Friday night is supposed to be Pizza Night.
You know if you eat just one slice you’re going to feel like you’re still hungry in a few minutes. Better yet, someone else at the table will forget the unspoken dining rules and take what is clearly marked as your hunk of cheesy goodness because you all know you’re splitting the bill evenly anyway, and they know if they just keep the conversation going, everyone will lose track of who had what.
Everyone except you, that is. Because you notice, and because you’ve faced this before.
You’ve fought hard, and it’s an ongoing fight, but not just against the freeloader in your friend-group. You’ve fought against the mental numbers in your head.
The number of minutes you’ll need to exercise to work off the combination of dough and cheese (and mighty fine pepperoni, if you’re lucky), which leads your brain to remember the last time you exercised and chastise yourself on it being a.) too easy or b.) not recent enough. You’re going to stare down that pizza slice growing cold and play the cards out in your head, I just know it. Others at the table are relaxing over a meal, but you’re silently bargaining with yourself that if you do this, if you indulge in the American peace offering of cheesy perfection, that you’ll be really good tomorrow. You know, like, wife-of-a-celebrity good. You’ll eat things with whole grains and vitamins that you read about in the Get-Fit-Now book you never finished, and you’ll make your own salad dressing because you also heard Ranch makes you fat, even though dipping in it is the Southern equivalent of adding salt to your food- and Oh! SALT!- you’ll cut back on that, too. And while you’re at it, you’ll hide the breakup ice cream in the back of your freezer that you haven’t finished yet- because you have decided that you can take as long as you want to get over him- when you get home, and you’ll finally go to that spin class your coworker said had the cute instructor. This slice of pizza could change your life, you swear, for the better, because it’ll be the last piece of happiness you enjoy before you swear your existence away to bikini-body-boot-camp workouts you found on the internet coupled with a juice cleanse that you scored a Groupon for. Not eating this pizza slice could be the story that you tell your girlfriends about when they say you’re looking skinny weeks from now, or the experience that puts you ahead at your next High School Reunion, or the reason that guy finally asks you out next week.
I know– it’s a lot, right? An awful lot for just a piece of pizza.
Almost too much.
You ignore the greasy triangle you claimed earlier and you try and jump back into the conversation with your friends like you didn’t just live a whole week of choices and debates in your head, but it’s exhausting.
It’s overwhelming, it’s unfair, and it’s not adding any goodness to your life, but you know what will? Dismissing everything and grabbing that slice. It’s going to be delicious, and you’re going to live another day.
What matters is that you’re just as focused on how you’re shaping up in the inside- in your gut feelings and thoughts and heart and character- just as much as you are dead-set on visualizing the way that slice will make your thighs look.
Now, I know you’ve heard this before, and I know that Sunday School lessons of ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ have been preached to death, along with body-positive speak that you chanted in Middle School health class, but you still argue with yourself before every meal. You still give in to the accusations against your particular silhouette, you still have to take a deep breath before you look in the mirror, and you still let the numbers on your clothing labels define you. There are still nights where you curse your arms in a sleeveless dress like they called you a bad name and when your mascara runs because the same dress really looked better on the mannequin. You listen to Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” and cry every time, and that’s okay. You know that magazines are photoshopped, but you’re still filled with anger an hour after looking through a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. Accepting yourself isn’t one-and-done and you’re living proof of that, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having to remind yourself of your worth beyond the scale.
But, I do want to convince you that this whole ordeal takes time.
And, if you can spend this much thought, talent, emotion and time on one measly slice of pizza, imagine what your beautiful brain could do with a situation that matters. With a friend’s broken heart. With a passion you should pursue. With a clear look at the things that bring life.
So I guess all I’m saying, from one work-in-progress to another, is take care of yourself.
Oh, and have the second damn piece of pizza.