When I decided to enter a body-building competition in my forties, there was something the trainers and seasoned competitors forgot to tell me. They forgot to warn me that once you’ve experienced being so thin that your tailbone digs into the chair, any weight higher than that will feel fat.
So from my point of view, I spend every day of my life aware of the fat on my body — the softness of my belly, the padding around my hips, the layer of flesh that covers my ribs.
Because I’ve spent a great deal of my life controlling my weight, I know that given a few months of focused calorie control and vigorous exercise I could easily reduce my fat levels. But it’s after the thrill of watching the scales go down that the pain sets in. Maintaining a small body, one far smaller than my natural size, becomes a life sentence. The price is too high, the effort too exhausting.
So I remain fatter than I once was, and yet thinner than what society might call obese. I no longer trust what my mind tells me about my body, because my thoughts still carry scars from the past.
Instead I listen to my body. It tells me when I’m hungry and lets me know when I’m full. It thrives on ballet, yoga and lifting weights, yet screams obscenities at me when I try to run. It responds to the touch of my lover’s hand and relaxes under the caress of a hot shower.
My body is a beautiful temple, with a heart that beats, lungs that breathe, blood that pumps, and muscles that contract without me having to do a thing. I am healthy, vibrant and alive. My body and I are no longer enemies. We’re quite fond of each other.
So today I am going to erase the word ‘fat’ from my vocabulary. It’s a label that serves no useful purpose. I am an imperfect being, inhabiting a body that has beauty, value and importance — not because my body resembles that of a runway model, but because it is fully, naturally and completely me.
This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge.