There is nothing I wanted more in life when I was a kid than to be a wife and mom. The two are always linked in my mind. I realize you can have one without the other, but I wanted the whole enchilada: I wanted a husband who would love me and two children named, Isabella and Ichabod, to complete the picture. Summers together were going to be incredible, as I would also be a teacher and would have the time off to splash, paint and… But that was superfluous to the core fantasy. Marriage. Parenthood. Heaven.
Growing up as a heavy person made this fantasy compromised. I knew I had the potential to get married, a right I assumed as a straight person, but I always thought I’d end up with one of those husbands who smirks behind his wife’s back, or a husband who was really ugly, or weird or something that would demonstrate to the world that I’d had to settle for a man because I was a bigger, fatter, heavier person. More than that, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to participate in this cultural celebration of love because I was heavy and wouldn’t be able to find a partner who could overlook my weight flaws and, at least, tolerate my big personality and big body. The potential for not finding love and not being able to marry because of my weight was scary and overwhelming. Marriage and family were my number one and two goals in life.
I’m not gay. I came to adulthood in the early 1990’s, however, when it seemed like everyone thought they might be gay. Gay was suddenly more mainstream okay. I wasn’t sure if I was gay or not or maybe a little gay… After all, lots of people were trying out being bisexual… I had never been attracted to a girl before, but maybe that was because society hadn’t pushed me in that direction like it had toward heterosexuality or I just hadn’t met the right girl yet. Finally, I simply said I was open to whatever came into my life and just kept dating boys and waiting on the Dan Savage Loveline for questions about how one knows they’re gay, how Dan knew he was gay and all things gay related… It was endlessly fascinating for me and many of my peers at that time. I finally realized that I was pretty much only attracted to boys and thought about them in ways that I never thought about girls. I think if I happened to be gay, there would be thoughts and attractions that would persistently come to me unbidden, like they do for me with men.
I say all of this because of our Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage for every person in our country that came down from Washington DC today! I’ve long been a proud Washingtonian- our liberal policies fit me and my beliefs beautifully. The way we support education is a horse of a different color, but I like the way we are leaders in our country for democracy, free expression and progressive ideas. I cried real tears of joy, this morning, when I saw the news that I expected to see: legal marriage for all! I cried and cried, but couldn’t quite figure out why I was so happy and so tearful. As a straight woman who is already in a solid marriage with her dream husband and dream kids, I suddenly realized I had so much assumed privilege. Even though I was a chubby girl and marriage didn’t seem like a guarantee to me, I still had the dream of a good marriage; I had a fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it- but at least it was an option for me. So while I’m not gay, I have seriously pondered the potential of being alone, but always had the legal right to marry. Wearing the ring Bradley gave me and being called Mrs. was a huge deal for me when I was first married. It was a badge of honor, a symbol of my worth, evidence of my perceived value- I was married to a shockingly good looking, kind hearted, smart and interesting man! I wanted everyone to know!
If I had been gay growing up, I guarantee I would have still wanted all of those things and having to wait until I was 41 to legally wear a ring and get to assign Mrs. to my title would have been humiliating, frustrating and dehumanizing. Being fat has a whole different kind of prejudice, but it’s not illegal. Being fat can be hard and humiliating, but I always had the same rights as the rest of the straight, American population to marry the man of my dreams.
I guess my point is that I remember feeling like I might not be able to be a part of something that seemed so universal- but I was still legally allowed to do so. That small taste was stifling and terrifying. It made me feel embarrassed and dehumanized- potentially not getting married because I couldn’t find a parter who would love me and my fat. I can’t imagine how not even having the option to be married and love freely open to me would have felt. I’m so glad that, at last, my country has finally made this dream attainable for everyone. What a fantastic day!
Now, all about my first Friday, ending the first full week of our Very Active Summer and those 20,000 steps…
Yesterday I got really close to making 20,000 steps. By 1:00 I was at about 15,000 steps after walking 2.5 miles and going to Zumba. Last night at about 9:45 I realized I was at about 17,000 steps- SO CLOSE! As Bradley dozed in the bed, I snuck out from under the covers, grabbed my sneakers and, while we watched a rerun of The Office, I stepped side to side, back and forth, grapevined, tangoed and did anything else that I could remember from Zumba! It only took a little bit of time before I did it! I reached 20,000 steps! It definitely took extra effort to get there, that’s for sure.
Today Bradley and I went for a 2.5 mile run followed by a 1.5 mile walk for the dog. I got home and I was still under 10,000 steps, so I got into the pool for one of my favorite summer exercises: pool laps! I went around and rand until, at last, I got to 10,000. I’m going to complete the next 10,000 steps tonight at Booty Camp with Camille! I’m pretty excited about that! It is my absolute favorite class offered at 24 Hour Fitness that I’ve tried, yet.
My conclusion is that you have to have an extraordinarily active job, a decent commute on foot, be an exercise fanatic or be a distance runner/walker to meet the standard that matches the modern, American diet of larger portions and higher calories. I like exercising, but according to a recent article called The Right Dose of Exercise that I read in the NY Times, you need about an hour of exercise a day to get the maximum benefit for extending your life. People who push past that don’t shorten their lives, but they do dial back the effectiveness of lengthening their lives to the same place that people who exercise 150 minutes per week (30 minutes per day). I think moderate exercise is what I’m shooting for. It’s nice to know.