On Not Being on a Diet

I should be on a diet.

I should be on a diet because that's what women do, right? The beauty ideal is unfair and unrealistic, we tell each other, nodding knowingly. And despite this knowing, still we look at carb counts or calorie counts and plan weeks around nutrition bars or cabbage soup. We vow to have less and be less than before, as a matter of necessity and of virtue.

I should be on a diet, more specifically, because I have gained weight. Shocking! Terrible! This is the inevitable result of the reglutening -- it turns out when you allow pastry back into your diet, well, your body changes. You put on a few pounds, and then a few more. 

Right now I weigh perhaps 170 pounds. For perspective, at the height of pregnancy for my second child, I weighed 175; for the first I had reached 200, an arbitrary psychological breaking point that decides many a woman's sense of self-worth. In non-pregnant times, my weight has tended to hover around 150 pounds, give or take the eternal five. This would put me at twenty above what might be a baseline number.

Or in the modern parlance: I should lose twenty pounds, yes?

There are problems that come with gaining weight. Well, one problem. Clothes that had previously fit me no longer fit me. Waistbands are tighter. Jackets no longer button. Shirts and coats ride up where they should not.

Presumably it would be a simple enough matter to remove gluten or indeed carbs or sugar from my diet, and then those pounds would slowly vanish again, like mist fading into morning. But I have lived that life, and on reflection, I would prefer the joyous life where I can bake bread with my children, where I can have a bagel on a lazy Saturday morning, where I can have the cupcake at my daughter's birthday party. If the cost of those experiences is twenty pounds, then so be it.

I look in the mirror and I am satisfied with what I see. I am not unattractive; indeed, in my 40s, I have finally made peace with a generous backside that a shifting beauty standard now celebrates, the same body part I despaired of in my teens for being entirely too enormous. The irony is not lost on me.

My husband loves me, my children love me. My work does not suffer for five pounds nor for twenty, and I am confident it would not for a hundred, either. It is telling that I am not dissatisfied with my body, but that I feel like I should be.

We've done a number on each other, haven't we?

I do not have mobility problems. I do not have high blood pressure or low stamina; I do not have diabetes or high cholesterol. I feel like I should be on a diet, but what problem would that solve? Only the problem of clothes fitting. And there are other ways to solve that problem, come to think of it.

Last week I bought jeans in a larger size than I had worn before. They are soft and loose and they fit my body as it stands. I'm wearing them right now. They're comfortable. And I'm comfortable.

I should be on a diet, I guess, because I'm supposed to be on a diet. But I'm not. And that's probably OK.