Friday, August 14, 2009

Life Lessons...Enjoy Your Skinny Years

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Enjoy Your Skinny [or Skinnier] Years
by Ayelet Waldman

I have a notoriously dreadful memory. I forget everything: the titles of books I've read, the plots of movies I've seen, my children's favourite colours. Once, when I was single and living in New York, the true extent of my wretched momory was brought home by an unexpected phone call. The caller told me his name and waited. I felt a familiar clutch of discomfort. Was I supposed to remember him? "From college?" He said, "Jesus, Aylet. We slept together!" I paused, waiting for his name or his voice to trigger something, anthing. Finally I said, "I'm really sorry, but you're just going to have to narrow that field down a little more for me."

There is one aspect of my life, however, for which I possess perfect recall: I have a photographic memory for my bathroom scale. I'm like one of those savants who can recite the day of the week for any date in history. Tell me September 1986 and I'll say 102 pounds. May 1992? 107. July 1997? 170 [calm yourself, I was about to give birth].

I have always, from the moment I passed the 100-pound mark in my sophomore year, done battle with my weight. I've never been fat [pregnant! I was pregnant!], but I've spent the past 21 years feeling fat. I felt fat last June at 124 pounds, nine pounds more than the maximum dictated by the charts for a person of my height and birdbone frame--but I also felt fat in June of 1993 when I weighed 112 pounds...and in June of 1989 when the scale read an earthsaking 105.

I wasted so much skinny time torturing myself about my weight.
I've never had an eating disorder; my one attempt at bulimia involved six eclairs that tasted oddly the same on the way up as on the way down [March 1985: 101 pounds]. That experience has kept my fingers out of my throat ever since. But I've spent far too many of my waking hours the way so many of us do, standing in front of the fun house mirror in my bathroom, staring at every part of my body blown up out of all proportion and reality by my anxiety and self-loathing. If I had known in September 1991 [105] that 10 years later I'd be packing on 19 extra pounds, I would have worn a bikini! I would have pierced my belly button! I would never have worn relaxed-fit jeans.

This morning the scale read 120 and I thought, 'God, I'm so fat.' And then it occurred to me: Twenty-one years from now, am I going to wish I hadn't wasted this moment feeling fat? If there is a single lesson I've learned in the past 21 years, it's that as time goes by, most of us only get bigger. Someday I'll remember these years as skinny ones and I'll regret having wasted them just as much as I now reget my foolishness during the past 21. One of the hardest things to do is to see your body clearly. After 21 years, isn't it about time for me to do that? And anyway, if I think I'm fat now, just imagine what I'm going to look like in 2026.

repost from Elle Magazine's "The Most Important Thing I've Learned"


Linda E. said...

Great read. Thanks for helping me to keep seeing the light. I am also one who looks in the mirror daily and worries/obsesses over being thin. I think all women do. The woman who wrote this has a great message to share, so I am glad that you posted it for her. We could all learn to live with who we are and live each day as if it were our last. The issues we have are all so trivial in the end.
ps---the photo is perfect for this post


Kristin said...

What a brilliant post! I remember senior year of college when I stopped on the scale before spring back and I weight, GASP, 109 lbs. I couldn't believe that I had passed 105. Ridiculous!

Patrizia said...

Why waste any year or moment not thinking of how skinny you are in the past, present or future.

zupu said...

Great post and thoughts.. I used to worry so much about my weight even though I have always been in shape. Now I really just think how much I wasted time with it but that's what teenagers do :) Now it's all better and I'm enjoying every piece that I put in my mouth without feeling bad!

Petra said...

I constantly think of my weight, but I don't think I'm obsessive. I'm not so much into the NUMBER [I don't even own a scale] as I am into how my body feels. I think that's what's most important. I also eat whatever I want in moderation. I found that this is much better than depriving myself.
Great feature. Can't wait to see the next one. How about starting an advice column too? lol

Splendid Little Stars said...

very enlightening. I wish I weighed less. I DO like eating, however, and want to be healthy above all. But mostly I'm concerned with how much I work out. If I AM working out, I feel basically good about myself.

Anonymous said...

hey, thatt posst was really thought provoking!
so i sstated to write a responce here in th comments but it got a bit long...
so iv blogged my response here -