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The Weight Check

When I Discovered I Could Take Selfies With my New Phone (Ottawa, March 2013)
When I Discovered I Could Take Selfies With my New Phone (Ottawa, March 2013)

As I felt my life was spinning out of control, I reacted by punishing myself with one of the things in life I love best—food. I am not sure how it started but skipping meals soon became routine with Mark. I didn’t have time to eat, anyway. It became a vicious circle. Not eating is actually pretty addictive.

I know—it’s fucked up.

“You’re so thin!” I heard from friends and strangers alike. I didn’t see it. I didn’t look at myself. I was simply annoyed that my clothes were too big. I wasn’t trying to lose weight or to reach a particular so-called “ideal weight”. I just didn’t want to eat. Of course, here lies the big how-to-lose-weight-easily secret I discovered for you: don’t eat and you won’t gain weight.

It could only last so long.

In France, I ate. In Mexico, I ate. In Central America, I ate. I had to. You can’t really walk miles and miles, climb volcanoes and pyramids and enjoy life on an empty stomach. You can’t really travel without sampling local foods and specialties—at least I can’t.

Getting used to eating again wasn’t easy.

I knew I was going to gain weight. I wasn’t sure I was okay with that because in a way, it meant losing control again. It meant accepting a new body image.

I chose not to think about it too much. I mute the nagging voice counting the calories.

When I came home, I had to trade my shorts for my usual pairs of jeans.

I didn’t bother asking Feng if he had shrunk them on purpose while I was gone. I had obviously gain weight. Oh, they fit. But they were definitely tighter.

Strangely enough, it didn’t bother me that much. Deep down, I had known that I wasn’t naturally thin—whatever that means. I was thin because I wasn’t eating. Not exactly healthy and not exactly sustainable on the long run.

I thought about it for a few minutes as I buttoned up my jeans. Had I enjoyed food the past few months? Yes. Would it have been worth it to starve myself? No.

In this case, I decided, gaining weight wasn’t a big deal.

Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a size 6. Maybe at 5’6, I wasn’t supposed to be 52 kilos, the lowest I had been since… well, since well before junior high. Some people are naturally lean and thin. I am not one of these people. I know it. I wasn’t at my healthy weight, whatever it is, if such magic number exists.

Interestingly, I learned a few things when I was the skinniest I have ever been:

  1. Clothes don’t fit any better when you are thin. Seriously. Don’t ever try to lose weight for fashion. Some brands, no matter what size you pick, have awful cuts and some trends aren’t flattering, period. Sizing also varies a lot between brands. When I shopped in France last summer, I was a size 42 at Naf-Naf, which is pretty ridiculous if you consider I wore size 6 Levis jeans.
  2. Being skinny doesn’t make you more attractive. Feng wasn’t a huge fan of seeing my hip bones and my ribs sticking out. When you lose weight, you also lose curves…
  3. The numbers on the scale don’t tell the whole story. At 52 kilos for 1.70 metre (that’s about 115 lbs for 5’6), I looked skinny. Yet I wasn’t officially “underweight” and I think my BMI was still in the “normal” range. But trust me—it wasn’t a healthy weight for me.
  4. The same nasty people who make rude comments about “fat people” make the same comments about “skinny people”. I had some strangers telling me I should eat more [insert whatever food group here]. “Oh my God, you’re just skin and bones!” isn’t nicer to hear than “wow, you should exercise more!” Come one people. Body shaming is never okay.
  5. You know what your healthy weight is. Some people have a high metabolism or are naturally lean, much like some people have more curves, some are short, some are tall, etc. You know your body. You know what you healthy weight is best.
  6. It’s in your mind as well. Even though the scale stated otherwise, on bad days, I felt fat and ugly and no one could have convinced me I wasn’t.

I’m now around 60 kilos, a healthier weight for me. But I still have a love/hate relationship with food. It’s like food is the one thing on which I shift my worries and my insecurities, the one thing I can control. Frankly, my own behaviour drives me crazy.

I’m better at eating—when I eat, that is. When traveling, I felt like eating. At home, not so much. I’m busy, I’m focused on Mark and I don’t take care of myself as much. I love food but eating makes me anxious. And it’s a vicious circle: the less I eat, the less I feel like eating.

On the positive side, I stopped weighing myself and I truly don’t care about my weight anymore. I have never cared about the weight per se but rather the inexplicable changes which made me feel like I was losing control. Well, that worry is gone. I’m also more liberal about what I eat and how much I eat.

Let’s put it this way: I’m still not the right person to invite for dinner.

I promise. I’m working on it.

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