If I had a dollar for every time someone commented on my size I could retire comfortably yesterday.
To preface this post, when I prepare for bodybuilding competitions I lose weight (fat and muscle) but overall WEIGHT. I lost about 25 pounds in 2016 in pursuit of a lean, muscular STAGE physique and I was already a healthy weight prior to this weight loss. In the span of 6 months my size went from an already small size 2-4 to an even smaller size 0-00 and the number of comments and COMPLIMENTS, mostly from women, about my size escalated. Women I didn’t know felt the need to comment on how small my waist was, make remarks like “You’re so tiny” and give backhanded compliments like, “It must be nice to be a size 0” in dressing rooms. Little did these women know that my efforts at fat loss were because I weighed every single gram of food (even lettuce) and I did 5:00am fasted cardio sessions followed by evening weight training. They didn’t know it meant the loss of my menstrual cycle, a sign of healthy womanhood, due to low body fat.
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Fast forward over a year later and I have intentionally gained a comfortable 10 (and climbing) pounds and I am happier and healthier now than I was at a size 00. However, the process has been a constant mental game given that the American culture praises and glorifies weight loss. When the scale started to move upwards I had days where I second guessed myself… My brain was conditioned to think things like, “Should I be gaining weight?” or “Isn’t weight gain ‘bad'”? and “Shouldn’t I being ‘trying to prevent weight gain’?” My goals seemed so… opposite of what everyone else’s weight goals were. I felt silly and almost like I couldn’t relate to a lot of women (and men) in my pursuit of weight gain. I pushed past those hard days and still have them but it really made me think… when you look at magazine covers you read titles like, “Crush Cravings, Lose Weight”, “Eat a Giant Lunch, Drop 5lbs In a Month” and “Drop 10lbs Fast!”. When you turn on the T.V you see ads for weight loss meal systems and then PANDORA interrupts your jam session with ads to drop those last 5lbs at Planet Fitness. When you sit down with a group of women the odds are the conversation will at some point turn to weight loss. Like damn, can’t a girl eat a cookie without someone or something whispering something about weight loss?
Before you roll your eyes because “poor Julie is too skinny” I am not looking for sympathy. I am looking to provide a little bit of insight so others understand that HEALTH comes in all shapes and sizes, weight gain and weight loss and each struggle (weight loss or gain) is still valid. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that we’re currently in the middle of an obesity epidemic and the fact of the matter is that most American’s could stand to lose a few pounds in order to be healthier. However, for some weight loss isn’t what is healthy for them. For some the path to health involves weight gain, which is contrary to societal norm. I’m going to encourage anyone who reads this post to remember that bodies are a personal thing. Extremely personal. Clothing size and weight loss (or gain) is very personal and it can be sensitive for some. If you don’t know someone on a personal level or aren’t close to them keep comments to yourself and work on you. I’m not saying to not cheer one another on or give compliments, but do so in a way that doesn’t relate to body size or body image. Get creative, you can do it.
Best of luck to everyone as they pursue their New Years health resolutions!