The Hardest Thing

Once upon a time, I was fat. It was 2010 when I hit my highest weight of 200 pounds. For a woman measuring only 5’4″, that put me into the obese range.

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Once upon a time, I lost a lot of weight. At my lowest since 2010, I weighed in at a very healthy 147 pounds. Come to think of it, I was around that weight in March of 2012 when my husband and I eloped.

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I’d always thought that losing the weight would be the hardest thing I’d ever done, but that was until I did it. It was hard to start, no question, but when I was in it, it became easy. Like butter. The weight came off a pound or two a week–the healthy way. Steady. I loaded up on veggies and took up running and it was actually fun. I splurged on glasses of wine or sweet treats here and there but I kept doing it because it worked.

And it felt easy once the ball was rolling, like how a slinky just walks down the stairs on its own after you get it started.

I can tell you, that was not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

That prize goes to the two years I’ve lived since being able to celebrate a 50 pound weight loss. When I was getting to my highest weight (which was happening in college and after graduation), I felt helpless to stop the incessant nudge of the scale upwards and I never thought that I’d feel that way again when I started seeing the scale go down.

In 2012, after I achieved 147 pounds, I held there for a little while, and fluctuated, but never more than five pounds up. I had gained a confidence through weight loss and through visiting a counselor that I don’t think I’d ever had before and I was able to keep moving ahead without much of a slip up.

The scale began to nudge up, if I’m honest, after my break-up with my counselor. She was no longer covered under my insurance and I couldn’t afford to see her anymore. This wasn’t a happy departing on my end and I languished over it, and still do sometimes, because she was wonderful. I was very reluctant to leave the security of her office because in some way, I was also leaving part of me, the stronger woman she helped me to become.

The valuable lessons she taught me about caring for myself in meaningful way slipped. I had relied on her as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions but that was removed. Tough emotions usually make us turn to the things we know and for me, that was food.

The scale was slow to move up, and I would see it and move it back down. This happened a few times in rather small increments. Up five. Back down three. Up three. Back down two. But the ups were always just a little bit bigger than the downs.

And this winter, when I stopped running due to the weather, the downs stopped altogether. And I’m up to a weight that I last saw on my decent in 2011, just about exactly three years ago.

166.

This may not seem horrible but it feels like an important dividing line.

If I’m less than 166, I can fit rather comfortably into a size 10 with no frets. But now I’m truly a size 12 and that’s a problem because I no longer own anything in size 12. I got rid of all my too-big sizes three years ago when I was losing and I vowed not to go back up. I refused to buy a size bigger than a 10.

And now I’m at a crossroads: lose weight or buy a bigger size.

I need to get over this emotional humpĀ and find a place where I’m happy being me again. I need to find a way to feel comfortable in my body again. And I need to fall in love with salads and running again.

If only this wasn’t the hardest thing to do.

6am

Quickly, quietly, and without any lights on, I slip from the bedroom into the office where I quickly shut the door. I’m not sure how well it seals in the sound, but in my head, it’s like I can barely breathe until I’m divided away. I want this time for me but I know he prefers to keep sleeping.

And then, I sit. My socks, that I wear to bed every night, save for the hottest summer evenings, get pulled off gently to allow my feet to stick to the mat. It’s dark when I begin but I know that by the time I end, it won’t be. My corner of the world will wake up with me. Gently and gracefully.

The double window in the office provides a sweeping view of the rest of the neighborhood. Perched at the top of our hill, with the window facing the houses and streets that cascade below, I see everything. Well, not yet. It’s still early. But I will see everything in time.

Without any light, either outside or in, I close my eyes while I sit cross-legged on my mat. My eyes are notoriously terrible in the dark. I was once on a long car ride to Maine with my boyfriend (now husband) and when it got dark, he asked if I’d like him to take the wheel for a while. I agreed and not much longer after that we were streaming along a mountain road. He started to slow and, not seeing anything ahead, I asked why. He said “Seriously? You don’t see that moose in the road?” and I felt red and ashamed that my eyes had failed to spot such a gigantic beast.

In the silent house with my eyes closed in the dark, all that I can hear is my breath and the fan of the heat when it decides the house is too cold and the temperature must be fixed. And I begin what is a practice of muscle strength, concentration, will, balance, and peace. Moving from posture to posture, working out quirks as I go, and coming up with new ways to hold my frame to get the greatest boost.

The sun begins to rise and the dark blue sky shades lighter with pale pink and lilac on the edges and I begin my sun salutations. They raise my heart rate enough that I sweat just a little. It creates heat in my arms and legs as the sun, now hitting the horizon, adds copper and golden tones to the sky.

When I’m finished with my set and standing at the top of my mat, the sun’s rays are now hitting the tree tops and I can see smoke rising from chimneys. Some rooms in the other houses are lit from the inside now with the stirrings of morning.

After a few final postures I finish on the floor, sprawled out in a relaxed position usually relegated to bedtime but brought out at dawn to solidify both body and mind before the day ahead.

And then his alarm goes off at 7am and I know that the rest of the day has been set in motion. The sun is up, I am up, and I am finally, truly awake.

The Beach

I hated the beach. For as long as I can remember I did, anyway. Filled with grating sand always stuck everywhere and squirmy weeds that feel like predators brushing legs.

It was grotesque, really. Swimming with crabs and bacteria and letting that get stuck in as many places as the sand did.

Unsanitary.

And then there was the hot sun berating my skin. Even on a cloudy day it was killing me and planting new freckles, or moles, or precancerous cells. I always liked my porcelain skin, almost see-through on the inside of my forearms (and most other places) so I guess I learned early that red was not a flattering color. Maybe for clothes, perhaps, but never for skin.

Not even when my face would blush tomato red. I hated that feeling, too. The feeling of embarrassment to the point of physical reaction, uncontrollable, that told everyone just how uncomfortable I was.

What an evil body — pointing out my thoughts on my face without my consent.

I guess red was never my color. Nor was tan, or brown, or any other beach color except blue and shade. And porcelain. But to keep myself pale and beautiful, I ostracized myself from the beach people. They eventually learned not to invite me because I always said no. Except that first time, anyway. That first time taught me to say no every other time.

What the hell is so great about the beach anyway? Squinting sunshine, hot, sweaty, nearly naked when I was taught to be modest, and fearing the ocean’s uncertainty. Who gives a shit about volleyball and iced tea and sand castles and reading when I’m busy just trying to battle the very nature of what the beach is.