Andi, Katrina, and Jess

Two weeks ago, I lost nine pounds. Last week, I gained eight of them back. This is not a new story in my anthology. I have always been Oprah-esque in my ability to lose and gain, to rinse and repeat. So are many of you. I know that from the emails I receive, the private and pained messages on my blog. There are so many of us who live this story, day in and day out. I’m ready to tell it a little differently, though. I’d rather it be a tale of love versus loathing.

So, I wrote this…

I was born 43 years ago to a teeny-tiny model mother and I lived with my teeny-tiny big sister in a teeny-tiny apartment where we played with our teeny-tiny cousins, and I always wanted to be smaller than I was. I tried to fold myself up into a cute little package of freckles and curls. But much to my young dismay, I was born thick and athletic like my dad, and no matter how much I wished to shrink (Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…), I kept getting bigger.

Oh, I fought The Big. As a teenager, I fought it with bingeing and purging and over-the-top exercising and Dexatrim and enough Ex-Lax to keep a small country regular. At my skinniest, I was incredibly unhealthy — unable to get through a basketball practice without Herculean effort, my teeth chipping, my hair falling out. But when people said to me, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” it was like crack (or at least what this suburban Mom might imagine a crack high to be). I couldn’t get enough. I couldn’t lose enough.

When I was young and judgmental and working a college summer at Eli Lilly with my step-dad, we passed a runner every day on our way to work. He was a big man — probably morbidly obese by societal measures — and he ran like a snail. But every day, he was there on 100 South, tallying the miles.

“Why do you think he keeps running when he looks like that?” I asked my step-dad with all the wisdom and intellect of a 19-year-old know-it-all.

“Well, I think he runs because he enjoys it,” my wise step-dad answered.

I had never considered doing something for the sake of enjoyment. For me, there was always an end-goal, something to be measured and conquered. Make the team, lose the weight, stay on the honor roll, fit into the jeans you wore in middle school…

As an adult, I attained my smallest stature while training for my first marathon at age 40. I teetered between a size 12 and a size 14 — not necessarily small by societal standards, but downright minuscule for me. And when people said to me, “You look great! Are you losing weight?” I felt the euphoric high of body worthiness all over again. I was a slow runner, though, so my training took twice as long as most. Running for six hours every Saturday with my fabulously supportive and hunky husband serving as my sag wagon — in addition to the 20+  miles I’d already put in during the week — was fun for a summer, but is by no means a sustainable lifestyle. Not with a full time job and various and sundry freelance gigs and a blog to update and a book to finish and numerous others to write and four kids to raise and a hunky husband to enjoy.

And besides, I like donuts. In fact, I love them. I’m certain that I was, in another life, Homer Simpson… or at least a distant relative.

On the edge of 44, I can no longer allow myself to be defined by my weight or my size. It’s just too heavy, that pressure. And as I’ve mentioned, heaviness and I have never been BFFs. I will continue to choose healthy more often than not. But I will stop beating myself up for the cheesecake. My body will never be what I — or what society — considers ideal. But I’m healthy. My blood pressure is low, my cholesterol levels enviable. I run three miles four times a week. Slowly, but surely. And I love those miles.

I eat good food. And I eat bad food. I eat all the food. I wish I liked salads more than I do, but for me, they’re just vehicles for Pesto Ranch and Poppy Seed dressing. I love veggies, though — give me broccoli and asparagus any time. And peas? All day long. That has to count for something. I also love casseroles and bread and wine and chocolate iced brownies. That counts for something else — those sneaky bastards we measure on the scale. But it’s okay.

I’m okay.

You’re okay.

Healthy looks different on everyone.

Here’s what I know today. I am bigger than I’d like to be. I will probably always be bigger than I’d like to be. I don’t know how to completely stop fighting with the body in which I live. But I do know that as a conflict-avoider, I’m tired of the arguments. I want to give me a hug and call a truce.

I intend to measure my life on a scale that takes more than pounds into consideration. It’s critical I model a larger vision for my teenage daughter — the one who’s now an inch taller than me. The one whose shoe size has surpassed mine. The one who just recently said, “I don’t fit in here. I’m not a size 2.”

This fact remains: I have a big butt. And I also have a big, wide open heart. And big, blue eyes. And a big, creative brain. And a big, gorgeous family. And a big, loyal circle of friends. And a big, loud laugh. And a head the size of a watermelon.

And I have a big list of things I want to accomplish and experience and create and give before I leave this earth.

And if you brought me a big bag of warm donuts right now, I’d have those, too.

But not for long.

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25 Responses

  1. Love you sweet girl. You really do have it all figured out. It’s not about the size, it’s all about the health, and it sounds like you have that in check. The size of your heart and imagination and creativity are beautiful and SO ARE YOU!!!! God makes no mistakes, and you were wonderfully and fearfully made important and lovely things, and I for one, think you are right on track. Smooches!

  2. Goosebumps from head to toe. I wanted to mention which part I loved the best, but there were too many to decide on one. I want to call a truce with my body too. I will remember your powerful and beautiful and healing words. You are fabulous. I am SO blessed to learn from you.

  3. Thank you, Aunt Katrina for just the words I needed to read during this week. I joined Weight Watchers with mom in September and was all about it at the beginning and I was starting to get rid of those pesky pounds. After moving into a new home, Andrew now having 2 jobs, and just being down right tired at the end of the day I have started putting those pounds back on. I know before gaining this weight that I was skinny, but not healthy in any way shape or form. After gaining about 60 pounds in 2 years I hear more people saying I look healthy and good. It is hard for me to accept the body I have right now since I have never been this size before. I am not 100% happy with it and I know what I need to change, it is just taking that first step. I will be competing in the mini-marathon this May and I hope to be a few pounds lighter, healthier, and over all more in shape. I am trying to learn to love my body the way it is not in case this is my new normal. I am so glad I have such wonderful family members, like yourself, that can put what I needed to hear into such profound words!

    1. “The new normal” can be such a challenge as we get older. I want to think of myself as the skinny 16-year-old I was a million years ago, but then I look in the mirror. 😉 For what it’s worth, I think you look fabulous! Healthy… and most importantly, HAPPY. XOXO

  4. Holy crap. This is an awesome post. And it mirrors what my blog post scheduled for tomorrow is about. Coming to terms with my size and food habits. Such timing and great minds thinking alike. :). I am going to share your post with my friends and add a link to the end of mine to yours. So very cool. I’m so glad we connected via Bucketlist. Look for mine tomorrow night.

  5. Thanks for that inspirational post… I myself have a mental struggle with weight. I’m lucky to have good genes that keep me slim but in Malaysia (where I grew up), the expectations are insane. Any girl over 50kg was fat and I grew up my whole teenage life believing I was fat. I still have some post-pregnancy weight to lose (and more kids to be born in the next few years, hopefully)… but thanks for reminding me I’m beautiful the way I am.

  6. I LOVED this Katrina. We walk such a similar path with regards to body issues, weight, and self acceptance. Thanks for this post…it was awesome. Be kind to Katrina, she’s amazing!

  7. “I had never considered doing something for the sake of enjoyment. For me, there was always an end-goal, something to be measured and conquered. Make the team, lose the weight, stay on the honor roll, fit into the jeans you wore in middle school…”

    I too suffer from this goal-oriented approach to life – always trying to earn my place here on this Earth. Doing all that work takes the joy and spontaneity out of life. We need to learn to love ourselves no matter what we look like, no matter our failings, and embrace this wonderful gift called life with joy in our hearts instead of self-loathing.

    Thank you for being one of the people who shares their struggle out loud so the rest of us know we are not alone.

  8. My friend Kristin sent me here. I’m so glad she did.

    We could have a nice, long chat over coffee over this subject, donuts included. 🙂

    I love your take on it. And yes, I agree with what Dawn, above me in the comments, quoted from your post. I had a bit of an eye-opening moment at those words when I read them in your post. I think so many of us are that way.

    I love that you run for the enjoyment of it. I run as well but I am not sure I always enjoy it… 🙂

    So glad to have found your blog!

    1. Welcome, Elaine! I’m so glad you’re here! And with a quick glance at your Twitter description, I know the fabulous Kristin who sent you here! Donuts and coffee? I’m so in. And we could run (for enjoyment or not) after. 🙂 And Dawn is, indeed, a wise woman. I learn so much from here. Glad you’re here! XO

  9. Hello lovely truce maker. I read your post on momastery (messy beautiful summer series) a while ago and loved your words. Thank you for being Oprah-esque in your courage to be real and honest – so many of us have silent secret battles with food. Apologies to ask this in a public place – I can’t find an email address for you. I would love to interview you for a little project of mine called FABIK ( Glennon is there and many amazing women from around the world who share the same messy secret. The purpose of the stories is to bust open big bad bulimia, and, more importantly kick shame to the curb. Please email me if you’re interested: Sending mama hugs to you. Angela

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