Life + Love, Life Stories

It may be a new year, but will I be a new me?

I've been fighting the same battle with myself, year after year. Will 2017 be any different?

December’s almost over? Where did the time go? For many of us, December is a month full of holiday-celebrating and shopping, spending time with family, and let’s face it, lots of eating. If we can manage to find a break in between all that, many of us like to look back on the year we’ve had and make a plan to do some things differently next year (i.e. the eating part).

I’ve had some time to reflect on the year I’ve had. 2016 was a year of big changes. It was the first year of my marriage to the man I met on the internet, the year I moved away from my family for the very first time – and to a “Red State” at that, the year I visited more new cities than ever before. But in some ways, 2016 was like any other year. I begin each new year with a resolve to eat healthier and stay consistent with my exercise routine, but by the the end, those same “10 pounds” creep their way back on somehow. I’ve been fighting these same 10 pounds for the past seven years.

But by the the end of the year, those same '10 pounds' creep their way back on somehow Click To Tweet

I’m sure many women feel my “pain.” Those final ten pounds are the most stubborn little mothereffers ever. But my story is a little different than most. In fact, struggling with 10 pounds for the past seven years pales in comparison to the number of pounds I was struggling with before 2009.

In 2005 when I was a senior in high school, I had reached my all-time high of 220 pounds (FYI: I am 5’2″). There was stress at home and at school. Whatever little confidence I did have at one point was all but gone thanks to that “F” I received in AP Chemistry. But the real kicker was when I visited my pediatrician for one last time. After seeing the nurse move the meter on the scale ever more to the right, I burst out in tears. By the next visit, I was sure I would break the scale. Perhaps just as frightened as I was, my doctor gave me a referral to see an endocrinologist to figure out why my weight kept going up. When I was later told by this endocrinologist that I was prediabetic, that sentence set in motion my journey of losing more than 100 pounds.

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I’ve more or less maintained this weight loss. But it doesn’t matter anymore. Because all I can think of are those 10 pounds I’ve gained in the subsequent years, the same 10 pounds that I try so hard to lose each year.

I've more or less maintained my weight loss. But none of that matters in the face of those last… Click To Tweet

Finally recognizing that my obsession with these perennial 10 pounds is far from normal, last year I found an online anti-diet coach, Isabel Foxen Duke, whose blog posts were helpful…for about five minutes. Then, after I see an ad on TV or listen to any woman talk, I start hating my body again. Isabel urges her readers to not punish ourselves by restricting certain foods, because doing so leads to inevitable bingeing. I believe her, because I’ve been there. Diets are NOT sustainable – they mess with your mind, as well as with your body. The damage done to the body can be reversed, but the damage done to the mind is much harder to fix. I gave up eating added sugar for about a year sometime around 2012. It was not because of “health” or some other new age reason. It was simply because I feared gaining weight. I denied that was the reason back then, but I can accept it now. Fear, as you know, is never the best motivator of our actions.

The most controversial thing Isabel has said, however, is that there is no such thing as an ideal weight. That seems to counter everything that magazines like SELF stand for (you don’t know how many times I’ve checked their happy weight calculator in my lifetime). Isobel does not advocate a life of gluttony and inactivity, far from it, but she does say something that many of us, including myself, don’t want to hear: that if you stop dieting and eat intuitively, even if you exercise regularly, your weight might go up, and that’s okay.

I'm tired of fighting my body. Click To Tweet

Perhaps these 10 pounds my body has been fighting with my mind to keep is a sign that I am at the weight I am meant to be. But that would go against everything I’ve been told and every image I see: that in order to feel beautiful as a woman, I must have a flat stomach. Some would say that the former is a defeatist attitude. But I’m tired of fighting my body. Is this a battle even worth fighting? Do I join the countless other men and women once again with the hope that next year will be different, only to find myself making the same damn resolution year after year? I don’t want to live to be 90 and still be obsessed with my weight.

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When I think about the kind of year I want 2017 to be, I must take this time to stop and ask myself whether the goals I am setting really are a step in a positive direction. I want to improve, of course. But perhaps it’s not my body that needs improvement, but the way I view it. So in 2017 and beyond what I want to work to shred is not my body necessarily, but the idea that my worth as a woman is based on the circumference of my waist.

Rafia Khader

Rafia Khader

Rafia Khader is a writer/blogger, interfaith advocate, and a (pseudo-) philosopher. She is also a daughter, a sister, hopefully a friend, and most recently a wife. Muslim by faith and Hyderabadi-Indian by heritage, Rafia currently lives in Indianapolis, but will always consider Toronto, Canada her true home. She has a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University Chicago, but all she does much of these days is dream of her next chocolate adventure, read, and (attempt to) write. For more, check out her blog, Cake & Cows.

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