Sunday, April 22, 2012

Coming Out (At the Seams)


My name is Mary and I'm  overweight. For some reason, that's like coming out of the closet to write (and publish) but it's obvious. I mean, you see me and, while it might not be the first thing you notice, it is a thing you notice. It's a distinguishing characteristic, even, but to talk about to it people makes them feel awkward. Here was a conversation I had with my friend, Size 4:

Me: I want to try Crossfit this summer, but I'm worried that as a heavier person--
4: You're not a heavier person.
Me: Well, as a larger person--
4: No, you're not larger. You're just fine.
Me: No, [Size 4] I am, and I know that, and it's okay.

For some reason if you say aloud what everyone can already see, then they're worried that you have self-esteem issues or loving your body issues or something. I don't. I'm just overweight. I am above the government determined range of healthy weights for my height (which is a pretty generous range anyway) and I am statistically more at risk for everything from heart disease to breast cancer to infertility. It's a problem. I could probably talk more openly about high blood pressure resulting from being overweight than actually being overweight.

Isn't that bizarre? I mean, every magazine is screaming about this or that weight loss scheme, but among young people, among young larger people, it's taboo.

Guys, I like my body. A lot. See that picture up there? I may be flaunting a totally awesome farmer's tan, but I ran a 5k  at around an 8 minute mile (24:41, if you're curious.) just a few minutes before that photo. I can kayak and dance (meh--kind of) and climb mountains and take the groceries up to my 2nd floor apartment. I think my body's pretty great. But that doesn't mean that I have to satisfied with where I am. I need to change. I've started changing the past 2-3 years, but I probably should have started earlier. Maybe you and I should have had this conversation earlier.

No blame--I probably didn't want to have it either. But now that I'm here, I need you here. Remember my herd mentality? Can you all be my sugar angels on my shoulder telling me to put the Bismark doughnut down? Can you all plan activities that don't revolve entirely around cookies and movies? Maybe we could go for a walk or something. Can I bring carrots to the ward potluck instead of competing with the dozen desserts that take a table the size of the main course's table?  Again, no blame here or anything. Many of you guys are super supportive and many of you are trying to be healthy yourself. (Sometimes I get the impression that everyone's trying to pawn sweets off on their visiting teachees.) Let's just be cool about this and help each other out. Let's just get this out in the open.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Camping and hiking and friends and husbands

I like being outdoors. I have a 10-punch card for kayaking. I own two pairs of lightweight khaki pants, boots, and Tevas. I subscribe to a magazine called Outside. I do not, however, spend as much time outside as I would like.

Maybe it's a safety thing. My folks didn't like the idea of me hiking Y mountain alone, or backpacking Europe, and it's not just a girl thing--everyone's been told about the importance of the buddy system and many S&R reports start out with someone going out by themselves. At home I would sometimes go trail running with my dog on the expectation that this counted as a person, and maybe he would go for help. I think that might be expecting a lot from a guy who continues to be flummoxed by a frisbee.

But I think a lot of it is a momentum thing. Being outdoorsy takes some effort: you need to reserve the campsite and pack the GORP and plan the route and drive to the park. It's hard to do that for just yourself and it's even harder to do that when the gang is all having a movie night tonight. I'm sort of my own person, and I've gone kayaking by myself, and I always run by myself, but I have noticed that when my friends or roommates like shopping, or watching reality TV, I spend more time at the factory outlets or watching Say Yes to the Dress.

Which, as always, brings me to my singleness.

While going through the housing list with someone looking for a roommate, we saw a gentleman moving into our ward who was outdoorsy. He like mountain biking and fly-fishing. She said, "oh, great, he's the right age, but I don't know if I'm outdoorsy enough for him." "I donno," I said, "we don't have to be the exact same person." Which I think is true.

But then this weekend, hiking and camping with 20 of the best friends and co-religionists that one could hope to have, I was thinking about the pull that we all have on each other. If I married (or even dated) a guy who was outdoorsy, I'd engage more with my outdoorsy side. If I dated a guy who liked movies, I'd engage more with my movie side. I've seen some of my friends develop new interests and talents as they marry, and some accentuate interests they've already had (you know who you are). We all have influence.

That's why everyone wants to marry up, I think. Not that we want someone who will drag us to heaven on their shirttails, but because we want to people who bring out the "we" we want to be, we're prepared to be, we see ourselves being, but sometimes can't motivate ourselves to be. And hopefully we have in influence on our own friends & dating partners to help them to be the person they want to be. I know this sounds cliched in all that "someone who helps you be your best self" stuff, but it's kind of a realization that I'm just beginning to get.

I don't have to be the same person as my friends. It's been good for me to have friends who have introduced me to fashion, Dr. Who, board games, indie bands, artisan cheeses, and political persuasions in all directions. (You all know who you are in this list.) But it's also been good for me to have friends that have helped me become more myself, or more the kinds of selves that I want to see myself being.

Last night, when I went to bed way too early on accident after a up-roarously enjoyable camp-out with my friends and coreligionists, I dreamed I was married. I felt that push-pull of influence and admiration, and it was good.