According to a few doctors on the internet I’m obese. This is not a word I generally associate with myself. I know I’m overweight. My clothes size tells me that pretty damn regularly. At my best, healthiest, felt like I could take on the word weight, I was a size twelve. For someone five foot seven that was not a bad size and not a bad weight. Sure, I weighed more than my sister who’s five nine, but we have different body types and different metabolisms and most importantly, different personalities.
See, I’m the woman who doesn’t mind hiking or biking, when I’m in shape and it won’t hurt me afterwards. I like gardening and cooking and doing things for my house, shelves for the cats, dollhouses, repairing or upgrading electrical fixtures. I’ve never been into sports. (It took moving to Texas and a husband who loves the Angels and Cowboys to even interest me in football or baseball.) I can’t stand basketball. I’ve been to two hockey games in my life, and I’ve never played sports unless forced to do so in gym class. That’s what we born in the seventies kids call phys ed. At least where I grew up.
I love reading. I love writing, sewing, and all things crafty and creative. I love watching my husband playing video games and pointing towards treasure or that one of his characters is low on health. None of the things I really like require me to do a lot of physical labor. Which is fine. Except I’m not in my twenties anymore and it’s hard for me to bounce back, weight wise, when I start to gain a few pounds.
Over the years I’ve gained weight when I was in a bad marriage and desperately unhappy. I lost it again when I decided that a diet was a good idea, boosted by some OTC pills that helped me develop a healthier eating style by controlling my appetite so I wasn’t starving and sabotaging myself. I gained it back during a crazy time in my life when we moved and I got a new job and had no time for exercise. I lost it again by going on South Beach and really sticking to it. And over the last ten years I’ve slowly gained it back. The doctor’s scale, evil truthful thing that it is, tells me I weigh two hundred twenty three pounds. This is fully dressed with my shoes on so I can maybe take three pounds away. But I’m back to my heaviest weight again. I’m in my forties and it’s not coming off so easily this time.
It’s depressing. Feeding the depression is the expenses the go along with the weight gain. Clothes that fit, but make me look pregnant. (Hence the title of this blog.) Medications to control the side effects of the weight like bad (really bad) cholesterol levels. The constant worry that my blood sugar will get so screwed up I’ll be the first person in my family to be diabetic that isn’t related by marriage.
I can take steps to work on the weight and accompanying problems that go along with it. And objectively I know that a lot of things contributed to my weight gain. A job that was so stressful and so far away that I spent more than two hours in the car per day and at the end of a ten year stint I was using most of my vacation time for doctor’s appointments than to relax. A boss that was so passive aggressive and just unkind in her treatment of only me that I’m still on anti-anxiety medication and still don’t get a full night’s sleep. There’s nothing more aggravating than knowing you’re sabotaging yourself and you can’t stop doing it.
Nothing I tried worked to solve those problems. My schedule was so erratic that public transportation was nearly impossible. Some members of HR could see the issue clear as day. The HR manager could not. And the last ditch effort of requesting mediation and a formal complaint came to nothing but the HR manager and my own boss ganging up on me and saying that it’s all a misunderstanding and misinterpretation on my part.
One of the biggest steps, and something my doctor has been saying for two years now, is reducing stress and changing jobs. Which I’m happy to say I’ve done. It means starting over in a lot of ways. It’s a lower wage, fewer benefits and a smaller company. But its five minutes away from my house. It has a small open office of friendly, kind people. And when I take out all the expenses working at the old place would pile on me, the wages are a lot more doable. In a year I’ll get a week of vacation. We’re working on a 401K and improving the procedures. And I get to talk to people in the office again, about work and anything else, without feeling like someone’s going to come and verbally/emotionally smack me around for doing so.
It took a while to get here. I’m not even officially employed by my company yet. After some time off to deal with the medical issues and realizing that there was no way I could go back to the old job and remain sane, forget about healthy, I told them I could not come back. Putting my resume online got a couple of recruiters calling me, and after a few false starts, a contract job. The contract job is leading to permanent employment and the great office I get to come and work at every day.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s still work. I would not do this for free. But for the first time in ten years I haven’t had to fill up my car with gas twice a week. I can brown bag it for lunch because I don’t need to escape. I can ask questions and not be ridiculed for not knowing the answer. We refinanced the house, paid off the 401K loan and had extra left for a credit card payment. That puts my wage into an area that really is almost the same as my previous take home pay. And I can breathe.
I’m also told how cute I look in my dresses and that feels good. So it stings when a ten year old at the nail salon asks when my baby will be born and I have to tell her that I’m not pregnant, I’m fat. But it stings a little less. I’m forty four years old this past May and I don’t like the weight I’m at. But I’m learning to give myself a break and take the small steps I can. Cutting down on alcohol, no mayo or ketchup, avoiding extraneous carbs and trying to be more physical with my daily routine. It took me ten years to get to this weight. It’s not going to go away overnight.
Maybe I’ll never get back to my size twelve again. But at forty four, a fourteen isn’t so bad. At forty four, the excessive weight isn’t healthy, but it’s only ninety pounds. That doesn’t even qualify me for weight loss surgery.
So no, I’m not pregnant. Yes, I am fat. But ten years of stress doesn’t go away in two months. And neither does ten years of weight gain. But in spite of those two facts, I feel happier and healthier than I have in a decade. My husband (dear delusional man) still thinks I’m beautiful. My parents are excited for the new opportunities I’ll have. And I’m finally writing again.
No, life’s not perfect. But I’ll take it.