Monday, March 7, 2011

Lesson #29: Why I Love My Fat Ass

My appearance has been a source of endless frustration, disappointment and self-doubt for as long as I can remember. I think my first diet started in second grade, along with my social life-killing foray into the world of "perms," courtesy of my student beautician sister. The hate/hate love/hate relationship continued through my teens, 20s and early 30s, where I constantly changed up my look and my weight would fluctuate up to 25 pounds. Moving to LA, my size 10 figure stood out among a sea of size 6T friends. (Yes, I said 6T - they're really small friends.)

Looking in the mirror would bring me to tears. I used to joke that I was an absent-minded bulimic -- forgetting to purge after binging -- but what I was hiding behind that statement that I can now see as ignorant and hurtful, was that, for a few years,  I was actually purging as well, something only a few people knew. Of course that just led me into a deeper self-loathing, often skipping food for alcohol... until the end of the night, where I'd reach for massive quantities of food (you can imagine healthy choices). Between 22 and when I got pregnant for the first time at 32,  I had a few visits to the land of "overweight" by doctors' standards, but by no means was I as heavy as I felt.

Eventually, the universe shifted and I found myself bombarded with lessons in anatomy -- for what feels like seven straight years.

Before and After, circa 2009
May 2004: I give birth to my first baby, a 9 pound boy (via cesarean), after several weeks of injecting myself with insulin due to gestational diabetes.
September 2005: I give birth again (another c-section), this time to an 11 pounder... while I tipped the scales at over 200 pounds.
December 2005: I find out I carry the BRCA1 genetic mutation, giving me an 87% chance of breast cancer, 50% ovarian.
February 2006: The lump is found.
March 2006: Off to the double mastectomy.
May 2006: I start Weight Watchers (for the 900th time)
July 2006: Second breast surgery and complete hysterectomy.
November 2006: I'm down 30 pounds and wearing a size 6 for the first time since kindergarten.
2007-2008: I'm able to keep 22 of the 30 pounds off
2009: My weight begins to creep up and I find myself only 12 pounds down from my 2006 weight loss.
August 2009: I sign on to do a 6-week program for a national infomercial, dropping 15 pounds and getting in shape for the first time in my life. (For those of you doing the math, I'm now 3 pounds over my lowest weight)
September 2009: I start having burning pains after eating.
November 2009:  I'm rushed to the hospital while on a weekend away in Santa Fe with my BFF.
December 2009: My gallbladder is removed and I'm told not to exercise for 6 weeks.
Summer 2010: 6 weeks turns into 6 months and my weight loss is obliterated.
September 2010: Pains send me to the ER, followed by CT scan and blood work. Blood work comes back questionable.
December 2010: Weekend date with a gallon of hell juice, followed by a colonoscopy.
December 2010: After two weeks of anxiety-ridden waiting, Diverticulitis diagnosis (no cancer - woot!)
December 2010: Nurse practitioner conducts the urinalysis I asked the hospital for in September, finds that I had a bladder infection all along. Three days later, I finally start to feel better.
March 2011: Less than 4 weeks to go until I turn 40 and less than ten pounds under my pre-kid weight. Consider drinking hell juice for a week.

I don't spell this all out for you to be dramatic or try to evoke any sympathy, I do it so I can see for myself and maybe shed some light for you on how utterly ridiculous it is for society to obsess over a number on a scale or wrinkles on a face. I am a healthy almost-40 year old woman with a man who still has the hots for me and three kids who love me -- "squishy" stomach and all.

Do I want to be healthy? Hellz yeah.
Do I want to fit into those jeans I paid way too much money for? Yes, siree.
Would I like to get dressed in the morning without tossing half my closet on the floor out of frustration? Yup.

But I'm not going to hand over my quality of life to do it.

Because if those balloons and overpriced party favors are right and life really does begins at 40, I'm certainly not going to spend that life giving my 100% to everyone else but me. My goal is to find activities I enjoy, go hiking with my family or friends, take the dance class I've always wanted to try and eat food, not to fill an emotional void within myself, but to fuel my body and give it the nutrition it deserves and needs, in order to help me become the person I am meant to be.

But it doesn't mean I won't treat myself. Because a bite of birthday cake means I'm grateful someone's alive, a sip of champagne means I have something to celebrate, and a scoop of ice cream means I'm making a memory with my kids. If I live my life treating my body with respect and appreciation, there's no reason I should skip those delicious moments. I don't want to die(t), I want to live.

So yes, my body is scarred, jiggly and decorated in cellulite. And for that, I love it. Because every day that I wake up and see in the mirror, all those things I would love to change, is a day I wake up to the true gift that is my life.

And that, my friends, is worth every inch of this fat ass.

(Ads below are for my friend Lisa's fantastic Hungry Girl books, the first one on which I was a teeny tiny contributor)


Anonymous said...

If you're so joyful about being a size 10 or whatever, and not going to apologize to anybody, etc. etc. why are you going on and on about it?

Just shut the heck up, and get on with your life.

Renee said...'s amazing to me that someone would even leave a comment like that. At least be brave enough to leave your name - because when Jackie disagrees with someone, she does it with class and courage.

Excellent post, Jackie. It's like you ripped the thoughts right outta my head!

Anonymous said...

l: our society is so messed up on what the perfect weight/size is. my personal experience comes from being naturally on the very thin side. the short version of my story is that regular false accusations from classmates and adults of me being anorexic or bulimic almost caused me to be one of those when i finally started filling out. it wasnt until i was in my early 20's until i finally had enough self confidence to wear proper fitting clothing after wearing large/extralarge clothing since i was in junior high school in an attempt to avoid those false anorexic/bulimic accusations.

so i say, enjoy you for who you are.

Carolyn Todd said...

Great post, Jackie. Understand all the body issues, discussed very well. But I think if you're comparing yourself to size 6 all the time it's a problem. Heck, size 10 sounds pretty thin to me. I figure if I get to size 16 again in this lifetime after quitting smoking and gaining weight real fast that I will achieve a major's all a matter of perspective!

JackieMacD said...

Thanks for the comments -- even the anonymous meanie has a point.

I didn't mean to give the impression that I'm not going to work on being the healthiest, strongest person I can be. What I'm saying is that I'm grateful that I no longer attach my entire identity to the size of my butt. There's too much life to be lived to let that kill my self confidence and motivation.

Adoptive Mommy x 3 said...

I love you and the awesome lessons I'm learning from your posts. What perfect timing this post is, as I am struggling with this post- pregnancy body for the first time.

Oh and by the way- your friend Lisa rocks! Love her show.