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I did not realise that being able to walk and do other things without pain was a much bigger deal than fat or thin shaming issues, until I had a knee injury.
When I was growing up, I was a very thin girl. It was difficult for me to gain weight. In those days, the madness about thin and thinner hadn’t yet caught on. My mum would try to feed me more but I still did not gain weight. Perhaps it is the genes, but I was always slim and of a slim build too.
During my teens and early adulthood, I never struggled with weight. I also never realised that it was a big deal to fit into small sizes. I do know that there were a few of my friends who suffered with weight issues. But more or less weight really was not a topic of discussion at all.
We all accepted our mums and grandmothers to be round and curvy. Our mums never worried about being ‘fat’ or wearing attire that made them good despite extra weight. Unlike now when we stress over not being able to fit into a particular jeans or dress. Now weight has overtaken our consciousness.
Yes, a lot of us talk about health and fitness. But trust me, the best compliment that most women desire is to be told that they have lost weight. Automatically they start feeling better about themselves and start feeling ‘beautiful’. Also a weight gain of a couple of kilos is a matter of great concern often wrecking happiness and driving most women nuts.
A rounder tummy peeking through your dress is a cause for grave concern. I kid you not! Women think 3-4 times before wearing that swim suit or shorts because they are on the heavier side. We hear about trying to get a ‘bikini’ body. Shouldn’t bikini be made for the body instead of the body drilled down to fit a particular bikini? Today, we expect women in their 40s, 50s or 60s to be reed thin, whether their hormones and metabolism can keep up or not. We admire women in the show biz who are as thin as possible. Any women who are slightly plump are body shamed constantly.
As women, we go through a lot of phases in our lives. I felt huge changes in my body after giving birth. It used to annoy me that extra weight which I lost in about a year and a half because my body just shed it. But I know of women who go into depression because that weight just does not seem to go.
Of course, this beautiful metabolism does ditch you when you enter your 40s. Coupled with hormone and health issues that may surface gives you the perfect recipe to gain kilos. Let me tell you that all of us who feel a high after working out hate nothing more than physical illness making us lay low. I had the toughest year last year when a knee injury derailed life for me. For 3 months, I could not bend my knee. After that as well, with severe knee pain, there was a lot of rehabilitation for a year to bring me back to near normal today.
Yes, I gained some weight and also lost the toning that I had worked on. But to tell you the truth, more than that I worried if I would ever walk painfree. Will I be able to climb steps and hike the way I had all my life? I had started running back then and even now have not got the green light to start that.
The process of recovery has seen many ups and down, sweat and tears. Just when I felt that I was fine, I had some episode which almost took me back to square one. My physiotherapist and family not only kept my morale high but kept my confidence going. One thing this episode gave me was immense respect for my body and its ability to bounce back. All the strength training and lifting weights that I had been doing for more than a decade helped my body heal faster. Every time I fell back, she fought harder.
Yes, I was raring to exercise, I won’t deny that. But there was a new found wisdom about my body that had gained some weight but some perspective too along with it. I respected me. I wouldn’t curse if I did not fit in a dress. I knew that there are larger issues in life. I had seen what it was like to be almost immobile. Lots of learning happened in the past one year. I have slowly inched back to doing strength training and cardio like swimming or walking almost like before. Sometimes I pinch myself about that.
More than anything I am so happy in my body and skin. I wear clothes with pride. The size I wear (which is the same as before) has zero bearing on my happiness. And I wish it upon every woman that she is not judged or ridiculed if she suddenly gains or loses weight. That she really aims to be as healthy and fit as she can be without worrying herself sick about every Calorie and every kilo. I don’t know why we do this to ourselves. But it is worrying and really we should stop.
Don’t let a size make you happy or sad. Being healthy is the biggest gift we can give to our bodies, and that has nothing to do with your body weight. Period!
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: unsplash
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Rachna Parmar is a Certified Nutritionist, cookbook writer, Editor and Health Coach.
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