There are times when I don’t mind my soft, flabby belly. It happens whenever I reinvest myself in a health and fitness regimen, and I suddenly have this newfound patience with my unwanted midsection. At night I lie on my side and I run my hand over the pillowy flesh around my waistline and I regard it with something like fondness. I think of it as a transitory state. It feels so familiar, and yet I’m about to bid it goodbye. Am I almost sentimental over this belly fat? I think I am.

Soon enough, though, I become frustrated. It’s not leaving as quickly as I’d like, after all. My belly is a houseguest who has overstayed their welcome. Lying in bed, I pinch the rolls, crush them between my fingers. I imagine them dissolving under my unfriendly touch. My body feels like something I’m wearing, rather than something I am. The sensation of touching my skin creates jeering little surges of self-loathing. Lazy slob. Pig.

It’s ridiculous and unhelpful and I know it. Will you stop, I think. Meanwhile, my belly is exactly the same. Or maybe it’s ever so slightly smaller, or slightly bigger. So many miles of headspace over so few inches.


17 Responses to “Hamster wheel”

  1. Penne on February 20th, 2013 12:25 pm

    “Something I’m wearing rather than something I am.”

    Exactly. I long for a closet of alternatives.

  2. Zoot on February 20th, 2013 12:36 pm

    I do it and have done it non-stop for 2 of the healthiest years of my life. Which seems really asinine. I mean, I’m healthy. I’m active. Why the hell do I care so much about the flab around my gut?

  3. Courtney on February 20th, 2013 12:58 pm

    Oh god yes! The self-loathing is exhausting isn’t it? And why do I associate healthy eating with being virtuous?

  4. Nicole on February 20th, 2013 1:12 pm

    God, I so relate to this

  5. jools on February 20th, 2013 1:45 pm

    Thought on this post: I feel that you totally do your best writing and connecting on topics like this. This post was contemplative and profound. We all do our own iterations of this but you have the power to capture that feeling and frustration in a way that makes it a little easier for everyone to get a little better at accepting ourselves.
    I don’t know if that helps you :) but thanks for sharing.

  6. Ashley on February 20th, 2013 2:07 pm

    I hear you. I worry about myself when I start to view my physical self as something other than ME, as if it is my adversary. I try to remember what Anne Lamott wrote after her son was born, when she lay down on her side and her belly curled up beside her, like a warm puppy.

  7. Erin on February 20th, 2013 4:13 pm

    I find that as I have become more fit, the distinction between muscle and fat has grown. It doesn’t make any sense that I feel fatter now than I did 30 pounds ago, but I can see the lean me under the pinchable-moveable flab and I can tell what I’m SUPPOSED to look like.

    And I feel bigger because I impatiently keep trying smaller sizes. Ugh.

    I know those self-bullying nighttime blubber grabs. It’s like I have an OCD pattern to it now: Hip, pinch, insult. Waist, pinch, slur. Arm, pinch, curse. Make the big grab – donut with my belly, disgust, sleep.

  8. Erin on February 20th, 2013 4:15 pm

    Also, it’s funny how HARD you can pinch flab and not feel pain because there are no nerves. That’s not just me, right?

  9. NancyB on February 20th, 2013 6:42 pm

    I have spend nearly half my lifetime now wishing and working towards a better body. The flabby belly from 3 pregnancies (1 complete ) the c-section that (I guess) cuts through the muscle leaving the little roll of belly over the top of the scar.
    When I finally (finally!) got rid of the flab and felt great – menopause hit and I felt like a helium balloon someone blew up.
    I always tell myself to work out and eat right because you’re taking care of yourself and you feel good but the other side of me is all about the number on the scale.
    My lot in life is to never be happy with myself.
    I have 13 years on you — don’t be like me Love who you are, how you are. The people around you do.

  10. Kim on February 21st, 2013 8:19 am

    “So many miles of headspace over so few inches.” Sums it up perfectly. Great sentence.

  11. dorrie on February 21st, 2013 10:01 am

    Isn’t that the truest thing. I torture myself mentally…TORTURE myself in a way I would be horrified to see anyone treat another person, about five pounds that only I see on my body or even notice if they are there or not there. Literally, NO ONE sees these pounds but me, not my husband, not my children, co workers, dear friends, or family. And yet these pounds hold me hostage and dictate whether or not I am an acceptable, good person, or a hopeless, fat, old lady.

  12. .303 Bookworm on February 21st, 2013 9:41 pm

    I have always felt/dreamed that I could just pull out that roll and cut it off with scissors. Just like I do a loose thread. So I LOVE your metaphor.

    Having said that, @Sundry meet @Sas, you’re both hitting that durn topic this week

  13. Erin@MommyontheSpot on February 22nd, 2013 5:39 pm

    Yeah. I’m right there with you right now. The whole houseguest is the best way to describe it.

  14. CC on February 25th, 2013 1:53 pm

    I feel women with flatter bellies are better people than me. It makes no sense.

  15. Ali on February 28th, 2013 9:50 am

    I once heard my mother say: “When you look at fat people, don’t you just wonder what’s wrong with them? You know, mentally?”

    Talk about creating miles of headspace. Now, like CC above, I’m certain that skinny women are better than me. More confident, stronger, with more willpower.

    I guess she never heard the saying: “Be careful what and how you speak to your children. Your voice now will become their inner voice later.”

  16. Mary Clare on February 28th, 2013 9:20 pm

    It drives me crazy that I KNOW that body image issues are just in my head, that I can admire all body shapes and sizes of others, and that I know that I have very healthy size and fitness level, and I still have those moments of horror about my midsection!

  17. Lori on March 3rd, 2013 3:31 pm

    Thank you! You gave me the words to describe how I feel in my not-fat by other people standards but uncomfortable & extra padded body. It feels like something I’m wearing (and would like to change out of).

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