“You look so good, so skinny. What did you do? What’s your secret?” she said.
“I’ve had the flu. I’ve been throwing up,” I replied.
“How much weight did you lose?” she pressed.
“4 pounds,” I admitted.
“Ugh. I just love it when that happens, don’t you?” was her response.
For three days, I was plagued with a 102 degree fever. For three days, my hands fiercely clenched the cold, porcelain toilet as though it was my long lost lover and he had just stepped off the plane.
I can’t remember the last time I felt that awful. I hadn’t eaten for days and had more sleep than a bear in hibernation. Not to mention that being sick is extremely lonely and isolating for a single girl who lives by herself. As the intimacy with my toilet developed, so did my reflections about my commitment issues and relationships gone wrong. Bad combination all around.
As a fitness expert, I’m fully aware that losing weight while sick is not true weight loss, and that it is by no means a healthy or permanent way to slim down. I’m also aware that the scale should never be the determining factor of whether someone is fit or not.
But I would be lying if I said I didn’t get some twisted sense of gratification when I stepped on the scale after three days of sickness and saw that I was four pounds lighter. Whether someone wants to admit it or not, a side effect of being ill is the secret joy of a flatter tummy.
For many women, this is the sickest part of being sick—our obsession with weight is our true plague.
I could go on for days about why this is wrong. I can preach till the cows come home about self-love and acceptance. And I would not be the first to impart this wisdom. Like me, I am sure you have read the self-empowerment books and listened to the supportive words of your female friends and family. But regardless, this disease still festers deep within us, and like most sicknesses, it's contagious. The virus spreads from woman to woman, from woman to girl, from one generation to another.
Fitness expert or not, I’m still a woman. And as a woman, I understand what four or five pounds on the scale or that tiny bit of extra room in the jeans can do for self confidence. Knowing that you lost weight can literally be the difference between a good or bad day, which can then lead to a good or bad week, and so on and so on. Some women spend their entire lives never thinking they’re good enough because of that extra roll over their favorite pair of jeans. They don’t go after that job, they don’t dance the night away, and they don’t think they deserve that guy when, in reality, their hearts alone could probably run circles around him.
Now, I hope you are not this woman I speak of. And maybe you aren’t. But the fact is, the woman sitting next to you probably feels this way about herself and for that reason alone, this issue needs to be addressed. Some of the most successful and seemingly well-adjusted females I know still secretly value their worth by the size of their jeans.
So what is the cure for this sickness? Is there one?
I don’t think the answer is as concrete and cliché as simply loving and embracing everything about your body. Quite honestly, I believe the cure lies in focusing on your strengths in life that have nothing to do with your body.
Are you a kind and honest person? Are you quick witted, funny and sharp? Are you the friend that people call in a time of need? Do you give people the freedom to be themselves around you with no judgment? Do you go after your dreams in life and accomplish your goals?
When you begin to embrace your unique qualities, you can then accept and love your body as the vehicle that allows you to be this person. Lose weight, gain weight, and go for a run. Do it all. But understand this: Your body, whatever size it may be, provides you the opportunity to be everything you ever wanted to be—and for that reason, it is perfect.
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness