Before I turned 30, I used to think I was doing something right in terms of what I ate. I stayed somewhere between 109 and 112 pounds for YEARS. (What was my superpower?) But a few things happened to cause a shift in my easygoing food/weight relationship:
- I turned 30
- I started grad school while teaching theatre full time (!!)
- I stopped taking dance classes
- I got engaged
- For the first time, I was stress-eating.
I am still not sure how #4 contributed to the 15 pounds of weight I gained between engagement and our wedding 3 months later, but it did. Maybe it’s because I was happy and relaxed and in love. But it’s probably because my lease ran out, and I moved in with my elderly parents until the wedding.
My parents moved from small-town Oklahoma, where my people are from, to Dallas for various reasons, mostly so that they could get the best in medical care and be at a central location for their kids to come see them. (I have four older siblings.) They lived in a condo, and I stayed in their guest bedroom. As much as I love my parents, it was a really bad arrangement. First of all, my mom would make chips and queso EVERY DAY. An avid health foodie for years, somehow my mother changed to someone who routinely ate the same easy foods every single day. My mom’s dementia could have been the cause of this. Oftentimes, I would make or buy my own food after a stress-filled day of middle school theatre rehearsals and go to my room to decompress. At first, I tried to cook all my own meals, but my mom doesn’t know how to share her kitchen. She’d want to tell me I wasn’t cooking the food right and take over. It was frustrating. Add to that the fact that my father was in poor health, and it was the perfect storm of uncomfortable living conditions. Plus, I no longer had a free apartment gym at my disposal. (So much for the perfect honeymoon physique.)
We sometimes think we have our bodies figured out, and then life happens. We get older, shift exercise routines, start eating differently with different roommates or a spouse (I once lived with a roommate who may as well have been a personal trainer/nutritionist), and add hormones into the mix–it’s fun being a grown up adult woman! And don’t even get me started on babies. I have a completely different hip structure now than I did before children.
I went from someone who maintained the same weight for years to someone who has gained and lost the same 5-10 pounds a dozen different times. And for some reason now that I’m a parent myself, I eat for comfort.
Genetically, I’m a small woman with a fairly good metabolism. Most of my baby weight was water weight, and I lost it soon after giving birth. That’s not my doing. And if you were born with a larger build, that’s not your fault. We don’t get to choose. But I guess I’m baffled lately, because I don’t feel in total control anymore when it comes to food. I’ve actually gained a few pounds back since having a baby 11 weeks ago. I lost baby weight, and gained cookie weight. It’s not much, and no one else really notices it but me, but it’s dumb to be making strides, and then…
Who knew that my feelings about food I could change so much nearly overnight? I went from being relaxed about food to buying donuts and hiding them in the pantry. When I am having a bad day trying to discipline my strong-willeddaughter, or I’ve gone without sleep with my baby son, I go to the pantry and pull my stash. It doesn’t make anything better, but it feels like a solution somehow. Where does this new road lead?
Now, I live at the fork in the road: will I eat poorly and then work really hard to get healthy when I’m older, or will I somehow learn to have a healthy friendship with food as the sustenance of my body?
I can only guess that this tension is one many women have been living in all along. Well, count me a member of the club.