How are you doing with your fitness routine these days?
I’ve never been especially motivated to work out on my own (aside from walking). I’d been taking private Pilates sessions for over a year and a half, and found that a good option for me. It kept me accountable and I’d noticed a big improvement in my strength and posture.
But when the stay-at-home orders kicked in, the in-person session was no longer an option, so I tried keeping up with some online classes. I stuck with it for a while, but hit the wall in late May, and lost my motivation.
When my instructor does re-open her private studio, I’m going to have some serious catching up to do. Fingers crossed, she’ll be able to start seeing clients again next month.
I happened to catch an episode of the Everything Is Fine podcast (with Tally Abecassis and Kim France). The guest was Marisa Meltzer, author of This Is Big: How The Founder Of Weight Watchers Changed The World (And Me).
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was drawn in pretty quickly. It was a thoughtful, nuanced discussion about both WW founder Jean Nidetch and the author’s own struggles with weight and body acceptance. As well as cultural attitudes toward size, food, “wellness,” and weight.
Weight has always been one of my “issues.” I’ve struggled with it most of my life, and have achieved if not peace, a kind of detante. So when Meltzer spoke of the feelings of shame that accompany weight gain, it really resonated with me. I’ve gained a little weight since March, and yes, it bothers me.
After the podcast, I ordered the ebook, and read it over a couple of afternoons. I’ve done a few stints in Weight Watchers over the years, so knew the basic story of Jean Nidetch: she gathered a group of women friends for support while losing weight, and that small group grew quickly to become a multi-million dollar business.
From what little I’d read about Nidetch before, she always struck me as a bit preachy and judgmental. But Meltzer’s biography gave me a greater understanding that she was a product of her times, and an appreciation for what she was able to accomplish in spite of those times, when business options for women were still very limited.
Alternating with the chapters on Nidetch is Meltzer’s memoir of her own struggles with food and weight (while being a writer who often covers “wellness” and celebrities). But this isn’t one of those “I saw the light and everything changed,” narratives. It’s far more complex and nuanced, without a neatly-sewn-up conclusion.
I could really relate to some of the feelings she describes, especially being caught between dueling feelings of shame: shame about body size, and shame about actively attempting to reduce. (Fear of being a “bad feminist,” or not being the “cool girl” who can eat whatever she wants without gaining an ounce.)
It gave me a lot to think about, and I’m still processing. But it was a reminder that we’re often our own harshest judges, and that sometimes our struggles are what connect us.