Once upon a time, I was a size 2. Running 6-8 miles a day and the stressful upheaval of life as I had known it caused me to lose 30 pounds in a period of 8-10 months. It was my lowest weight ever but also the strongest I’d ever felt. It was also the best I’d ever felt about myself.
My calves were muscular. My thighs were smaller in circumference. My butt had lifted a little, so for the first time, I had a cheeky bit of definition back there. My chest, which had always been uncomfortably large on my otherwise short/small frame, had shrunk to a more manageable size and I was fine with that.
For the first time, clothes shopping was FUN. Stuff actually FIT. I wore short skirts and tight dresses and backless tops. My underwear drawer was a rainbow of cute, sexy bras and panties. I was not afraid of color or sparkle anywhere.
When my husband and I first got together, we went to a fancy Valentine’s Day soiree at an embassy. I wore my dream outfit – a tight-fitting sequin dress and sky-high heels – and felt gorgeous. Every time I got dressed felt like an occasion to dress up. I had several dresses from Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, and Banana Republic. I liked one dress from Banana Republic so much, I had it in five different colors. I was a Kate Spade and Coach addict.
When we got married, I pointed to my wedding dress in a magazine – a lacy, long, mermaid-style gown. I tracked the dress down and tried it on, finding that it fit just as it was supposed to. I didn’t feel like a princess on my wedding day, I felt like a queen.
During our first couple years of marriage, I gained what I like to call “happy weight.” We traveled a lot, we went out to fancy dinners and long, lingering, boozy brunches. We drank a lot of wine. I gained back all the weight I’d previously lost and I didn’t care. I was happy.
Then I got pregnant and traded the low-rise skinny jeans for over-the-belly maternity pants. And I never looked back. I loved watching my belly grow and didn’t mind that I had to wear my husband’s big t-shirts or, eventually, the maternity sweaters at the Gap that were so comfy and cozy. On top of the thirty pounds that I’d already gained back over the past few years, I put on another 25 during my pregnancy.
Someone warned me not to weigh myself after giving birth; that the baby weight doesn’t just immediately drop off once the baby leaves your body. Well, I couldn’t help myself. I was curious. A few days after coming home from the hospital, I stepped on the scale. My belly was still puffy, but the weight actually had gone down to my pre-pregnancy weight!
But my body had changed. My hips were wider, my boobs were all over the place, my stomach was droopy and poofy, and there were stretch marks everywhere.
I couldn’t wear the pants anymore, but hung onto my maternity sweaters for as long as I could. I favored clothes that were stretchy and comfortable because I was always on the floor with the baby or chasing after him as a toddler. I liked tops that were long and loose to cover my butt and hide my stomach. In the summer, maxi dresses were my best friend. I became okay with elastic waistbands when I felt comfortable enough to wear shorts.
Despite all my best efforts, over the next five years, my weight barely budged. It didn’t seem to matter that I gave up soda or carefully counted calories. The number on the scale just wouldn’t move. I started running again. It wasn’t that I wanted to lose a ton of weight. I certainly wasn’t trying to be a size 2 again. But it was frustrating that I was working hard and not seeing any results. When the holidays rolled around, I stopped weighing myself every week, knowing that I definitely wasn’t going to lose any weight. And I didn’t care. It was Thanksgiving. In the middle of a pandemic. I needed some joy somewhere, and I found it cooking a giant meal for my little family of three and eating leftovers for days.
I decided that maybe it was time to switch things up. While we weren’t in the market for spending a ton of money on a fancy spin bike, we got an inexpensive model and a subscription to a digital exercise program. I started riding. And doing yoga. And strength exercises.
I haven’t weighed myself in months. I have no idea what the scale says, and I don’t think I want to know. I do know that my body has changed once again. My calves have some muscle. My thighs don’t seem to be as flabby. My stomach has some definition to it. I feel strong again. And most importantly, I feel damn good about myself. That’s all that matters, not the number on the scale or the size on the tag.
I bought a ton of sports bras, workout leggings, and running shorts because that seems to be all I wear anymore. My clothes aren’t expensive. I think 98% of my closet is Old Navy, with the other 2% being made up of Target and Amazon. The sparkles are gone and everything is black or gray because it all matches and I don’t have to think about putting together an outfit. I’ve long since given up heels and my New Balance or my fuzzy slipper socks are my usual footwear of choice. I will still probably rock the maxi dresses this summer because they’re super comfy and no matter what size I am, I will never, ever give up my elastic waistbands.