Once upon a time there was a size 2. I ran 6-8 miles a day and the stressful upheavals in life as I had known them caused me to lose 30 pounds in a period of 8-10 months. It was my lowest weight, but also the strongest that I had ever felt. It was also the best I had ever felt about myself.
My calves were muscular. My thighs were smaller in size. My bum had lifted a bit so that was the first time I had a cheeky definition back there. My chest, which had always been uncomfortably large on my otherwise short / small body, had shrunk to a more manageable size, and I was fine with that.
For the first time, shopping for clothes was fun. Things actually fit. I wore short skirts and tight dresses and backless tops. My underwear drawer was a rainbow of cute, sexy bras and panties. I wasn’t afraid of color or sparkle anywhere.
When my husband and I first met, we went to an embassy for a fancy Valentine’s Day soiree. I wore my dream outfit – a tight-fitting sequin dress and sky-high heels – and I felt beautiful. Every time I got dressed, I felt like an opportunity to get dressed. I had several dresses from Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, and Banana Republic. I liked a dress from the Banana Republic so much that I had it in five different colors. I was addicted to Kate Spade and Coach.
When we got married, I pointed to my wedding dress in a magazine – a pointy, long mermaid-style dress. I tracked down the dress and tried it on. In doing so, I found that it fitted exactly as it should. I didn’t feel like a princess on my wedding day, I felt like a queen.
During our early years of marriage, I gained what I like to call “happy weight”. We traveled a lot, went to fancy dinners and long, lingering, juicy brunches. We drank a lot of wine. I took back all the weight I had previously lost and I didn’t care. I was happy.
Then I got pregnant and swapped the low skinny jeans for maternity pants over my stomach. And I never looked back. I loved watching my tummy grow and didn’t mind wearing my husband’s big t-shirts or eventually the gap maternity sweaters that were so comfortable and cozy. In addition to the thirty pounds I’d put on in years, I gained another 25 pounds during my pregnancy.
Someone warned me not to weigh myself after giving birth; that baby weight does not immediately drop when the baby leaves your body. Well I couldn’t help it. I was curious. A few days after I got home from the hospital, I stepped on the scales. My stomach was still swollen, but the weight had actually dropped to my pre-pregnancy weight!
But my body had changed. My hips were wider, my breasts were all over, my stomach was saggy and plump, and there were stretch marks all over the place.
I could no longer wear the pants, but hung on my maternity sweater for as long as I could. I preferred clothes that were stretchy and comfortable because I would always lay on the floor with the baby or chase after them as a toddler. I liked tops that were long and loose to cover my bum and hide my stomach. In the summer maxi dresses were my best friend. I agreed to elastic waistbands when I was comfortable enough to wear shorts.
Despite my best efforts, my weight barely moved for the next five years. It didn’t seem important that I skipped soda or counted calories carefully. The number on the scale just wouldn’t move. I started running again. It wasn’t that I wanted to lose a ton of weight. I certainly haven’t tried going back to size 2. But it was frustrating that I worked hard and didn’t see any results. As the holidays rolled around, I stopped weighing myself every week knowing that I was definitely not going to lose weight. And I didn’t care. It was Thanksgiving. In the middle of a pandemic. I needed some joy somewhere, and I found it cooked a huge meal for my little family of three and ate leftovers for days.
I decided that maybe it was time to turn things upside down. While we weren’t in the market to spend a ton of bucks on a fancy spin bike, we got a cheap model and subscription to a digital training program. I started riding. And do yoga. And strength exercises.
I haven’t weighed myself in months. I have no idea what the scale is saying and I don’t think I want to know. I know my body has changed again. My calves have muscles. My thighs don’t seem that slack. My stomach has a definition. I feel strong again. And most of all, I feel damn good about myself. That’s all that matters, not the number on the scale or the size on the label.
I bought a lot of sports bras, training gaiters, and running shorts because that seems to be all I no longer wear. My clothes are not expensive. I think 98% of my closet is Old Navy, the other 2% is Target and Amazon. The sparkle is gone and everything is black or gray because everything fits and I don’t have to think about putting together an outfit. I’ve long since given up on heels and my New Balance or Fuzzy Slipper Socks are my usual shoes of choice. I will probably still be rocking the maxi dresses this summer because they are super comfortable and no matter how tall I am, I will never give up on my elastic waistbands.