Okay, I’m not 100% positive about how much weight I gained over the summer but it’s in the realm of 6 – 10 lbs, but for the sake of catchy titles, we’re going with 10. Also, no, I’m not going to show you before and after photos (not sorry). Anyway, here’s the story.
This past June, I packed everything up (more here) and then left to stay with family over the summer in Pennsylvania (more here and here). I was there for two months, and the pace of life was different to say the least. In Boston, I am a super active person, taking barre classes (more here) and walking as if an electromagnetic pulse knocked the public transportation system offline. However, in PA, I very reluctantly became a more sedentary person (which I am not a fan of, more here, and low-key believe that it is bad for my brain).
To combat my growing inactivity, I had a routine for myself — walking in the morning and then taking another walk or going for a jog in the evenings. I still did online barre classes on occasion but following an exercise routine in the small confines of my bedroom was a mental strain (I did not keep it up with any regularity). My diet was similar to what I eat in Boston but worse (I blame peanut butter), and, overall, I spent so much time in my bedroom.
To say that I am unaware of my weight/ body image would be a lie. Also, as an actress, I get measured and provide my measurements more than the average person for wardrobe purposes (so, it would be negligent to be unaware of my body? Lol). I was pretty antisocial over the summer, which was great so I focus on remote teaching assistant responsibilities, research for my graduate program, and producing my web series “Pretty…If You Squint.” However, it also meant that I spent many a day rotating between gym shorts and elephant pants, not noticing that— yeah, weight is being gained by me.
Although things got monotonous at times, overall, I was pretty happy over the summer. Even though I stayed home most days, I still felt somehow free. If I got tired of grading papers, then, I could drop the pen and film in the afternoon. I could compose songs on my walks and then, run home to record them. I could abandon my desk at 11am, relocate to Starbucks for a change of scenery, and accompany my mom to the mall on a random Friday because I don’t work regular hours. I felt like I a kid again. Unpopular opinion — I don’t want to graduate from my PhD program! (Don’t tell 😉 )
After all the fun and games of the summer were over, I flew back to Boston and coordinated the unpacking of my belongings that had been sitting in storage. I started with the closet and then moved on to the bed, kitchen, and various miscellany that I can’t seem to part with. Finally, I set up everything in the bathroom and set down the bathroom scale. I reinserted the batteries and stepped on it. Oh, waaaait, that’s not right. I remove the batteries and, in my denial, attempt to find better ones — no luck. I stand on the scale again. Hmmm. I hold heavy bottles of shampoo and conditioner — the number goes up. I set down the bottles and step on the scale again and the number returns to where it doth not rest.
Did I really gain that much weight? How did this happen? I haven’t weighed this much since high school! This is where I should mention that unlike many others who lament the loss of their taut adolescent bodies, I am glad to have RIP-ed that version of myself! Leaving home and living on my own has been better for my physical health. Going to college meant walking from the dorm to classes and to anywhere else I wanted to go. I did not gain the freshman fifteen, rather I lost five or so pounds. Then, gradually over the years by cultivating an active lifestyle and not binging on white-chocolate covered pretzels, gummy bears, or whatever-the-fudge I was obsessed with at the time, I’ve landed in a weight range/ body that I feel good about (not perfect, but I’m also not about to cut out carbs, because how can one properly enjoy Mexican food without carbs??).
Again, in my denial, I convinced myself that it was a bad scale (which it could be in all honesty, it’s super old). However, I needed a second opinion on these developments, so I pulled out the trusty measuring tape. Dear Reader, the measuring tape does not lie. I was horrified (yeah, I’m melodramatic — let me have feelings!). I pulled down a pair of jeans from the closet shelf and… oops, they were tight.
Somehow, I, in my happy, bliss-bubble of summer solitude, gained more weight in two months than I have like ever in my adult life. I didn’t have any traumatic experiences, there was no sadness, but, yes, over the summer there was weight gain. I low-key fell into a pit of despair and swore the I would wake up tomorrow and that things would be different.
I started walking everywhere again; I returned to my exercise classes; I made jogging a more regular habit, and I checked in on my progress. Unfortunately, weight loss is a journey — oh my god, is it a journey, I cannot stress that enough. In the first week, things went smoothly — my mind was focused and losing water weight is encouraging (if not at all meaningful lol). Then, my weight plateaued, and I was always craving salt for some reason. As I came closer to my goal, my motivation dipped and weight lose became slower and slower.
Doing strength training (mostly calisthenics tbh) was a good addition to my routine. I try to focus more on fitness than weight, but old habits die hard (or, you know, don’t actually die and just kind of chill in the corner of your mind and cackle at you now and then when you think you’re safe — ha). Focusing on the scale too much was mentally draining. My eating/ exercise habits are not perfectly consistent, so it totally makes sense that my body changes in little ways on the reg.
As we know, at the end of the day, it’s important to be healthy. For some people healthy means structured exercise and a nutritious diet, for others, it means quitting smoking, while for others still, it means not obsessing over the things in life that one cannot control. With that, I will let you define your healthy.
Body positivity is great! Body shaming is bullying! For me, I am happier at some weights than at others. I have made good progress in my journey, and I feel good about working toward the best version of myself. However, as far as my mental health is concerned, I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer want to make weight loss a goal. At this point, I am choosing to focus on fitness and nutrition and am willing to let things fall into place (and, knowing me, I will likely reevaluate these decisions at a later time).
Health is important; feeling good is important, and I hope that you can achieve both in whatever way that means to you.
P.S. I did lose about six pounds in the six weeks’ time. No — it wasn’t one pound per week. It was more like the most weight in the first week, much less in the weeks following, gaining a few pounds at some point, and then slooooowly losing them again. Bodies are weird; treat them with respect. If you want diet tips — ask someone qualified!