A Tale of 20 Pounds

I couldn’t wait to see Denny yesterday. We met for breakfast at King’s in Kittanning, even though we were hoping to find some dive in East Brady, which probably exists, but not on Google.

Denny’s a long-time friend of ex-Larry, and they’d been on a “Sideways”-ish tour of the NY and Canada wine country over the weekend. Denny is also my friend, and the thing about friends when you get divorced, they either pick one side of the couple to side with or they throw their heads back and say, “I like you both. I’m not gonna choose or get in the middle.” Denny’s that friend.

When I walked into King’s, Denny was seated in a booth facing the entrance. When he saw me, he stood up, gave me a big hug, and said, “Hey, I was expecting that waif of a woman in a pink shirt! Your face is fuller. You look great!”

What I heard: “Damn, Lynn, you gained weight again!”

The last time Denny saw me I looked like this:

This is what I look like now:

My lowest weight was 125. I am now 145. Twenty pounds in two years. The gain has stopped, and I know why it happened (surgery, menopause, divorce, move, stress), but still…

I sometimes want to be that waif again.

At least I think I do.

And yet….

1. When I gained 10 pounds last year after my knee surgery, my body felt better. I have severe osteoarthritis, and when my body-fat levels were low, I was in a lot of pain. I’ve not been in as much pain at 145. Hmmm….

2. I like my current food regimen and I don’t want to change or reduce amounts at this point. I eat healthy foods, I’m still a vegetarian, but I’m no longer a food Nazi. I police myself, don’t get me wrong, but I let a baguette or full-fat cream cheese or a piece of my daughter’s banana bread fall through the cracks sometimes. I confess: I’m human.

3. This gain has stopped (I’ve stayed the same weight for 3 months) and I’ve fell in love with exercise again. It was a rough summer. My brother’s seizures and my pending school schedule had my undies in such a bundle there was no way to detangle them. Now that things have settled down and I have a better understanding of what’s what, my exercise schedule and nutritional intake are front and center again.

I learned that in times of stress, that when I stay focused on my health, my principles will not fail me. In the last three months, I’ve made the best decisions I could and stayed conscious of everything I put in my mouth. My food plan – culled over the last six years – has become rote. And that is what I think is the key to success. When the diet you choose becomes second nature, and you allow for some latitude and yet reign yourself in when you go too far, you are there. You get it.

My body has a few more curves than before. I’m no longer a waif, and that sometimes makes me sad. But I feel better physically. I’m strong and I look…eh…well, I’m still working on that positive. I look OK. I fell in love with being skinny. Waifishly skinny. That’s a psychological thing I’m still working out.

Today I was driving down Route 28 on my way home from Claire’s taekwondo class. A man – who I’d guess was in his late 60s – driving a late model (1980s?) black Jaguar passed me, and he was wearing a safari hat like the Man in the Yellow Hat from the Curious George books. There was what looked like a book mark hanging from his rear view mirror. He was singing. I imagined the book markish thing was some kind of saying or verse that he liked that kept him grounded. I thought about what mantra I might hang on my rear view mirror, what words would remind me that I am OK here in this moment, at 145 pounds, happy to be alive and singing in my car.

I’m open to suggestions. What mantra do you live by? What words give you strength?

21 thoughts on “A Tale of 20 Pounds

  1. I think you look great. It's one thing to be a waif (which I will never be). It's another thing to be healthy and happy. I'm working my way back down to my happy weight of 132 (I'm short). I was not happy at 147, but right now, at 137? Eh, you know? I'm all right. Except all my pants are either too tight or too big.

  2. Are you happy? Are you feeling good physically? Are you at peace with your health today? Do not let the number on the scale have the final word. I think you look incredible – and I am only seeing a photo. If camera's add 10 pounds then you must be too thin in real life.

    Song: I will survive. 🙂


  3. I’m open to suggestions. What mantra do you live by? What words give you strength?

    I get it. The loss, the bounce, the knee problems, school, family issues…. It's life. I like to remind myself that I have learned to live with food despite all of these things still going on. That fact gives me strength. I feel better equipped to deal with life on life's terms now that I am not self medicating with food. My mental health is better, my physical health is (relatively) better but most importantly I am living my life, a life not ruled by food. At either end of the scale.

    As for my own personal mantra- Be the best person you can be– without sacrificing your own happiness.

  4. At 145, you look healthy, strong, and beautiful – what more could you ask for? Maybe you went from one extreme to the other, in getting all the way down to 125. I know from experience that it feels good (psychologically) to get so close to what we've always been led by society to believe is a “desirable” weight. It's like you really feel like you “won”. I think that society's concept of “desirable” is frequently something we buy into and is, in fact, an extreme.

    To me, “waif” isn't a term I take in a favorable way – much like “gaunt”.

    Your friend said you look great, and that says it all!

  5. I must leave you a comment as I have not yet done so and I have been following your blog and a member of your FB page for a while now.

    KUDOS to you Lynn for posting what I consider “the other side of maintenance.” I have struggled alot with a regain of 10 pounds and getting to where I feel comfortable again. It is always nice to know that I am not rowing my boat alone.

    Thanks for your post. I needed to see this today!


  6. Like you better at 145, you look younger. At waif weight you looked like you were 15 years older than you are. It is not healthy to get obsessive about a number on the scale. Since you feel fit and healthy, that should be your guide. Now I am being honest, and you may not like this, but I always kind of got turned off when you got manic about 1/2 a pound from, for instance, 127 to 127 and 1/2. Come on, how do you think that makes the rest of us feel? I love you, Lynn, and I think you are amazing, I'm just glad you are getting more realistic.

  7. I have read your blog for years and I have always felt like your face looked better a little more filled out. I would never ever say anything because it was your choice to maintain at 125, and your happiness. But part of me is happy for you now, because you have a healthy glow. The fact that you're in less pain says it all to me really – I think it shows.

  8. Honestly, I think you look better at this weight. Just much healthier – less fragile. More like you can go for a bike ride, wrassle with your grandkids, lug a suitcase on and off a plane – oh wait, that's because you are doing all that!

    I know there's a fine line maintainers walk, but it's nice to not have to be SO stringent. And I can tell from your FB activity, you sure look like you've been having a great time doing all sorts of things w/o hesitation. LOVE THAT!!!

  9. I am with the others. I don't like the waif Lynn. In fact I used to read and think “when is she going to be normal like the rest of us”? I love that you are real and you are honest. It is about being healthy, pain free, and active. People that are obsessed w the scale are no fun to be around. I refer to them as “wet blankets”.
    I used to wonder how Larry handled the restrictive Lynn and if your split had anything to do with your lifestyle changes or restrictions. My hubby has said he'd prefer a larger me over one that is obsessed w the scale. It's about finding the balance. At 145 you definitely are there. You look radiant and rock the hell outa that pic!
    Lisa s

  10. I think you look fine either way. I also think it could, perhaps, easily creep to 165 in 2 more years if you get too lax, but maybe I am just imagining myself in your shoes! Once I am okay with 20 gained, 30 is no biggie either. So my thought is, set a limit, don't go over it, stay healthy 🙂

  11. I'm getting in late on this one, but I wanted to let you know that I think you look just about perfect right now. Now, I know that will have no merit if you aren't feeling the same way, but sometimes if enough people are using more words like: healthy, rested, refreshed – instead of words like: tired, sick, gaunt…well, you get the idea.
    I'm going through this right now. Seems like I go under one or two pounds below my safe-weight and I get all kinds of concerned comments from my family and friends. I know that I need to work out how I feel about it and whether I agree or not, but I have to admit I'd rather hear 'you look great' instead of 'you look gaunt'. Do you lose in the face first, Lynn? That always seems to be a dead giveaway that the weight is too low for me.

  12. If you have been maintaining for the last 3 months, maybe you have just found a maintainable weight. I remember getting about 10 lbs. thinner than I am now. I was constantly miserable, and eventually gained it all back. Now I know that the 10 lb less weight was unsustainable. And if you were in pain all the time 20 lbs lighter, then it's a no-brainer. Health does NOT mean constant pain.

  13. I am the weight where you were when you started on your path to health. As I undertake getting well again, one of my mantras is “Do the next right thing”. It is from Anne Lamott. It helps me refocus when I am overwhelmed and think there is no way I can go do anything about being 60 and weighing nearly 300 pounds! You mentioned your principles in this post, and I'm sure you've stated them throughout your writings. Could you please give a quick rundown of what those key principles are? Thanks for what you do for all of us cyber folks who need support and inspiration.

  14. Your weight has settled at 145 because that is where it is probably supposed to be. I think you look gaunt and older at 125. Losing all the weight was quite an accomplishment but I think you may have over corrected and gotten too thin. You don't want to go to extremes in either case, obese or skinny. You make a much more realistic role model at 145. If you feel lousy, then what is the point of being waif thin.

  15. “I never quit. I never give up.” Hillary Clinton

    I'm one of those annoying people who's looked waifish all my life, and it comes with its own complications. Complicated as it may be to tell you that you look nicer in the second photo … you do. It may just be an artifact of the second photo having better lighting.

    If you're happier without the added 20lbs, or if you feel better physically at 125, then crank it up and get rid of them. But otherwise, from where I am, you can sit happy at 145 because you look GREAT.

  16. lynn, i'm very late with my comment but i had to think hard and honest about this one. i've been reading your blog for a few years, thank you so much for sharing.
    i think for a lot of us (you readers) your weight gain has been comforting to observe. because it makes you one of us, one who struggles and fails. but i disagree with many of the comments. first of all i don't think that we can judge from the pictures wether or not you look better with 20 pounds more. second i know it's not about how you look. it's about how you feel. and about the fear that this weight gain leaves you with.
    i lost about 130 lbs three years ago and got to a very low weight (BMI 19.5) at which i felt fantastic. after maintaining for about 1 year i started regaining, 100 lbs in 3 years. i'm now losing once again.
    at my lowest weight i did get a lot of negative comments from friends and family about looking gaunt, worrying about my health, wondering in my face about eating disorders. i struggled a lot with some of the comments. while regaining and after reaching 100lbs gain the same people told me in all seriousness that i looked healthier, more beautiful etc. never mind i felt fat, depressed, in pain (physically as well as mentally), was holed up indoors because of low self-esteem…
    i hope this time when i get to goal i will not let these voices get to me. i remember well how healthy i felt, how confident i was.
    people have their own agenda. they felt that i was a different person at my skinniest. the fat me is the person that they know and want to be around.
    but i have to like myself and i don't like myself fat.
    so i'm with janis, do what you have to do to be happy!

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