Over the summer, I lost weight. A lot of it. It was a mixture of stress, a little sadness, and the need to control something. I counted the caloric content of everything I ate and drank. I started drinking Diet Coke, for God's sake. I worked out like a maniac, sometimes seven days a week. My muscles were defined, my stomach perfectly flat, my legs toned. I loved it, but I felt like shit. I didn't eat enough, and what I did eat was all low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie. It was always pre-packaged, and always store bought. I ate very few very small home-cooked meals, feeling guilty after finishing each one. But I knew I looked good. And, at that time in my life, that was all I really needed. When people asked what I'd done to lose the weight, I told them I'd stopped my birth control (it was true, I had) and started to work out more. I left out the food obsession.
But each time someone told me how great I looked, it only made me more determined to stay that size, or smaller. I saw my ex, and he told me he'd never seen me look so good. "You look perfect," he said to me. Instead of taking it as a compliment, I took it to mean that I'd been far from perfect for the past four years. "How come you always lose weight when we break up?" He joked. "Why didn't you ever do it when we were together?" I knew it was said in jest, but it made me want to lose even more weight. I felt like maybe I needed to. For the praise.
I met Billy at my lowest weight in probably my whole adult life. I wasn't gaunt or emaciated, I was just thin for my body. But, when we started dating, I couldn't be a priss and order only salads or eat only half of my meals, so my days of dieting came to a screeching halt.
Over the holidays, I took a sabbatical from the gym. It's been hard, with my new job's location, to get to the gym, and harder still to find the time between Christmas parties and Christmas shopping to make the trip from Billy's house to my own to pick up my gym clothes. I haven't seen the inside of the home I pay to live in for weeks.
So now, I'm back to my normal weight. But it makes me happy to see that the jeans I bought at my skinniest still fit fine. I'm not heavy, I'm just not as skinny as I was before. I gave up the calorie counting, I stopped hitting the gym as often. I'm back on birth control. "You look better now," my friends tell me these days. "You lost too much weight this summer. It looked unhealthy on you." I never know how to take a comment like that.
Last night, in bed, I patted my stomach. "I feel like a blob," I said to Billy. Two days of laying in bed to get over a bug will make anyone feel bloated and gross. I may not have looked like it, but I felt it.
He put his hand on the exact spot on my stomach that I'd just touched. "Well, you look perfect."
I was supposed to go to the gym tonight, break my three-week run of absence. But, instead my brother and I went out for pizza. For the first time in my life, I don't feel like my being loved has anything to do with what the scale says about me.