I was getting ready for a night out with the girls and headed for the closet. Excited for what the night had in store, I reached past the stacked boxes and found my favorite jeans. As I tried them on, I wondered, se me habran incogido en la secadora? Or could it be that I’d put on weight? I felt the back of my pants. There was nothing in my pockets that could have tightened them. I paused. Could it be that I, athletic and sporty Alma, gained weight? No way. I slowly crept to the mirror and it was all too clear. Yes Alma, you’ve gained a few pounds and they are all hanging out over your hips, mija. My excitement to go out with the girls quickly fizzled as I began to obsess over my appearance.
Coming from a Puerto Rican family, I was taught early on to eat three square meals a day. Plus, after being served, I would hear, “Y te lo comes todo.” So, as a good and obedient child, I did as I was told and made sure I ate everything on my plate. That was fine when I was active, but once I became an adult and joined the workforce I barely had time to breath yet alone exercise. After putting in 40 plus hours a week at my job, I felt entitled to a break, especially from exercise. Well, the break was well received but the pounds were not! I had failed to realize that as we age our metabolism slows down. And BAM! There you have it: the perfect combination for weight gain. Well, (ahem) in addition to poor eating choices!
Why does gaining a few pounds have such a negative impact on self-image? Maybe it has to do with our countries obsession with weight and body image. I can recall the countless times I went out with my girlfriend, Maria, who struggles with her weight and, in turn, is self-conscious about her body. The train riders watched her like a hawk, uttering disrespectful comments like, “Oh, check her out. She thinks she’s all that!” or “Mira a esa! De donde vino?” This is why women begin dissecting their bodies as early as our Barbie playing days. Unfortunately, these ideas are also embedded in the media and in everyday life. Whether male or female, we are all affected by how we look.
Needless to say, those negative images can create serious issues in the bedroom. Lovers become insecure and, as a way to cope, emotional walls are built. As my friend Raquel pointed out, “Once you begin to feel overweight, the spark in the bedroom goes out the window.” I asked my friend Tina, who like me is barely five-feet, what she felt about this topic. Tina has always struggled with weight but is always on point with her style and fashion. “For me, whenever I feel fat, it takes away my sex appeal and any desire to be seen naked.” So how do we change this? Do we continue to feel sorry for ourselves or do we actively change our habits and get our sexy back?
After my self-conscious episode with my jeans, I fully accepted that it would be a while before I’d feel caliente with them on again. I decided it was time to create health. It was time to begin taking care of my body so I could regain the sex appeal I felt I lost with those extra pounds. I knew it was going to take some hard work, but with some determination and a plan of action, I would bring my sexy back. And trust me when I say, I have no plans of going back!