I can’t say I’m someone who pays a lot of attention to weight. I focus a lot on people’s eyes, so those organs make a big impression on me (I’ve since read that eye-lovers like me tend to recognize people better, because eyes don’t change as much as the rest of someone’s appearance), but if someone says, “Did he have a goatee?”, I’m like, “Um, yeah, there was something around his mouth,” but I can’t tell you with a lot of precision. (To be fair, I’m not attracted to facial hair, although I probably would grow some weird topiary with mine, if I were a guy.)

Look at this guy. With eyes like this, do you need facial hair?

Look at this guy. With eyes like this, do you need a moustache?

Throughout my life, starting in high school, my friends would say, “Did you see ___? She lost a lot of weight! Oh, my God!” I’d be like, “Really?” And they’d say, “Yes! You have to compliment her!” So I’d amble over and mumble, “Did you lose weight? Looking good.”

Yes, sometimes I’m more like a guy. I notice if you’re very thin or very big, but I don’t spend a lot of time eyeballing your physique. Unless you are somehow remarkable, I mentally slot you into an appropriate category (XS-XL) and move on. I do have to estimate people’s weight for drug doses, so I can do that, but nurses are better at it.

I quite like fashion, though, so that was how I noticed that I lost some weight this spring and summer. I can’t say exactly when, or how much, because I don’t weigh myself, but I tried on a Rush Couture skirt that I usually have to close my eyes and pray when I pull it up over my rear end, and this time it just slid on easily. With room to dance.


I tried on my whole skinny wardrobe, and…it fit! Including skirts from medical school and a pink tropical skort I’d picked up from Value Village.


To my surprise, some of my friends noticed. Mostly nurses, although my hair stylist too. “You are tiny.” “You lost weight.” “Your greens are just hanging off of you. Well, they always were. But I can see it in your face.” One doctor estimated that I’d lost five or ten pounds, which made me laugh, because ten would be really huge for me, but I had trouble fitting into my jeans before, so maybe.

I wasn’t huge before, though, so some of them looked worried when they commented. The same doctor took me aside a month later and asked me not to lose any more weight.

I understand. The most common reason I see for weight loss is cancer and auto-immune problems. Next would be a gastric bypass. And a distant third, “eat less, move more.” Honestly, when I see elderly ladies with their ribs poking out of their blue hospital gowns, I think, “Hip fracture.” I worry about them.

Of course, I also worry when a three-hundred person rides a scooter into my examining room.

For me, the number one cause of weight gain is pregnancy. “You ate like a monkey,” said my friend Mai-Anh, after we split an order of dumplings, and I said, an hour later, “I’m hungry again.” I’m hangry (so hungry I’m angry) if I don’t get something into me, especially if I’m working in the emerg.

I’m okay with that. I’d rather have a baby than be skinny. And I consider myself extremely lucky that my livelihood doesn’t depend on my looks. If I need a year to snap back, it’s no one else’s business but mine. So I can dream and drowse with a baby in my lap, nursing him or her to sleep, instead of forcing my body into crunches while subsisting on celery.

Me & Anastasia (five days old)

Me & Anastasia (five days old). Photo by NMA Photography.

Although I have to say, I shed the weight post-partum and even get a bit thinner than usual. I assume it’s breast-feeding. It feels a little like magic.

“Oh. You’re one of THOSE people,” said one friend.

Yes. I am.

Eat right & get a dog

So how did I lose weight? I’m not exactly sure. We got a dog for Easter, which helps me a lot. I even wrote a book about that (Eat Right and Get a Dog). But to be honest, a lot of it is genetics and just the fact that I move a lot in general. Just watch a roomful of people sometimes. The ones who are always leaping to their feet, rushing instead of walking, and worrying themselves to death—they’re the skinny ones. My husband doesn’t rush around, but he’s one of those food=fuel people, so that’s another method.

Back to the facial hair again. Matt, 3 months post-partum. Doesn't need to lose weight, but they both look asleep.

Back to the facial hair again. Matt, 3 months post-partum. Doesn’t need to lose weight, but they both look asleep.

Last month, I made whipped cream for Anastasia’s birthday, and I thought, I should get rid of this if I want to stay thin. That’s the only way.

Dear reader, I ate it instead. Because I don’t need to be the skinniest girl in the room. I’ve been bigger (pregnancy) and I’ve been thinner (breastfeeding), and I’m still the same person. I feel healthy. I could see how some people would really like the attention and the satisfaction of a lower dress size, and I admire my many friends who run marathons and whatever those obstacle course things are, but I don’t need more attention or more clothes, I save my energy for the emerg, my writing, and my children. I remember one quiz from Sassy Magazine where they asked, “Do you exercise to be skinny or to be healthy? Be honest.” And I had to pause a long time before I picked both. Honestly, it’s both, but as long as I can fit in my clothes, I’m not motivated to climb Mount Everest or jump over fire. I’m happy. And I married a guy who loves me through thick and thin. (If I complain about not fitting into my jeans, he says, “So? You like clothes. Buy new ones.”)

Today, I finished off Karen’s apple crisp, heated up and topped with vanilla ice cream. I feel a little guilty, because I might not fit into the Rush skirt by the end of the holidays. But ah, well. ‘Tis the season.