I recently had a poignant conversation with my 31-year-old daughter about weight. J. has been thin her whole life as she luckily takes after her dad’s side of the family. During our talk she mentioned that she has been slowly gaining weight and is trying to figure out how she feels about this. She mentioned finding comfort in the growing fat/body acceptance movement. I told her that I too thought it was good to aim to accept yourself as you are (see my earlier post, The photo on the fridge…) but that it is also true that being overweight has health consequences and that becoming overweight begins with just a few extra pounds. This is a perfect example of how there are times in life when we have to hold two conflicting but equally true ideas in our minds at the same time!
As J.’s mom, I want to protect her from the unhappiness that I’ve experienced from struggling with my own weight ever since I was a teenager. Way back when, I learned to give food the power to comfort, fill voids, and be my companion during times of loneliness and boredom. Unfortunately, doing so has kept me from truly facing those challenges and figuring out how to get through and then beyond them. And, perhaps worst of all, because of the extra weight which is the consequence of turning to food for too many things, it has turned my body into my enemy. On the flip side, I now know how good it feels to work out, get strong, and begin to slim down.
I have an image of my bed-ridden mom during the last year and a half of her life when she was totally unable to turn over on her own. The medical reasons for this were numerous and complex. But two contributing factors were her late-in-life dramatic weight gain coupled with decades of inactivity. Her lying immobile in bed is a terrible image. I don’t ever want that for myself or my daughter.
Last week I began working with someone who is going to help me lose weight healthfully. I’ve been on this road before but this time it feels different. I want to finally meet the version of myself who is on the other side of this weight issue. I want to interact with the world and not have weight be a barrier of any kind. I know there will be times when I will fiercely rebel against changing how I eat and will hold on to my old ways as if my life depended on it. And it’s true, my old life does depend on it. But I have to hope and pray that my desire for a new life will be stronger.
To my lovely daughter I say – let’s learn to accept ourselves as we are now while we gradually transform into more healthy versions of ourselves. Just this morning J. texted me a beautiful photo from the North Georgia mountains where she and her boyfriend have gone to camp and hike. For my part, I just came back from walking along the Chattahoochee River with a new friend. Clearly we’re both headed in the right direction.