I always pictured my 30's as being a time of frenetic chaos, searching, difficulty with identity, fatigue, struggles, and a keen awareness of my mortality. So far this decade has been exactly what I pictured....with one extra struggle I didn't picture: my weight.
When I turned 20 I gained 43 lbs. in under 2 months--with no change in diet and exercise...then the gain slowed, but continued over the years. I went to doctor after doctor after doctor over the following 5 years. I ended up a few misdiagnoses (including PCOS...yikes!) and the general consensus seemed to be an inexplicable slowing in my metabolism. One doc told me that the change of decade weight gain due to slowing metabolism hits swiftly, heavily, and accurately. In 2005 I lost 60 lbs. Unfortunately in order to do that, I was working out 3 hours/day 7 days/week and consuming under 1200 calories per day. In other words, it was impossible to maintain it long term. My body became exhausted. So I returned to a more doable healthy lifestyle, and gained 20 lbs. I was happy enough with that.
Fast forward to my 30th birthday: in the 3 weeks prior to, and the 2 months afterward, I've gained 15 lbs. Once the weight gain began, I start working out more often and being super careful with the content of my diet, but the weight won't budge. I'm assuming my precautions are the only reason it's been 15 lbs. instead of 40!
My clothes don't fit. I don't feel like I fit in my skin. So now not only have I been struggling with my life's goals and paths on the inside (hey, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!), I feel like I don't even fit in my skin on the outside. My life just feels uncomfortable right now. Inside and out.
To make matters worse, I'm leaving on vacation in 9 days. I'm going to visit extended family. I feel uncomfortable enough around friends who have seen my gradual weight gain...I don't want people to see me suddenly larger who haven't seen me in years! I'm really really hoping they've all gotten fat too...
I'm irritated with myself that I'm so hung up on this. Why can't I just be confident regardless of my size? Why can't I just focus on being healthy, rather than obsessing over weight loss? I don't want to pass this on to my daughter. I want her to be a healthy, confident young woman. How to I teach her to be one, when I'm anything but??
My mom is 52 and she still struggles with all of this. Since I picture my 50's as a time of being confident and peaceful with my life's path, and happy with and grateful for my body, I better figure out something soon, or before I know it, I'll be 50 and still uncomfortable in my own skin. I would like to be happy with and grateful for my body even when it betrays me by making me 25 lbs. over my ideal weight.
I think part of my issue aside from discomfort (and I do feel physical discomfort in my back, knees, and ribs that I would like to be rid of) is worrying about the perception of others. It's sort of like when I take my RAD child to the store, and he throws a fit because he wants something, and I won't give in, and people look at me with disgust. I want to scream "IT'S NOT MY FAULT! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! IF YOU PARENTED A TRAUMATIZED CHILD YOU WOULD BE FEELING MY PAIN RIGHT NOW!" Instead I blush and feel like a failure as a mother. It's the same way with weight gain. I worry that people are judging me as a lazy sloth when they see me, and I just want to yell "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! I WORK OUT! I EAT RIGHT! MY BODY IS SABOTAGING ME ANYWAY!" Instead I blush and feel like a failure.
So I guess the real issue is caring less about what others think of me. As a human being, how is that even possible?
Isn't that what keeps us from a lot of things in life though? Caring about what others think keeps us quiet when we know we say something. It often makes us take a step back instead of forward. What about when it comes to serving Christ? Often that entails the potential for looking foolish. I'm not saying we should never care about the thoughts of others. Obviously as an ambassador for Christ, I need to be careful not to needlessly offend others, but I'm talking about being fearful of judgment and ridicule. That fear can hold you stagnant and keep you from growing. It can prevent Christ's love from flowing out from you to others who need it so desperately.
The only solution I can imagine is becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable, and reminding ourselves 1,000 times a day that pleasing God is so much more satisfying than pleasing man.