The story getting the most interest in this month's issue of the O magazine is Oprah Winfrey's essay on her ever fluctuating weight. In the article, she talks about being embarrassed about being back up to 200 lbs. I have to say I find some solace in Oprah's shame. If she, with her dietitians, trainers, cooks and assistants, can still find maintaining a healthy weight challenging, then certainly there should be sympathy for me.
For more than two decades I could eat what I wanted without gaining an ounce. If I knew then what I know now I would have appreciated that time, instead I hated my lean body and the nicknames that came with it - Olive (Oyl), Skinny, Slim, Bones. I did all I could to gain weight. I think I spent an entire college semester eating bun and cheese and drinking malta because someone told me they would help me gain weight. Everything I did worked. The pounds just came all at once, seemingly overnight, many years later.
Now, I am what I ate all those years without thought. The Simply Delicious plantain tarts are my thighs. The Ziggy's oxtail lunches are the extra padding around my waist. The extra servings of my mother's stew peas are now my bat wings. I am heavier, but certainly not happier.
My choice is to love my lumps, love exercise or watch what I eat. With all due respect to Mo'nique and the rest of the love-your-curves movement I am not likely to feel any affection for my extra 20. As I have never been one to beat a path to the gym or or look too hard for ways to work up a sweat, it is too late for me to develop a love of exercise. That leaves dieting - a torturous burden that should have been listed right after "in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children."
I know well enough not to follow fad diets. I had the good sense to get the help of a nutritionist, but that makes the task no less harrowing. Only a few days after pulling out and dusting off my nutritionist's charts - again, I feel like a drug fiend going through withdrawal. Of course, my drug of choice would be a Tastee patty or a slice of fruit cake.
Oprah relates regret that she is still - at this stage of her life and after all her accomplishments - having to talk about her weight. I understand that. I wish weight was never a concern outside of health, but that is not the case in our society. We all know plus sized women who accomplish much in their lives, but a successful woman seems less so if she is heavy. I know plus sized women who never look less than stunning, but sexy and beautiful don't dovetail with anything over a size 8 in most people's mind. Most importantly most women - society-induced or otherwise - are uncomfortable with themselves with even a few extra pounds. Many of us are tormented by the body we could have, if we could just lose 5, 10, 20, 40 pounds.
We want to wear the clothes that don't look quite the same in the double digit sizes. We want seamless lines under our knits and no muffin tops in our jeans. So I will look past the Harry & David cookies my husband brought home and make myself a no-sugar fruit smoothie. I will measure and weigh every morsel of food and I will drink water like I have two humps to fill. I will grit my teeth and I will do it. Bikini season is only seven months away.