Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

No, I didn’t change my hair. I just got a view of myself through a hole in the space-time continuum

Just briefly I want to note that this coming Friday, I am going to have to weigh myself. And I am afraid. Of three things. Gaining weight. Being wrong about my metabolism kicking back in. And having to admit to you that I was wrong. I am afraid of being fat again. And that the idea of me starting to get smaller is all in my head. And what you will think of me if it is. And not just you. Everyone I have told. I worry a lot about being wrong. I always have. I used to lie and manipulate to make myself seem less wrong. Now I don’t. But it still makes me feel oogie.

The truth is that my metabolism may have kicked in and I still won’t have lost any weight. Rational Kate knows that after a person quits smoking, their metabolism slows way down. Then it speeds back up again. That it is simply a matter of time. And waiting. And for me that means waiting without crossing my food boundaries. But Rational Kate hasn’t been given the floor too often lately at the committee meetings in my head. So she just sits there. And occasionally makes an objection when Bulimic Girl, and Sugar Addict Girl start to get unruly and insist that it’s time to do something (drastic, most likely futile, and certainly unhealthy) before I get FAT! Rational Kate is biding her time. She knows this, too, shall pass. And that when it does she’ll get to be in charge again.

But what I really want to talk about today is change. Because I am different today. Different than I was just a few days ago.

When I was growing up, I believed in predestination. And I didn’t even know it. When, in High School, I was reading American Literature of the Puritanical variety, I would have told you that I believed in Free Will. That a person had the opportunity to make of their life whatever they chose. I would have told you that I believed in the American Dream. That if a person who lived in a free country was willing to work and strive, he or she could do or be or make anything.

But I didn’t really believe. I believed I was broken. I believed I was genetically, and irreversibly fat. I believed I would be “ok” without ever having to do much because I was born smart and capable. Born to smart, capable, middle-class people. I unwittingly believed that with some minor potential variations, my life was already set in stone.

There were so many things that seemed either inevitable or impossible. I believed my fear. I never thought anything was worth taking a risk. I “had to” eat compulsively. And I could never ever give up eating sugar.

But somewhere inside, there was the wish to be free from being fat. And even more importantly, to be free from not being able to stop eating. (Or at least it would eventually become clear that dealing with the uncontrollable eating was more important. I am sure at the time, I thought being fat was the bigger problem.)

It was such a conflict for me. To want so much to be able to eat in a way that was not embarrassing. To be able to manage my weight. But God, sugar was my best friend. Sugar made life bearable. (It also made it unbearable, but it made bearable in the short-term, what it ultimately made unbearable in the long-term. It was like paying off a credit card with another credit card. Needless to say, it was bad economics.)

And then I stopped eating sugar.

What I learned from quitting sugar is that my life seemed to be set in stone because I kept making the same sugar-induced, fear-based choices over and over. And that having this commitment to abstain from sugar, no matter what, changed the course of my life.

When I say it changed the course of my life, I mean that the path I chose was more than just “no sugar.” I chose to be present and honest and growing. Continually. So I have been constantly changing for the past seven years.

But sometimes that growth comes in a big spurt.

In the past four days, I have been told repeatedly that I am a different person all of a sudden. That my energy is different. That I am more free. But also that it has manifested physically. Not just that I am more beautiful. (Though that has come up. It really never gets old, people…Feel free to keep saying it.) But that my face is different. My skin. Did I change my hair? (No.) “Since I saw you last week.”

I’ll tell you what I think it may be. I think that maybe I am available to fall in love. Not just wanting and willing but able. In a way that I have never been before in my whole 35 years. Because for the first time ever, I can say my truth to men. I am willing to be rejected as a burden. I am willing to be disparaged for my intensity. I’m starting to understand that I have been afraid of scaring men with my big feelings and my big energy and my big heart. And I’m starting to understand that there are men in the world for whom my intensity, integrity, and power are a thrill, and a gift. An asset. That there will be men who think that these traits are what make me a catch. But no, it won’t be all of them. Some will indeed be scared away. And have opinions. And things to say.

But my job is not to win over men who think I’m too intense by being less intense.

In one 24 hour period this week, I was given a powerful opportunity to communicate with 3 significant men from my past. One from my fat and food addicted childhood when I was invisible and believed that I was destined to be alone. One from when I was hot and sexy, all face and body, but everything substantial was unavailable and protected by my invisible fortress (as opposed to my fortress of fat). And the one that made me realize for the first time that I wanted something more than to be a face and body in a fortress. That I wanted to do the work to dismantle my fortress and be intimate. (I would venture that he’s also one who would probably like me more if I weren’t so intense…)

In that 24 hours, I said things that I was afraid to say. Things that six months ago I would have refrained from saying. For fear of being considered selfish or obnoxious. Or just too much. But I think that’s why it all happened at once. Like God ripped some sort hole in space-time for me so I could get a composite view of my life with men up until now. And understand that it was time to start using my voice to let them know who I am. And know that it is not just ok to express myself, but necessary if what I want is love. I got to say what I needed to say, without regard to how it was received. I got to experience the importance of speaking. Not just talking. The kind of offering that is vulnerable and intimate.

After I gave up sugar and got control of my eating, it took about a year and a half to get clear-headed and confident. And to believe that I was not actually born to be fat. That it was possible for me to reach and maintain a healthy weight that made me feel good about myself. And to know that I don’t have to be out of control with food as long as I don’t put sugar in my body. And to realize that I am really beautiful. But it took seven years to get here. Ready to take a look at love. But really it’s bigger than that. I believe…No, I trust that God would not have given me so much love if He never expected to give me the opportunity to use it. Maybe He’s been waiting for me to get out of my own way. Or maybe He hasn’t been waiting at all. Maybe God thinks seven years is warp speed in human terms and while it has felt like an eternity to me, maybe God thinks I’m right on time…


How I gave up chasing unattainable tail

At the beginning of fall, I bought two new pairs of jeans. I packed away the jeans that I wore every day last winter, and stuck them under my bed. I knew there was nothing to do about gaining weight. I knew I was going to have to wear clothes that fit me this winter. And that last year’s jeans weren’t them.

When I noticed that my metabolism was starting to kick back in and my body seemed to stop getting bigger and start moving in the other direction, I decided I wanted to see how far away I was from my last year’s body. Or more accurately, how far I had to go to get back into last year’s body. I went under my bed, pulled out the jeans and tried them on.

I didn’t think I had any expectations, but it became very clear very quickly that I had indeed. I pulled the jeans up. And that was it. That was as far as it got. There was nothing else to do, except take them back off again. I gained 24.4 lbs from June to January. And apparently, 23.4 of it settled between my waist and my knees.

Thank God I didn’t do this a month ago. I don’t know what I would have done. To myself. I really don’t think I would have been able to handle it. It is a blessing that I waited until I started producing dopamine again. (Thanks God! Good looking out!)

Very quickly and without tears (yet), I realized that I might never get back into those jeans. Or that body. (Since then I have cried about it a few times. I’m crying about it now. But it’s not despair. It’s mourning.)

If I have a lament, it’s that I didn’t know that I was skinny when I was skinny. I knew I loved that body. That I was comfortable in it. But I was skinny. And I didn’t know because I’m a fat girl. And skinny is something I can never be. It is incompatible with my existence. My mind has never been able to wrap itself around the idea. Which is a shame, because I would have liked to have enjoyed the experience.

And then I had an epiphany of sorts. And I took a bold action. Yesterday, I got rid of last year’s pants. I put them in a donation box. I made a decision. A really freaking empowering decision. I will not chase that body. It was a good body. It was beautiful. But it’s in the past.

There are things that I like better about this body compared to that one. I’m more hourglass than I was a year ago. Last year’s body was more pear-shaped. My hips have always been kind of square, and now they are round. I really like the curve from my waist to my hips right now. It’s beautiful. And I have a butt, which has not always been the case.

Oh, right! And I was poisoning that body. It’s not a moral issue for me. I am not lashing myself over having been a smoker. But it is probably safe to say that in the long run, the body I’m not poisoning with cigarettes will end up more beautiful than the body I was.

I like that I have given up the idea that there is a specific mould I’m supposed to fit into to (literally). It gives me a certain amount of freedom to let me be in the body I’m in now. And to let it go where it’s going to go from here. And to let me see the beauty of my body as it unfolds. Instead of stubbornly insisting that my beauty can only exist in a form that doesn’t exist anymore.

And it turns out that stores are still carrying jeans. If I do lose a lot of weight (I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for that, of course…) and need to buy some new ones next fall (I don’t wear pants in the summer), chances are good that there will be a pair or two that fit next year’s body.

Knock knock. Who’s there? Dopamine and metabolism. Thank God!

I have had an exciting couple of weeks! I got my dopamine back! To tell you the truth, it didn’t occur to me that it went anywhere. But now that it’s back, it’s obvious. And my metabolism started back up again!

It’s funny. I knew that quitting smoking was affecting me. And it was clear from the weight gain that it was affecting me physically. But it didn’t exactly register that it was affecting me chemically.

I knew that I was not quite right. That I was having a hard time. I think I thought about it as a “spiritual” problem. Or a “mental” problem. I knew that I had to readjust the way I dealt with things. I knew I had to learn new coping mechanisms. And I definitely learned a lot about my feelings. And how to deal with them. And (one baby step at a time) how to honor my own life without regard to how I would be judged by others. And how to make decisions that honor my heart even if they seem unreasonable, or foolish. Or scary. But I didn’t understand that my brain had stopped producing happiness chemicals. That just like my body was going to have to heal, my brain was going to have to heal. I think I thought about it as mind over matter.

In practical terms, I suppose it is just mind over matter. At least in terms of waiting out the withdrawal. It’s the actions I take and don’t take in the end that make up my life. My self-respect. My character.

I don’t smoke. I don’t eat compulsively. I don’t eat sugar. I don’t take laxatives. I don’t make myself throw up. I don’t take any drastic actions. I don’t act out. I just live with the fact that it sucks until it stops sucking. It doesn’t matter how I feel. It doesn’t matter how much weight I gain. It doesn’t matter what thoughts I have. The promises I made to myself matter. Commitment matters. Everything else is vapor and ego.

What I have learned is that these commitments end up culminating as my self-respect. They are my self-esteem. They are my dignity. And I don’t need a substance to get high. I don’t need to eat sugars, grains or starches to numb out. Or create enough crazy to escape reality. I could skip a meal. And lie about it. And I would be just as high and sick and screwed up as if I ate a chocolate cake.

But I was keeping my commitments these past seven months, and still having dark thoughts. I was unhappy. And I couldn’t seem to “bright side and gratitude” myself out of it. On a good day, the best I could do was change the channel in my head and not obsess about how much I hated my body. Or what a loser I felt like. Or how I was certain that I’m unlovable and destined for loneliness. And on a bad day, all I could do was cry. And manage to not hurt or numb myself. All I could do was keep my promises to myself and live in pain.

And now that I can feel the relief, I can see how scary that time was. How it’s kind of a miracle that I came out on the other side with my integrity. I wrote in this blog that I was unhappy, but that I was not depressed. But I was wrong. I was absolutely depressed. But it was exactly that integrity that kept me from despair. My brain was incapable of producing happy without cigarettes. My dopamine levels dropped severely. But it was nothing like the horror of 28 years of sugar addiction and self hatred.

What is interesting to me is that I knew that it would pass, because I know that’s how life works. All things pass in time. But I didn’t expect it to pass all at once. I didn’t expect it to turn on a dime. I didn’t realize that my brain would just start producing dopamine again. I didn’t even know that my dopamine levels had dropped until this week when I realized I was happy again and googled “quit smoking depression”.

And as if it couldn’t get any better, my clothes are getting looser. I bought a very sexy dress when I gained the bulk of my weight. It was sexy because it was tight. Now it’s not tight. And it’s not so sexy anymore. Now it’s just a cute dress. And I can’t tell you how happy I am about that! Plus for the first time in many months, I have been hungry between my meals. (Is that you metabolism? I’m so glad you’re here! Why don’t you stay a while…)

So hooray for going through hell and coming out on the other side! And thanks to you for being there while I got through it. I’m hoping that I am now back to my grateful, joyful self. And that I’ll get to stay here for a while.

Grrr. I really thought I was smarter, braver and more empowered than that…

Something has shifted in me recently. I’m peaceful. I don’t hate my body. I can see that it’s not any smaller than it was 2 weeks ago. But I can also see that it’s pretty sexy. Beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong. It still looks big to me. Not grotesquely fat anymore. But chubby maybe? Soft? Smushy? Anyway, not the body I had that I loved. Because for a while there I was in love with my body. And proud of it. Not proud of myself for having that body. Proud of my body for managing to withstand 28 years of abuse and still end up gorgeous. I mean guh-ore-juh-us! (Good work, body!)

The honest-to-God-truth is that I still think this body is temporary. And that I want it to be temporary. But as long as it is temporary, I can allow that it is beautiful in its way. That being soft and womanly has some appeal. Though I don’t know what I would do if it turned out to be a permanent change. For example, would I start eating my vegetables steamed instead of sautéed in butter and olive oil? I don’t know. I love food. But do I love it as much as my size 6 body?

But when I ask myself what is so important about being a size 6, I do not like my answer. Because it seems I have bought into the image that I hate. I have taken on the impossible ideal. I am judging myself against bodies that don’t exist. It seems I am comparing myself to pictures of already thin women, Photoshopped to make them look even thinner and more symmetrical. As if they live without internal organs. Like their skin doesn’t pucker under a strap or a band. As if they are made of marble. And I am fascinated by how this could have happened! To me! I have been actively trying to avoid this kind of faulty concept of my own beauty. I don’t watch TV or go to the movies. I don’t read magazines. I spend my time with real human beings in real bodies. On the street and the subway. In shops and restaurants. I know what actual, real bodies look like. And yet somehow I am not seeing myself as a regular body in a sea of regular bodies. I am seeing myself as compared to underwear models as they appear in ads! Dammit!

It’s funny that when I was growing up, most of the beautiful women in movies and on TV were a size 8, the size I am now. And I was morbidly obese. Now famous women are 0s and 2s, and size 8 is considered overweight in movies and on TV. (Ok. It’s not that funny…)

And the other thing I don’t like is who I want to be a size 6 for. I am active and healthy and I have powerful integrity. In life and around my food. Who do I owe being 24 lbs thinner to? Some man I haven’t even met yet who would like me because I’m beautiful, smart, funny, sexy, have a profound relationship to my word, and being with me makes him happy, if only I were 24 lbs thinner?

The hardest part is that there is a little voice in my head that says, “Yes. That guy. So you’d better lose those 24 lbs before he shows up.”

I don’t know what to do about any of this. I don’t know if there is anything to do. But I feel like it’s important to note that I can have this philosophical discussion with myself because my self-hatred has lifted. I was paralyzed with my own irrational thinking. And I don’t know what changed. Perhaps my metabolism has started back up again. Or perhaps it’s hormonal. The one thing I will say is that I am so grateful that through that particularly long and difficult attack of body dismorphia, I kept my food boundaries and did not eat sugar. If I had, I am quite sure I would not have been able to get through such a dark period and find some peace. Here’s hoping it lasts!

So I’m curious. Tell me about your relationship with your body and body image. How much thinner “should” you be and what would you have if you were?

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A pretty unbelievable, amazing, fantastic, miraculous thing

It turns out January 2nd is an auspicious day for me.

Today is the 7th anniversary of getting control of my food. That’s right, seven years without eating sugar or eating compulsively. (Wow! For a 300 lb girl, that’s a pretty unbelievable, amazing, fantastic, miraculous thing!)

And it is the one year anniversary of this blog. (You know, my blogiversary.) One year ago today I wrote something and posted it on Facebook. I didn’t know it would end up as a blog. I didn’t know it would have this awesome title. (I mean, seriously. Onceafatgirl? Am I a genius or what!?!?) I was just writing because I wanted to express that my insides and outsides didn’t match. I wanted to tell the truth about me. The things you would never know unless I told you. I wanted to be witnessed.

And I have been. Thank you for witnessing.

I am looking forward to my second year of blogging. And wondering if this particular January 2nd will offer anything unexpectedly, and deliciously life-altering…I’ll keep you posted! Wishing you many blessings in 2013!

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