At the Bottom of Everything

It was my birthday yesterday and I essentially went off the rails for 2 days. My co-workers were being very sweet and surprised me with lunch and it all kind of went downhill from there.

For most of my life, food has been a furtive pleasure: A method to self-soothe. A celebration and a klonopin. This is week 7 of being more mindful of my eating, and 2 days of over-eating made me incredibly anxious.  Ultimately, the celebratory over- indulgence felt like it should amount to something. I wanted to enjoy it more. I essentially binged because this was a day that I was “allowed” to and I was supposed to enjoy it, but the mood was dampened with a mist of fear: what if I crumble and revert back to my (not so) old ways?

6 weeks of trying to introduce healthier habits and meal-prep and planning and getting my husband on-board with the change. It seems like I’ve waited all week for “cheat day” and felt dissatisfied during and sick afterwards.

What am I expecting from cheat days? I want for it to be a day where I don’t count and calculate each calorie that I consume, and I end up feeling like I have to eat the food that I “can’t” have during the week but I don’t want it to turn into a binge day (which it often does.) I don’t want to treat my body like a dumpster anymore.

Something wonderful I’m learning about the changes I’m trying to make is that for the first time, I’m not just trying to lose weight purely for superficial purposes but to take care of myself.

Happy Birthday, darling, we love you veryveryveryvery much

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It won’t all be profundities.

Sometimes, it’s just the mundane snap shots that are the most telling. The mistake I make in writing is that typically I wait until I have something “important enough” to say, and much like “some day,” it never seems quite important enough– that day never comes. The struggle is also a statement, a testament to hard work. It seems like magic happens when you just see where the moment will take you, when expectations are not allowed to measure the outcome. Maybe the takeaway for me today should be to celebrate the fact that I am trying,  and allow the positive return, whatever that might be, be enough.

Lately, I’ve been struggling quietly. There’s nothing elegant about the early stages of (what hopefully amounts to) extreme weight loss. It’s gritting your teeth, sheer stubbornness, that fuels you. The moment where it all becomes too exhausting and redundant that something breaks inside you and the choice becomes to change or always wonder what it might be like if I had put the wish for change into motion. It’s hard at this stage, knowing that at my current weight, it will take quite some time before anyone (self included) notices. Changes are happening-they must be-but they seem so intangible and far way.

I’m making the “right” decisions, saying no to temptations, mostly. A large portion of back sliding for me, is that the initial efforts, the first 15, 30, 40 pounds– it all feels so small compared to the 275 total pounds lost I want to discard and dispel forever. It’s so easy at this stage for me to say fuck it, it’s just too hard. I get into this negative mindset and feel discouraged. I fear that making the right decisions won’t make making the right decisions easier in the future.

Strangers on forums will share anecdotal evidence that it gets easier to shift gears into healthy/mindful mindset once you break yourself of the habits, but my relationship with food is so complex it’s difficult to say if it will ever get to a point where it can be called “healthy.” I wonder, will I ever get “better” or is it like AA, and I’ll always be obsessed with food? When I was starving myself or succumbing to bulimic tendencies, I was constantly thinking about food. About the numbers that stacked and always seemed to amount to too much, or how many calories I could burn exercising. Certain foods became unsafe, and then all foods felt unsafe. I would throw myself into projects and clubs and practice and painting and the hours I could spend distracted would serve as a reminder that I could overcome food. Ultimately, food would overcome me, I would always be thinking about the next time I could eat, and what I could eat. It amounted to another kind of hopelessness.

Truthfully, my behavior is not too different when I’m eating at a healthy deficit. I scroll aimlessly through affirmations, search for tips and forums and seek out like-minded weight loss focused content. So much of my weight-loss efforts are based out of fear and the wish to gain control. I struggle with allowing myself to veer from “healthy foods” because I fear my self control is far too weak. I worry all of my resolve will crumble and I will cave back into my old, mindless habits. I fear that I won’t be strong enough to say yes and then say no.

I have to allow myself space to be a work in progress. That’s what all of this is supposed to be. It seems like for now I am living life between the before and after pictures. That’s where all of the magic is really happening- overcoming the cravings, the tiny transformations, overcoming the little challenges and coming out on the other side victorious.

Note to self: little victories are still victories.

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Things are getting Real

I wanted to feel ready to lose weight before committing to a “life style change.” It was always the “wrong time”, and some day was always right around the corner. Holiday season? Maybe after the new year. Long day at work? Well, we’ll order out tonight, but next week we’ll make better choices. The more I put on weight, the less active I became, my stamina felt like it was slipping through my fingers and my silhouette seemed to suffer. I lived in denial, thinking– I’m not ready yet, I’ll start when I feel ready.

Until

I weighed myself in late May and the numbers caught up with me. 424 pounds.
424 wasn’t “maybe someday.” It was 424-THIS IS REAL! 424– TIME FOR A CHANGE!

And just like that, it was back on the merry-go-round we go! Back to calorie counting and fearing that the numbers don’t budge. Back to meal-prep Sundays and scrolling through pictures of thin girls wearing crop tops I couldn’t fit around my leg for ~*inspiration*~.
It’s always a whirl wind of self improvement at first. The promises to myself to be better, mentally listing the many ways my life will be improved. This is not the first time I’ve made an effort to lose a significant amount of weight, but it’s different this time for many reasons.

I’ll catch myself mourning lost time. If only I had continued to lose weight when I was 19. If only I had been consistent all these years instead of trying and getting frustrated and quitting and quietly feeding into my own self-loathing internal rhetoric. If only, If only, If only . . . with the same landing point: I’d be thin by now!

But that is to be expected when you are an expert at poisonous self-talk. If you can think up a nasty comment to hurl at me, well that’s nothing I haven’t thought myself. What makes you think things will be different this time, you fat fuck up? 

I tear myself down because, well– that’s all I deserve right? Fat people don’t deserve to be treated like people. That’s the culture I’ve grown up in:
Fat is shame, misery, and solitude. You’ll never get the guy, you’ll never grab that great opportunity or get hired for that amazing job because fat people just can’t. That’s the diet of hatred I’ve grown up on for years well into my early adult life, and mastered it.

Not Anymore. Never Again.

I internalized the idea of “Fat people can’t” and applied it to so many things that I was watching myself overcome, but I applied it still to weight loss.

To those nagging thoughts of self doubt, I say: things ARE going to be different this time for a myriad of reasons.

Because then, I grew up with poor eating habits and was shamed for them as I grew larger and larger.
Now, I am in control of what I eat– I buy healthy food to fill my fridge and prepare my meals for the week to keep me on track.

Because then, I was surrounded by unsupportive, hurtful people.
Now, I’ve cut out any negative people in my life, and am married to a wonderfully supportive man who loves me at any size.

Because then I didn’t realize why it was so hard for me to manage my weight and struggles with things that I didn’t know to were symptoms.
Now, I know I have PCOS and have for years. There’s nothing wrong with me and there are millions of women who have the same struggles.

Then, I tried to lose weight motivated by vitriolic self loathing, I would starve myself because I hated myself. I would purge because I would want to punish myself for eating something “unsafe.”

This time, I will choose to be compassionate with myself. I will not relapse into my disordered habits, and I will be patient with myself. In a world of hurtful, harmful fear mongering, I will choose softness and empathy towards my own struggles.

This is not a shameful secret to drag around with me, this is a joyous occasion– a new beginning in my life beginning to care for myself.

I have come a long, long way. From being so scared of how much I weighed that I don’t even know where I begun at 16 years old, to losing weight unhealthily and living in fear of the scale. Then, moving out of a toxic environment and finding ways to love myself more, defiantly refusing to starve myself for my wedding and proudly proclaiming you can be a bride and fuck starvation culture for the sake of appearances. I worked stressful, under paid jobs far away from my apartment to build a foundation where I could find a better paying job closer to home with far less stress than before.

And now, I’m week 5 into a life-long journey and house-sitting for my husband’s friend, and no way to weigh myself. Last week I was down 30 lbs, and this week I know I did well with my eating. I’ll weigh myself next Saturday because that’s the next time I can and that’s okay.

In fact, I’m going to be overweight for a long time, and that’s okay!

I’ll get there when I get there.

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