Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On the scale

I was always the skinniest girl in my class, as well as the shortest and the flattest. For many years I never topped 110 pounds. I never dieted and I never worried about what I ate. When I got pregnant I gained a reasonable amount of weight and lost most of it quickly. (Breast-feeding helps.) I lived in NYC, so I climbed subway stairs and I took the kid out in the stroller up and down Ocean Parkway and I bicycled to church.
Then I moved to Las Vegas. I did try to walk somewhere not long after I got here, but it was hotter than I realized (in April!) and suddenly the sidewalk stopped and I had to pick my way across a construction site. Before long the 120s were a distant memory. I began working out, but the numbers on the scale kept going up. I'd been a vegetarian for many years, but I'd drifted away from the "combine proteins" mantra that was predominant when I'd learned how to cook vegetarian. At the end of the summer, two years ago, I was over 150. And I was sick, which is what prompted me to reform. I drastically changed my diet, lowering carbs and increasing protein, and the way I worked out (goodbye 45 minutes of cardio, hello weights.) I stopped eating between meals and I took a grim pleasure in never having any birthday cake at office parties. The numbers on the scale began to fall.
I don't expect to ever gain that weight back as long as I continue to work out and eat the way I do now. But as the numbers began to fall something unexpected awoke in me.
I was part of the generation which "discovered" anorexia. It was fashionable when I was in high school. I never had anywhere near the problems that most anorexics do, but I flirted with the idea. And now I find, standing on the scale, that the belief that my worth as a person depends on whether the level finds its mark at 124 or 126 is still there after all these years.
Weight is such a funny thing. I'm almost on the verge of not posting this, because I guess I think if you write about your weight, you're opening yourself up for almost any kind of criticism. Part of me thinks it's frivolous, I suppose.
I'm trying to write a scene where a character is standing on a scale and battering the slider back and forth, as if she doesn't care what it will come out to. I haven't gotten it right yet, and I haven't been able to fit it in where I want it to go. But it will go somewhere, because it's important.

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