Guest Post: Expectations

Let me introduce one of my closest friends, Emily.  I met her the day of her ex-boyfriend's senior prom, and I've been counting my b...

Let me introduce one of my closest friends, Emily.  I met her the day of her ex-boyfriend's senior prom, and I've been counting my blessings ever since.  I've introduced Emily before -- but hear in her words about her battle with weight and expectations.  I hope you all have a friend like Emily -- someone who shows you what is possible and then helps you achieve it.

If there's one thing I can do, it's gain weight.
I'm also quite adept at losing weight as it turns out.

According to my mom, I started to put on weight when I was 7, which I later learned coincided with the increase of fighting between my parents. I don't remember being particularly fat, per se, until I was in 5th grade. My gym teacher was up in front of class leading us in some 1991-era appropriate Jane Fonda-esque workout and she yelled "This is a great exercise if your thighs are starting to rub together...EMILY!"


Twenty-one years that has stuck with me. Twenty-one years of thinking my thighs shouldn't touch, of comparing myself with everyone else, of not eating in front of people lest they think "look at that fat girl eating." My teens seem like an antisocial blur to me now, summers in bed watching ER reruns, returning to school in September pasty white because I avoided the beach. I do remember stepping on the scale the day of my then-boyfriend's senior prom when I was 17. 199lbs at 5'7".

The next time I remember weighing myself I was 240lbs. It wasn't as though I'd never dieted before. Sporadic attempts at Weight Watchers Online, diet pills, eating pints of Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream at a time, breaking up Tostitos into bowls so it looked like I was eating less of them...ordering two meals from McDonald's and pretending one was for someone else...and having it DELIVERED (man, you can get anything delivered in NYC). I never lasted on anything, and nothing ever worked.

In January 2006 my mom passed away [[Robby: um, have I ever mentioned how much Emily and I have in common?]]. We chatted, before she died, about how she wanted me to "take care of myself," but I'm not entirely sure what I did was what she had in mind.

In March, 2006 I marched into a Weight Watchers meeting, about ready to throw up. Someone was going to know my weight, hell, I was going to know my weight...and I was going to be judged for it. I stepped on the scale, and 255 glared at me in angry red scale-talk. BMI; 42. My goal weight set. 160. FUUUUUCK.

It took 2 entire years for me to get down to 152lbs. 2 years, countless meetings, countless miles run and weights lifted and countless hours spent obsessing about food.

Here's what I wasn't prepared for: Once I lost the weight, it changed neither my issues with food nor my perception of my body. I went from a size 22 to a size 6 and thought I was still fat (and my thighs still touched, by the way). I started eating one apple and one container of yogurt, daily, and running at least 6 miles, daily...losing is actually easier than maintaining as it turns out. My epilepsy came back, I reverted to my antisocial ways all to maintain my BMI. I got so sick, that one week I had 36 grand mal seizures and could remember neither my name, phone number, how to get into my apt, or my social security number. Needless to say, this was in no way maintainable.

Five years later, I'm 168lbs, my BMI is 21. The thing I'm learning is moderation, and self acceptance. I'm a size 8, my thighs rub together in a sweaty awful way in the summer and in a normal annoying way in the winter, I have more pec than boob these days, but I can go out to dinner with friends and have a glass of wine and breathe. I finished a MARATHON, and a 152 mile bike ride in 9.5 hours, and my legs are muscular, damnit.

I went to the doctor, and she said that despite being a little over my Weight Watchers-imposed goal weight I am the picture of health. I work out 6 times a week, eat healthy, and holy shit the scale isn't the only measure of health.

Scratch your head and read that again.
The scale isn't the only measure of health.
Fuuuuuuuuck again!

Everything I'd been conditioned to know out the window. These days I'm working on appreciating my body for what I put it through, all the countless miles pounded and hours in a bike saddle. I will never be a size 2, I will never be long legged and fawny like we're taught we should look. My stretch marks are a form of pride, and my thighs will touch every day for the rest of my life.
So fuck you, 5th grade gym teacher. Fuck you and your unrealistic expectations.

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10 comments

  1. Yay to you Emily!! Sorry for all the pain you've gone through. Congrats on all your hard work and on becoming a strong woman, in every sense of the word!

    Thanks for sharing her story with us Robby.

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  2. Emily, your doctor is 100% right: you are a picture of health. You are looking great: your husband is a very lucky man.
    Like you I have been on several diets, but this time I am determined to do it right. By studying people who have a constant weight all their lives I have learned that quick weight loss is not a good idea; better is to lose weight slowly and to take small but immediate steps. Although they are very much aware of their weight, they are very relaxed about it, and take immediate action, using all sorts of short term small strategies to keep their weight in balance.
    I have lost weight the last two weeks just by eating slowly: putting my fork and knife down in between bites and tasting food. I eat what I like, but by eating slowly,I eat less.
    If you live in the USA the American diet is not very healthy: corn, beef, fries, hotdogs, cookies...fizzy drinks. But we have to learn to love to eat salads, vegetables, fruits. I have added papaya to my diet; try it, cut it in half, take out the seeds and scoop it out.
    I would like to know how you are getting on; keep me posted.
    Good luck Joe

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  3. Goooo Emily...XOXO all the way from Sweden.
    Your friend Malin

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  4. What a post! I still have flash backs to an elementary school gym class too...and I am much older than Emily! So what if your thighs touch...you are healthy and that is what it should all be about. I am done with the whole idea of "goal weight" and grasping on to the physical challenges I want to conquer in my life!

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  5. Great post Emily...well done.
    -Snowman Crotch.

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  6. Thanks so much everyone, and Robby for letting me take 2 entire years to write this haha.

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  7. What a journey. what a story! My thighs have always rubbed together. A little less nowadays, but still...I'm happy with myself. I'm so glad you found your happy place, Emily.

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  8. I still remember reading that Crystall Renn had to get down to 98lbs before her thighs stopped rubbing. I think the point is this: toned thighs don't chafe as much as untoned thighs.

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  9. I loved your guest post! So well said, all of it!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment.
I'll do my very best to respond to it in a timely manner!
<3 Robby