This is a love shout to all the big girls out there. I don’t mean the grown ups. I mean the size “bigger than they tell me I should be” girls.
For years, I’ve struggled with my weight. I’ve blogged about my unhealthy past obsession with food, exercise, body image, and all of that stuff. So, when I found out I was BRCA +, I began a new relationship with my body. On one hand, I saw my body as my enemy – as something that was going to self-destruct with or without my intervention. But, accepting my BRCA status also meant embracing that my body was just the way it was going to be. I couldn’t change it. But, I could change some of my behaviors.
In January 2010, I decided to train for a 1/2 marathon. While I convinced myself that my focus would be on getting in better shape (healthy heart, lower blood pressure, etc), I would not focus on losing weight. I would eat healthier to fuel my body. I would eat healthier to reduce dietary risk of cancer and chemicals. I would exercise to get through a 13.1 mile challenge. But, I would not focus on my body shape.
Of course, years of not being nice to my body (mentally and emotionally) does not disappear just because I wanted it to. Every day, I fought getting on the scale. Most days, I lost that battle. Even when I moved it into a closet downstairs in our flooded basement, the electronic “ding” of the scale beckoned me.
Seven months of training on an elliptical machine, a track, a road, and a trail; a 5k, a 10k and a 1/2 marathon; and a focused commitment to eating still resulted in no weight loss.
That’s right, I still weigh exactly the same as I did in January 2010. Believe me. I’ve been checking. Now, yes, I can zip my dress that I couldn’t even get past my waist in January 2010. But, I’m sort of attributing that to the deflated (aka “stopped breastfeeding”) boobs and an un-padded bra. I’m firm in places that I didn’t even realize I could have muscles. I can get out of bed without having to roll over, push myself up with my arms and grunt “urgghh” as I move. Now, I sit straight up without even thinking about it. I can do 20 push ups when I couldn’t even do 1. I can run further without stopping than I could in January 2010.
There are certainly major physical changes.
There is no weight change.
I was looking up different types of mastectomies the other day, and came across a study and procedure that a medical team was doing. It seemed really exciting … until I read that people with a BMI (body mass index) of over 30 cannot participate. According to my height and weight (and that stupid electronic scale that beckons me each morning) my BMI is 32. According to the BMI scale, I am obese. For me to get into that “normal BMI range”, I need to lose more than 50 lbs.
Fat. Phat. Chance.
So, I promised this would be a love shout to my big girls. Here it is:
I love my body. I love my body for all the ways it’s trying to stop me. For all the ways it’s programmed to kill me. I love my body for the three lives it has created and nourished. I love the softness in the crook of my elbow where my older daughter nestles her afro curls when we watch tv. For the squishy-ness of “flat tummy” that comforts my younger daughter when she crawls into my bed at 5:00am. And for the padded collarbone where my son rests his head after a long day. I love the space that I fill, announcing “Here I am!” when I walk into a room. I love seeing people driving along watching this big girl run down the street in spandex and a DriFit shirt. I love the look of surprise when I tell people what I’ve physically accomplished. I loved running this past 10k when fat girls were running past skinny girls. Old women were passing teenagers. And everyone was passing me, smiling, joyous, pleased.
Big girls, I know this struggle. I thought by now I’d be running in this 95 degree heat cooled by just my sports bra and Daisy Dukes that said something like “Juicy” on them. I pictured a six pack, arms that didn’t jiggle, and a jawbone so chiseled I could cut through ice.
Instead, I got a scale that didn’t move and arm fat that still does.
I also got a pride in myself that I didn’t have before. I got the chance to look at my latest Runner’s World Magazine about “Training for a 1/2 Marathon” and say “Been there. Done that.” I got a new appreciation for what my body can do and what it has decided to do, even without my input.
I lost my self-doubt.
Peace, love, and a big embrace ’round this big girl’s waist,