I was spooning vanilla yogurt into a measuring cup today when it dawned upon me that the entire process—container to spoon to measuring cup to spoon to bowl—wasn’t just a waste of dishes, it was a waste of time. It was ridiculous. I was being ridiculous.
Last I checked, yogurt was not a common culprit for weight gain. Chocolate. Cheese. Bagels. McDonald’s. Sure. But yogurt? Not so much. In fact, I’m pretty sure yogurt is advertised as healthy. It has calcium, makes our bones strong, makes us strong.
And I was measuring my consumption!
This isn’t something I do every day. In fact, this isn’t something I do at all. Which, according to my too-tight shorts leftover from last summer, is the problem.
So this morning I redownloaded My Fitness Pal, an app that helps you count calories and encourages you to measure yogurt, back onto my phone.
Two summers ago when I counted calories, it didn’t feel quite so ridiculous. It felt healthy, maybe because I was using it alongside a workout plan that involved lots of running and recipes that turned pancakes healthy. But today, in the kitchen, with a bowl of vanilla yogurt, it felt nothing but ridiculous.
Because I am not fat.
For Lent this past year, I gave up body-shaming thoughts. Maybe not an act quite as holy as the Church was looking for, but I figured if God made me this way and loves me this way, then who am I to not love myself? So I stopped calling myself fat when the button of my jeans dug into my belly and I stopped thinking dresses would look cuter if my legs were just a bit thinner. I also started a 30-day paleo cleanse during this period.
During those thirty days, I ate fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish.
I didn’t begin the cleanse to lose weight. In fact, I wasn’t really thinking about weight. The cleanse was done as an attempt to uncover which foods were causing my face to break out and my stomach to hurt. I became pretty good in the kitchen during the cleanse, finally learning how to cook cod and cauliflower. I also stopped being so hungry for chocolate and cheese as I snacked on carrot sticks and clementines.
Midway through, I stepped on a scale.
I’d lost seven pounds and that changed things. I didn’t suddenly see the cleanse as a way to help the inside of my body, but instead to improve the outside of my body. To make me skinnier.
On Day 28 of the cleanse, I was at a diner with my sister and she was ordering a shrimp burger and I was asking the waitress if there was any way I could order just two eggs and she was looking at me like I had two heads made of eggs, and I thought to myself: Is this worth it? At that point, I was doing it just to do it, to say I ate nothing but fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish for thirty days. It wasn’t about my face or my stomach. Is this worth it?
I stopped the cleanse in that diner on Day 28. I ordered a lentil burger and sweet potato fries and I enjoyed every damn chipotle-mayo dipped bite.
Life, I realized, is not meant to be spent in a diner watching your sister enjoy a shrimp burger while you sit on watching, drinking the chemical-tasting lemon water. Maybe it’s also not meant to be spent with Netflix and chocolate peanut butter popcorn, but there has got. to. be. a. balance.
That balance is not yogurt in a measuring cup.
Today, while scooping the yogurt, I reminded myself of my Lenten mantra: you are not fat. And I believed it.
I. AM. NOT. FAT.
I am a sister and a daughter and a reader and a chai tea-drinker.
I am twenty-three and free and happy and spinning in the wind as sunshine pours down on me.
I am pale and covered in sunscreen and praying as waves crash down.
I am hopeful and sometimes tired and a baker of the greatest oat cakes.
I am cranky during movie interruptions and sad when the rain cancels plans.
I am in debt with library fees and confused by parking garages and a fan of vanilla yogurt.
I am growing.
I am growing.
I am growing.
I am not fat.
So when I try on last summer’s crop tops or a pair of high-waisted shorts I bought when I was nineteen, I remind myself of this.
I AM GROWING.
And then a surge of gratefulness surges through me because this girl who grows, she is the happiest she’s ever been and she smiles more than she ever has. She spends time with those she loves and she buys birthday presents and makes cards and cookies and flies on swing sets and she throws love around like glitter at a Ke$ha concert. She doesn’t try to measure it.
So this girl, the one who grows, she turns the bathroom scale upside down, and tosses the measuring cup in the sink, leaving the dishes for later, and she scoops as much yogurt into the bowl as she feels hungry for. Because she doesn’t want to look back on such a happy time and remember it as the year she ate calcium from a measuring cup.