Weight versus Health

She was pacing up and down in her living room. It was 2 am in the morning and she could not get any sleep. Her mind was full of unanswered questions, restless anger and creeping in the farthest corner were numerous thin tentacles of self-doubt. She had gone home after five years, five long years of a myriad experiences, good bad and ugly. She met her friends and relatives after all these months (61 to be precise) and their first reaction was, “Hey, you have gained so much weight!”

Are you Serious?

Had she gained weight? Well, it has been a rough five years and she has gained weight over time, enough for her to feel, enough for people to notice. She felt more lethargic, but she always told herself that it was due to her demanding job. She had not slept well in months no wonder she would feel tired. It was not for a few extra pounds here and there.

She was happy for herself, her work and her life till a week back. She was longing to come home and here – they are making her regret it already. No, she did not tell them that they had lost hair, that they had more freckles and acne, that they had gained or lost weight, or that they had forgotten how to be nice to people. Body and skin change with time, age and for millions of other things. What surprised her was that, she met these people separately, on different occasions and not one time did this observation fail to appear in the conversation. Few looked at her with pity (feeling sorry?) some with a sparkle in their eyes (feeling successful?) while the others looked elated to tell her this fact (feeling happy?). Her molten happiness took the shape of angst and she started feeling heavy in her heart. Some of them were giving her advice, she blocked the sounds. She played music in her head instead.

She looked at her phone. 3 am. No respite from sleeplessness yet. Grudgingly she started packing her bags. It’s a good thing she was leaving in the morning.

She came back to her apartment, fell on her bed and covered her face with her palm. She hated herself, in and out. She had been reading a lot about body positivity in the past few months, but it had all fallen apart. It did not matter anymore.

She took out her weighing machine and checked her weight. Her eyes almost fell out their socket. She checked again, then again, once again and continued till she realised that it did not change.

She went over to her neatly arranged desk and took out her journal. She wrote, ‘I will be striving for better health from tomorrow. I will lose 50 pounds in the next six months.’ Just like old days, she thought. Her heart was wailing. She picked up the machine and hid it. No, she did not want to go insane, checking her weight every single day. She needed a better plan.

She made detailed plans for the next six months, balancing work, squeezing in exercise, tweaking diet. To have a plan is one thing, to execute is a different ball game! But she was no ordinary woman.

She started waking up with the alarm clock. It was so much harder than she had imagined. It took every muscle to move an inch, and not hit the snooze button. She started running in a park near her house. She would stop every now and then to breathe. A part of her told her to stop. The other runners on the track helped a lot. Sometimes it was just about watching an older man run which reminded her that even she could. Gradually it became a routine. They would nod at each other when they crossed path and surprisingly, some of them even waved at her. She waved back.

Her friends, who knew her from before, just wanted her to freeze in time. It was almost impossible for time to lapse and for a person to not change. But here were strangers who just met her – the fat her – and they were okay with it.

She stopped for fruits on her way back. Initially she would buy fruits and think of everything else that she could have done instead. She could have ordered food, she could have eaten out, chips, biscuits, cake, chocolates (thing she had given up on) and her insides dropped. But over time she was getting used to a different routine. The cost comparisons had taken a backseat and instead, she had started identifying good fruits from better. She started having healthier meals and a lot of water.

After the initial hurdle, she started feeling better at work as well. She felt more energetic and vibrant. Happiness is infectious and she noticed that her team members looked happier when they spoke to her. She forced herself to stick to her tiffin box when the others ordered food. She looked longingly at their food when it was delivered but never cracked. She could do it, she told herself. At night she would do other exercises before having a light meal.

Days turned into weeks and months. It was the end of six months. Incredible six months of shutting her heart and following routines. She pulled out her weighing machine and closed her eyes. Did she dare open them?

She had lost 11 pounds.

She stood on the machine, checked rechecked, and checked the next morning, afternoon, night. The next few days she just went on checking like crazy. Nothing changed and she broke down.

Trying to win against her mental storm, she did not realise that what she had achieved was non-trivial.

She would wake up to the sound of the alarm but lay on her bed for hours. She did not want to move an inch. She stopped her routine, her ambition took a backseat. She would cook something somehow eat a few meals and sleep. She would go to work, come back and collapse.

After a week she got bored of feeling sorry for herself and went to her desk. She opened her journal to feel like a failure and then it happened.

‘I will be striving for better health from tomorrow. I will lose 50 pounds in the next six months.’

She rubbed her eyes and looked again.

‘I will be striving for better health from tomorrow.’

How did she miss it?

Earlier, a moment of sorrow or lethargy and she would not think twice before ordering in or eating out. She would order each and everything – not just healthy food. Deep fried food would cheer her up, so would the oily cuisine served in a nearby restaurant. But now, although she had been terribly low for the past one week, she had been cooking for herself. She had felt more energetic, her skin felt better (fruits and water?) and the runner’s high felt amazing! Biscuit and chips packet, fast food packets were traded for leftovers of fruit and vegetables. She had learnt to make salads and so many other healthy (and tasty) dishes. She had moved towards better health. Moved? Well, she had galloped towards it.

She smiled and felt at peace. She watched the sunset from her balcony, feeling determined to go running the next morning. She packed her weighing machine nicely and set it away. It was driving her nuts. Her aim was to strive for better health and weight was not the right indicator.

The next morning was better because she was not driving towards a certain weight. (She could feel a heavy weight getting lifted off her chest.) She reached the track and looked around. There they were – familiar faces, today it looked like they gave her a special nod, ‘Now you are one of us, working out for staying fit and healthy.’ She felt better about herself and grinned. She broke into a run, the sunrays casting happy shadows, the breeze blowing her hair, the leaves whispering encouraging words.

She was free.

Author’s Note: Dedicated to body positivity, eating healthy and staying fit. You are perfect the way you are.








Published by Leena Bhattacharya

A researcher who finds solace in social work

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