Weighty Issues: Learning to Appreciate My New Body

June 3, 2015

This is not an original post in the sense that it discusses something that has long been a subject of debate in both my worlds, the South Asian side and the North American part, and that topic is weight. So many words: fat, thin, healthy, skinny, fit, buff, toned, overweight, obese, unhealthy. Recently, I’ve also become aware of terms like fatphobia and thin privilege. Nonetheless, I write this post from my recent experiences as someone who has gained a substantial amount of weight in a relatively short time due to the unfortunate repercussions of thyroid cancer and a concussion.

“Aney darling, you have put on quite a bit.”

“You have gained some weight since I last saw you, right?”

Are you looking for confirmation? Yes, I have gained weight, 20 pounds to be more precise. Would you like me to bring out a scale? How about we take out your thyroid and see how your body responds? Here’s a general rule to think about: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. (Note: In some parts of the world, calling someone “fat” is a genuine compliment, but in my experience this isn’t the case in either Sri Lanka or Canada.)

Other comments are more subtle.

“Oh, I didn’t even recognize you” (Hopefully this is also due in part to my new haircut, I hope)

“Is this the healthiest you’ve ever been?” (No, because I have cancer)

Regardless, those are just ways for the sassy, post-cancer diagnosis Nadha to have fun in her head. The bigger issue that has been weighing on me recently (pun intended) is whether or not to embrace this new size. I cut sugar out of my diet for a while which got rid of my sugar cravings. Some people have told me not to be concerned about my weight because I should be focusing on my health. But isn’t my weight a part of my health? Sigh – such a tricky topic.

Strong at different weightsMy doctor did speak to me about how most people find it difficult to lose the weight post thyroidectomy. I suppose this also depends on whether you end up being more hypo or hyperthyroid. Today, at a general health check-up, my doctor said I might need to lose maybe 5 more kilos or so. Apparently my current BMI puts my into the “overweight” category. I don’t know if I’ve ever been here before but I don’t care for the label. BMI can be a controversial way to look at someone’s weight but this is the first time it’s felt very personal.

But, I need to be more gentle with my body. After all, look at how much it’s been through in the last year. It won’t help my forcing my body to look a certain way. Instead, I should be focusing on supporting my body so it can enable me to do the important things in life. Not always easy, especially when I don’t fit into any of my previous clothes. When the simple act of trying to get dressed to go outside reminds you of cancer and this horrible horrible year, you realize something’s gotta change. I invested in a few new clothes. No more hoping I’ll fit back into my old clothes by next week. I did that for months and it was actually detrimental for me I think. I shouldVancouver, BC just do a closet clear-out and pack those clothes away for now.

I was in Vancouver last week to present at a conference. I walked a lot. Even though my ankles gave out under me about 5 times, I still managed to do short hikes. My body may not be perfect but it’s allowing me to do things again.

For now, the plan is to be more active, work on strengthening and balance exercises and eat all the food groups (#getnadhatoeatmoreveggies), and the weight will be what it must. If we figure out my medication and with the increased activity the extra weight falls off, then great. If not, that should be fine too. It has got to be fine.

I want to be healthy. I want to be strong. I need to realize that I can be that with my new body.

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7 Responses

  1. Raafia says:

    You go Nadha-you are amazing! Dismiss people’s stupid comments and focus on providing your body with plenty of phytonutrients and fresh air whenever possible. ps I have you in my prayers!

  2. Wei says:

    Love your new attitude Nadha! I treat most comments I hear about weight as noise, and just sass the speaker right back… it helps prevent future recurrence in most cases ;)

  3. Andrea says:

    I think of the weight gain as a side effect of the cancer leaving your body- might be silly but it’s a bit more positive than thinking of it as a side effect of the cancer itself.

    I’m sorry people judge you in that way. Regardless, you’re fab. Keep on keepin’ on. :)

  4. Ramzeen says:

    You just related the story of my life. Someone said, “you’ve lost weight”, I said yeah, I’ve been walking a lot and I don’t have a car” she replied, “but Uncle, you look unhealthy!”. I guess she meant well but I’m too old to care how others feel about me – as long as I feel good.

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