Weight gain, pros:

• Boobs no longer look like half-empty icing bags

• Rounder face = fewer places for pools of shadowy haggardness

• “Dimpled butt” sounds cute, even if it’s not particularly when one is 42 as opposed to 8 months old

• …. Extra padding in the event of falling from a great height?

The truth is I hate the weight I’ve gained. I hate it, and I am so tired of hating it, of being so painfully self-conscious and convinced everyone is assessing me through the same lens I use on myself.

I once read that Meryl Streep was asked what advice she would give her younger self, and she answered,

Don’t waste so much time thinking about how much you weigh. There is no more mind-numbing, boring, idiotic, self-destructive diversion from the fun of living.

It’s that word diversion that really jumps out at me. In what ways might I be a happier, healthier person if I weren’t caught up in this punishing cycle of criticizing my body and strategizing how I can change my body? How much easier would sobriety be if I weren’t forever tempted by a substance that strips away the pounds (along, of course, with everything good in my life)?

What could I offer the world if I wasn’t pouring so much energy into the way I look instead of the way I live?

What would it be like to accept my no-longer-skinny body?

What would it be like to love that body?


19 Responses to “Diversion”

  1. Katie on December 22nd, 2016 8:30 am

    I hear every word of this like it is coming out of my own brain. I’m so tired of thinking about it ALL THE TIME. It would be so nice to use that energy to think of other things. And just to not pick on myself for struggling to fix it.

  2. ML on December 22nd, 2016 8:37 am

    I totally hear you. It’s ridiculous that smart, capable women get hi-jacked by these thoughts.
    Yoga has helped me through this in some ways. At least it’s helped me think of exercise in a positive way and helped me to accept where I am right now.

  3. T on December 22nd, 2016 9:07 am

    None of us look how we did when we were 21. I’m becoming far more into the idea of ageing gracefully. Look at photos of thin middle aged women trying to cling to their youth and younger thinner bodies vs women growing middle aged gracefully. Look at clapped-out 30 year old Lindsay Lohan versus lovely curvy natural Liv Tyler at 40, or voluptuous Christina Hendricks at 41.
    Thin truly doesn’t look best as we get older. I was thin and miserable 10 years ago. I’m fatter now but my life is 10 times better. Time to let it go. You look great for 42 Linda :-)

  4. Jen on December 22nd, 2016 9:10 am

    I’ve really, REALLY thought about this. I’ve lost some weight and it has gotten me out of the realm of self-loathing. There is a number for me that I just cannot tolerate. Now that I still have a good amount of weight to lose to get to my goal, but I am somewhat OK with where I am at, I’ve had some time to think about this struggle. Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with my sensory issues. I cannot stand how it feels to have extra weight on me. I can feel it all over all the time. The more weight I lose, the better I literally feel. So there is that for me. It is completely my problem. I really do not judge other people for their size. I know how hard it can be to lose weight, how easy it can be to gain, especially if you have certain conditions, so I really don’t have any assumptions as to why people have the body that they do.

  5. Kim on December 22nd, 2016 9:10 am

    I lost 45 pounds over the last year or so, which in itself is great. I’d spent the few years before that replacing the opiates with sugar and living with the consequences of that. I went the low carb route which worked very well for me, but along with that came hair loss and discovering wow, a skinnier body is nice in your 40s but the skinnier face that comes with it? Not so nice. So now the challenge is to find that ever elusive happy medium, which I guess applies to a lot of things. It’s not easy.

  6. Sara on December 22nd, 2016 9:14 am

    Read Lindy West’s “Shrill: Notes from a loud woman”, it was life changing for me. She makes an excellent point that you can’t take care of something that you don’t love. So true! She’s also hilarious, and the whole book isn’t only about weight. I have been overweight my whole life, and always hating myself for it. No more! I am rooting for you, as others have echoed, it’s so great to hear your voice on this site.

  7. Donna Brubach on December 22nd, 2016 9:39 am

    Trust me because have I ever lied to you? You looked too thin when I met you. And gaining weight makes you look better in your 40’s, not a huge amount but some. Losing weight leaves saggy things that are scary. I’ve done both and a little weight is better. And here’s the other thing, you’ll look amazing no matter what.

  8. Jean on December 22nd, 2016 12:01 pm

    Without presuming what works for one person will work for another, may I suggest mindfulness? I took a course on it lately (mindfulness based cognitive therapy), for mental health issues. It’s a very interesting concept to work with the idea that a thought is just a thought. I think it has helped me let go of some stuff.

  9. Olivia on December 22nd, 2016 1:57 pm

    So, I’m fat, like actually obese and not just a bit chubby. I spent all of my teens and nearly all of my twenties preoccupied with my weight, much of which I was actually not fat. So much mental space and energy was spent on dieting, it really is a distraction.

    I can’t say I absolutely love my body or that I have no insecurities, but have reached a point of acceptance. I stepped off the diets and eat what makes me happy, and exercise is about taking care of my heart and the body I have, but not changing it. It really has been freeing for me. I hope you can find that peace.

  10. Lisa on December 22nd, 2016 3:33 pm

    It’s been hard for me since I’ve hit 40. I am just a little bit overweight, but I hate it too. I exercise and I try to eat right, but it never seems like enough. I should always exercise more, stop eating bread and pasta and basically anything, you know, good. Or I need to exercise like a deranged motherfucker in order for it to work, or get up at the crack of dawn or work less so it’s not such a pain in the ass to schedule. I don’t have kids, so I don’t even have that excuse. Aging gracefully is hard, hard. It’s hard for all of us- thank you for expressing what so many women feel.

  11. Joanna on December 22nd, 2016 8:39 pm

    I had a roommate once with a bad relationship with food and she would obsessively catalog out loud every food she consumed and fixate on minor physical flaws until I finally had to say, “I’m so bored! Please get help!” (Probably I wasn’t so blunt.) But anyway, I too am prone to filling my head with absolute noise like I should be eating x instead of y and my butt should look like that instead of this but when I realize I’m doing it I try to remember how boring that roommate was and not give her space to live in my head.
    Now I only do exercise I actually enjoy which is sometimes running but more often walking with music or podcasts with no fitness goals other than escaping monotonous tasks like diapers and laundry and trying to remind myself I’m a human on earth filling my lungs with air.
    We all get stuck on stuff like this but I hope you find a way to break out because I like you and you deserve a better dialogue.

  12. Karen on December 22nd, 2016 8:48 pm

    I have no answers for you…I think that more woman than you can imagine hate their bodies. I think white women, in particular, are taught to hate their bodies. Eating food should be such a simple thing, but for a lot of us, it is the biggest struggle of our lives. It’s painful and it’s sad.

    I have a daughter in her early 20’s and she tells me that every single woman she knows has some sort of disordered eating. EVERY SINGLE ONE. We are taught that our worth is measured by how thin we are…and even when we are thin, we go into stores and cannot find clothes that fit. The message being sent is: you are not thin enough or good enough. Disappear yourself some more.

    I have been very thin before and also very heavy. When I was very thin, all I remember about that time was how hungry I always felt. I would wake up hungry and go to bed hungry. And when I was very heavy, all I remember about that time was that no matter how much I ate, I never felt full. Happiness couldn’t be found in either state.

    I think the conflict in my head would come from the fact that when you are thin, people see you as very fragile…and I was. But I was almost more fragile as a heavy person, but no one could see or acknowledge that.

    You’re not alone, though, and I guess that’s what I think you should remember. I don’t have any answers, just know you’re not alone.

  13. JM on December 23rd, 2016 6:05 am

    In addition to “Shrill” recommended above, I also recommend “Dietland” by Sarai Walker. Darkly funny and entertaining novel with a freeing message I’ve thought about a lot since finishing it.

  14. Chloe on December 23rd, 2016 9:40 am

    Hi Linda, I’ve really been enjoying your blog since you’ve returned (and also before, of course– I can’t believe how long I’ve been reading, ~13 years?)

    I lost some weight (~40 pounds) during grad school, kept it off for 3-4ish years (maybe gained 5 lbs in that time), then went off the deep end trying to get down to the lowest weight again and developed even more disordered thinking about food and weight (though, the “normal” culture around weight and food in American culture, especially for women, is already really fucked up and unhealthy).
    I realized that I wasn’t happy and dealt with some major cognitive dissonance when I realized my pursuit of a lower weight/ societally acceptable body was doing the opposite of what I wanted- being healthy. So I spent about a year (maybe up to two years) working on my head and my relationship with food (gokaleo and the facebook group eating the food were unbelievably needed for support and solidarity during that time). I gained all the weight back and it sucked, but I learned to know I’m more than my body and my attractiveness, I deserve to take up space, and also I have control over food- and that means eating foods I love, and that mostly (but not always!) support my health goals. it was worth it to not hate myself and my body so much. It’s still a journey, but I’m a lot better. Your therapist sounds great. Anyway, after recovery, I lost about 20 pounds and then got pregnant (18 weeks). And that’s a whole new set of body changes that is difficult for me (not just bigger, but so much weaker).
    Train of thought, complete.

  15. Annie on December 23rd, 2016 10:55 am

    This is such a great post, with great comments. I relate to it all. I’m contemplating saying “fuck it”, and giving up buttons, zippers and clothes without some percentage of Spandex in them.

  16. Barbara on December 23rd, 2016 12:15 pm

    Twice I’ve been told I was going to die in a matter of months (cancer). Twice I’ve made my funeral arrangements. Twice I’ve beat the odds, slain the dragon. Everything I ever thought about my body prior dissolved into such precious time wasted that I was embarrassed I’d been so shallow in regards to such a precious gift. My God when I was thrust toe-to-toe with the dragon my body came through for me! It slay the fucking dragon!!! Needless to say I am madly in love with it, and don’t give a rat’s ass if my boobs sag, my belly pooches, what the scale says, or if I have to unbutton my pants every time I eat a cheeseburger and fries.

    I’m ALIVE AND WELL thank ya Jesus and your sweet mama too.

    You’re gorgeous Darling. Stop listening to little mind. Big Mind is who tells you the truth.

  17. Jess on December 23rd, 2016 3:38 pm

    ^^^^ Barbara, you are fantastic and have an awesome perspective on things. Love it.

  18. Taerna on December 23rd, 2016 8:47 pm

    I love Barbara up there, and I love you, Linda. As you’ve dealt with your shit, I’ve dealt with my shit and I, too, -am so tired of fighting my body. About 5 years ago, after my son was born, I felt like such a badass. My body did THAT. And I’ve been grasping for that feeling ever since. I’m working on mindfulness and habits for health instead of with a goal of being smaller, lesser. I feel like, as women, we are always trying to be less… why. Why do we do that to ourselves? There is so much to me, I need a big enough package to wrap it up in. There’s hope, Linda. It’s disguised as hard work but I finally believe it’s worth it. ❤️

  19. Shawna on January 3rd, 2017 10:24 am

    One thing I’ve noticed during my mom’s years of yo-yo dieting: she often looks best when she wears cute clothes that flatter her, no matter what weight she’s at. The thing is though, she only tends to buy these sorts of clothes as a reward for losing weight, and reverts to older, frumpier styles when she’s heavier.

    While of course your size changes your look somewhat, it’s worth remembering that you can look great at pretty much any size if you treat yourself like you’re worth buying flattering clothes that suit you, no matter what the size is on the tag.

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