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Content note: This article contains descriptions of weight and body perception.

I’ve gained what I feel is a considerable amount of weight over the past year. I’m using the word “feel” because that’s the important word. But just like I’ve gone up a size in shirts and underwear due to my brand-new larger boobs and butt, I’ve started training myself to see my weight gain as nothing outside of how it makes me, personally, feel.

My weight gain isn’t something to worry about people noticing. And it’s not something to beat myself up about by sacrificing much needed leisure time, family time, or work time. I’m reminding myself daily that my new weight gain is just there.

It got there from my anxiety meds not working for me, lethargy, and eating processed snack foods. And now, I can either hate myself because of it or love the extra inches of my body just like I should try to love my whole body. Feeling OK with my body, and working towards feeling great about my body, is the goal that’s worth focusing on.

A quick scroll through my social media feed shows me that I’m not alone here. Whether it’s due to the nightmarish, rocky stretch of 2020 we’ve all been navigating, or another storm of personal stressors, many people are riding the weight roller coaster’s ups and downs and the emotional Olympics that go along with it.

Before I attempt to help out with body weight in Hot Probs #5, I’ll say this: If there are questions you’re grappling with that you’d like me to chime in on, you can ask me about them here. Don’t worry, it’s 100 percent anonymous, and there’s no question that I’ll look down on. And maybe I’ll help you, or maybe I’ll just give you that laugh you need to get through the rest of the day.

I want first to address your mentioning of not feeling sexy because of the weight you’ve gained. Highlighting the word “because,” let’s think about some different life scenarios that could be affected “because” of something.

If I had a sprained knee, I wouldn’t go jogging “because” of that knee. It would physically hurt to do so. If I had a migraine episode, I wouldn’t go out to my friend’s show (remember those) at a loud, packed venue “because” I’d most likely not feel my best during the event.

There are certain physical conditions that may prevent a person from doing various activities. But just like the physicality of cramps, or a migraine episode like to keep us away from activities, our brains sometimes cook up little nightmares that keep us from living healthy and stronger lives.

Your mind may be telling you that having sex with your wife is less than ideal right now because you’ve gained some weight. What if you just told your mind to take a hike and follow your body to the bone zone? The fact that your wife is saying that you two need to make time to be intimate with each other lets me know that she doesn’t mind the extra weight you’ve put on. It sounds like she’s fine with it, she loves you, and wants to be close to you.

Let’s get you on that same level about yourself.

As I mentioned, I also had to put a bit of work into loving the 2020 update of my body. Weight gain seems to happen all of a sudden. It feels like one day I looked one way, and the next day, something was different. Which I wasn’t comfortable with at first. I avoided sex and even bristled when my wife hugged me, fearing that she could feel my fanny pack — meaning the pouch of extra me that had seemingly strapped itself to my midsection. But in time, I arrived at an understanding.

I decided that I like having sex with my wife and eating whatever the hell I want more than I like hating my body. I decided to try not to distance myself from the life I want to live. Yeah, I have a little more weight now. But I can lose weight if I want to and if I decide it’s important to me.

What I can’t do is risk losing my wife by pushing her away continuously. What I refuse to do is sacrifice my energy hating my body. It’s the only one I’ll ever have and it’s stuck by me since I was a baby and my mom helped me into a pair of jeans for the very first time.

I want you to be at peace and show yourselves the same level of kindness you’d show to anyone else. It can be easy to stress out over just about anything, including body image. Try to fight against that tendency. Try not to stress. And I’ll keep trying too.

Kelly McClure is a writer who has written for NY Magazine, GQ, The Hairpin, Rolling Stone, and more. Find more of her work here.