Brittany Runs a Marathon, 2019
In the years since that summer, my weight has yo-yo’d up and down. I haven’t struggled with any official form of disordered eating, but how I eat and feel is often tied to my weight. Get on the scale and see a “good” number? Great! I don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying some snacks or a night out! See a “bad” number? Well, better just drown my sorrows in junk food because this is hopeless and I might as well give up. It’s a vicious, exhausting cycle. Heck, it’s right in the About page for Technically running that we started it to “get in shape” (code for lose weight) for our wedding (which we did), and in my post a couple of weeks ago I mentioned wanting to lose weight again.
The other day, I put our bathroom scale in our linen closet to clear some floor space, and I was reminded of the movie Brittany Runs a Marathon (spoilers ahead so skip the next couple of sentences if you want to avoid!). In the last chapter of the movie, you see Brittany injure herself by ignoring her pain and obsessively running to try to get back down to her goal weight. Ultimately, she decides to put away her scale in her closet and focus on her happiness and running goals instead of her weight. Brittany’s struggle resonated with me in those moments, and, as I shut the closet door on my scale, the thought occurred to me – why even get it back out at all? Why does that number matter so much? I know that I’m not at an unhealthy weight – no doctors are telling me I’m too big; why am I spending so much time and energy worrying about it? The fact is that losing weight is difficult for me. I have thyroid problems. The aforementioned proclivity to turn to junk food for comfort doesn’t help. I’ve also been through two pregnancies in the past three years; one that I lost at 22 weeks in late 2016 (I warned you things would get real), and the second that gave me my beautiful daughter Alice in May. Set all that aside, though, because I’m not here to make excuses for myself. I shouldn’t have to. What’s important is where I choose to go from here.
I had some professional photos taken of me recently at a wedding and again at a family gathering. While they were being taken, and while I was waiting to see them, how “fat” I would look was always on my mind. I sent a lot of half-joking texts to my sister-in-law that the reason her wedding photos were taking a little longer to get back to her was probably because I looked so terrible in them. Now, looking at those photos, I admit that I see arms I wish were skinnier, and a double chin that I wish wasn’t there. The biggest things I see, though, are that I look happy, and that I have a wonderful family and friends who I love. I also see a daughter who I want to grow up active and healthy, and although I can’t stop her from feeling insecure about her body (because we all have doubts sometimes), I can do my best to model a healthier, accepting attitude. Does that mean that I won’t try to lose weight? No. Admittedly I feel more comfortable in my own skin when I am smaller than I am currently, but rather than track the number on the scale, I’m going to pay attention to how I feel and improving my physical fitness. Will I ever step on a scale again? Yes. Of course I will. For now, though, it’s going to stay tucked away, and I’m going to work on being more gentle with myself.
Meagan is a geochemistry research lab manager, runner, Netflix binge-watcher, and Mom to a rescue dog, a bunny, and a human child. She started running in May 2011 and ran her first half marathon in October 2012, followed by her first marathon in October 2013. In July 2018, she joined the triathlon world and completed an Olympic-distance race. After an extended break (pregnancy/maternity leave), she is making a long-overdue return to running and is preparing for a high-elevation half marathon at Crater Lake National Park in August 2020.