A tale of two love handles

Rachel Flanagan Uncategorized

Picture1998: Walking down the aisle at my brother’s wedding, Spanx firmly in place.

I’ll share a little story with you. Back in the late 90s, I was in three weddings, all within a year or so. This was unfortunate timing, because it coincided with my era of takeout gluttony, hanging out at the local watering hole after rugby practice and games, and nursing injuries. Needless to say, I was a little heavier than I wanted to be. Okay, a lot heavier.

I tried to ignore my weight gain, but it was slowly creeping up, and it was getting pretty expensive buying those under-dress Spanx-type apparatuses for each bridesmaid dress. My family never said anything about my weight gain, with the exception of the time I had to line up for a family picture at my brother’s wedding with my mom’s side of the family, where 5’2” is considered tall. I was standing next to my Aunt Roz, who was truly one of the loveliest people on earth, but was not one to mince her words. She put her arm around my waist and said, “Rachel, is that your love handle?” Yes, Aunt Roz. Yes, yes it is.

So off I went to Weight Watchers.

As someone who has obsessive compulsive tendencies—I’m one of those people who rearranges the dishwasher after my husband loads it and has three separate sock drawers, representing different categories—Weight Watchers was a good fit for me. It was the days of the paper tracker, and I took that tracker everywhere. I was also spewing Weight Watchers credos on the regular—“you bite it, you write it! One meal at a time!”—much to my roommates’ chagrin. (Ironically, one of my roommates later became a Weight Watchers leader and a marathoner extraordinaire. You can read her story HERE.)

I enjoyed Weight Watchers because it was a structured plan that allowed me to eat anything I wanted. It did, however, take me almost a YEAR to lose 20 pounds. Yes, you read that right.

But once the weight came off, I managed to keep it off until got pregnant with my son in 2006. The reason I like Weight Watchers is that it teaches you how to eat real food in the right proportions. I have a real issue with programs that provide you with their own food, like Nutrisystem, as you’ll have no idea what to do once you’ve reached your goal.

I’d love to tell you that I’m finally at a place where I don’t have to count points or weigh food periodically. I just stopped tracking points in the app last year—I’d been counting points for nearly 15 years at that point—and decided it was time to release myself out into the wild. I’ve yo-yo’d a bit, but I’m making my way through it.

My biggest obstacle to finding self-acceptance with my current weight is my love handles. These orbs have been plaguing me since puberty. I can feel them when I run. I feel them when I’m in a bathing suit and walking on the sand into the water. When I run, I keep them tucked away in compression shorts or leggings. When I’m at the gym, I have a habit of pulling up my leggings after every set of plyometrics. The good news is that usually after the first mile or so of a run, my mind has wandered sufficiently enough that it drifts from thoughts of my love handles to other things, like a recent conversation with a friend, or last night’s episode of Survivor. (Am I the only one who still watches that show?) It’s one of the many, many reasons I love to run.

If you’re someone who has found self-acceptance and loves your body unconditionally, I am truly envious. What’s happening now on the web with ads, videos, and viral posts about self-acceptance is a beautiful, beautiful thing. I realize at 43 I should be there too, but hey, we’re all on our own schedule. I’ll catch up with you soon.

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