There's an old friend of mine who I recently spent time with, and I have to telll you, being with her is hard. We truly grew up together, best friends from the fourth grade on. We when through puberty together and through our rocky teens. We spent years obsessing over our bodies, our weight, and every single thing we put in our mouths. I was always the thin one. She was more of an average sized kid. At some point we stopped talking about our issues with food. Rather than growing out of it, I would say it was mostly that we grew out of talking about it. I know I never really got over it.
Over the past ten years, she's gotten thinner and thinner and I have most definately gotten bigger. We rarely see each other, So when we are together lately I am always shocked at her size. She doesn't eat a whole lot and I know her so well that I can see how controlled she is and I always end up leaving feeling like I weigh 300 pounds and that I lack self-control. I feel terrible about myself.
'You can do better than this', I tell myself. 'You'll be so much happier if you do.'
The last time we were together we were reminiscing about high school and she talked about this one girl she saw for the first time in years, who's put on weight. People who don't have discipline disgust her. I know this not because she admits it, but becasue it oozes from her with every word. She joked about how this girl looked like a 'big bag'a potato chips', an observation that was both mean and unfortunately astute. She really does kind of look like that; puffy in the middle and lumpy on the surface.
For days I couldn't stop thinking about it; the big bag of potato chips. And it occurred to me that perhaps I look like that to her. I sure as hell felt like it.
So I was torn. I don't want to be motivated by the same adolescent neuroses that ruled my teens, but at the same time I think I let myself get this way solely to reject those years. To make a point.
And I realized something else; a strange phenomenon. The people around me don't want me to lose weight.
"You look fine", they say. I tell them I may look fine, but if I lost 20 or 30 I'd look great.
"You don't have that kind of weight to lose", they say.
But the numbers don't lie. I think people are somehow threatened that I might look better than fine. They like me as their supporting actor. They like me in the periphery. And I guess I do too, to some extent. Something has kept me here for all of this time. Maybe it's the safety in never fully putting myself out there and therefore never running the risk of being left out in the cold. That feeling has always been a major limiting factor in my life.
I could have taken control back a long time ago rather than facing this now, in my thirties. I went from not eating in my teens to letting myself go, just a little. Just enough. While I'm not really overweight, in the last 15 years I've chosen to err on the side of average.
So lately, approaching my 33rd birthday, I've been running every day, playing tennis, eating less and I feel physically great. Even just a couple of pounds is enough to make a noticeable difference, but I'm working toward 20 for now; a birthday present to myself.