My Thoughts on “Feeling the Burn”

The dress puckered. They ooh-ed and aww-ed as I stepped out of the dressing room, but I could feel the truth like I could feel the snug fabric—I had an unwanted deposit weighing on my assets.

A step onto the scale at home two days ago confirmed it. I’m five pounds heavier than I used to be.

I stared at the number. Then I exhaled, willing every last bit of weighted air out of my body. The scale held. And stepping off, I turned to the mirror, and my eyes began to take in my form, navigating carefully over the suntanned legs and arms, resting longer on the areas that have seen less sun and now carry more weight.

I know the stories those 5 pounds tell. Sunny afternoons along downtown 8th street, sipping an iced caramel latte and reading on a work break. Evenings madly yelling at the TV with friends as we drink our wheat beers and cheer on the world cup. A plate of ribs or artisan pizza with family while we linger on the back porch watching lightening bugs.

The 5 pounds tell some other stories too. Second bowls of pasta in front of the TV when it’s late and there is lots of room on my couch. Sitting next to my friend who cuddles with her fiancé and mentally reciting the truth [“I am so happy for her”] while reaching for another handful of M&Ms. Choosing fast food because I’m tired and have cooked all week and don’t know what to make for myself.

5 pounds of both/and—memories and flavors well worth the consequence/numbed fullness to distract from the parts of my reality that are difficult.

It is hard for me to bless the “both/and.” I don’t want to accept my goodness and my numbing all at once. I would rather make an intense “get fit” schedule based on exercise, portion control, meal planning, and alcohol limits.

working out and dieting

And while none of those things are wrong, I can also tell they aren’t really about being happy and kind with myself either. Looking back on all of the food rules and fitness striving I’ve allowed to reign for the last 48 hours, I see another form of control emerging, another space for numbed relief where I can focus on performance instead of listening to my heart.

So tonight, after a stupidly small bowl of chicken sausage and bowtie pasta for dinner, I went out and bought some popcorn, came out to my porch and started writing this post about what is actually going on for me. And I didn’t stuff the popcorn in my mouth with giant handfuls; I ate it piece-by-piece, enjoying how it tasted and putting it away when I could tell I had had enough.

I have some thoughts for how I am going to help those 5 pounds along in leaving so my clothes fit the way I want and I feel the way I want…but I’m not going to do any of that with a lot of intensity. Instead, I plan on choosing to stay curious and connected to why I want to eat. Is my heart delighting in goodness or am I shutting down an ache inside of me that is worthy of words?

Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world.  She’s a 25 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart.  Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day.  For now, she is honored to be a part of Red Tent Living.