I put my real weight on my driver’s license.

The other day I realized that my driver’s license needed to be renewed and updated with my new address, so I spent some quality time at the DMV.

I don’t look at my driver’s license very often (obviously, since it had been expired for three weeks, and the address was two years old). I use my passport for most identification purposes, and my license stays in my purse.

Thing is, my address wasn’t the only thing that was out of date. My weight was listed at 180.

That is a laughable number in its inaccuracy. I haven’t weighed 180 since I was in high school.

I distinctly remember the last time I had to renew my license in 2012, being nervous about that part. When the question about my weight came up — Is your weight still correct? — I probably mumbled something like, “Uh, yeah, sure,” and left feeling relieved that I hadn’t been called out.

In hindsight, what self-respecting person was going to question me? It’s not like they put me on a scale, everyone carries weight differently, and (possibly most important) no one really cares because using weight for identification purposes is ridiculous.

The reason I remember that fleeting interaction is because of the immense shame attached to my then-weight (which, ironically, was a lot less than I weigh now). That shame controlled so many aspects of my life — how I ate, what I wore, how I exercised, my mood, how I interacted with people — that it put a stranglehold on my happiness.

Unsurprisingly, feeding that guilt did the opposite of what I wanted. I didn’t shrink — I grew. I didn’t feel happy when I lost weight — I felt sad. Food was both my best friend and my worst enemy, and it wasn’t until I started therapy and started untangling the roots of my unhappiness did I realize I’d sabotaged all my best efforts out of fear and shame.

The thing is, my real weight starts with a 3 these days. A three. It’s not an insignificant number.

So yesterday, when the dreaded question came up — Weight’s still 180, right? — I said, “No, actually, it’s 300.”

No shame. No more hiding in fear from a number. Owning it.

I’m not saying I’m healthy now — health is a relative concept, anyway, and one that we as a society too often confuse with worthiness. I’m not saying I’ll never diet again, or that I don’t doubt myself from time to time.

What I’m saying is: I have to love and respect who I am right now, in this moment, no matter what my body looks like, no matter what number shows on the scale. That is the only way forward.

I took this photo in October. I don’t know why I was moved to photograph myself in a bathing suit, of all things, at a time when I was traveling; swollen, bruised, fatigued. It is quite possibly the worst photo I’ve ever taken of myself, but it’s interesting that I still chose to take it, and keep it, and looking at it doesn’t fill me with disgust.

This is me at my heaviest, including pregnancies.

This is me, controlling my anxiety and depression with therapy and medication, rather than food.

This is me, unashamed of my body for the first time in my life, and feeling great about it.

And while self-love is a great accomplishment, it doesn’t fit in the three-digit space on my driver’s license, so I’m doing the next best thing: Owning my weight, whatever that may be.

fat girl with a fitbit

Remember last October when I started up that exercise routine? And was doing really well and enjoying myself? And then I got knocked up and promptly forgot all about it? Yeah.

I knew I’d need some particularly powerful motivation to get back on the wagon this time. I remember from Ellie’s early days how easy it is to sit around with a snoozy, snuggly baby on my chest.

Then I came across Fitbit and was immediately intrigued. I love me some tech-geeky gadgets; even better if they come with statistics and charts and graphs. I debated with myself… it was expensive, at $100 for the fancy tracker, but I could justify that easily enough. A membership to the local rec center costs $400 a year and I wouldn’t use it every day, not to mention the hassle of having to arrange for childcare, finding a convenient time to go, etc. And I do need to lose a significant amount of weight somehow. Although I’ve yet to encounter major issues as a result of my weight, I know it’s just a matter of time. I’m still relatively young and I have a sneaking suspicion my thirties and forties will not be as forgiving on the health front.

So in short, I decided $100 was a small price to pay for the improvement of my health and clicked the “Buy Now” button.

After a month with the Fitbit, I’ve not been disappointed. It’s a huge motivator–the Fitbit is always with me. If I sit on my ass all day, it knows. And I aim to please my future robot overlords, so I’m always looking for excuses to add steps or floors to my daily totals. At first I was totally beat by the end of the day–if you’re not already living an active lifestyle, 10,000 daily steps is a challenge–but now I find I can’t sit still for very long before I have the urge to get up and do something. It’s a refreshing change compared to the no-energy-to-get-out-of-my-chair feeling I had before.

Another part of this personal project involves tracking what I eat. I’ve done this before, usually without much success. I tend to get obsessive with these things, to the point where one failure equals total failure and epic disappointment. Drama queen, me? Never. But I’m finding it’s not as difficult this time. I’m more forgiving, which I think comes from knowing exactly how active I’ve been. And thanks to Fitbit’s goal program, I realized I actually need to eat more than I thought I did… if I eat too little, my body brings my already snail-like metabolism to a screeching halt and causes all sorts of problems. So this is helpful in ensuring I get the nutrition I need so I can keep my metabolism trundling along. The best part is the food tracker that tells me how many calories I’ve “earned” as a result of my activity level on any given day. If I move more, I get to eat more–awesome.

One of the things that makes Fitbit unique as a fitness gadget is the ability to track not only your daily activity but your sleep patterns as well. In my case, it’s particularly important because we’re often up and down with Gwen at night. I was surprised to find that even on our “bad” nights I’m still usually getting a solid seven hours of sleep. Not bad for having a two-month-old!

The results speak for themselves–I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last month and I feel so much better. I have quite a way to go, but I think I’m going to be able to stick with it this time. The real challenge will come in just under two weeks when I go back to my desk job. I have a feeling it will not be nearly as easy to get my steps and floors in, but I’m already making plans. I’ll cover my current exercise routines and how I plan to stay active in a future blog post.