Making More of Me to Love: A New Year's Resolution That is Surprising to Me

Well, the holidays have commenced, have been had in fact, and continue for the having. Christmas was lovely (see various linked photo albums to supplement the narrative, as I am lazy):

With my mom, we started off some grand traditions - namely setting the ceremonial burrito ablaze, dousing the floor with glass and water, and running backwards around the highschool track. There were also some very fine holiday movies (and some less fine ones, of course), and splendid pumpkin waffles made by me and adapted ad hoc (as always) from a vegan recipe that went back to non-vegan when I realized that I had either left the soymilk at the store or lost it in the caverns of my mother's cupboard. Oh and the cat did not destroy the Christmas tree, so all in all a win!

With my Dad, we spent an - and I realize the term is overused, but this really could have been broken out into chaptered verse and multiple sagas - epic Odyssey around the Christmas tree, trying to get through the Christmas cornucopia of sparkly delights sent by my aunties in New Jersey. They sent over 50 wrapped presents of varying degrees of sheer novelty. I would say that the present portion of our day was roughly four times the length of the previous day's. We also made a very fine babootie (a touch sugary for my tastes, but this of course made it perfect for Andrew and my Dad who would eat sugar flavored butter topped with crisps of fried sugar all day if they could get away from it, and the spice combination was succulent). Blah blah blah tradition, gratitude, warm fuzzy feelings, STUFF!!! Christmas and so on...

Which brings us to New Years. I don't really do New Year's resolutions per se. I often reassess my goals and make incremental changes throughout the year, and prefer to think of my goals as evolving and perpetually being implemented in small steps. I find gradual adaptations preferable and more enduring, which is hardly the New Year's NEW BEGINNINGS schtick. Still, since I don't drink much and don't enjoy staying out late or paying ten times as much to do the same basic things I'd do on any Saturday night, I faintly sometimes attach a goal of a given moment to New Year's, just to fall in line with the flocks... tipsy on champagne and bleating Auld Lange Syne. Mine this year is a little interesting for me: namely, I am "resolving" to gain 5-10 pounds.

I am just not those girls with the tiny frames and lightening fast metabolisms who melt off hamburgers and french fries within seconds of eating them by merely turning their heads. Nor am I really one now, so it's a surprising thing to consider, especially in the season of virulent it's ok, the holidays were tough but you *can* lose weight!! articles everywhere..  I will always have birthing hips and thighs that brush. At the high end of my weight range, I'll carry it well and you'll still be able to count my ribs. At either end of the spectrum, clothes will still be large about the waist and tighter at the ribs and hips. I'm built to carry or not carry weight and damned if I can make aesthetic distinctions between carrying and not-carrying.

I have - through my twenties - officially toured through the entire spectrum of healthy weight from slightly overweight to slightly under-weight. I'm ranging around the 120s, which is just under healthy for somebody of my height. I could claim that some of this is muscle loss from not following my maniacal pilates/running/training schedule - but that might miss the point a little. For practical purposes, it means none of my clothes fit, which is sincerely annoying but honestly when have my clothes ever fit?.For larger implications, well, there's a reason they call it "healthy weight," and I needn't elaborate too far onto something already well documented.

Interestingly, I have followed the same trajectory as my mother and sister of being slightly heavier through adolescence and early twenties and then getting far wirier over time. It makes me wonder about the complexities of set points and how much of this is extrinsic behavioral changes versus something more intrinsically biological. I was always fairly active when I was younger and never particularly gluttonous. There have always been factors - I started dancing a lot, there was law school stress, I started running a lot, then THE BAR, then maybe walking on a treadmill all day punctuated between dancing and pilates and aerobics and having little taste or physical tolerance for salty/fatty/sugary/refined foods/meat...  So yes, lifestyle changes, no doubt play a part, but it's easier - especially wading through sensationalist "health" article after article claiming that "POTATOES MAKE YOU FAT" or "IT'S ALL HORMONE XYZ" or "EAT ONLY PROTEIN AND STICKS OF BUTTER LIKE OUR ANCESTORS DID!!!" - to believe that body weight is an unintelligible and contentious issue that rivals religious fervor in strong opinions and ultimate reliance on faith and prayer.

That skepticism aside, I've gone back to calorie monitoring. I had to do this when I was running more heavily to make sure I was getting enough food and it is an interesting exercise (har har). I'm trying to aim for enough calories to gain about half a pound a week for a little while based on a little formula that may or may not be useful (either way, it forces me to be conscious of how much I'm eating and add a little more here and there). It is genuinely difficult to do this with a hint of accuracy, as I am a nibbler/grazer and I am a fidgeter... trying to track either of these into meaningful data is challenging. I'm adding a little something to my main meals and an extra snack break, but I still feel a little unsure how it all comes out in the wash. I've been doing this for about two weeks now, and am not sure if it's working or not. But it's all little adjustments... otherwise I will have to give in and buy new pants that don't fall off and that would involve shopping and that would be a nervous breakdown waiting to happen, so we're gonna go with eating more for now!

Equally difficult is the mental shift. The world we Americans live in is *obsessed* with losing/maintaining/reducing weight and this in turn takes on moral, ethical, social, and personal implications. One can say the words "obscenely thin" as a compliment in our twisted society. I can barely find an article about healthy eating that does not have heavy weight loss undertones. People praise me for "resisting" treats and other temptations, while simultaneously attempting to break what they perceive to be my resolve - temptations in the dessert instead of the desert I suppose..  I hope, but doubt, people understand that I am not abstaining from sugary/fatty/salty foods because of my weight. These genuinely make me feel ill and don't taste good to me beyond a short bite that has more to do with satisfying my psychological associations to certain foods than my taste buds. My declining the offer is neither a moral virtue, nor signs of an eating disorder.

 What these moments have taught me is that there's always pressure and always attention. I have had so many unsolicited conversations about my weight as it's changed, I have to recognize that it is always on the radar and will always be a component of how I am perceived for better or worse. And, because I am athletic, I will even guess that being lean (and I am far more lean and dare I say "toned" than emaciated or delicate) gives me a slight aura of credibility as a dancer that may be unwarranted but unshakable. And given how imprecise a science the calories-in-calories out formula really seems to be whenever you start to think about it ... it's hard to wonder what might happen if I gain "too much" even as I recognize that I like myself better a little heavier and will never have habits that would open the FLOODGATES of weight gain in two easy days or whatever. Still, as long as I can abstract it through numbers and little baby goals, I think I can side step my own nerves and hesitancy and do what I objectively understand to be better for me over all.

Otherwise, I guess it is time to break out the bubbly and heap on maybe an extra serving of dark chocolate... should get me on my way to a resolution-accomplished New Year

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