“I’m glad I can’t convert kilograms into stone,” I say as I stand on the scales at the doctors for my annual pill check-up.
“Do you want to know what it is in stone?” my doctor asks me. She answers and time stops still for a few seconds.
10 stone 8.
I’m 10 stone 8.
The last time I weighed myself two years ago, I was 8 stone 7. Two stone in two years.
I’m officially fat.
Growing up, I’ve always been the wrong side of chubby. Even when I was a Size 8 when I was 16 years old, I was built thicker than the other kids around me. Because I’m short, my weight can’t distribute as evenly as it would on other people and it’s extremely obvious when and where I carry extra weight. Also, I like food. I’ve never made any secret of that. However, I only eat at mealtimes and I favour vegetables over hydrogenated fats. I happen to dislike pizza and cake. Whilst I don’t believe in denying myself, I’m also definitely not a glutton. But this post isn’t about me getting defensive, so I’m going to stop trying to justify myself now and just hope that you’re not going to be rude to me. Because I’d like to be honest with you here, if I may.
I have distinct memories of being 14 years old and being a Size 10 and my best friend (who was the same dress size) telling me in front of all the other girls there that I couldn’t borrow a pair of pj’s to sleep in at a sleepover as I was too big for her clothes – “What are you, like, a size 14?”
I remember the time I found compromising pictures of my (now-ex) boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend on his phone and my first thought was: ‘shit, she’s essentially skin and bones, how am I ever going to compete?’ rather than what you might’ve expected (I later laid an incredibly intricate trap wherein he claimed to have deleted them but only moved them to another place and I got to throw the tantrum I should’ve thrown all along when I ‘discovered’ them ‘for the first time’).
But if we fast forward to last Saturday, only a week before this fated doctor’s appointment, there’s me, sat down in a coffee shop with a friend and I’m telling her that I know I’ve put on weight in the past year. That most of my clothes from university or before don’t fit and I have stretch marks on my stomach that weren’t there before. But that it’s not affecting my life either. I’m happy with how I look, and I don’t feel the need to change my lifestyle. To look at me, most people would hazard a guess that I’m a size 12, not a 14-16 and I’m skilled at dressing to hide unflattering areas and angles. I can see an odd look in my friend’s eyes. It’s a mixture of pity for my chocolate-addled brain and smugness that she’s size 8 with rock-hard abs. There’s also a confusion in her eyes as to why I feel the need to talk about this.
And that’s the thing. There’s this underlying notion in society that when you’re fat, you have to be secretly unhappy. You have to secretly hate yourself. And, if we’re being frank, perhaps I do at times. But never, honestly, never, about my weight. In fact, rarely about my appearance in general. Of course, I have days where I look like crap. And there are days when I think, ‘maybe, if I was a Size 8, I would be happier in general,’ but I’m fairly sure that that’s not how life works. If changing the skin on your body brought you everlasting happiness then Michael Jackson wouldn’t have felt the need to inject illegal amounts of prescription drugs into his hard-won skin every day. Perhaps that’s a strange example to use but hopefully you know what I mean. Shrinking the surface area of my skin will not diminish the surface area of my issues.
I do understand the need to be healthy, and that 10.5 stone is not healthy for a 5 foot girl. And when I’ve moved house and started my new job and am generally more settled, I’m going to start on a diet and exercise plan so that I can shift some of this weight that I’ve put on. But I’m going to do it slowly and at my own pace. I’m not going to punish myself or starve myself or sprint around the park until I’m sick, all of which I’ve been known to do in the past when weight-gain has caught me unawares. Truthfully, I thought that I’d put on one stone, not two and of course I was disappointed in myself. I think part of it is because I left an incredibly stressful/frantic job (dementia carer) in November and I now work a very gentle, stress-free and calm job (bookseller). Perhaps having my contraceptive implant removed last year has also contributed. Perhaps I have simply over-eaten and not exercised sufficiently. But none of that matters.
What matters the most is that I’m happy. And honestly, right now? I am.