As many of you know, I had a total thyroidectomy last year due to thyroid cancer. My thyroid level is still low, but slowly returning to normal with medication. One of the major symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid) is weight gain. This in particular has created an interesting journey for me.
As a child I saw my wonderful mom struggle with her size as she grew older. She wasn’t happy with the changes to her body and verbalized her dismay (and disgust). I remember her saying to me, “Never become like this, Shoshana. Never get fat like me.” She said it in a protective way, to mean she didn’t want me to be unhappy with myself like she was with herself. Unbeknownst to me, her words made an impression and they came back to haunt me this past year.
Although I never bought into the pervasive fat prejudice of our society, I also enjoyed a size 2 all my adult life so I never needed to put this value to the test with myself. Even when pregnant, the only part of me that grew was my abdomen and it grew straight forward – no one could even tell I was pregnant from behind. I stayed slim and fit and dropped all the baby weight in the hospital before coming home. So during the last year, it’s surprised me greatly that as I looked at my larger body I’d catch myself mirroring (no pun intended) some of my mom’s self-criticism.
I have no idea whether my size will remain here, if I’ll shrink back down or end up somewhere in between. My energy is returning and it’s easier and more fun to swim and dance again, which might encourage some fat loss. But no matter what, I’m happy to report that this experience has given me the opportunity to work through and get rid of the judgment that was lurking – never for others, but apparently for myself. As a therapist I’m a big fan of “walking the talk,” and that’s what I teach my clients. Double standards do not work. If criticism isn’t okay for anyone else you love, it isn’t allowed for yourself either. I won’t lie – it was a challenge at first. But this past year I’ve learned to beautifully clothe and adorn my changed body. I can and do appreciate it no matter what the size. It’s a belief I’ve always held, and now I can apply it to everyone, including me.