Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't Call Me Skinny

I am a US American woman – therefore, I have issues with my weight.
I believe there are 6 or 7 women in the US who don’t have issues with their weight or body image.  If you’re one of them, I’d love to talk to you.  I probably won’t believe you, but I’m open to persuasion.
My weight issues are two-fold:  The first issue surrounds keeping my weight where I want it.  The second issue involves the way other people react to my weight.
I hear it all the time:  “You’re soooo skinny.”  “You can’t understand how hard it is to struggle with weight.”  “It must be nice to be able to eat whatever you want and not gain a pound.”
You know what?  Screw you.
Assuming that I don’t have to work to stay in shape is just as bad as assuming someone is overweight because they’re lazy.
Get me?
Because, let me tell you, it doesn’t take much at all for me to balloon up.  If I don’t exercise and watch what I eat all the time I can pack on 20 pounds in 2 months without blinking.  I can think of two times in the past 10 years or so when, for various reasons (not pregnancy), I wasn’t really able to exercise and the way I ate was far from ideal.  And both those times?  I plumped up like a factory farmed turkey with a tube down its throat.  Bang.  And 20 pounds on my frame shows.
Because I do have a small frame.  I’m not denying that genetics plays a role.  Of course it does.  I am certain it is easier for me than for others to stay thin.  Both of my parents are very thin.  But you know what?  They both work their asses off every single day.
But genetics isn’t everything, and it’s not the only reason that I’m thin.  Did you notice that when I was pregnant I didn’t post my weight a single time?  I’ll give you once guess as to why that was.
Because I gained a LOT of weight, and I gained it fast.  I was straight up, uncontrollably hungry.  Like, so desperately hungry that I had to eat RIGHT THEN, as much and as fast as I could to such a degree that I think I actually bit my own finger a couple times.  It was crazy.  And MacGyver was so terrified I was going to damage the fetus working out that for months he wouldn’t let me get my heart rate up above 160 (though I did cheat a few times – I NEEDED the exercise).  Sooooo I gained.  Remember this:
6 Weeks

20 Weeks

30 Weeks

39 Weeks and 6 days - and In Labor!

40 Weeks

Yeah.  So it annoys me when people imply that maintaining my weight doesn’t take effort.  Why don’t you just call me lazy and spoiled?  It would be more to the point.
I’m thin because I run (and I mean full out, lung burning, painful RUN) a minimum of 9 miles a week.  Often times much more.  And I do all manner of strength work, mostly abs and arms.
I’m thin because I am VERY careful about what I eat.  The Ethical Eating journey has been amazing for this, but even before I was extremely focused on eating mainly veggies and only high-fiber whole grains.  And that doesn’t just mean I get tomato on my burger and eat iceburg lettuce salads.  No.  First of all, I try to eat veggies at every meal, including breakfast.  Sure, there are a lot of mornings when I just eat steel cut oatmeal instead, but I eat veggies at breakfast at least a couple times a week.  And I eat real veggies.  Spinach, Kale, broccoli.  And a variety.  Did you know that 70% of all US American calories come from four foods?  Four.  That is effing ridiculous.  And, from an anthropological (and medical, but I’m not really qualified to comment on the medical standpoint) standpoint very unhealthy.  So I eat a variety of veggies and other foods.  Eating seasonally really helps with that.  Yes, I still eat a lot of wheat, but I also eat a whole heck of a lot of non-wheat whole grains (quinoa, black, red, and brown rice . . .). 
And I READ about nutrition and food.  Our culture has gone so far from eating a rational, healthy, veggie focused, varied diet that you have to research it yourself.
My mother in law has been staying with us for 2 weeks, and has lost 15lbs thanks to the way we eat.  And she’s been cheating at night – and doesn’t think I know about it.
Long and short: I work out and I eat VERY well.  And if I don’t, I gain weight.  So forgive me if I look like I’m trying to refrain from smacking you when you say I can eat whatever I want and stay thin.  Because, trust me, I have been wanting a big, cheesy, greasy pizza for weeks now, but I’m not eating it.
So sometimes, I get offended by the things people say about my weight.  Then there are other times when I know the person commenting has good intentions.  Usually, they’re trying to compliment me by saying how thin I am.  And, sure, I’m flattered.  I mean, I really like my figure.  But these compliments are a little uncomfortable to deal with.  I’m not 100% sure why.  I mean, if you tell me you like my hair or I performed well in court, I will graciously and happily thank you.  But for some reason it feels really wrong to thank someone for calling me thin.  It’s like admitting that I’m thin makes me conceited.  I dunno. 
So, I’ve talked about how I have had to work in the past to avoid gaining weight.  Well, now I’m facing a different problem I never thought I would.
At 5’5” (or 6”) I consider 118lbs to be my ideal weight.  It’s rather arbitrary.  It’s just the weight I stayed at rather consistently when I was in high school (I once read a study that said people who maintain their high school weight throughout life live longer, and stay healthier).  A couple years ago I was being required to PT too hard and too often (I was the only female in my unit), and I dropped to 115lbs.  MacGyver said that I was much too thin, and I started to get sick more often.  So, I decided that 115 was too thin for me.  I eventually worked up the courage to tell the higher ups that I couldn’t PT like that anymore, and things got much better.  Except I didn’t gain the weight back. 
I stayed at 115 for a couple years (luckily, my body shape did go back to normal, and MacGyver confirmed that I was no longer too skinny).  Then I went to TBS which was very physically demanding, but also required horrible eating habits.  So I went up to 119 – at which point I got pregnant. 
Well, it didn’t take me too long to get back down to 118 after Flintstone was born.  Breastfeeding and vegetarianism (because Ethical Eating makes me a vegetarian the vast majority of the time) made it super easy.  Training for my next PFT didn’t hurt, either.
Lately, though, I’ve felt like I was eating all the time.  Still my regular diet (though I may have snuck a few Girl Scout cookies here and there), just more of it.  So, this weekend I hopped on the scale to see just how much damage my uncontrollable eating has done.
I stared at the scale, confused.  I hopped off and hopped back on. 
Same thing.
I called MacGyver over.  “Is the scale broken?”
He weighed himself. “Nope, not broken.”
I weigh 112lbs.
“Do I look sickeningly thin to you?”  I asked him.
“No, you look even better than you did at 115.”
Ok, so I suppose I’m okay with this.  I’m extremely healthy.  I’m eating like a pig.  I’m not bony or sickly or shapeless (actually I love my butt-waist-boobs shape more now than I ever have).  So I guess 112 is ok.
Except it’s not.
Because I have my annual weigh in (a Marine requirement) in a week or so.  And I am below the minimum weight for my height.  If you’re above weight, they put you on BCP, Body Composition Program, and make you work out and stuff.  I have no idea what they do if you fall below.  I’ve weighed in below standards before, but they just remeasured my height and I was magically an inch taller . . .
I also have a somewhat distorted body image.  Apparently I am not just thin.  Apparently I am very thin.  But I don’t see it.  Honestly.  I absolutely do not see myself as any thinner than most of my friends.  The other day, I good friend of mine let me borrow an outfit because we were going out to lunch and I didn’t have civilian clothes in my office.  I was so sure she was the same size as me, easily.  I was so wrong.  She is thin and fit and healthy.  And her clothes were falling off of me.
So, I have issues.  All sorts of issues with my weight.  With gaining, with loosing, with perception.  Everything.  Because I am a US American woman.  And that’s just the way it is.
So don’t call me skinny.
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Apr 8, 2011 9:10 AM


Diandra said...

Ah, the body wars... I guess every woman has got problems with their body, somehow. Some fight these problems, some fight their bodies. I am somewhere in the middle - trying to get into better shape while at the same time learning to love my body as is just because it hasn't thrown in the towel yet, no matter what I do.

Most women I know who are skinny are that way because they watch what they do. Even those who eat really nasty food will eat only a tiny amount of it, and not much else (such as, a pizza and three apples for a whole day).

MiMi said...

You look normal and a healthy size to me!
Can I come stay with you for 2 weeks? Or more...

Andie said...

As long as you're comfortable in your own skin, it shouldn't matter what other people think. However, I do think that we let society get us down. And, let's not forget about all the airbrushed models and celebrities we have to live up to. Talk about an ego plunge. ;) I'm not 100% confident, but one day I will get there. I will say, though, as long as my husband is satisfied, I'm okay. I'm sure you look fantastic, no matter what your weight.


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