Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Some people have a six-pack...I have a keg.

Through my adult life I have battled with the number on the bathroom scale. I wasn't a chubby child, I grew fast so I was tall and just the right size for my height even though I towered over everyone in my class, even the teacher. I never thought of myself as fat, just a bit larger than everyone else. I was not lazy. I played sports, I rode my bicycle, I hiked and walked, I enjoyed life and all of the food that came with it. I'm a better cook for having tasted such a variety of foods and spices.

Here I am, at the penultimate age of 49. I am on the cusp of that earth-shattering milestone called "Fifty". Half a century. It's not half my life though 'cause I doubt very much I'll live to 100. So I'm more than half way home, God help me.

Over the years I've tried to lose weight. Weight Watchers told me not to pay attention to the number on the scale but to listen to my body, watch the changes in the mirror and see how my clothes fit. And yet at the beginning of every meeting they weighed me in and they measured my success by a number. Despite my constantly wounded ego, I was moderately successful, I lost 67 pounds. Shopping in the section where there are no X's in the size label, that was a big day for me. It was short-lived, however. I was also very active in hockey and I worked out to the point of nearly puking at least twice a week. I venture to say I did not enjoy my workouts. There was no opiate-like adrenaline rush. Instead, my brain constantly screamed 'why' at me, as if this torture was simply a slow and painful way to die, rather than the key to a healthier life. That was nearly ten years ago and a lot has changed.

I've put the 67 pounds back on since then. In fact, I've put on another 20 on top of that. If I don't look in the mirror, I feel okay. I don't need to be reminded that I'm overweight by checking it out in the mirror, don't you think I know it? I close my eyes and breathe deeply and life is good, I feel happy. I don't see that my ass comes through a doorway fifteen seconds after me. I don't notice that my double chin is more like a triple chin. How is that, in any way, a measure of who I am?

What I do see is that my mother puts her arms around me and tells me that she loves me, just like she did when I was a kid. I see that the man I love looks at me with gentleness and it stirs up the butterflies in my stomach when he strokes my face. I can admire fields of flowers (my eyeballs didn't gain any weight). I can walk with a girlfriend at lunchtime, we can talk about nothing in particular and my soul comes away warmed by her friendship. I can sip a cup of coffee and exhale with an "aaaah" of appreciation. I can pet a kitten and make it purr, giggling as it tickles my face with its whiskers. I can read, watch tv, smile, laugh and feel loved.

None of these things have a weight requirement.

Why then, do I allow myself to worry about the number on the bathroom scale? It taunts me. I know it is higher than it has ever been. There is no number that defines me, not even my age, there is only the way I choose to be and I choose to be me. And whatever that number ends up being on the bathroom scale, so be it. As long as I am happy, my doctor is happy with my health and I am surrounded by people who love me, then nothing else matters.

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