2 (two)

I don’t like the number two. 2. It looks like such an innocuous, even innocent, number. But looks can be deceiving.

DonnaColorado2011I’ve recently gained enough weight for the number I see when I look down while I’m standing on the bathroom scale to begin with a two. I’ve never weighed 200 pounds before. I’ve always stopped myself from gaining weight when my weight or my jeans size was approaching a number that began with a two. Last time I went on a fitness frenzy was about twelve years ago. I had just turned forty, and I weighed 197 pounds and wore size 18 jeans. Both numbers approaching that critical boundary. I went to a nutritionist and a trainer and started a regimen that included both a healthy diet and a workout routine.

But I couldn’t maintain the lifestyle that was, for me, no fun at all. I wasn’t raised on humus and tofu, gluten-free pancakes and dairy-free, sugar-free, fat-free smoothies. I like bread and pizza and chocolate and ice cream. I’ve never liked sports or working out or sweating. I was the last person picked for the softball or basketball team in gym. I still have dreams about cutting gym class in high school. I don’t even watch sports on TV. Sure, I enjoy taking a walk or going for a swim, whether permitting, but I’m not an athlete and I have no passion for physical activity in and of itself (except perhaps for swimming, weather permitting). I lost 35 pounds and looked great in size 12 Levis. Nowhere near the godawful two number. I felt great and I looked great.

DonnaEurope2010But my workout routine ultimately caused me to injure myself. 

And then I went to Europe for four months (that’s two times two, which might have been a warning if I’d been paying attention). I couldn’t pack my 3- 5- and 8-pound free weights in my carry on bag. It was so hard to find time to do those nasty exercises when I could be out exploring Brittany or Geneva or Vilnius. And, um, beer. 

And then I moved to Vermont. Moving always disrupts my routine entirely. I’ve been here for over a year and I still haven’t found a dentist or an eye doctor. I did find a nice three-mile walking route, right outside the door, and sometimes I go for weeks without skipping a day.

And then I get busy with work. Or I have to travel to teach. Or it’s Thanksgiving. Or I want to knit a pi shawl instead of walking in a big circle around the village. 

So now I weigh over 200 pounds. Oddly, however, I have only had to go up one jeans size, to size 14 Lee Relaxed Fit women’s jeans — the style that I’ve worn for most of my adult life. I guess it’s because I’m in my 50s now, I’m post menopausal, and my fat is on different parts of my body than it was when I was younger. 


I know my Colorado Doctor would not be happy with  my current weight. I do want to be healthy, but the most surprising part of this encounter with the number two, is that I don’t hate the way I look. I don’t hate the way I feel. I don’t hate myself. 

I still hate the number two.


Knitting, Writing , ,
  1. There turns out to be little correlation between weight and health, or lifespan. It’s important to live in a healthy way; eat a balanced diet and get up & move at least half an hour 5 or so days a week on average. Check out the Fat Nutritionist: http://www.fatnutritionist.com/index.php/about/

    Many doctors have stopped recommending diets, because they virtually always fail. Which makes some sense given that if you were a “normal” weight and ate that way you would be diagnosed as an anorexic. There is more and more evidence that voluntary starvation causes lasting changes to metabolism, feelings of hunger, and other aspects of our physical relationships with food. Dieting causes more harm than being overweight, certainly.

    Every time I’ve seriously dieted (losing more than 50 lbs) I’ve ended up with a diet related issue. The first time it was Celiac disease. The second I brought on hyperemesis in pregnancy; I essentially starved my baby of glucose trying to keep up the low-GI diet I had been on for a year. The latest round I developed a significant vitamin B deficiency. In all cases I regained the weight, plus some, and dealing with the illnesses caused me to lose muscle tone so I came out in all ways less healthy than if I hadn’t tried to diet in the first place.

    Get up and move some, eat a reasonable diet, and you’re doing as well as you can. Depriving yourself to meet a number or someone else’s expectation will only cause you trouble.

  2. Hi Donna,
    I’m 44 and have gone back and forth with weight ups and downs since I was a teenager. I’m 5’5″ and heavier than I was when I delivered any one if my 3 kids. I don’t weigh myself. I have always been pretty good about staying around 130-135 until I hit 40. I know how to stay in shape but, frankly I feel good and scrutinizing over everything I put into my mouth was such a ridiculous way to exist. Between that and getting a workout in everyday, the only thing I really enjoyed about it was what the scale and mirror told me. Looking back, I never was satisfied with what either said because there was always this bulge or those 2 or 3 more pounds. It’s funny now that I am around 160 (which is quite on the chubby side for my height) to think I was ever “fat” at 120,125,130….even 140….but, I did. I’m sick to death of all that. Be healthy…absolutely…but, the days of all that counting and measuring nonsense is not for me! I’m good with the change! I enjoy cooking and baking because I really enjoy good food! When I’m not working or doing chores I love to knit….so I traded all that fussiness with being/staying thin for creating something beautiful.
    I really enjoy this blog and your many talents! Thanks :)

  3. Thanks, Kristi. Ain’t that the truth? Although I do have several svelte friends in their 50s and above, it’s not the norm. And with my ethnicity, turing “square” is pretty much to be expected LOL. Now I just need a babushka!

  4. Donna, I am a new reader . I love your blog and I love this post. I also love being over 50, because now I look about the same as all the other women over 50. The skinny minxes are much rarer in this age category, but there are lots of beautiful women here. Happy knitting!

  5. Liz,

    Thank you so much, this is wonderful advice. I know if I just make a few small changes, I can whip myself into decent shape again without over doing it. I don’t want to weigh 150 lbs. Maybe 180. LOL. Just to stay healthy….

  6. Dear Donna:

    I love the honesty of your post. I’m a devoted fan. I write to you at exactly 200 pounds today. I was once a model at 137lbs. Just an idea: I suggest you forgive yourself and your body for aging and for your reaction to moving. You are a wonderful and creative woman, and your body is not a separate and static entity.

    Are there those who never struggle to maintain healthy habits? Those who stay the same size and dimensions for the bulk of their adult lives? Sure. They are the exceptions who prove the rule. “People change and that’s okay.” That’s the rule.

    I spent almost 20 years working in the fitness industry, as a trainer and massage therapist. I have truly absurd amounts of education under my belt. Here is what I know in a nutshell:

    As we age, there is a learning curve to keep up with the bodies we have “now”. Some foods agree, some don’t. Sleep cycles make no sense. Some things put weight on that never did before. Some types of exercise make us ache like never before. Some suddenly look like a great idea. Just keep moving. Changing the type is less critical than avoiding holding still for the majority of the day.

    Eat a wide variety of foods for optimum health, and aim for nutrient-dense foods more often than not. Discover what disagrees and eat less of it. (Egg whites, blueberries, and trout are some of my faves.)

    Eat the junk you crave in small amounts when you crave it to avoid the binging that restrictive diets temp us towards. Dark chocolate peanut M&Ms are some of my faves. Also, red wines and aged cheeses.

    Do the exercise you enjoy on some sort of schedule. If you love walking, join the local museum or naturalist society or something that works for whatever you’d like to walk past. If you love to run the dog, do that. If you love to clean your house, do so with vigor.

    Stretching is good when done often, in moderation. It also happens to wake up your brain, and give you better dexterity. (The better to knit with!)

    Radical change rarely works. Small changes imposed over time work miracles.

    Be less concerned about the number on the scale and more concerned about how you feel. If you have no Zip in your Doo-Dah, change a few things. If you feel great, trust that your body is doing what it needs to do. It will work out.

    Love, respect, and admiration,


  7. Ginger,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for your concern. I have no intention of letting my health fall apart. I am 5’7″ tall, so 200 may not be as bad as you are thinking, but I’d like to get back to 180, which puts me under the level that my doctor’s BMI chart lists as “obese” for me. Although, even now, I think I am plump or chunky, not obese. I’m getting a rowing machine or treadmill so I can get some exercise when the weather is bad and I don’t want to go out for a walk and can’t swim.

    Thanks again, and I am glad you are feeling so much better. That’s wonderful!


  8. I’m writing this with tears in my eyes. You wrote my story in this blog entry. I’m about 12 years older than you, but my encounter with 2 is exactly the same.
    I won’t re-write your post as it is more eloquent than I could ever write but believe me, we have fought the same battle all of our adult lives.
    Please don’t accept 2! It is harder on your body than you can understand at your tender age! ;-).
    It took me twelve years to understand the damage I was doing to my body and my life by accepting 2. After years of going to orthopedic, rheumatology, and pain management doctors I finally accepted the fact that the only way to truly feel comfortable again was to lose the weight. I couldn’t be a 2 and not be in pain.
    I had weight loss surgery last February. Now I’m not a 2! Although just barely. It has Not be easy nor a magic fix but I feel that 2 is gone forever!
    My first triumph was one day I was running very late which is really any day I have to leave the house, but this was a first. I got to the top of the stairs and realized I had run up them!!! Sort of ( in a bad knees, 62 year old kind of way). That day was after approximately 35 lbs lost.
    The next major landmark was when I kissed 2 goodbye forever. That was pretty recently and I still hold my breath every time I step on the scale.
    I still have a long way to go to goal and it’s a struggle every day. But I can’t go back to 2 and live with the physical and emotional pain.
    My only regret is that I waited so long and wasted some many years when I could have been healthy!
    Please. Don’t be a 2.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *