Written By: Kit Campoy
"C'mon buddy." I was coaxing my dog to walk up the flight of stairs that led to my home. He was having none of it. He stared up at me.
He'd been having some trouble going up the stairs, and I'd resorted to picking him up and carrying him. Bad idea. He's not a large dog, but he weighs nearly forty pounds.
"C'mon, dude. Let's go, sir."
He stared up.
The sun was rising behind us, a thin layer of fog was still burning off, and I was not yet fully awake.
Against my best judgment, I quickly picked him up and carried him up the stairs again.
As soon as I did, the back of my shoulder froze up. In intense pain, I looked up. I speedily discerned that I had to make it to the top with him. I couldn't drop him. I couldn't go back. I had to go up. I'd been having lower back pain from lifting things that were now too heavy for me, but this shoulder pain was new.
With a lot of deep breaths, I made it to the top and set him down gently. Then, I opened the front door, unrolled my yoga mat on the hardwood living room floor, and lay down. Although I was in intense pain, I wouldn't give myself too long. I was headed out on a work trip the next day and had to pack. It was a work trip that I'd spend five hours in the car for, by the way.
Ice and ibuprofen were on the menu, that's it. I was busy. I had to go. I had people to meet.
A month after the work trip, my lower back continued to ache. "No biggie", I thought. I need to work out more and stretch. I'd try more yoga, more weight training, more stretching. I popped into a pilates stretch class where participants used the reformer to hold deep stretches for several minutes.
It hurt. I ignored it.
"I'll be fine, I just need to keep going," I told myself. "I just need a massage." Lucky for me, I had one booked forty-eight hours later. As the massage appointment neared, my pain grew worse. I let the massage therapist know about my pain and workout routine.
In a soothing voice, she guided me towards reality. "Stop." She said, "You need to stop. You're injured and your body is screaming at you. Do nothing for the next two weeks.”
I limped out of that appointment and spent the next three months in bed.
I'd hurt my mid back, my SI joints were fucked (that's the technical term), and I had severe sciatic pain in my left leg. I couldn't sit. I could barely walk. Every time I got up from bed, my leg would cramp up, and I'd have to wait for the searing pain to subside before I could inch my way down the hall.
Every video call was taken standing up. I'd put on my "I'm listening" face for the people on the other side of the screen, and then after the call, I'd hobble back to bed with my laptop.
The healing process came at a sloth's pace and the gloom rolled in. My workout classes were a huge part of my social life, and that was gone. I'm a solo entrepreneur who works from home, so I was lonely, depressed, and in so much pain.
After an entire summer of weekly acupuncture appointments, working on my laptop from bed, and so much support from my husband, I finally gained mobility and reduced much of the pain. I dug through my closet, pulled out my shorts, and realized they didn't fit. I needed a bigger size.
The bummer part was that I really liked those shorts. I wanted to wear them. I didn't want to spend money on the same thing but bigger. But I did. I allowed myself so much grace. This injury was one of the hardest things I've ever endured physically, so I allowed myself to feel all the gratitude for healing and none of the shame about going up a size.
I've spent the past forty years worrying about gaining weight. I'm over it. I've also learned that it's a tool of the patriarchy to pit women against one another, so we become distracted and don't concern ourselves with real problems like men hoarding wealth and power. So, excuse me, but I will no longer expend any energy worrying about gaining weight when I'm living an overall healthy lifestyle.
I'm shunning that "Don't you dare get fat" mantra that's been a shadow over my entire existence.
"Don't you dare get fat."
I saw it everywhere and in everything — every magazine, every movie, every TV show. I dreaded it. I stressed about it. The thought has infiltrated my body at a cellular level.
In college, I felt ashamed when I had to reach for my "fat jeans" because I went up a size. I was terrified I'd go up again. (That's super fucked up, by the way. That's how every woman I knew felt.) Looking back at the culture I grew up in is shocking. I re-watch movies from the '80s and '90s, and the women were all so skinny. I recently watched an episode of Friends and was so distracted by how thin the actresses were. That's what we all thought we needed to look like. All of those women were like a size zero or two, for fucks sake.
Now, I make a concentrated effort not to talk about weight. I notice how often it comes up and don't entertain the conversation. I don't engage; I pivot to something else.
We are all beautiful and trying our best every damn day.
If someone wants to gossip about me because I gained weight, so be it. They have no idea the daily physical struggles I've dealt with all year. They have no idea how elated and grateful I am that I can walk again, sit again, and drive without pain.
I can stretch again. That lovely good morning stretch we do when we first wake up. It's absolutely glorious. I know because I couldn't do it for five months.
Yeah, I went up a size - big deal. I went up two sizes from a year ago. I may go down a size later or go up another size. Whatever. I am healthy. I can move throughout my day. I can walk my dog and work out again. That's what matters to me.
This past summer was brutal. There are no words for the daily challenge and pain I felt.
But I learned how to slow down. I learned how to rest (a little bit). I learned that my size has nothing to do with my worth or my humanity and that we all need to downshift and see each other for what we bring to the table - not how we look while we're doing it.
Nourish yourself. You kick ass no matter your size, and anyone who doesn't see that can go kick rocks. Keep moving, surround yourself with down-to-earth humans, and rest whenever possible. You're doing great. So am I. Let's be proud of that, support each other, and move forward. The rest of it doesn't matter anyway.
Meet the Author