onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the category “Body image”

“Follow Me” and change

I was very excited this week to get to see a documentary I am featured in about sustained weight loss. It’s called Follow Me, and it features 12 people who have lost a significant amount of weight and have kept it off for 5 years or more. I am honored to be a part of it. You can visit the website and see a trailer for the movie at www.followmefilm.ca
What I particularly like about the film is that it features a bunch of different approaches to sustained weight loss. But they all have one thing in common. We each had to change our lives. 
One of my biggest problems with losing weight when I was still eating sugar, was that I wanted to do what I had always done, and have it be different. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was not eating so I could eat later. The reward was the same. Just less often. And someday. Until I couldn’t wait anymore and I ate again. And I couldn’t put it off anymore, and it went back to being the norm, not the exception. 
I could never stop eating sugar when I was eating sugar. I could never *want* to refrain, because I craved it. My brain and my body told me I needed it. And when I first *really* gave up sugar I experienced a lot of physical and emotional pain. The cravings were intense. The feelings I had been numbing with sugar were overwhelming. I was cranky. I felt high from not being high. I had to cope without my primary coping mechanism. Like learning to swim by being thrown in the lake and told “don’t die.”
But I did learn to “swim.” I learned a new way to live. And it was a life I never knew I wanted. But I did. 
One of my many (many) problems with the fitness/diet/beauty industry is that so much of what it is advertising is something that will do the change for you. Hell, even the medical industry is selling that. Take these “vitamins,” they will melt away fat. Drink this shake, it will make you want to eat less. Get your stomach removed/constricted. It will make it impossible for you to overeat. Except it doesn’t. Not even the medical/surgical solutions. I have met people who have stretched themselves a new stomach after gastric bypass. They are not the solutions they promise to be. (Oh great. Now, I am going to be singing Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina all day…)
I am not saying that surgery is necessarily “bad.” Eating as a coping mechanism worked for me until it didn’t anymore. A gastric sleeve might save someone’s life. But  if one’s problem is eating, like mine, and weight is a symptom of that problem, I don’t think anything outside of oneself is going to help. 
And I am not saying that anyone “needs” to change their eating. I want to be friends with fat acceptance, body positivity, and fat pride. I want to make this a conversation about choice. 
But I hated being fat. And I *wanted* a solution. And I was doing all sorts of self-harm and acts of self-hatred in order to try and wrangle my body into a certain shape and size, hoping that one of those awful, painful, and shameful things would be the solution to my self-loathing. And none of them were. 
But finally I found a real solution. One that doesn’t require sustained starvation. One that doesn’t require hating myself into submission. One that is abundant, delicious food, plus a body I actually love, and love to live in. 
So I am honored to be part of this film, Follow Me. I am honored to talk about the fact that sustained weight loss is not a fictional fairytale. That it can be done. And that it’s not about being special or being a specific kind of fat person. That it’s about choices and change. And that if you want something else, there is a way to have it. 
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Beautiful. But still not skinny

When I got my eating under control 13+ years ago, I expected to find my husband right away. I thought that the only thing keeping him away was my being fat. Because even when I wasn’t fat while I was still eating compulsively, any hold I had on staying the size I was was tenuous at best. I could always feel it slipping away. 

But when I put boundaries around my eating, and especially when I stopped eating foods I am addicted to, like sugar and carbs, I lost my weight, and it was staying off. And I wasn’t afraid of gaining it back. At all. I didn’t feel like it was a fluke. I wasn’t what they call “white knuckling” it. I was in a regular sized body and fully expected to stay that way. 
But he didn’t show up. For years he didn’t show up. I went on dates. I got pretty hair cuts from a salon. (The kind where you needed an appointment!) I regularly got my nails done, fingers and toes. I wore pretty clothes. For a few years there in the beginning I even wore makeup every day. (I would stop after about 5 years of having my food under control.) But no husband.
I went on dates. I went to bars. I talked to men on the subway and in Starbucks. But he did not show up. 
And then I quit smoking. And I gained weight. I gained a lot of weight. After the first 30 lbs, I stopped weighing myself. I had my food under control, but my weight was out of control. I was terrified. I was miserable. I felt betrayed by my body. But I kept my boundaries around my eating, even in the face of that weight gain and insecurity. 
And I thought “I missed my window. My husband didn’t show up while I was skinny. And now that chance has passed.”
And then my husband showed up. When I was not skinny. When I was, in fact, the heaviest I had ever been with my eating under control.
And I had to come to terms with the fact that being skinny was not what made me beautiful. And it occurred to me that having my eating under control is actually the thing that made/makes me beautiful. The clarity. The kindness. The confidence. The good judgment.
So here I am, a woman with her food under control, who is not skinny. I am fit, and present, and growing, and happy. And still in love with my husband who is still in love with me. He still thinks I’m beautiful. (I still think so too. Because…humble.) But still not skinny. 
And I am so grateful that I got to learn that lesson. That my beauty is not determined by my physical size. That my size is fine, whatever it is, as long as I have my eating under control. Because it was the compulsive eating that made me feel ugly and crazy and unlovable. And in having my food taken care of, I am showing my body that I love it. That I think it is worthy of love. And that opened the way for my husband. Love opened the way to love. Not being “skinny and perfect.”

The possible effect of #BOPO in alternate timelines, and other things that are none of my business

This week I think I want to talk about body positivity and fat acceptance. I say “I think,” because I have a lot of feelings about it. And not all of them are positive. But that’s about my feelings. Rationally, I am all for it.

Rationally I believe very strongly in personal freedom. I don’t believe in shaming people for doing things. I don’t believe it’s anyone else’s business what each of us chooses for ourselves. And that includes our health. 

I think it’s nobody’s business if you smoke, or drink, or use drugs, or have sex, or gamble. And I think it’s nobody’s business what you eat. Or how much of it. And I don’t care if someone is a perfect specimen of health in every way. That still doesn’t give anyone the right to judge or make choices for another. We all make our choices. Our choices have consequences. We each live with our consequences. 
And don’t bother telling me how our choices affect one another. I know that too. I am already on board for the whole “all things are connected” way of thinking. I am asking you to consider how *your* judgements are affecting the world, more than you worry about the ramifications of a fat woman you may or may not know eating a candy bar.
And just to be super-extra clear, I believe that “well-meaning” judgements in the form of unsolicited advice for the sake of “health” are a form of abuse. So unless that loved one (or, as some people need to be reminded, that stranger) comes to you specifically for help, keep it to yourself. In order to really love someone, you have to love them the way that they are right now, exactly as they are. Not as their potential to be someone you approve of.
Having gotten that disclaimer out of the way, the body positivity movement gives me a lot of difficult feelings. I follow a few fat models on Instagram and Twitter. For the most part, I feel about them the way I feel about most models. I like some of their styles and looks, and don’t like others. (I really love clothes.)
But every once in a while, I will see something, the cut of a pair of pants, or a particular fat roll, that will remind me of how much I hated being fat. And how ugly I felt when I was fat. 
In retrospect, and I mean many many years retrospect, I can see that I was beautiful when I was fat. And I really wish I had known.  And I really wish someone had told me. And I really wish I hadn’t cared so much. And I really wish my fat body hadn’t been an issue that I dealt with daily, hourly, by the minute.
When I was fat, my body was on my mind 85% of the time. And 100% of the time I was around other people. It took up a part of my thinking any time I was in public. Literally any and every time. I was wondering what others were seeing. And then what they were thinking about what they saw. How they were judging me. If I deserved it. How I could draw attention away from it. Not from me. From my *body.* And how I could be recognized as separate from my body. Because I was ashamed.
And I didn’t even know that, didn’t understand the amount of brain power I was using to worry about how fat I was, or the depths of my self-hatred, until it stopped. It stopped after I had my eating under control for a few years.
I am not particularly thin, but I don’t really think much about my body now. At least not in terms of other people. I don’t always love what I see in the mirror when I am heavier than I like. And I occasionally don’t like the way my clothes feel if they are tighter than they were. But I don’t walk through the world thinking people are judging me by the size of my body. I can’t remember the last time I worried about what others were seeing when they looked at me. And that is a miracle to the fat girl I was growing up.
I didn’t like growing up in a fat body. But at this point, I don’t know if I was trained into that, or if I didn’t like it because it was not my true self, or rather, not me being true to myself.
I was eating, almost exclusively, things that I am addicted to: Sugar, flour, starch. I was high all the time. My thoughts were muddled. My emotions were a rollercoaster. I couldn’t cope with life in any meaningful way. I could only numb my difficult feelings, and put Band-Aids on my problems. And I felt *compelled* to eat those foods. Even when I didn’t want to eat those foods. Even when I wanted to stop. Even when I wanted to be thin. I had no control over what went into my body. 
Changing my eating changed so much more than my body. But it also made my body-hatred stop. 
I guess some of the difficult feelings I have about body positivity and fat acceptance come from wondering if I could have loved my fat self unconditionally. And if I had, how my life would be different. And if it were different, would it have been as beautiful as it is now.
And some of those difficult feelings come from the fact that the foods I was eating to be the size and shape that I was had contributed so significantly to the way I felt about myself. 
I guess I wonder, to a certain extent, how body positive and fat accepting I could have been of my own self, if I were still eating the foods I am addicted to. Did I hate my body because it was fat, or because I was abusing it with cake?
When I gave up sugar, I also took on a way of life. And one aspect of that way of life is to mind my own business. To practice attraction and not promotion. If you want what I have, do what I do. I am happy to help anyone who wants to try my way of life. 
But it’s not my place to tell anyone they need it. It’s not my place to tell anyone they are an addict. It’s not my place to judge people. Even if I have the same experiences as them, because I used to be fat and found a solution to my eating problem. 
So I am for body positivity. And fat acceptance. And self-love on its deepest level. And I believe that self-love is about loving ourselves exactly as we are, right now. Not some idealized version of ourselves that we could be if we were better. 
But I also have this thing, this amazing way of life that changed everything about my life, and gave me a life beyond my wildest dreams. And I got it because I was unhappy. I got it because I was vain. I got it because I didn’t *want* to be fat anymore. 
I guess the answer is all the way back at the beginning of this post. Let people be who they are. Honor freedom and personal choices. Let people choose for themselves. Love them. Be friends and family and fellows to them without judging them. Wish them happiness. And hope they get it however they get it, whether that’s through giving up sugar, or accepting their fat (haha! No pun intended, but I like it!), or some other thing that I don’t even know about. 
And I should also remember that my experience is just mine. But that if someone wants what I have, and I am a beacon for someone else, then I have used my connection to all things for the better.

I don’t want to feel broken even after the broken part got fixed

I have been struggling with how I feel about a recent(ish) weight again. I feel like this happens once a year or so, in the past 4 years. I gain weight. For no discernible reason. I do not change the way I eat, at least not it in any major way. I just gain weight. Eventually I lose it. (At least that has been the case so far.) And then I gain it back months later. And then lose it again. Back and forth, over and over.

When my gram was sick in the hospital before she died, I lost a lot of weight in a few months. I definitely was not trying. I just dropped weight. I got down to about 131-133 pounds. That’s skinny for me. I was still pretty curvy, but definitely skinny. And from about April of 2010 to about August of 2012 I stayed basically the same weight. I stayed skinny regardless of what I ate. I ate a lot of bacon. I ate a lot of fried foods. I had to add a second piece of fruit to my day to keep from losing even more weight. And I just stayed skinny. 
But ever since I quit smoking, my weight has fluctuated wildly. A huge gain in the months following the weight loss. 3 years of maintaining that higher weight. Then I lost it in just a couple of months. Never all the way back down to my skinniest, but back into my size 6 jeans. Then a gain and a loss and a gain and a loss. Again and again.
A friend who has thyroid problems recommended I get mine checked. It’s not a terrible idea. But living on the road makes it a bit of a pain. Though we have great insurance and I could find a doctor anywhere. 
But the problem is also that I don’t like doctors. Having grown up fat, I don’t trust them to listen to me, to respect me, to look at me with anything except what seems to be a disdain for my lack of willpower. I was told for a long time that everything that was wrong with me was that I was fat. And that I could do something about it if I would only pull myself up by my bootstraps, or whatever. 
It’s hard for me to take doctors seriously when they all had opinions about me, but none of them could actually help. They sent me to nutritionists who told me to eat in moderation. They didn’t understand why I couldn’t just stick to a diet. They were frustrated and angry with me. For not being good enough. It’s hard for me not to feel like they were the ones who weren’t good enough. That they were the ones who failed me. That they shamed me for my disease, when they didn’t actually understand the disease. And kept forcing on me a “cure” that wasn’t.
But that’s unfair. Kind of, anyway. Because I don’t know if I would have been able to give up sugar if that had been the recommended treatment. I don’t know if 12 or 16 or 23-year-old Kate would have been available for that. Thank God 28-year-old Kate was. That took care of the eating. And most of the weight.
I don’t want to worry about my weight. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to care about it. I don’t want to be ruled by how much gravity is exerted on my body. I want to take care of it to the best of my ability, and just have that be enough. I want to nourish it and hydrate it and move it with love.
I probably should find out if my thyroid is not working properly. I should probably brave the doctor and find out if there is something wrong with my hormones, something that could be corrected. For that love of my body. Not to squish it into a socially acceptable size and shape. 
But that said, even if I do get my thyroid checked and it turns out that I am not running at 100%, I don’t want to care about my size. I don’t want to judge myself for the size of my butt or my belly or my thighs. I don’t want to feel like I am sick or broken because I am not skinny anymore. Especially when the thing that was most sick and broken about myself, my eating, my addiction to sugar and carbohydrates , is taken care of, with commitment and honor and love, 3 times a day. No matter what.

Not a special kind of fat

I forgot I had to write a blog today. That, my friends, is what the alarm is for. I have an alarm that goes off on Sunday morning, asking if I posted a blog. Today, the answer was no. Actually, the answer was a lot of profanity, because I was just about to cook for the week. Anyway, time to write.

I have been thinking a lot about the fact that this blog has changed significantly over the years. And as I have gotten healthier, spiritually and emotionally, it has become less compelling.
I am not saying that I don’t have a compelling blog occasionally, but compared to the kinds of things I was writing 7 years ago, when I was working through a lot of leftover stuff from growing up fat, my writing has been…I don’t know. Maybe just less compelling. 
I am not yet ready to hang up my keyboard on this. Not yet, anyway. The act of writing every week makes a difference in my life. It helps me remember that I am a compulsive eating sugar addict every day. Even when it all seems like regular old life. It helps me remember that there are still people out there suffering who should know that if they are unhappy in the life they are in, and the body they are in, and the mind they are in, that there is a solution. One that works.  Not just “for a time” but for months. Years. Over a decade! Who would have thought it? 
When I think about the fact that I spent the entire decade of my 30s with my food under control, that seems like a miracle. Quite frankly, it was a miracle. When I think about the fact that my 40s have me as a person who works out 5 days a week, like a practice, that also is a miracle. 
I was a person who shunned things like caring about my body because I thought they were impossible for me. I thought I was a special kind of fat. The kind that could not be changed. So I hated people who could maintain a healthy weight. I hated people who could and did work out. In my head I ridiculed them. For being shallow. For being obnoxious. For being “normal.” 
But the longer I grow into a person who honors self-care, the more I see that people who care for their bodies are not “normal.” That they are rare. And ever rarer. They are the ones making a difference for themselves and for others.
I am not skinny. I talk about this a lot. Especially lately, while I am getting older and holding more fat on my body. And because I don’t eat low calorie foods in order to maintain a lower weight. It also helps that in my happily married (not so) old age, I don’t have to judge my body through the eyes of some imagined future partner. And that has changed my perception of self-care. I work out because I love my body. I don’t eat sugar because I love my freedom from food addiction. I don’t worry about the weight of my self. I worry about the weight of my protein at each meal. I weigh that out exactly. I weigh all of my food. I follow rules. And by doing that I can let my body be what it is.
So perhaps this is not as compelling as when I was working out my past in front of all of you. But I am currently particularly grateful that I am here, being the proof that even the most “specially fat” of us has hope. And that even the most steadfastly “anti-health”-on-principle of us can have a change of heart and a workout routine.
And yes. I did my workout my 5 days this week. Outside. With the big ol’ hill. And it felt great to keep my commitment.

I got the I-just-moved-to-a-new-town-(again)-and-I’m-not-sure-if-I’m-gonna-like-it-here bluuuues!

I have had a difficult week. My husband and I have moved into our new place. Getting adjusted to a new town is difficult. This is a small town. It’s no Corpus Christi, TX. It’s no suburb of Nashville. And we have begun our new job. It is not going particularly well right now and that is stressful. I have not done my workout at all this week. For the past month I have been gaining weight with no change in my eating or exercise habits (until this week). I am frustrated and annoyed and kind of unhappy.

I have to remember that I often miss my workouts when I first get to a new place. It’s hard to get accustomed to a new home. To know where I can run. To know what time is best for me to do it. To get a new routine and to get my workout firmly set up in that routine. I think it happened when we moved to Tennessee. I know it did when we moved to Corpus Christi. But I need to figure that out this week. My workout is a priority. Not because of my weight, even though I am gaining. And not even for my health. But for my mobility and my mindset. I feel better about myself and my life when I work out. I feel better about my body, whatever its size and shape, when working out is a priority built into my day.

And I have to remember that this new job is going to be just fine. That the beginning is always bumpy. I am already doing a good job, because I am good at my job. It’s just a lot of things are not panning out. And there’s nothing to do about that except take accurate stock, and solve those problems. Solving problems is a thing I am good at. But I am vain. And proud. I would like to make it look easy. And right now I am not making it look easy. I am making it look like it takes work. Because it is taking a lot of work.

I am also afraid I am not going to like it here. I was afraid of that in Corpus Christi too. I remember crying in my new tiny kitchen when we got there. I was afraid of that in Tennessee too. Especially when I got into my first car accident when I had been there for 3 days. I cried there as well. But when a woman at the grocery store last Saturday asked me where my favorite place my husband and I had lived was, I told her it was Corpus Christi. So obviously I’m no Oracle.

And as for the weight gain, which I am taking in stride, I have to remember that I am stressed out. And that since I have had my eating under control, stress has always been a factor in my weight. I eat the way I eat, within my boundaries. And weigh what I weigh. Sometimes more. Sometimes less.

When my dad’s mom was in the hospital before she died, I lost weight like crazy. Was the skinniest I had ever been. Eating the same as before, and more because my weight was dropping so fast. When I quit smoking, I gained all of it back and then some. Even though my food quantities were cut drastically to stop the weight gain. After the smoking cessation weight gain, I decided that I was not going to try to wrangle my body into some size or shape by eating or not eating things that may or may not affect my weight. But I still don’t like it. I used to weigh 300 lbs. That will give a person some serious issues that will never quite go away. And a sudden weight gain is never any fun. And does crazy things to my head.

But I will tell you this. Two weeks ago, I made all of the lunches I needed for two weeks. Packed them and froze them. Stuck them in a cooler when I drove for 8 hours and put them right back in the freezer. And I did not have to worry about cooking all week. I didn’t have to take hours out of my busy schedule. I did not have to eat mediocre fare to get me through. I had what I needed to make a rough transition that much more bearable.

And my food is what it has always been. Delicious. And within the same boundaries that it has been for over 13 years. The lady at the grocery store yesterday said sort of shocked, “You sure have a lot of vegetables!” And I thought, yep. That’s what is saving my life. And that is another thing that helps me emotionally deal with weight gain. That my food is nourishing. So I don’t have to worry about what I ate or didn’t eat. I know what to eat. And I get to love every guilt-free bite.

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.

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.

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