I am not thankful for the struggle with weight. When I was nineteen, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries. It is a hormonal disorder that causes weight gain among other side effects. It was a relief to find that the defining struggle of my teenage years was not just lack of discipline but physiological. But damage to my self-concept and to my relationship with food had already been done. I had missed the sports and games of young life because I had been so self-conscious about my body. To my mother’s relief and my deep disappointment, I didn’t date, and was uncomfortable around men. I learned to live a life in my mind and heart that was outside of my body because my body was not a place I wanted to live. I missed a lot of life because of my weight.
I am thankful for the results of my struggle with obesity. I know the complications of addiction and the frustration of not being able to just “stop” destructive behavior. I know what it’s like when your body feels like it is betraying your heart. I know the pain of being overlooked in a room of pretty people. Katharine Hepburn once said, “Plain women know more about men than beautiful ones do.” I’m quite sure this is why I married the most amazing man in the universe – I could spot a good man anywhere. And similarly, I know the value of friends who don’t care what you look like and just see your heart. I know the joy of crossing a finish line after speed-walking 26.2 miles and conquering something at 40 that I could not achieve at 20. I know these things because of my struggle with weight.