The Trump Twenty

In the days following Trump’s election in 2016, my eating habits, which had already been slipping, spiraled. Chocolate ice cream + red wine became an acceptable dinner, although if I think about it, it was worse than that: they became an appetizer, which I ate with the girls before Scott even got home, and THEN I ate my real dinner. When I think back to that time, I can now recognize that I was grieving: true, raw, grief. Grief about both Clinton’s loss and about Trump’s win, separately and together. And wow, did I emotionally eat.

Fast forward two years and twenty pounds, which I have jokingly referred to as the Trump Twenty. In the past two years, I’ve seemed to unlearn many of the healthy habits I have developed during my adult life as an active, athletic woman. Somewhere along the way, I also started to justify my weight gain as a strange sort of political protest. What began as some ice cream and wine in the wake of a national tragedy (does that sound dramatic? I so wish it were hyperbole…) somehow morphed into “This is my body now, and I don’t have to change it to please the patriarchy.” Except… guess what? These old, white men in power have no idea that I have gained twenty pounds. They’re still in power. Spoiler alert: weight gain is not a very effective political tool. And yes, I’m all for body positivity, and think that if I had felt strong and powerful at that size, that would have been a perfect place to be. But I didn’t. I felt miserable. My clothes didn’t fit, and I constantly obsessed about whether I was on or off the eating plan I was loosely (translation: barely) following. And last month, as Kavanaugh was confirmed, I decided that continuing to gain ten pounds per year is not a great option, given that the supreme court is a lifetime appointment.

While texting with one of my closest friends a few weeks ago, we lamented about Kavanaugh and discussed possible options, such as drinking a bottle of wine to cope. Alas, even in the wake of a massive headache, Kavanaugh was still confirmed. My friend mentioned that she was doing a weight loss / lifestyle app that she really liked. I decided to jump in, and two weeks later, I’m down several pounds, making far better choices, and starting to feel like myself again.

All of this has made me think a lot about whether, in our current political reality, it’s possible for me to lose weight merely for myself. Can I do it without caring whether people notice? Can I separate my own health goals from my desire to fit into a template? I suspect that I will continue to tease out the answers to these questions for the rest of my life. But, for now, it feels freeing to change my internal dialogue to from “I don’t have to weigh a certain weight to please the patriarchy” to “I’m not going to let politics define how I care for my body.”