I'm a fatty
I don't measure my worth in pounds, ounces, kilos or grams. I'm okay with my body changing. Pregnancy, menopause, aging. I'm okay with all of these. These are privileges not afforded to everyone. Wrinkles, stretchmarks, and scars tell stories.
I am tremendously grateful to my body. It keeps me safe. It rarely lets me down. It does most of the stuff I want it to do. Why then, do I not treat it better?
It doesn't have a terrible diet. It doesn't get enough exercise.
This isn't the first time I've been overweight or rather 'underfit'.
I was diagnosed with a metabolic condition when I was fourteen. When I was in my twenties, a consultant asked me how I was maintaining a healthy weight. Occasional gym visits and cigarettes. Oh how we laughed.
A few years later, I wanted to get pregnant and waved a fond farewell to the cigarettes.
Several years later, Em turned up and I couldn't justify a return to the cigarette weight management plan.
Over the years I have, on many occasions, been the clothes size I am now. But I was a different body shape.
**Spoiler alert. Any sized body can be dressed beautifully, accessorised, etc.... And all bodies are beautiful.**
When I have carried extra weight previously, I have always been a classic 'pear' shape. Fat arse and hips you could build a small out of town development on.
Thanks to the menopause, when our oestrogen drops of a cliff, our body shape changes. I now look like Humpty sodding Dumpty.
I am reliably informed that storing excess weight around our middle is not particularly healthy. I pity my poor organs, fighting for space. I appreciate this isn't quite how it works but I'm not a medic so bear with.
Our bodies respond to stress. Some bodies lose weight under stress. Other bodies gain or retain weight under stress.
When coping with elevated stress levels our bodies try their best to keep us safe.
Fluctuating weight feels like it's been part of my life forever.
You might imagine that a metabolic condition might encourage me to prioritise my own health. You'd be wrong.
This feels quite gendered but I'm sure it happens to men too. Over the years, I have prioritised other people's needs over my own. This is not because I am a martyr necessarily, but because members of my family have had, and do still have, complex needs that can sometimes feel all consuming.
When I wanted to get pregnant in my thirties, I made efforts to improve my fitness and general wellbeing, to good effect. Yippee!
Then my priority became my daughter and I stopped looking after myself and got fat, or rather unfit, again.
Then in my early forties, I recognised I needed to address my fitness. So I signed up to participate in a four day trek to raise money for the NSPCC. The trek involved mountains and suchlike.
I wasn't prioritising me, I was doing it for a charity, for children. Great. Still not prioritising me.
I achieved a really decent level of fitness. Whilst this was physically 'healthy' it wasn't kind. I wasn't motivated by showing myself kindness. I was motivated by the hypothetical mortifying shame of potentially being airlifted off a mountain due to being too unfit to complete the hike. It was motivating but not kind.
I enjoy feeling healthy, and capable, and fit. I am so grateful to my body for all that it does and all that it enables me to do.
Following the charity hike and having bullied myself into a good level of fitness, I maintained this for a good couple of years. And I enjoyed it.
Then we went to tribunal to get our daughter the educational support that she deserves. This was really just yet another event in the endless fight to access appropriate provision.
I came away from this £10k lighter (solicitors' fees), 10lb heavier and 10 whatever fitness is measured in less fit. But we do have a Statement of Educational Need. Yippee!
Then we battled to achieve security for our son through SGO (Special Guardianship Order). This was yet another shambolic experience. A process that should take 12 weeks and cost about £500 in solicitors' fees, took 56 weeks and cost £7k. We did achieve SGO. Yippee!
I also achieved yet more weight gain and loss of fitness.
Then COVID. I've blogged extensively about this so no need to revisit. It's no exaggeration to say I spent 2 years keeping Baldy alive.
This period afforded me zero opportunity to prioritise myself. And guess what, by some kind of medical miracle I got COVID (twice so far, first time in March 2020 and quite poorly) and managed to gain weight. FFS!
This series of unfortunate events I've catalogued is not my way of excuse but an acknowledgement and an apology to myself that there have been times where I have not shown myself the care I deserve. I have not looked after this amazing, albeit Humpty Dumpty tribute act shaped, body as well as it deserves.
When we wang on about self care, self care is not having a bath and lighting a candle. Self care is noticing when we are so overloaded that we fall off our own to do list. Self care is showing ourselves kindness. Self care is pushing the hoover around after the kids have gone to bed so we have a nicer environment to sit in. Self care is self compassion, not beating ourselves up, not shaming ourselves.
If you were anticipating some sort of goal setting affirmation to shed half my body weight get scouted as a new, middle aged, Victoria's Secret model, and jog up my nearest mountain by the end of the year, you'll not find it here.
I'm going to have a go at some extreme kindness. In a not dissimilar way to how some people do extreme sports, you know bungy jumping and the like. Only mine is going to be super kind.