Local View: Happiness doesn’t depend on the number on a scaleLet’s get one thing straight: I’m a big lady. Even after dropping 100 pounds and 10 sizes, I am still formidable — and I was informed at my regular physical that I qualify as “obese.”
By: Moriah Erickson, for the News Tribune
Let’s get one thing straight: I’m a big lady. Even after dropping 100 pounds and 10 sizes, I am still formidable — and I was informed at my regular physical that I qualify as “obese.”
Wow. I run 30 to 50 miles a week. I take my requisite 15,000 steps a day, according to my pedometer. Quite frankly, I don’t feel obese. I mostly feel happy and healthy, even when I step on the scale.
If I lose another 15 pounds, according to the numbers my doctor gave me, I’ll be considered merely “overweight,” which sounds less repulsive than “obese.” But when I look in the mirror, I wonder where those 15 will come from. And beyond that, if I wanted to qualify as “normal” for a woman of my height, another 10 pounds would have to follow those 15 to leave me at an even 150, the very top end of normal.
I guess I could ditch an inch or two off my gut, but I kind of like it. My babies all lived there, after all. It was their first home. Losing that would be like burning their first home to the ground.
There is no mistaking the shiny vertical lines for
anything other than what they are: stretch marks. Yes, I was once small enough so the extra 20 pounds each baby added left that rapid of a change in my physique. When I was 19 and wanted to wear a bikini, I was horrified. Now, at 36, I don’t care much at all. I wear a bikini when I want.
I scrutinize my batwing arms. Yes, they could stand to shrink a bit more, but I imagine they will as I keep on running. I don’t see any rush in that. I look for what used to be my double chin, but it’s gone. I smile and slap the one that’s still there. It doesn’t wobble or even waver, not even a little bit.
I hear my physician say that hateful word “obese” in my head. I hear it when I look the mirror. I hear it when I eat my meager lunch of an apple and a cheese stick. I hear it when I drink a glass of chocolate milk or a mug of green tea with honey. I hear my mother’s voice in my head, repeating her mantra from my youth. “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” she said. Obviously she never had German chocolate cake or French fries right out of the oil at the county fair.
I smile, realizing I’m listening to those voices again, the ones that say I shouldn’t be happy or satisfied, the ones that say I’m not good enough yet. And to those voices I give a two-handed salute of one very universally understood finger. Because I am happy. I am satisfied. I’m not hungry or obsessed with a number on the scale. If I want to eat, I can do it without guilt and without worrying if my pants will fit the next day. I’ve always been good enough.
I like my body, believe it or not. It’s a tool I use to get things done. It runs long distances — not fast, mind you, but for miles and miles. It folds my family’s clothes, keeps the house in a semi-
livable state, cooks supper, goes to work for an eight-hour shift and can still hold up my bones after all that. I like that I can do cartwheels in the yard with my little girls and that I can bike to the park and swing on the swings with my children. I also like that I can sometimes wear a size “small.” I like that my weight begins with a “1” now and not a “2” or a “3.”
I now choose to ignore the scale, the words my doctor says to describe my weight, the nagging voice of my mother. I hear my own voice, my own laughter, and I know that once and for all, size DOES matter, but only as much as you let it.
Moriah Erickson is a writer, a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page and a respiratory therapist who lives in Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood with her husband, a self-employed flooring contractor, their voiceless hound dog and their seven children.