Although Mother Nature seems to have other plans lately, the days crossed off our calendars have us inching closer and closer to summer. Ah, yes, summertime, when the weather is fine and everyone feels extra self-conscious about their “summer bods.” Achieving that “perfect” beach body is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It’s written in the form of secrets and how-to’s in every tabloid, it’s scattered throughout our social media feeds with people selling products or gimmicks on weight loss shortcuts, and it’s exchanged in whispers from patrons at the table next to you while working at a cafe.
Perhaps this fixation derives from societal standards, or maybe it’s how everyone truly feels, but at the end of the day, everyone is trying to lose some weight before bathing suit season begins.
Well, except for me.
The other day, I was doing a little fashion show for my friend for an upcoming wedding I have to attend. I had my heart set on one dress in my closet, a strapless, floral print, maxi dress that fell just right to hide my scoliosis. It seemed like the perfect dress for the occasion, as it was just fancy enough for evening wear while I could still be comfortable and, of course, not be wearing white like the bride. I took one look in the mirror and that changed everything.
“My arms are way too skinny to be exposed in this dress,” I said with utter disappointment and frustration.
One of my biggest, everyday struggles living with SMA is the constant uphill battle of trying to gain weight. For reasons that are my own, I have chosen not to get a G-tube, but in doing so, I have chosen to take on the daily challenge of calorie intake. A few years ago, I became sick with the flu and gastritis and couldn’t eat for 10 days. As you can imagine, this set me back tremendously in terms of putting some meat on my bones and maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve been working to get back to my baseline ever since.
Feeling discouraged, I continued to examine myself in the mirror and wished aloud to gain a few more pounds before summer hit. My friend chuckled and noted how you don’t hear things like that often. “Trust me,” I said with an eye roll, “I wish I didn’t have to say it at all.”
I immediately asked for my laptop so I could purchase a new dress with sleeves.
The truth is, just as everyone feels self-conscious about being overweight, I feel self-conscious about being a little underweight. (Although I gained about 3 pounds last month!) This is especially the case when summer comes, and I can no longer hide under bulky sweaters and layers of clothes. Sure, I could tell you how wonderful it is to be at liberty when it comes to eating cupcakes and grabbing lunch at Chick-fil-A like it’s my job, but I can also tell you how discouraging it is to want something so badly and struggle to get there. But, just like everything else in life, it is a work in progress.
And until I get where I want to be, I will continue to exercise the “Most Frequent Customer” title I’ve earned at the new Chick-fil-A down the street.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.