Letting Yourself Go


“You always let yourself go when you’re stressed, you know. You should make more of an effort.”

That was my ex, back when I was in the middle of writing a thesis and, frankly, had neither the time nor the energy for such things as straightening my hair or shaving my legs. That was also, by the way, the same guy who didn’t shave at all for two months before his exams, seeing himself a kind of Samson before the ravening hordes of assignments.

But enough about him- for one thing, he’s lovely, and for another, he’s probably reading this. (Hello!)

That year was the year I finally got my degree. It was also the year I started to work my ass off, discovered that I really did love sociology after all, and brought my grades up from ‘doing okay’ to ‘hell yeah’. It was also the year that I put on about 1/5 of my current weight.

The other year that I piled on the pounds was, unsurprisingly, the year I did my MA. The other time, that is, that I was busy working my (expanding) butt off to better myself until ridiculous hours of the night.

I’ve gotten skinnier in the past few months. Part of that is my current obscenely-healthy lifestyle- I’m too broke for snacks or buses if I want to have a social life, so it’s lentils and cycling for me- but most of it happened before that. The couple of months when I was unemployed and homeless (staying with friends, thankfully), when my relationship of the past few years had ended a little less than a fortnight before my very, very beloved nan died. That was when the pounds just flew off.

I don’t know about your situations. But if my own life is anything to go by, then this idea that losing weight is ‘taking care of yourself’, while gaining it is ‘letting yourself go’, is absolute tosh.

What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “Letting Yourself Go

  1. Absolutely agreed. I’m in the middle of my M.A. now and I’ve gone up two pant sizes since beginning. I’ve been taking care of myself by NOT allowing myself to freak out and panic about being fat, buying new pants, and focusing on eating food that will give me nutrition and help me stave off being sick, not dieting the pounds away. In terms of health, I’m far more concerned about the effects of chronic stress than I am about extra poundage (and the research backs me on this, as far as I can tell), so minimizing stressing about my waistline seems to be a pretty healthy choice in that respect. This stressed-out academic schedule isn’t my favourite and that’s partly why I’m considering taking a break after before committing to the Ph.D., and I might happen to lose weight when I’ve got more time to myself and less inclination to stress eat (although I’m also just as likely to lose my appetite to stress, and that’s how I know when things have gotten really bad), but it’s good to have multiple pant sizes on hand anyway.

    I also don’t shave my legs regardless – it started as an exam thing in my undergrad, and then I just realized it made much more sense.

    • Seriously! When you’re halfway through an MA the last thing you need to be worrying about is the ThesisBum! You’ve massively more important things to do, like deadlines and learning and writing and making excellent new knowledge happen. Also, since you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting on that bum between now and graduation it’s probably a good thing for it to be nice ‘n’ cushioned.

      Also-also, good luck with the MA :)

  2. I’ve lost weight both ways, although I tend to gain in less stressful times. When things weigh upon me, I shut down and turtle.

    • That resonates a lot with me. I find that cooking and eating lovely things, as a thing I love to do, is something I’m more likely to do when I feel happy. When I’m unhappy it’s just too much of an effort, whereas when I’m content there’s nothing I love more than making piles of delicious food.
      I guess the point is that you just plain can’t tell, unless you know a person really well, whether weight gain or loss is a a sign of good or bad stuff for them. That there’s way more going on than more-bad.

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