I’ve gained and lost a lot of weight over the past six years. Usually, it’s the same 20 pounds. And my goal for this year is to lose those 20 pounds and not regain them. Yes, it’s a thrill to see the number on the scale going down. But it’s also kind of a bummer when you’ve seen that number twice or even three times before.
The last time I lost a great deal of weight, we were living in North Carolina. I was working out on a daily basis; in fact, the YMCA was one of my sole sources of childcare. So I would have my two hour workout while my daughter, who was two at the time, enjoyed play time with the other kids in the nursery.
The changes the workouts and eating plan wrought in my diet were astonishing; suddenly people who had seen me several times before ceased to recognize me. And I started fitting in to a single digit size for the first time in ages. It was heady and exhilirating and I felt fantastic.
Until one day.
I was grocery shopping without my daughter or husband–just a quick run to pick up a few things we needed. In the store, an older man lmost rammed his cart into mine. He joked about it and I was friendly enough in return, but then a few moments later, he did it again. I started to get a weird feeling. I didn’t like the way he was looking at me–it wasn’t even looking, it was leering.
He followed me to the checkout stand and then somehow, managed to follow me out into the parking lot. And as I put away my groceries, trying to hustle up the process, be bent over and really peered at my bum. Like, it was such an exaggerated movement that it belonged in a Keystone Kops movie.
As I jumped into my car and sped off, I glanced in my rearview mirror. He was *still* staring at me.
So. A few things went through my mind as I drove home:
First, I needed to start carrying mace.
Then, a sense of rueful awe at the power of the male ego. That this old man, who was dirty, somewhat toothless, and vastly unattractive would think that a young, fit lady was remotely interested in him or would want him looking at her really boggled my mind. Even when I was a slender little sprig of a think in my teen years, I knew there were standards of attractiveness beyond which I would never cross. Somehow, I think most men never got this message.
Then, a powerful feeling of deja vu so strong that I had to pull over into a parking lot for a moment to process it. This was why I got fat, I told myself over and over. I wanted to be invisible.
Now, I am not saying that this old man wouldn’t have leered at me, even if I had weighed three times what I did that day. But when I was fat, I felt protected. Sheltered from unwelcome advances. Cocooned in a way that kept me in a nice little invisible comfort zone. And when that comfort zone went away, I felt extremely vulnerable.
I’m not sure that the weight didn’t start to creep back after that moment, but of course, I went back up. I seem to have a comfort zone of a size 12-14 and when I hit that I feel too conspiciously fat, and so I start to drop down again.
I wish I knew how to conquer this fear of being seen, or of being too invisible. This, I think, is why my weight has yo-yoed so drastically over the years. I’d like to conquer the fear so I can vanquish the fat. Does anyone have insight on this they can share?