As spring approached, I was sitting on the tightrope between sizes 4 and 6. After a few years of the same summer wardrobe, I needed to throw out most of my shorts and tops at the end of last season. And as I began to think about buying new clothes, my first instinct was to eat healthier and exercise more. Why not be a little more toned and lean? I’ve been a size 4 before, and I felt really healthy at that size. Why not be a 4 again? I paused for a moment, and was surprised to realize that my current goals didn’t align with this idea at all. It was then I realized, right now, during this time of my life, I need to be a size 6.
Being a size 6 is very comfortable for me. Given my current lifestyle, it is a size where I feel relatively healthy without needing to exert a lot of effort. Pizza and cookies can be an aspect of my diet while maintaining this size. It is nearly effortless.
Making the choice to be a size 6 is something very few people in my life will ever know about. It is a choice most people honestly won’t even notice. But for me, this was huge. It was an unconventional decision I made for me, and me alone. I made this choice for three main reasons: my wallet, my time, and my growth as a woman.
For My Wallet:
For me, being a size 4 is not very difficult, but it can be costly. I live in Astoria, Queens and work in Manhattan, so there are plenty of healthy choices right at my fingertips, and I truly love eating nutritious food. During the week, I am away from my apartment for 11-15 hours a day. I consider this an average, even tame, schedule by New York standards, but my days are full. On top of this, I am a person who needs eight hours of sleep to function properly. I meal prep on the weekend so I have food for the beginning of the week, but once the work week begins, I do not cook.
If I doubled my weekly food budget, I could seamless salads to my desk daily, but I would not be able to save money. Even with a tight budget, I am already saving significantly less than I would like, so for me at this time, adjusting my food budget is not an option. At the beginning of the week, I eat my relatively healthy meal prep food, but the end of the week is dollar pizza or a burrito that I can get three meals out of.
Also, I had a thought while I was at the store looking for shorts: If I bought size 4 shorts and gained weight, I would need to buy new shorts again. If I lost weight while wearing a size 6, I could tighten the waistline with a belt. This could be the difference of $100, or even more. For me, this alone was significant enough to buy the size 6 shorts.
I know what you are thinking. And yes, I think about it too. Jackie, you need to figure out a way to cook more. I agree that this is a great idea, but I find that I only have a couple of hours within each day to do one or two tasks of importance besides my job. The to-do list: cook, clean, exercise, socialize, spend time with my boyfriend, create, etc. On the weekend, I am usually trying to catch up on whatever I haven’t accomplished during the week, plus my meal prep. Yes, on the beautiful rare occurrences that I can marry two or three of these things it is amazing, but this is not always a reality.
The only way to have time to create within my current lifestyle and schedule is to let some things go. I need to sweep my floor and tidy my apartment, but I am writing this instead. I need to send e-mails and call friends, but for the moment that will have to wait. I am choosing to give my best hours today to this, even if it means I am not the vision of perfection I had always hoped to be.
Creating is my lifeblood. I hope there comes a day that I can prioritize my health alongside my creativity as many people do, but at this moment, I chose creating over the rest. For the past few years, my creativity has been a neglected piece of me, and it deserves this attention.
My Growth as a Woman:
Choosing to not be the thinnest I know I could be so that I can make the creations I need to make has been quietly empowering. Laying down my weapons and not trying to be perfect has given me more moments for what I consider truly important. Eating a couple of mini cupcakes and the hot pocket I just found in my freezer for breakfast instead of going to the store allowed me to crank something out.
I refuse to live up to the expectation that I should be able to do it all. I can’t, and that is okay. I hope one day I can devote more money and time to my health, but for today, I’ve chosen to devote just enough to get by. I know in my heart I am working as hard as I can and I am doing the best that I can. This is enough.
For me, these thoughts are revolutionary — especially as a woman who spent her teens and early twenties terrified of gaining a pound and trying to cover up every ounce of imperfection. What choices have you made that are less conventional? Did they help you or hurt you in the long run? I’d love to hear your stories!
Jackie Reilly is doing the best she can and that is more than enough. She lives in Astoria, New York and lives for senior dogs. She is in the process of creating a website.
Image via Unsplash