Losing 20 lbs: A complicated gift (Guest post)

(Trigger warning: sexual assault)

I’ve been re-assessing my eating habits in light of my recent high blood pressure diagnosis and getting at the heart of over eating with the help of a psychologist. Fortunately eating intuitively has helped a great deal as well as using Canada’s Food Guide. Not exactly a miraculous breakthrough but it has meant, since that early April appointment I’ve lost 20 lbs. I don’t think weight loss is always the answer to high blood pressure but in my case it certainly is. That’s hard for me to say because for many people their blood pressure and weight don’t impact each other.

So it’s complicated when people start to notice I’ve lost weight. On my frame right around the 20 lb mark acquaintances who haven’t seen me in a bit start asking if there’s less of me. Nope, just a good bra shirt combo I say. Thankfully I’ve trained my friends to say “hey you look great” instead of “have you lost weight?”. I hate that question. I hate the assumptions about how losing weight must be my greatest achievement since, you know, getting my carcass out of bed. I get pretty angry about the patrolling of women’s bodies and that is partly why I cultivate a punk/queer aesthetic. I want you to know when you see me I don’t give a damn about what you think women should look like and keep that opinion to yourself. I’m not here to be attractive to you, I’m here for me and what I like…oh and leave me alone.

But acquaintances are hard to wrangle, I don’t want to get into it with them. I don’t want to tell them that I started overeating after that boy stuck his hand down my pants when I was 13 when I didn’t want him to. About the time a man I worked with showed me a picture of his penis in front of our entire crew. About the time a co-worker bit my neck at a party. and on and on and on and on and the food felt good. It felt safe and after gaining 100 lbs or so they did stop bothering me, until today. Today I was in the parking lot at work and a man walked up to me and said I looked nice. He made a whimpering sound when he said it, like he could barely contain himself. I walked away.

It’s not lost on me that women’s health is impacted by sexism. That women safety plan all the time just to go for a run or a hike or a bike ride. Sometimes I forget to do these things. I forget I have to plan on other’s behaviour threatening my well-being. I resent it but not so much that I will eat myself into an early grave.

So losing the first 20 lbs has been a complicated gift and something I’m not always up for talking about. I’m glad my blood pressure is back in the normal range without medication. I am enjoying eating lots of great foods while getting the therapy I need to be healthy. It’s not easy, confronting everyday sexism without numbing it out or getting so angry my head explodes. I think I forget that because I choose to confront sexism I have to work very hard to be fit. It’s hard to manage the stress and impact of calling people out on their crap or the guilt I feel those times I  just walk away.

So I keep on this path to being healthier/fitter/happier than I’ve been in a long time. It’s about so much more than how much I weigh or how much I’ve lost.

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