Besides the loneliness, no byproduct of Covid has been as common as the extra pounds gained during quarantine, the “Covid 19,” as my husband jokingly calls his. I have struggled to find a healthy balance with food and exercise throughout most of my adult life. I’m either counting every calorie and morsel of food or eating like I have just been voted off of the Survivor Island. Through the years, I have kept three benchmarks of weight: my wedding weight (which came from eating no more than 1400 calories daily and taking two fitness classes daily), my pre-pregnancy weight, and, currently, my marathon weight (which came from running twenty-five miles weekly).
In any picture of me in my adult life, I can tell you what I weighed when the picture was taken. I can tell you whether I was in a healthy, unhealthy, or between phase. Why is it that a person who is usually so sensible wastes brain storage on such useless knowledge?
When news came that we would be returning to in-person learning, my first concern was my coworkers seeing me ten pounds heavier than I left them. When I made a move to a new school, one I had taught at years earlier, before I became pregnant, I was terrified of returning to the building twenty-five pounds heavier than I left it. My fears regarding returning to the real world after quarantine and injuries are based on people noticing my weight gain.
I am currently up thirteen pounds from my marathon weight.
I nursed a knee back to health.
Two spots on the bone of my right foot were reshaped.
My Achilles tendon was patched and reconnected.
I spent six weeks on the couch with my foot in a cast, allowing healing to take place.
I survived the physical healing and the mental stress that comes from pain, isolation, and feeling useless.
Yet I return to work worried about seeing coworkers who remembered me a thin(ner).
After six weeks of recovery, I returned to school to meet my students, eager to Get to know them and settle into routines after two school years of upheaval. Very few students asked me about my injury. I overheard two students inquiring about me.
“Why was she out of school?” one asked.
“I dunno. Looks like she might have just had a baby,” pondered the other.
Maybe they’ve just come to assume that every woman out of work for an extended period is on maternity leave. Perhaps they believed that my soft tummy was indicative of someone who had recently given birth instead of someone who had been nursing an injury. Regardless of the assumption, my heart stopped. Joke’s on them; I’m too old to have a baby, but they didn’t know that.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we attach so much of our self-worth to the size of our pants?
Why do I include any current weights in my memories? How does that make memory better or worse?
How do I end the cycle and realize I am so much more than my weight or my pace?