Here’s a tip for all of my readers: if you’re feeling dissatisfied with your body, don’t go clothes shopping. It will only make it worse. I knew this, and yet I still decided to try on clothes tonight at Kohl’s. I tried on at least 12 things and hated all but 2 of them. This in itself is nothing new, as finding clothes that I like and that are flattering has always been hard for me, but it was all the more discouraging tonight because I realized that I’m on the borderline between regular clothing and plus sizes. (And can we just take a moment and admit that the way clothes are labeled is stupid? All the terms are obnoxious.)
I can’t believe I am here again: at a weight that I thought I would never see again, about to need a size I thought I would never need to wear again. During my high school and college and grad school years, I spent a lot of time in the plus-sized section of stores, and I hated it. I never wanted to shop with friends because I was almost always the biggest one and knew I’d have to go to a different section of the store or wouldn’t even be able to find any clothes in my size. If I did end up on an outing with friends, I would make up some excuse as to why I wasn’t trying on anything (“I don’t really need anything.” or “I’m saving up for something.” or “I’m just gonna go look at the purses.”). And then after my friends had bought their cute clothes and I was back at home, I’d go in my room and cry and probably eat too much food and wonder what was wrong with me.
What’s wrong with me, of course, is that I’m a glutton. I love food to excess. I obsess about it, and it’s embarrassing to think of how much of my day is spent dwelling on food. Even when I was actively losing weight, thoughts of food were never far from my mind. If I wasn’t eating, I was planning what I was going to eat and trying to figure out if a Twix bar would fit into my calories for the day (I’m not even kidding). Even when I lost 90 pounds, I didn’t defeat gluttony. Sure, sometimes it was dormant for a while, but it always reared its head again. I told myself that I had figured out this food business for good, but I was lying to myself, and that became all too clear after I became pregnant and gave myself permission to ease up on my restrictions because after all, I was “eating for two” (never mind the fact that Charlotte weighed less than 7 pounds at full term). After I had Charlotte, I fought hard to shed the 40+ pounds I had gained, and while it took me a year and a half, I did it, getting back to pre-pregnancy weight in October 2012. However, I wasn’t as disciplined as I had been the first time around, and I let a lot of things slide. It wasn’t uncommon for me to find myself at the end of a bag of chips, not aware that I had eaten half of it. I ate desserts with abandon and then hoped my running would counteract the extra calories. And yet in spite of my struggle, the scale moved in the right direction, so I told myself I was fine and that an occasional slip was not a big deal when I was clearly on the right path.
Then I got sick, sicker than I have ever been in my entire life, and because for the first time in my life food was repulsive to me due to the effects of my disease, I dropped down to a weight I had not seen in my entire adult life. I was elated but also terrified. I didn’t know how to process my smaller size, especially in light of the fact that it was not earned but instead was a reminder of how broken and diseased my body was. I hoped that I could maintain my lower weight after I felt better, but months of prednisone wreaked havoc on my body in ways that ulcerative colitis didn’t, and I watched the number on the scale slowly creep up. On May 1, 2013, I wrote a post with a weigh in and talked about how discouraged I was at the weight I had gained. At the time, it seemed horrible, but I weighed 175 pounds and was upset that over the course of a year I had gained one pound. ONE POUND. Given the fact that at my highest I weighed 261 pounds, 175 is still a great number! I would LOVE to be 175 pounds today! I wish I could go back to my self of 3 years ago and slap her on the head and tell her to lighten up on herself, but I can’t. It’s not as though being hard on myself helped at all. If anything, my feelings of defeat only made me more prone to bingeing and unhealthy habits, and so it’s no wonder that by July 2014, I was over 200 pounds again. It’s there I’ve stayed ever since, with the exception of a few months last year when I briefly dipped down into the 190s. Having hip surgery twice and being immobile for weeks only made matters worse, and so that’s how I found myself in the Kohl’s dressing room wishing I could just disappear instead of face this again.
This isn’t a post about how I have a new plan to lose this weight once and for all. I don’t. I’ve written that post before, and it got me nowhere, and I’m heavier now than I was when I last wrote about my weight. This is a post about how ultimately, the main problem isn’t with the size of my pants or the number on the scale, it’s with my heart. My heart is sinful, and I have not fought the sin of gluttony as I need to. If I’m honest, I don’t even know where to begin, but I do know that it’s wasted energy to try to change the past. So for now I’m just going to wake up tomorrow and pray that the Lord would guide my steps and strengthen me and help me to resist temptation, and I will do my part by not stuffing my face full of cookies or chips or all the other junk I love to eat when I feel despondent. I will soak up the truths of Scripture, knowing that I am loved completely by the God of the universe. I will read resources like this one and this one and plead for wisdom. And then I’ll do the same thing the next day, and the day after that. I don’t know if the number on the scale will go down, but I hope and pray that holiness will win out over gluttony. That’s the battle I really need to win.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” I Corinthians 10:13