I wrote this post in August 2013 and contemplated posting it for a while, then kind of forgot about it. I am posting it now because I am 25 weeks pregnant and my body is going through drastic changes that I have started reflecting on.
– August 2013 –
Recently I have had a few people comment on my body. “Have you lost weight?”, “You look skinny.” “Are you okay?” I was surprised at how offended I was when I heard these comments.
I have always had a small frame. Growing up I was super small. I would read magazines, desperate for a way to gain weight. I would work out and then eat hard-boiled eggs (I read somewhere that protein after the gym would help build muscle). I was twelve. I just wanted to fit in, feel normal.
I was teased for my skinny legs, and flat chest. My jeans didn’t hug my legs like all of my friends. I used to wear 2 pairs of socks with hiking boots to hide my small ankles. There was speculation around my eating habits. At sixteen, my family doctor asked me, “How do you stand on those chicken legs?”
My mom reassured me that I was normal. “Just wait until you’re older, you will appreciate your high metabolism. You are going to love shopping in your 20’s.” … she was right.
At seventeen I finally started to gain some weight, breaking 100 pounds in grade 12 I was over joyed. I started to fill out my clothes. I needed a bra! University hit and I guess I put on the “freshmen 15″, it was a good thing. At 5,6” and 115 pounds I had grown out of my boyish figure and found my confidence.
I should also mention I was a very athletic growing up. I started gymnastics when I was 3, I had a secret dream of winning an Olympic Gold medal. That dream was crushed at age seven when we moved to a small town without a trampoline or a foam pit. In middle school I participated on my school’s sports teams. I didn’t make the cut in for JV Volleyball in grade 9 so I joined my schools cheerleading/dance team and started rock climbing with my family. Dance was my true passion. Beginning at the age of 8 it was a big part of my life until second year University.
I bought my first gym membership in 2004. I loved working out. I learned how to use the weight machines and the free weights. I would bring my text books and read them on the cardio machines. I started to notice my body changing. I was seeing muscle definition in my arms and abs. I gained weight, I would float between 125 and 135, but the numbers didn’t mean anything. I loved the way my clothes fit and I felt stronger and more powerful than ever.
It’s not like I was super fit for all of my early 20’s. I am still human. There were times when I would let physical activity drop off my priority list and over indulge in food and booze but I always managed to balance things out. The “squish” was a great motivator to get me back to the gym and back on track. I was not interested in buying new jeans on a student budget. I definitely took for granted how easily my body bounced back.
Finishing University and moving to Toronto really threw me out of my routine, again my body changed. Weighing myself, I was between 120 and 130. I was had lost weight, but my jeans were a little tighter. I didn’t feel fit, I didn’t feel strong.
Two years ago I started group fitness classes and more recently started running. I work really hard and I eat well. I am healthy. I guess I am lucky I had the experiences I did growing up and that loosing weight was never a struggle for me. (I am also lucky to have “good” genes. My dad is very athletic and my mom, while less coordinated, is strong with a tiny frame.) I have never owned a scale. Truthfully I was too cheap to buy one once I moved out on my own. At 28, 5,6″ and 128 (ish) I feel like I am in the best shape of my life.
The word “skinny” still makes me cringe. I can’t stand when people describe me as skinny, I am fit. I am strong. Somewhere along the line, I started to associate the skinny with unhealthy. The pressures that girls and women face in our society to be skinny are unnerving. Fad diets, weight loss pills, eating disorders, this obsession in our culture to be skinny. It scares me and I want nothing to do with it, so please don’t call me skinny.
You only get one body, take care of it. Be strong.