onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Logistical Tetris, and then the fun part

As a person who travels for work, I get to see all sorts of places and be part of all sorts of communities. And I enjoy that very much. There are things I like and things I dislike everywhere. For example, I won’t miss the way people drive here in Tennessee, but being so close to Nashville was fun. 
But it’s just about time to move along, and that means my least favorite part of this way of life. Apartment hunting. Setting up utilities. Packing, hauling, and unpacking. Tying up loose ends. Ending and beginning again. 
It’s stressful. It’s a lot of moving parts. It’s kind of like logistical Tetris. All of the pieces are coming at you in quick succession and you have to get all of them to fit together in a certain time period. 
It’s times like these that having food boundaries is helpful, especially in terms of self-care. Because I already have an attitude that prizes planning, preparing, and protection of my food. For example, I am looking ahead to the future and realizing that I will have to prep more food than usual in advance. Both today for next week at our permanent residence. And then again in two weeks when it’s time to officially pull up stakes here and head to a new home in a new town.
I know a lot of people who forget to take care of themselves in difficult or unusual situations, times of change and upheaval. They forget to eat until they are starving and/or hangry. They forget to sleep enough because they need to get “one more thing” done. They don’t make time to take care of their bodies or their minds. 
And what’s more, they think they are doing the right thing, being honorable, sacrificing.
I am not saying that there is not a time to sacrifice. There is. There is beauty and honor and love in it. But I am going to suggest that moving apartments is not that time. If I had to sleep in a hotel for a night, I could do that. Having the internet turned on immediately is not life or death. (I even have a hotspot on my phone!) And since we change residences about every year or so, that would make for a lot of sacrifice, of my my health, my happiness, and my relationship (I don’t want to be cranky, angry, and taking things out on my husband) to basically be able to like stuff on Facebook. 
Getting my eating under control taught me about my own priorities. It taught me *how* to prioritize. And my well-being is my number one priority, followed closely by my husband’s well-being. Everything else is a situation that will pass. 
So I will have to do a bit more work today. But it will give me peace of mind and keep my head clear. I won’t be nervous about when or where my next meal will be. I will be able to think about all of the many things I have to get done, without worrying about how I am going to take care of my needs. I will be free to go with the flow of life.
But one of the best things about logistical Tetris is that all of the pieces come in rapid succession, but then they are in place, and it’s done. And then I can look forward to getting to know a new place and a new community. And that’s definitely the fun part of a life of traveling.
Advertisements

Stretching, strength, and grace (ish)

I have had a pretty intense week, all focused around my job. Some things needed to get done. Things that were (are) “above my pay grade,” as they say. But there was nobody else there to do them. So I got them done. I had to ask for a lot of help, and ask a lot of questions, and there was a pretty steep learning curve, but the work got done. And I learned a lot. 

When I compare who I am as an employee, and as a worker in general, since I got my eating under control, to when I was growing up eating compulsively, the difference is stark. I would say that the biggest change in my life is not my body, or even my relationships, and those are entirely made new. I would say the biggest change in myself is as a worker. 
In the food, I was a liar, a cheater, and a thief. Which is some serious sinning. But it all stemmed from the fact that I was easily overwhelmed, plus terrified of failure and judgment to the point of paralysis, and rash-decision-making. In the food I was engulfed in a sugar fog that impaired my thinking, and temporarily numbed any feelings of guilt. 
In the food I was fighting for survival, but just barely, because I didn’t have any life skills or the ability to be sober long enough to learn some. I was getting by, minute to minute, waiting to either be rescued by someone who wasn’t me, or to eat enough chocolate cake that it didn’t matter anymore that I was drowning. Or both. Usually both.
In getting my food under control I became honest. I became a good worker, and a person of integrity. I started worrying less about how I might fail, and caring more about how I might help. 
In getting my food under control, I learned how to be strong and graceful (or at least graceful-ish). The way one learns to be strong and graceful is to get stuck in a bad situation, and to get ourselves out. In having my food taken care of, and having a clear head, I learned how to ask for help, how to take direction, how to take baby steps, how to figure out the right questions to ask, how to do the best I can, and then let the chips fall where they may.
In the end, that work thing I did that was “above my pay grade” helped us nail down our next job assignment. And that means we have to wind down here, pack up our apartment, and move on to the next town and the next job. 
That is par for the course in this way of life. And after almost 6 years of it, the husband and I are pretty good at it. It can be a little stressful. And I do enjoy it when we get to a place and we can settle in for the time being.  But by the time we leave, we will have been here about a year. And that is usually enough time to be done with a place. 
I am excited to move on. And grateful that I helped make it happen by stretching myself. And that I have the skills to do so with strength and grace(ish)fullness.

Belly rolls are not the real problem

I was getting dressed the other day, and I looked down and I did not like what I saw. Belly rolls.  It made me a little sad. Mostly what made me sad was how little I liked my body in that moment.

I follow all sorts of people on Instagram and Twitter. Skinny people, fit people, fat people. I like seeing all kinds of bodies on social media. 
My point is that I am not even remotely as judgmental about other people’s bodies as I am about my own. I like seeing all shapes and sizes. I think they are beautiful. I like diversity. But I am not nearly so generous with myself. And I want to change that.
I am very happy with the ways I care for my body. And I am very happy with the way I feel in my body. I love the things that I can do. I love the ways that I can move. 
Hating how my body looks is a very old feeling. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t hate it. If not right there on the surface, then buried very deep down. 
I come from a family of women who hated their bodies. Women who fought their bodies. They fought food. Fought size and shape. Fought dresses and pants. Fought age and time.
I think most women are taught to hate their bodies. Even women who naturally (or with a lot of effort) are successful in meeting societal criteria for feminine beauty, they have to worry about keeping it.
I have managed to gently and lovingly transform my body from painful and unhealthy to vibrant and well. And still, I have this deep-down disappointment in a vessel that has been ridiculously adaptable, capable, and generous with me, even after years of abuse and neglect. Over something as natural as belly rolls when I am sitting down.
I don’t want to hate my belly rolls. I don’t want to feel like I need surgery to “fix” myself. Mostly because I’m cheap and I can think of a million things I would rather spend my money on. But also because there is no guarantee that something like that would even help. You would think that losing well over 100 lbs would stop me hating my body. But it didn’t. Why would cutting it up and sucking it out do any more. 
My problem is inside me. My problem is not belly rolls. It’s not size or shape. My problem is the world told me I was only as worthy as my outer beauty, beauty as the world defined it, and I believed that. And internalized it. And said it over and over until it was indistinguishable from what I thought. 
I want to think other things. I want to know that my body is exactly right exactly as it is. I want to take care of it. Not so it can become beautiful, but because it already is. I want to honor it because it deserves to be honored. I want to reward my body for what it is, not punish it for what it is not.

I, personally, can’t be starved out of my shackles.

Low carb diets are, of course, all over the news and advertising that is meant to look like news. I see all sorts of things on social media, especially since my blog is an eating disorder blog, about food, and weight, and weight loss. 

There is a particular doctor on Twitter that makes my blood pressure spike. I don’t follow him, because I think he is a bully, and I don’t need that kind of energy in my life if I can avoid it, but I see him come up a lot. My experience of him is that he bad-mouths low-carb diets as a fad, and then plays the victim when people defend their own low-carb lifestyles.
He makes me *feel* like everyone in the medical and nutrition field did when I was fat and couldn’t stop eating. He makes me feel like if I were “good enough” I could eat one slice of whole grain bread and the whites of two boiled eggs, and feel satisfied in at least my own self-righteousness, if not in my actual belly. I prefer feeling satisfied in my belly.
His most recent Twitter complaint was that he had a diabetic patient get off their meds by eating 1000 calories a day, instead of low-carb, and he claimed that people (no doubt low carb activists) said that was “wrong.” His point was that different things work for different people. 
Perhaps that is true. But I think this particular example is troubling.
I, for one, am glad that 1000 calories a day did not work for me. (Yes, I tried that many, many years ago, and was more obsessed with food than I ever had been fat. And certainly crazier. Definitely more miserable.) And I have to ask as well, how sustainable is 1000 calories a day? Can this person do that for the rest of their lives? Hell, even another six months? And can it really be considered a success if they cannot keep it up?
I’m not saying this person can’t. Perhaps they can. But my guess is that in order to do that, they will have to change more about their life than just what they eat. They would have to transform their thinking about food and comfort and joy. They would have to learn how to eat solely for the purpose of fueling their body. They would have to eat to live. I have respect for that. No desire for it, but much respect. And I believe very deeply that there are not many of those people in the world.
I do not eat to live. If I did, I’m sure it would be easier on me. I live to eat. I love to eat. I relish and savor. And I don’t want to eat half a grapefruit and some water with lemon for breakfast. I want an egg and some bacon, and a giant apple and coffee with whole milk. This doctor would, doubtless, find much to criticize in my food choices. Processed meats and lots of fats. Veggies sometimes deep fried and often sautéed. Lots of butter! Full-fat dairy. And artificial flavors and sweeteners! “Healthy?” No! Do I care? Not even a little!
I also want to be clear, as I said in my post last week. I don’t do what I do for my health, though I am healthier than I have ever been before. I do it for vanity. And sanity. And clarity. Mainly, I do it because I was a slave to food, specifically sugar and carbohydrates, and now I am not. And there is no way a boneless, skinless chicken breast and 3 slices of tomato was ever going to loosen those shackles. But homemade full-fat frozen yogurt? A girl can practically fly!

My new kind of vanity

It is my experience that when we talk about the “whys” of making life changes, we have a go-to reason. Health. 

We want our loved ones to quit smoking for their health. We want them to eat right for their health. We want them to exercise for their health.
Maybe health is a good reason for some people, but I promise you, those people aren’t addicts. There is a saying that I love. “You can’t scare an addict.” 
I was well on my way to being a diabetic when I was eating compulsively. That is not the reason I stopped eating compulsively. I smoked a pack a day for about 17 years. I knew that it was bad for me. That is not why I quit.
Every good decision I ever made for my life and my health was made in the name of vanity. And the longer I have my eating under control, the more my concept of vanity changes. 
For example, for many many years, I would not leave the house without makeup. I had very strong feelings about what I looked like and how I wanted to project myself. But one day about 8 years ago, I left the house without it and got more attention than I usually did. That changed my views on my own vanity. Now, I almost never wear makeup. That is its own kind of vanity. I am vain about my natural beauty. 
When I quit smoking, it was because I was looking to be in a relationship, and the guys that I was interested in weren’t interested in dating a smoker. I wanted to look like I had my shit together, so I got my shit together and quit smoking.
I am currently obsessed with my hair. When I stopped using traditional shampoo and started using cleansing conditioner, I discovered that my hair, which I had always thought was straight, is naturally wavy. I have started a new hair care regime that is, quite frankly, kind of a pain in the ass. But I love my naturally wavy hair. So I make the time.
When I was eating compulsively, I had lots of structures in place to project a specific me to the world. A lot of artifices to fit in. (Which is saying something, since I have always been at least a little on the fringe. Though some of those choices, I would realize once the food was taken care of, were artifices too…) 
When I got my eating under control, I started to break down many of the structures I had put up, and I stepped into the real me. Who was both not as weird, and much much weirder, than the me I had been projecting.
In putting strict boundaries around my eating, and abstaining from simple sugar and carbs, I find that I am continually becoming more and more myself. And that is beautiful. But not always what I thought it would be. 
For one thing, I am not skinny. Even with all of the rules and restrictions I have around food, and my regular exercise. And that one has sometimes been hard to let go of. But this body that I am in is really me. Not starving on a diet, not binging into oblivion. Just eating real, nutritious food, three times a day in specific portions.
And, like with the vanity of quitting makeup, there is a kind of vanity in loving my not-so-skinny body. Really, that is my new vanity. I am vain about the real me. The me in a real body with my real hair and my real face. And I grew into that vanity by getting my eating under control. By not covering myself up with fat, or paint, or artifices. Though I do still love a hot dress. I expect that will never change, but who knows. I’m open.

Keep your friends close and make your enemies friends

I was talking to a friend the other day about making friends with certain difficult or frustrating aspects of ourselves. I feel like making friends is not what we are taught. We are taught to eradicate and transform. We are taught that we should change the way we are. It is all about principle and not about practical. All about what we should be, instead of what we are.

Throughout my life, I have had to make friends with many aspects of myself. Especially aspects that made other people uncomfortable. For one example, I am very sensitive. When I was a kid, it didn’t take much to hurt me and make me cry. People in my life wanted me to stop being so sensitive. 
First of all, how do you expect a child (or a grown up, for that matter) to *stop* their feelings? Especially without any instruction for how to cope. They just wanted me to stop crying. 
Of course, there are lots of ways to stop feelings, to shut off one’s emotions, but none of them occur to me as particularly helpful, or healthy. And even if we sensitive souls could, for whose benefit would that be? It was certainly not to my benefit. It was generally to the benefit of people who enjoyed being mean or “funny” at other people’s expense. 
Look, I do understand why people who loved me wanted that for me. The world can be a cruel place. They wanted me to be happy. They did not want me to be hurt so often and so easily. But it didn’t work. It just made me feel like I was the one with the problem.
I am very comfortable with my sensitivity now. Because once I made friends with it, I could manage it. I could figure out my coping strategies. 
I don’t know if I *could* have made friends with that part of myself while I was still eating compulsively, but I certainly never did. Eating was how I tried to manage unmanageable feelings. Eating didn’t help me get through them. In fact, it was the opposite. Eating let me ignore them. But they were still there. And in ignoring them, I made them seem so concrete and indisputable. 
Once my eating was under control though, I was able to feel those unmanageable feelings, and deal with them. I was able to recognize what feelings were signals that I was unhappy with a situation or relationship, and that I wanted to change something about my life. And I was able to recognize that not every feeling was a signpost to some great truth. Sometimes I was just uncomfortable, and I could feel uncomfortable and just sit in it. 
But I could not eradicate my sensitivity. Just like I cannot eradicate my addiction to sugar and simple carbohydrates. Obviously, that is another aspect of my life that I had to make friends with. I am a sugar addict, and there is no going back. There is no cake in moderation for me. There is no “just one bite.” But in making friends with that aspect of myself, I have learned to make and eat food that is delicious, and satisfying, both physically and emotionally. I have learned how to use my love of eating as a blessing. I eat 3 times a day with so much enjoyment, sometimes other people get jealous. And that’s me eating protein, fruits and vegetables.
My sensitivity is a blessing. For all of the pain and discomfort it gives me, it gives me more joy, happiness, contentment, peace, and awe. It is the source of my favorite aspects of my life. And for so many years, people wanted to squash it out of me. I am glad they didn’t get to.

Pop quiz! How committed are you?

There is a saying I heard many years ago. Do not pray for patience. Whatever you pray for, God will test you. 

It is my experience that God, or Life, or whatever you want to call it, will always test a commitment, and give you a chance to turn back. Those of you who have been with me from the beginning may remember that the week I quit smoking I acquired a stalker. (Are you *really* committed to quitting smoking, Kate? Even in this stressful situation?) Well, I was really committed, but seriously!?!?!
I once heard a man say that the hardest time to keep his eating boundaries was when his mother died. Because it was exactly the kind of situation where nobody would blame him. You ate cake? Well, your mother just died. Who could blame you?
Last week I wrote that I only jogged 4 days instead of 5 after I slipped on the ice. And I said that I was worried that it meant that I wasn’t committed. And I declared to you that I was, and I *am* committed. So life decided to make me prove it.
I have lived in my apartment complex for about 10 months and I have been working out at 5:30am for about 9 of those months. And on Monday, there was a woman in the gym using the treadmill. Well, not just the treadmill. She was using all of the machines, and weights, like some kind of circuit. (Don’t ask me. I just jog.) But I asked and she let me have the treadmill. But then on Tuesday, there was someone else with her and it seemed like I wasn’t going to get to jog that morning, so I came back after work. (I *hate* working out after work. I am already exhausted. That jog was brutal.)
The next day I got there 20 minutes earlier, and again, she was already there. But again, she let me have the treadmill. 
I spent a lot of time being worried about my workout. All week, I stressed about it. I came up with alternate plans like going to a regular gym where I still keep a membership, in case of emergency. But I didn’t have to. I saw this lady every morning, and I still managed to get my workout done. 
My commitment to keeping boundaries around my eating has truly taught me about commitment. It has given me reference points for how to problem solve when life doesn’t go according to plan. And it has allowed me to prioritize my long game. 
I didn’t have a long game when I was eating compulsively. I lived for the comfort of the moment. If I had kept on that path, I would doubtlessly be well over 300 lbs right now. I would not be jogging. I would be in great physical discomfort much of the time, and I would numb the physical and emotional pain of that with more sugar and only exacerbate the problem. I am sure I would not be married, because I would hate myself so much that I would shut everyone out. And I would not love my life, even if there was much to love, because I would not have the confidence or pride that I have gained through my accomplishments. And I am not taking about losing weight, though I don’t diminish that as an accomplishment. I mean all of the promises I have kept to myself, all of the skills I have acquired through patience and practice and work, and all of the risks I have taken to stretch and grow out of old ideas and an old life. 
I don’t want to go back to my old habits and choices and ways. I didn’t like myself or that life. But it’s not comfortable to have to come up with an alternate plan to get my workout done. Especially when my workout is work. 
There is a famous writer’s quote, attributed to many authors, but I am going with Dorthy Parker. *I hate writing, but love having written.* I feel this way about many things in my life. Writing, certainly. But exercise is also high on that list. Anything that is work, but yields a high reward. Meal prep is right up there too. (Eating, however, is not on that list. Even without sugar and simple carbohydrates, I love eating. And having eaten. And looking forward to eating.)
But in some ways, I am glad to have had this test. It lets me prove, not just to Life, but to myself, that I honor my priorities and my promises. And let’s me know I can be trusted. Which in turn lets me know that I can strive for more. (Baby steps, mind you. But baby steps are still moving in the right direction.)

When too much comfort is uncomfortable

On Monday, I fell on a patch of ice on my way to the gym in my apartment complex, and landed right on my tailbone. Gosh golly gee did that hurt! It knocked the wind out of me. I cried. 

I didn’t go on my jog that day. And I was feeling bad about it. Because I felt like I should “power through” and “suck it up.” Thank goodness I didn’t listen to *that voice* in my head. But I jogged Tuesday through Friday, and opted not to jog on Saturday to “catch up.” In other words, I didn’t jog my 5 times last week. And I have had mixed feelings about it. 
The truth is, it is a really good thing I did not workout on Monday after that fall. I most certainly would have hurt myself even worse. And I am glad I went the other 4 days, because getting back to working out after a week without it would have been grueling. But on Saturday, by butt and back still hurt. And I made an executive decision that I was going to let it rest. And that decision, about not jogging my 5th day, is the one rattling around in my head a bit. 
I essentially have 2 modes: 100% or totally ineffectual. Or at least I feel like it most of the time. And I can have a hard time discerning what is good enough if I’m not in 100% mode. Part of my workout routine is that I do it 5 days a week unless I am injured or would injure myself. And this example seems like a grey area for me. Would I have hurt myself by jogging Saturday? Maybe not. Probably not. At least not on Saturday itself. But I felt like exercising every day was making it take a lot longer to get back to normal. With just that one day off, my backside already feels better, and my muscles aren’t so sore anymore. 
I can be really mean to myself. Which is not very helpful. And it doesn’t work. If I tell myself that I’m lazy, which is a thing I tell myself a lot, unfortunately, I don’t feel motivated. I just ask “what’s the point?” And I don’t want to jog, or go do any of the things that make my life work. I just want to sit around and do the things that make me comfortable. 
But of course, the things that make me comfortable only make me comfortable because I have already done the things that make my life work: the food prep, and the 8 hours of sleep, and the water, and the exercise, and the keeping up with my emails and calls, and getting my work done in a timely and efficient manner. I have lived the life where I only do comfortable things, and it is a surprisingly uncomfortable existence.
The other thing is that I am afraid of the insidious nature of giving up my promises. I don’t want to let in bullshit excuses for why I can’t exercise. If I let a little bullshit go, I can let more of it go. And I don’t want to find myself quitting my run because I “don’t have time,” or because other things are “more important.” I make time for my priorities. And this is incredibly important. Self-care is the most important thing I can do. It makes me the best wife and worker and friend I can be.
But not running after such a trauma was the wisest decision. And taking an extra day when my butt and back muscles were still sore 5 days later was not a cop out. I don’t run because I have something to prove. I run because I love my body, and I want to take care of it. I want to jog for the rest of my life. And I won’t be able to do that if I hurt myself in the name of “fitness.” 

Yucky feelings and all

I have a love/hate relationship with feelings. I live for feelings. I spend all of the free time I can listening to books and reading comics and watching soap-opera-y TV shows. I am in all of those things for the feelings. If they make me so uncomfortable that I have to pause and calm down, I love that! If they make me cry, even better! (Sometimes my poor husband comes home and I am huddled under a blanket with tear streaks on my face and I have to explain that I was just reading a comic, and everything is fine…)

But when it comes to my own feelings, well, let’s just say I am not nearly as comfortable with those. Having my own feelings makes me panic. Even after 13 years of feeling my feelings, my first reaction is to freak out and shut down.

This week, I had a problem come up with my food. Part of what I do is tell someone who does what I do what I am going to eat the next day. It’s essentially making a promise. I consider it sacred. And I found out this week that I had to find someone else to make that promise to. And that was terrifying.

I understand that to you, it may not make sense why this was so scary. But it was. You will just have to trust me on that. And my first thought was to panic.

But of the many things I have learned in keeping my food under control, one important step is to take care of the most pressing problem. And another is to stop, calm down, and think over my options for the long-term problems. And to definitely not make any rash decisions.

So I called someone and made my promise for the next day. And then I went to bed and I dealt with the problem of finding a new promise-taker in the morning. By morning, the problem was not nearly so scary.

Panic and paralysis were the standard of my life before I got my eating under control. I would panic, and then I would shut down, and then I would eat myself into not caring about my problem. Which never took care of the problem causing the uncomfortable feelings, just the uncomfortable feelings themselves.

The other part of getting my feelings back is that I didn’t just get the yucky ones back. I got the panic and the hurt and the terror, sure. But I also got the joy and the love and the swooning, and the pride.

I don’t have to like my feelings. But I am now able to honor them. And that means I can be effective in my life. And that ability to live life as it is makes me like myself and love my life. Yucky feelings and all.

I am a precious thing

One of the most important lessons I have been learning over the past 13 years is to stop worrying about my weight.

I used to think I had a weight problem. What I had was an eating problem. It resulted in me being fat. In living in a body I didn’t like or love. It resulted in a physical vessel that was hard to live in. A body that I was embarrassed of. But also a body I was shamed for. A body that was considered ugly and unworthy by society.

And I had it particularly rough, because I was particularly fat. But I can see now that over the years, none of us, especially women, get out unscathed. If we’re fat, we should be thin. If we’re thin, we should be thinner.

I want to stop that kind of thinking in my life. I still don’t want to be fat, but I want to stop thinking of my worth as tied to the size of my body. I want to stop thinking of my beauty as tied to how big my belly is, both compared to other women, and compared to other times in my life. I want to stop thinking about “losing 5-10 lbs.” I kind of have. But I want to more.

Here is what I can tell you. I have peace in my body when I treat it with care, no matter its size and shape. I don’t have to be my thinnest to enjoy my body. But I do have to keep my food boundaries, and my exercise and water drinking commitments. I have to floss. I have to sleep 8 hours a night. I have had to *show* my body love before I can love it.

Action is an important part of loving my body. As soon as I do something good for myself, I like myself that much more. I did not have to lose all of my weight to get comfortable in my body. First I just had to put boundaries around my eating. The longer I kept my boundaries, the more confidence I had. And it grows. The better I treat myself, the more self-care I take on, the more comfortable I am in my own skin, the more I love my body. The more I love my body, the more I want to honor it with self-care.

I guess what I am saying is that I am not always comfortable with how I think others see my physical beauty, and sometimes I want to look the way society says beautiful women look. And *that* is what I want to stop. I want to decide my own beauty. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I want to judge what I see in the mirror as true beauty. And I think I can, as long as I treat myself as a precious thing.

Post Navigation