I just can’t win for trying these days.
I am fat, but I’m also relatively fit. I spent 60 minutes working out (and working up a sweat and some sore muscles) on the Wii Fit yesterday morning, then walked my dog with my husband for another 30 minutes. After work I headed over to a local park where my running group meets on Mondays and Wednesdays. We did a very speedy 15-minute walking loop for a warmup, then ran for 30 minutes (1 minute running, 1 minute walking, at a brisk pace), then walked a 10-minute cool-down back to the start. Excluding the non-exercise but deliberate things I do (parking deep and a floor up from the lobby level of my building, taking our internal stairs up and down two floors for meetings instead of the elevator), that’s nearly two and a half hours of deliberate exercise, and its not highly unusual (a usual day is about one to one and a half hours). This morning I worked out on the Wii Fit for 90 minutes, and we’ll probably walk the dog together tonight for another 30 minutes, since I missed this morning’s walk due to an early meeting.
What I am is short: five foot two. I also wear three-inch heels to work because I need the height! I drink a lot of water and for whatever reason, am just genetically inclined to sweat a lot. I don’t think I’m excessively stinky, I just break out in a sweat on my face, neck, back, etc. easily. Last but not least, I have a bum right ankle. Starting from my high school soccer days, I’ve sprained the dumb thing at least six or eight times, badly, and the tendons are a little weak. Walking (or running) downhill, I have to be careful with my footing, to be sure I don’t roll it even a little or I end up on crutches, because those tendons have no elasticity left, and instead of rolling a little and bouncing back upright like many people would (and I do on my left ankle!) it just keeps rolling and I end up with a sprain.
Today I had lunch plans with four very slender (let’s say sizes 2 to 6, ish) girls that I work with. Three of them are just plain lucky, they have slender physiques without working hard for it– none engage in regular gym-going or running or anything of the sort. The fourth, poor thing, has Crohn’s disease and has a very tough time digesting many kinds of foods; she basically has to stick with veggies and very lean protein to avoid being in the bathroom all day long. She’s the thinnest of the group and I don’t begrudge her that because the poor thing can’t have ice cream, ever. They are all also at least four inches taller than me.
The place they chose for lunch is about three blocks away, up hill. Okay, that’s really not far enough to justify driving, so we walked. I had no problems with walking, but I’m in these annoyingly high heels (they were all in heels, mine were probably the tallest, though), but I’m seriously a lot shorter than all of them. On the way up, at 11:30 a.m., it wasn’t that gross outside, maybe about 78 degrees or so, sunny, but not gross. On the way back, however, it was easily 90 degrees, the sun was blazing, and it was humid.
And I could not keep up.
I have short legs, a short stride, and going downhill, I am even more careful to keep my stride conservative. I am wearing a black synthetic sheath dress. I am Irish and have pale skin and flush easily. I sweat a lot, either because I am always well-hydrated or because I am just genetically inclined to do so. And of course, the girls I went to lunch with got impatient with my slowness on the way back to the office, but only in that polite way girls are allowed to show impatience. They’d get a few paces ahead and then relunctantly drop back, and repeat over and over again for the whole three blocks.
At the very last crosswalk, a long one that spans six lanes and is very unevenly paved (making me extra cautious about my ankle in my stupid high heels), we were crossing with a larger group of people that included more than just my immediate group of coworkers. I got about halfway across the crosswalk (there’s still plenty of time to cross, the crosswalk light is still saying “go”), with, of course, them speeding ahead of me, almost to the other curb, and one turns around to say, “Mae, are you okay?” in front of all the strangers.
Goddamn, I wanted to sink into the earth and die. I’m sure to all those strangers I looked fat, sweaty, red, and out of shape. I was clearly slow and now someone that obviously knows me is enquiring about my ability to make it across the rest of the f#&*ing crosswalk.
I hang my head in shame, and reply a little petulantly, “I’m fine, [Coworker], I’m just slow,”
Some guy in a business suit– young, short himself, thin but with a medium build, turns to me and says, “Its way too hot to be fast, isn’t it?” Obviously he’s trying to commiserate with me, throw some pity on me because he probably sees these four skinny girls harassing the fat girl about whether she can make it across the crosswalk, he probably felt bad for me, and my head-hung ashamed response probably just enhanced the image for him. I know he was (probably) trying to do something nice for me, but it just deepened my shame.
This is why I hate being fat some days, this is why I wish the lap band would have worked for me, this is why I took a match to $10,000 of my own money, this is why I am so crushed by my failure to lose weight with the band.
Yes, if I were slender, I would probably still be slow, probably still have a weak ankle, probably still wear innappropriately high heels, probably still flush easily, probably still a profuse sweater, but, goddamn, at least I wouldn’t be fat and confirming all the fat stereotypes just by walking to and from lunch.
This is the kind of day that in the past, would have sent me home to an empty house and a pizza-cake-candy-ice cream binge and purge. Now I can’t binge and purge, but I also can’t blame society’s stupid prejudices and stereotypes instead of my poor, much-maligned body.
And, sadly, I’m wearing this B&Lu dress today, which I love and until today I thought was wicked cute on me, and if past history is any predictor, I’ll probably be too ashamed to wear it again.