Lessons from the Pantry

I spent part of the day yesterday cleaning and re-organizing my kitchen pantry. Those of you who know me know how much I love clutter-busting and clearing out – I even do a little bit of personal organizing on the side when I can. It’s one of those “zone” things for me, and I can get really into it, forgoing sustenance and even water for hours when I get going.

So I pulled everything off each shelf and put it on the counter. Pasta, rice, snacks, soups, and condiments piled up. I wiped down and vacuumed the whole pantry, and then I got to work checking expiration dates and making decisions. Part of the reason I decided to do this is that we had SO MANY bags and boxes of stuff in there that we couldn’t even really see past the giant bags of tortilla chips and pretzels. I stood with the trash can open and dropped in expired flour, a stale box of crackers, a left-open package of broken cookies, and some old tea.

The I came to two big bags of protein powder I bought over a year ago. I checked the expiration date on the bottoms of those bags, saw they were both expired, and dumped them in trash can.

Immediately, I felt like the world had lifted off my shoulders. What the hell? Why hadn’t this happened with the tea or crackers or cookies? Why was I having this visceral, flooding relief from tossing the protein powder? Some people might have shrugged, happy for the relief, and moved right along. But I didn’t. I wondered why. I thought about it.

And I had a realization.

I have struggled with my weight all my life. It’s gone up and down more times than I can count. I have been called names like “Thunder Thighs” and “Fatty.” I have been shamed by people who claimed to love me, and I have shamed myself in front of mirrors time and again. I have been on Weight Watchers, SugarBusters, Whole 30, South Beach, and the Grapefruit Diet, among others. My most successful diet was the Divorce Diet in which I couldn’t swallow a bit of food and proceeded to lose 90 pounds. I looked great, but I was dying inside.

I had purchased that protein powder after my divorce when my weight started to creep back up. (Who knew that food actually COULD taste good again once your heart starts to heal?) I had vowed to myself that I would never ever get “fat” again because that was one of the bullshit reasons my ex gave for having an affair. (Side note: People don’t have affairs because you’re fat. People have affairs because they’re selfish.) So I thought this protein powder would be helpful in keeping me thin.

For a time, I used it each morning, and it was good. I liked the ease and regularity of having a shake each day. But it upset my stomach a little bit, and honestly, it just wasn’t sustainable for me. So I put the bags in the pantry and figured I’d use it in pancakes and the occasional shake, and I forgot about it.

Until the next time I opened the pantry and saw it there.

And felt bad about myself for not using it.

And then the NEXT time I opened the pantry and told myself, “You know, Self, you should really be drinking those shakes every morning.”

And then the time after THAT when I opened the pantry, started to berate myself for not using it, cut myself off mid-thought, and angrily slammed the door.

People, I had been letting that stupid protein powder make me feel like shit for over a year. And guess what? My weight had been creeping up for a year too. No freaking WONDER I felt relief at tossing that stuff in the trash yesterday! Sheesh.

I have been every weight a 5’3” woman can be, y’all. I have been happy at 200 pounds, and I have been ready to end it all at 119 pounds. I know we hear it all the time, but WEIGHT DOES NOT DEFINE US. It does not make us happy. It does not make us kind. It does not make us lovable or assholes or anything else. It’s a number. It’s how much the skinbag that carries your soul around exerts force on the earth. Do I want to be healthy? Hell, yes! I want to be able to run if I want to and to get up off the floor with ease. I want to look decent in my clothes. My weight will likely go up and down several more times in my life, and I think I’m finally ok with that.

My worth is not a number on the scale or how many protein shakes I drink.

My worth just is.

I’m thankful to that stupid protein powder for the reminder.

I’m even more thankful for that trash can that swallowed it up.

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