BY VICKY BROWN
June 8, 2016
It seems appropriate that I am writing this on the day my husband goes in for his eye exam, but that isn’t the “20/20” I have been dwelling on lately.
I have lost 20 pounds so far this year. This makes my weight the lowest it has been since we started our dairy. It seems being focused on the farm 24/7 didn’t allow us a lot of time to focus on our needs. Although I was stronger two years ago than I am today, I can say with certainty I am healthier today.
Twenty pounds lost seems like a lot and it isn’t insignificant for any reason. Other people are now noticing and telling me I look like I’ve lost weight, and it is nice to hear. The weight isn’t coming off by itself; I am working for it. I’ve been more active and eating smaller portions of more nutrient dense food (Yay! CSA/farmers’ market season!) and it turns out there is no magic bullet. I am proud of my success.
This mark on the scale has thrown me for a loop, though. At my peak weight I was 294 pounds. Now I’ve lost 20 and the scale reads 274. However, instead of rejoicing in my 274, I cautiously tell myself I have 24 pounds to go until my first big milestone. That is, until I remember how this 20 pounds has already changed my life.
I walk with my dogs a lot more and see some of my neighbors (ones I really enjoy) more regularly, because I’m out walking.
I recently went to Japan, and then Minnesota, in plane seats—notoriously cramped, but my butt fit. There was no need to “suck it in” to fasten my seat belt; there was no concern of my hip taking over the seat next to me.
When I was 20 pounds less than I am today—at 254 pounds—I completed the Honolulu Marathon with my tenacious best friend. Yes, I completed a marathon at 254 pounds. All the training for the marathon didn’t help me lose weight as I’d hoped (I actually gained weight). It felt so good to cross that line, it ended up not being about the weight, but I still remember exactly what I weighed.
Twenty pounds before that: 234 pounds, I was discharged from the hospital after a near-death experience that resulted in a scary and frustrating long hospital stay, a surgery, and a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease to last me a lifetime. It’s also what I weighed when I got married. Neither time was weight an issue, yet I still remember exactly what the scale read.
The interesting part to me is that I remember my weight during all these significant markers. I don’t remember the year (unless I look it up, or am prompted—um, except my anniversary—of course I always remember that).
I remember my weight. That needs to stop.
I am a confident person. I am comfortable in my skin, strong and more healthy than many of my friends, quite a few of whom are literally half my size. Yet I am tuned into my weight as a primary marker in my life. It seems I could have 20/20 vision, as long as my view isn’t obscured by a scale.
It isn’t just about weight. Excess weight is easy enough for others to see. But some people struggle with how they think others perceive their hair, teeth, eyes, wrinkles, skin spots, feet, hands, chin(s), etc. Is it possible to remember that after you part ways with someone, they are likely not recounting any physical appearance but, rather, how you left them feeling? Did your interaction make them smile from their heart? Did it cause them stress? Did it make them angry?
I still will lose weight and will still use a scale to mark it, but I will no longer use those pounds to mark my life.
I need to lose weight for my health, so I can play with my granddaughter and not tire so easily, and be around when she blossoms into the person she will become. I want to lose weight so I can pursue things that, for safety’s sake, require I weigh less.
I also need to care less about the number. It isn’t a magic number, no more than 20/20 vision is. Do you even know anyone with 20/20 vision (especially over the age of 50)? I know very few people who don’t wear some sort of corrective lens to assist. Why is not having 20/20 vision okay, but having a scale report back a number I don’t like is not okay? How about we embrace our imperfections and love ourselves with them instead of in spite of them?
20/20 is a plan, not my vision. I will work on losing another 20 pounds, and hopefully another 20 or so after that. But what I weigh when my granddaughter is born? I simply don’t care. It will no longer be the milestone marker of my life.
To be honest, this post almost didn’t make it. After writing, editing, editing some more, and dropping a few tears I almost trashed it, because “it’s just about me being fat.” Then the light went on and I realized that is exactly why I need to share it. I know I’m not the only one who has ever discounted themselves like that.
Maybe some people will be embarrassed for me as I huff and puff and pedal my voluminous backside to town, or because I shared my real weight number out to the world… But, I think, not the folks in this community.
Thank you for noticing I look “healthier” instead of “thinner” and telling me I look “happier,” not “skinnier,” and for your encouragement. We’re doing this community thing right. Regardless of today’s number, I am happier and healthier because I am here, in this community.
For more related reading, this writer delves into a few related issues in her blog How to Talk to Little Girls.
It provides excellent ideas for those of us who have been programmed to communicate based upon appearance (including clothes, hair, etc.). Sometimes I forget and I need a crash course. Have I told you I’m going to be a GRANDMA? It’s time to make this the best world it can be…and time for me to finally understand why so many activists are grandparents.
Grandma-to-be Vicky Brown, Chief Milkmaid (mostly retired) at the Little Brown Farm, puts her passions on the page writing about food, agriculture and the tender web of community.
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