When “fat” is your body issue, and I’m talking F-A-T here, there are three places you cannot help but be confronted with your bigness.
The changing room in retail stores, in pay-for-space seating (like amusement parks, theatres, planes), and in your own bathtub.
For several years there, I wasn’t having baths. I wasn’t just fat, I was absolutely-completely-unfit-and-unhealthy fat. Maybe sometimes I could hide the depths of it from friends, but, in the bathtub, it was there in all its glistening, doughy glory.
At 277 pounds and a size 22/24, in my small 1952 “apartment-sized” bathtub*, my belly rose nearly 2 inches above the sides of the tub. It was about 1/3 down my “side” that the water level stopped, 3 inches below the itty-bitty tub’s rim**.
My arms couldn’t be down by my side, touching the tub floor; hell, they had to be above my sides, curved around my belly. I couldn’t even SEE the drainage cap at all at the end of the tub.
Now, about 20 months after all this effort to change my life began, at 206 pounds and a size 14, my arms lay on the floor of the tub and don’t even touch my sides. I see the entire drainage cap at the end of the tub… in fact, I see the whole back wall, and the floor of the tub too, right up to where my thighs start. My belly is about 1/3 to a 1/2 inch away from being completely submerged in water for the first time ever. That’s at least a 5″ change in depth. For all those people struggling to lose 10 pounds, think about that, the amount of commitment and resolve it takes to stay with that over the long term. Maybe I should think about it sometimes, too, and give myself a break.
When I’m walking around in the world, I still have moments of lapsing back into the headspace of that 277-pound girl who was uncomfortable in her own skin and dreamed of the day when she wouldn’t have to roll onto her belly to bathe her upper half. I can’t help it. I was that girl for nearly 20 of my 35 years. Breaking that tenuous grasp on insecurity is a hard thing to do.
But now, instead of shame and fear, when I get into the bathtub, it’s all about accomplishment. Sure, I know I’m not done. Yes, I have bad tan lines and awkward bruises and lots of little flaws I’d still like to change about myself, but when you talk about change, man, those numbers with the tub? They don’t lie.
For that 10 or 15 minutes that I’m in the tub, I’m conscious of everything it is I’ve accomplished. I remind myself of the perspective I once had, of just this bubble of fat capped by a faucet and taps, and how scrunched into the space I was.
Not no mo’.
I did THAT. THAT. ALL of that. I sweated, I hurt, I ate better, I learned, I strove, and then, when it all comes down to it, I did THAT. No, I’m not done, but holy fuck. Look at where I am now.
Funnily, I’ve maybe lost 5 pounds this summer, since about April or so. It’s a bit of an insult, but I also know it’s because I’ve gotten a life and they’re evil bad people that influence me in horrible ways and inspire me to drink like a fish but I love them for their horrid influences, they fun! However, I’m the dumbass with a 4 litre box of wine over my china cabinet.
And, you know what? I know this. I’m starting to accept that I just needed to stop working so hard on THAT so I could work more on some other things for a while. Great food and wine has been an unending source of comfort for me this year. I was tired, burnt right out. It was a long time of maintaining that focus and intensity, and around June 15th, I just lost it when I got injured in a different area of my back. I pulled back on everything, rightfully so.
Despite the lack of big numbers on the scale, I’ve gone from a 16/18 since about April to a solid 14. I’ll take that. I’ve also learned some new ways of eating healthy that make me Happy and Contented. I have a few areas to make minor changes in and I know I’ll have big results again. I know this.
And when I’m ready, I’ll go there again. Because I know how to do it, and I know I can do it. I’m maintaining my weight. A large portion of the public would be happy with just that. Given my drinking and eating choices of late, I know I am.
There’s been a heatwave here, for instance. The hottest temperatures ever, for the longest time ever. So, bathtubs haven’t had the allure of showers, so it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had a bath.
In that time, I’ve done some amazing work around the house, gotten some sun, tried new exercises in small doses, and I’ve found myself really taking some moments to remember all the hardships I’ve endured to get where I am, and that it’s that distance that matters right now, not the journey left ahead of me.
Because, despite my so-called “limbo” of late, this year has been an incredible, unexpected, off-the-path journey, and I’ve come to the place where I’m learning to stop with the expectations. Instead, I want to remember to find a way, one place or one thing, that helps me to be objective and see myself as I am now, in this still-pokey-but-pretty-sportin’ body of mine.
I’m not her. Not anymore.
I did that.
* Like people who live in apartments are shorter and have passports for Munchkinland or something?
** Insult to injury.