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My View: Obsession with weight is dragging me down

By Kristen Skeet

I have never been small, but I have always been fit, for the most part. I’ve carried a few extra pounds, but they were in all the right spots, and I carried them well. I’ve generally weighed more than my female peers, too.

I have what my family calls “soccer legs.” We all do. It’s a genetic gift from our ancestors: thick, strong legs. As a soccer player, having soccer legs is a good thing. As a part of the female society in general, it is not.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t thought, on almost a daily basis, “I wish I could lose 20 pounds.” And that baffles me. Why is that?

I remember a time in junior high, trying on some sort of horrific spandex outfit along with a friend. It was basically spandex biking shorts with a sports bra top. That was the whole outfit.

My friend looked amazing in it. I looked like someone had wrapped a rubber band around an albino ham. My friend had one of those runner’s bodies: Long, thin, svelte. Her body was meant for spandex. I should never even have looked at spandex. And it wasn’t that I was fat.

My body wasn’t even the problem. My problem was me comparing it with my friend’s body.

What is with this endless cycle? Why do we women torture ourselves so much over our weight? Men also have body issues, I understand that, but we women literally torture ourselves in the hopes of becoming thinner. I must be thinner.

For most women, there’s an endless negative thought cycle about how bad we look, naked and clothed, and the constant guilt about eating when there are so many pounds left for us to lose.

And nowadays, I’m more likely to think, “I wish I could lose 50 pounds.” Losing 20 pounds now would get me back to the weight I was five years ago, when I thought I needed to lose 20.

This endless negative thought cycle does have a few valid points. Stuff is jiggling now. That second chin in pictures today wasn’t there five years ago.

What’s going on? My life hasn’t changed that much from five years ago. I’m still active. I love to bike and hike.

Ah, but I also love binge-watching Netflix while shoving down a sub and a bag of chips (and probably a Dr Pepper). I’ve always loved the sub and the chips and the Dr Pepper, but the Netflix thing is relatively new, within the last few years. This newfound love of Netflix marathons has converged with me aging into my mid-30s and taking on a stressful new position at work. It has created the perfect storm of subcutaneous belly fat, jowls and a disappearing neck.

But maybe I don’t need to lose 50 pounds. Maybe 20 would suffice. Maybe. But all signs indicate that when I do lose those 20 pounds, I’ll be wishing to lose 20 more. Even if I get back to where I was, it still won’t be good enough. I know me.

And what is the perfect weight anyhow? If I woke up tomorrow morning at this hypothetical weight, would I be happier? Or would I find something else to condemn myself for?

So, what do I do? Hike more, watch Netflix less. Yes. Eat more salads, fewer subs. Sure. But will it matter? I hope so. Because this is exhausting.

I’m going to try to focus on living the healthiest life I can, and not obsess so much about the number on the scale. It’s time. Because that number? It’s a jerk.

Kristen Skeet, of Akron, is an author and avid traveler. She also enjoys screenwriting, hiking, biking and photography.
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