From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Hello to a Better Body!


“Where in the world did that come from?” When you are sixty-eight years old, looking in the mirror is an adventure. “Where did that wart come from? Was my belly this big yesterday? Is that gray hair coming out of my nose? Are those chin hairs? Is that an eyebrow growing out of the middle of my forehead?”

I’ve lost weight and gained weight so many times I have five different sizes of clothes in my closet: Skinny, Still Good, Slipping a Little but Still Fits, Oops, Fat Again.

Most of us have lost our waists. We are either straight-upand-down or we are round. When I was twenty-two years old I had a 22-inch waist. Now I have a 35-inch waist or a 38-inch waist, depending on which roll of fat I measure.

When I received an invitation in the mail for the fiftieth high school reunion for the class of 1961 it made my blood run cold. My old classmates were going to see me fat! When I was in school I was so skinny I got teased. Now they would tease me about being fat.

Oh, yes, and the head of the reunion committee was my arch nemesis in high school, Ginger. Ginger was the cheerleader, class president and most popular girl and she bullied the shy nerds like me.

I’d show them! I would go to the reunion and I would be skinnier than Ginger. I was a woman on a quest; my goal was to look better than Ginger. Of course, I hadn’t seen Ginger in fifty years but for some reason I was convinced she still looked like a seventeen-year-old cheerleader.

I would not lose this battle! I took the laundry baskets off my treadmill, dusted it off and began walking on it two hours a day. I stopped eating foods that were bad for me.

I didn’t sit and watch TV; I stood to watch TV. I danced, I stacked books on the floor and used them to do step-ups. I didn’t walk through the house; I hopped, skipped, jumped and ran through my house. I was in constant motion. Just about the time I thought the pounds were stuck to me with super glue I noticed my clothes were getting loose. My belly looked flatter, my face looked thinner... I was getting a waist!

The date of the reunion was circled on the calendar and I’d written Ginger’s name on the date. I had never worked so hard to lose weight so quickly and it was paying off.

Three weeks before the reunion I had reached my goal and had lost thirty pounds. I felt good! I’d show them! I’d show Ginger!

Then I remembered that I’d been terribly unhappy in school. I’d been lonely and unpopular and invisible. After graduation no one in the class had made any effort to contact me and I’d never made an effort to keep in touch with them.

I’d just spent the last two months obsessed with losing weight to look good for a reunion I didn’t want to go to so I could impress a woman I’d never liked.

It was so funny I laughed. Ginger hadn’t liked me fifty years ago; she wasn’t going to like me now. Did I really think losing thirty pounds was going to make me popular with these people who were now strangers? Was I expecting to be the prom queen of the reunion?

I don’t have to prove anything anymore. I’ve had a good life. I’m successful in my career; I’m proud of my family. Why had I let Ginger reach across the decades and shatter my self-confidence and turn me back into the shy teenager eating lunch alone in the cafeteria because no one would sit with her?

I threw the reunion invitation into the trash. I erased the circle around the date and I erased Ginger’s name. I erased the class of 1961 from my life. I didn’t need their approval. I didn’t need them to like me. I didn’t need to be fifteen years old again.

I let the wrong thing motivate me to lose weight. I should never have lost weight just to look “good enough” to go to the reunion. I should have done it for myself.

Nevertheless, I had made the choice to eat right, eat less, and exercise. I lost thirty pounds, I tightened up my body, and I increased my stamina and my strength.

I’m happy with the way I look now and I’m going to keep my waist. I can’t control the wrinkles, I can’t stop getting older, but I can control my weight and I can get stronger. I can let go of the past and I can let go of the people who hurt me and made my childhood so unhappy.

I can do all of these things for myself. It’s all about me, my health, the way I feel, my happiness.

None of this is about Ginger or the class of 1961.

~ April Knight ~

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