Due to the impending overindulgence of the holiday season (read: Dunkin Donuts in the front office every Friday), one of my coworkers has spearheaded a Biggest Loser style competition.  People will ante up $5, team up, weigh themselves anonymously, and the team who has lost the most weight as a percentage of their total weight, will win the pot.  

I am not entering.  This has nothing to do with modesty, a desire to stay away from mainstream activities, nor is it in any way is a protest with any sort of principles behind it.  I just do not lose weight.  Or gain it, for that matter.  You know how Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers encourages you to be your “healthy weight” as if there is some mystical weight your body is “supposed to” be?  I think my body has watched too many of those ads and believes it.  I weigh exactly 3 lbs more than I did when I graduated high school, 11 years ago. 

In my adult life, my weight has fluctuated so minimally that I have likely only weighed more than this twice, and less than this twice.  I look in the mirror, and aside from the wrinkles and the +/- acne situation, I see exactly the same body I’ve been seeing for a long time.  

The two times I weighed less were after a 7-week intensive backpacking trip to Europe with a shoestring budget, on which I subsisted on bread, cheese, yogurt, and fruit, and walked many, many miles each day with a 30lb pack on my back; and after my brain surgery, where I spent a week eating almost nothing, and 2 months recovering enough strength to walk around the block. 

The two times I weighed more were during an episode in college where I went for weeks with persistent nausea, ended up having a full upper and lower GI series of testing done, where the docs ultimately said “You have acid reflux, and we’re not sure what is causing your nausea, so it’s probably IBS,” which is about as specific as saying, “You have a tummy ache;” and during the 8 weeks when I was pregnant.  When my “IBS” hit, the doctor’s scale added 12lbs to my normal weight, and subtracted 2 inches from my height; deduce what you will.  I didn’t weight myself when I was pregnant, nor did I look when I was weighed at the OB’s office, as the number on the scale was supposed to be increasing, and as long as it was healthy, I didn’t care. 

All this talk of the Biggest Loser at work has me thinking about weight and body image again.  Recently, I’ve been noticing my pants just aren’t fitting like they used to.  They don’t fit like they did last spring, when it was pants weather.  This is making me crazy.  My waist measurement has not changed at all, but who among us under the age of 50 wears pants at the natural waist anyway?(well, aside from Mondo Guerra’s plus-sign pants, but that’s another story.)  Something is going on with my belly.  Pants I’ve had for 3, 4 years, are now too tight at the waist, and I can’t tolerate wearing them all day.  I find myself cringing as I reach more and more often for the New York & Company dress pants that have an elastic waist. 

The worst part of this is not true vanity.  It’s not fear of a changing body as I move into late twenties territory.  It’s not the fear of confronting a new person in the mirror.  It’s not even the fear of the number on the scale I don’t own.  The worst part is that my pants and skirts, my wardrobe, my image, my investment into my outer style, has been compromised!  I’m not the type who can just run out and buy the next size up in GAP jeans.  I have one-of-a-kind pieces, vintage garments, skirts I’ve made from bed sheets, and pants I’ve spent hours hemming.  I don’t shed my wardrobe each year like a crustacean does.  Mine is crafted from years of culling, acquiring, hunting, mixing and matching.  I can’t just go out and replace it for one that can accommodate my “belly” body, like other people have skinny jeans, fat jeans, and everything in between.  My clothing is my identity, and if my body changes, it might, too.  

I’m trying to fend off whatever is causing my pants to be too tight – stress, Newman O’s, ice cream sandwiches, being chained to a chair all day.  But it’s hard for a person who has never had to change her diet, to think about it.  Sure, I changed my diet when I became vegetarian at age 15, and again when I began to suspect I was lactose intolerant.  But these have merely been substitutions, not denials.  I cannot deny myself that after school snack, that 10am snack, that evening tea-and-cookie snack.  I am already eating smaller portions than the average human due to my acid reflux (I usually cut a garden burger in half and have the rest for lunch the next day; I can get 3 meals out of one Chinese food order).  All those tricks the media and UDSA are throwing at us, I already know, and have been doing for years anyway.   I’m hitting the gym with Mr. Apron, doing both cardio and strength training.  I walk the dogs.  I take the stairs.  I park far away. 

I’m not sure what else I can do, except maybe buy a corset or invest in Spanx. 

Or hope I get pregnant again soon, so I can throw all this body image garbage out the window, and live in garments with elastic waists.