Just Be the Girl You Want to Be- Flaws, Beer and All

If you are a fan of BUST magazine, you know that Roseanne writes a very funny and sometimes on point advice column.  (If you are not a fan, that means you have never read BUST.  Go buy an copy.  You won’t regret it.)  In the December issue, she wrote an article on New Year’s resolutions that were worth keeping.  I recycled the issue awhile back, so I don’t have the exact wording, but it broke down roughly like this.

  1.  Know more about the actual real world and less about MTV’s The Real World
  2. Stop saying the word like, as in “And he was like…and I was all like…”
  3. Stop talking about your weight.  Losing, gaining, doesn’t matter- just do whatever you are going to do and quit talking about it.

My life could benefit from heeding all three pieces of advice.  Ok, I don’t actually watch The Real World.  I’m more of a Project Runway girl.  But I certainly know more about Heidi Klum than I do about John Boehner (I actually had to look up his name for this post.  I could remember his quivering chin from countless videos of him crying, but I couldn’t recall his name- sad.).  I started January determined to turn over a new leaf.  I followed up by turning on the TV and quickly forgot what I had vowed to do.

I went to lunch with a girlfriend last week and was reminded of my pledge.  While devouring a grilled cheese sandwich and a beer, I moaned about how I had put on a few pounds over the holidays, and how I was having a tough time getting back on track with losing them.  I have maintained the same weight for roughly ten years, pregnancies excluded.  Even when I try my hardest, I seem to keep gaining and losing the same five pounds, and it doesn’t really seem to make much difference in the way my clothes fit.  It is tough  to deprive myself of things I REALLY like (cupcakes, beer) when I don’t see much change on the scale or the waistline.

My friend has heard this exact same speech dozens of times.  She asked me “do you want to actually change or do you want to accept yourself?”  It came across exactly as the third piece of advice from Roseanne- or as my mom used to say, “shit or get off the pot.”

I thought about the question for days afterwards.  Did I want to change or did I not want to feel guilty for being who I am?  If you’ve read my blog, you know the answer already.  I am ruled by guilt.  I should have entered the convent because I swear, with a habit and a ruler, I could really do a number on some little kids.

I really don’t have any interest in changing, but I feel like I am supposed to want to change (0r maybe I want the changes, but not the work involved).  I’m not supposed to be happy with being a size 12 and 155 lbs.  I’m supposed to feel bad about drinking beer almost every day of the week.  I’m supposed to guiltily gobble a cupcake in the corner of the kitchen when nobody is looking instead of eating it in the open.

Now, I am not talking about being obscenely flagrant in the face of health.  But that’s the thing, I’m not unhealthy.  I just can’t let go of this all or nothing mentality.  If I do something unhealthy, even in moderation, it must be bad.  I beat myself up for that weekly cupcake, instead of seeing I went an entire week with the only sweet treat being a single cupcake.  I belittle myself for weighing 155 lbs, instead of seeing that I used to weigh 176 lbs.  I have kept that weight off for over ten years, and am one of the few women I know who is actually smaller now than I was in my twenties.

My beer drinking is a bit tougher to justify, because at least through the holidays, I was having two beers a night most nights.  While not a huge amount, I still know that one drink a day is considered the maximum for a healthy woman.  I also have alcoholism in my family.

I thought about trying to give up beer completely, as my friend had done this and seemed happy with her results.  But I am not a pillar of strength. I swear I don’t know how she does it.  Many people would consider this an inability to give up alcohol and that in itself could be pointing to a problem.  But I don’t see it as an inability- when I was pregnant; I gave it up without a problem.

I am choosing to say I would rather have a beer than be thinner.  And I think it is perfectly ok to say that, although I must admit, it feels strange to just come out and make that admission.  I think I was living a life choosing to do one thing, but expecting another result- I want to drink beer, but I also want to lose weight.  Doesn’t usually work that way.

Making that declaration was very freeing.  It feels good to be honest with myself, about my strengths and my limitations.  And perhaps it is something akin to a psychosomatic effect, but ever since I made peace with it, I’ve been back to drinking a single beer a day without issue.

I don’t have the answer for everyone.  We each have to do what makes us happy, and as I have learned, that path varies greatly.  I am not here to belittle anyone else’s choices or to try to persuade them to come around to my way of thinking.  For me, I’ve just kind of come to a point where I think “am I going to spend every day feeling guilty over some tiny slip, or am I going to marvel in all the joy that exists in my life?”

I go back to when my friend asked me that question about change or acceptance.  I guess I choose acceptance.  Part of that, is quieting my critic and shutting the hell up about this whole topic.  Maybe it’s time to just live my life and let that speak for itself.  Besides, I kind of like being the chubby girl who proves you can have a beer in one hand, be a little squishy in the middle, and still run a half marathon.  Just be the girl you want to be.  Isn’t that kind of a novel idea?

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