onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

The First of Many Ways I Learned to Honor My Body

Today I am sharing the link for a documentary that I was featured in that I am really happy to be a part of. It’s called Follow me, and below is a link to rent or buy it on Vimeo.com. If you are interested, I highly recommend it.
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/followmefilm

As a person who was fat and hated it for my so much of my life, I was still terrified of giving up sugar and carbohydrates 14+ years ago. Now I treat those foods as poison, but then, I didn’t think I could have any joy if sugar was gone from my life.


But I have said it before and I will say it again: Giving up man made sugars, grains and starches is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.


When I was eating sugar, I ate even when I did not want to eat. I could not stop. My eating was completely out of my control. And that lack of control was terrifying and shameful. I felt like I was morally inferior to thin people. And because it was written all over my body, people treated me that way as well. And they were allowed to. For all of my life, fatness has been a thing it was OK to mock, and fat people a “fair target” for shame and abuse.


For a while now, I have been moving away from focusing on weight and weight loss, and moving more toward looking at freedom and happiness. Specifically, the freedom I have from food addiction and the happiness I find in having my physical cravings and mental obsession lifted.


Look, I am significantly happier in an easy body. And I am not ashamed of that. And I am grateful to not be subject to the kinds of judgement I was a target for when I was fat. And I am not ashamed of that either. But that doesn’t mean I think it was or is OK. I am just relieved to not be on the receiving end of it. That is natural.


But whatever my body looks like (and it has looked a lot of different ways over the past 14 years – skinny, strong, curvy, chubby) giving up sugar and carbohydrates has created freedom for me from not only compulsive eating, and sugar addiction, but also from the shame I felt in not being able to stop eating.


In having freedom from my sugar and carbohydrate addiction, I can have a much more gentle view of my own fatness. I can love myself and my body, in all of its various shapes and sizes through my life. I can see how beautiful I was when I was fat. Something I could not see when I was in it and cowed by food. And I can see how beautiful I am now. I can see that how much I like and love myself doesn’t have to do with my size or shape, but by how I am willing to honor my body. And for me, putting down sugar was the first of many ways I learned to do that.

PSA: Your Quarantine Fat Jokes Aren’t Funny

So, a little public service announcement to those of you making quarantine fat jokes:
The fat people in your life can see and hear you and it is most likely making them feel shamed, ugly, and judged.

Here’s the thing. I understand that some of us are not used to having this much time, plus this much stress, and many are stress eating and boredom eating. If that is how you are coping, I don’t have any judgment about that. Maybe you have, are, or will gain weight. It happens. Bodies change, and we change our bodies through what we put into them and what we use them for.

But if you are grossly exaggerating the amount of weight you have gained “as a joke,” please know that you are shaming someone that weight. If you went from a size 8 to a size 10 and you are taking about being 300 pounds, and talking about it like it’s an impossibility, because “who could let themselves go to that extent” please understand that I weighed 300 pounds. And not in a pandemic. That was just my life and my body. And I was just as valid and valuable a human as I am now.

Or if you are bemoaning the weight you have gained and are talking about how it has made you ugly, or shameful, or somehow unworthy, you are telling the fat people in your life that you have been seeing them that way this whole time.

Or if you are making or sharing pictures, gifs, and memes with unflattering and humiliating images of fat bodies, you are sending a clear message to the fat people in your life that you do not respect, honor, or appreciate them. You are telling them that you are willing to make jokes at their expense. And not particularly funny jokes at that.

And chances are they won’t say anything. I never would have when I was fat. I would have kept it to myself and it would have festered in me. Or it would have killed a little bit of my soul and my joy. But to bring it up would be to put a spotlight on my own fatness. A target. And I never ever wanted to do that because it had painful consequences.

I did not like being fat. It’s true. But to this day I have a hard time separating and differentiating between not liking being fat because of my own physical comfort, and not liking it because the world at large was so cruel to me for it. And the world was certainly cruel.

I will not lie to you about how grateful I am to not be eating compulsively right now. I am so grateful that my eating has had boundaries for a long time. It has made my life easier and better for the last 14 years, and it makes it better now. I have “built up that muscle” so that not stress eating or boredom eating is the norm. And that is a blessing to me. But that is about my eating, and my eating disorders. Not about my weight, or size, or fatness, or beauty.

If you are having trouble with your eating or your weight, I am sorry. And I wish you well. But please remember the people you love. They may not have the words or the willingness to tell you that you are hurting, humiliating, or shaming them. But they feel it. I promise.

Count my blessings, do what I can, and love my meals

Yesterday I was talking to a friend who has the same eating boundaries as I do, about people who find something else and do that instead. She said she just needed to call somebody who does what she does and say that she doesn’t want to know how other people do it. That she has a way of eating that keeps her well and happy and she doesn’t need to go looking for another solution. 

I was happy to hear it. I was grateful to be the person who she wanted to say it to. And she chose me because I am safe. I am safe because I agree. I want to do this thing I do for the rest of my life.


I am aware that everyone is different. When I hear that someone else has taken on a new way of eating that is not my way, I wish them well. I wish them peace and success. And then I remember that I already have peace and success. So I keep my eyes on my own plate and love my food.


I know a lot of people are stress eating right now. And I get it. Food is a powerful mood alterer. I know. I used it for the first 28 years of my life. But I am so incredibly grateful that I am not right now. Because to a lot of people, that eating is a temporary balm. A much needed soother. But food hasn’t been that for me since I was probably 9 or 10. That young I was already obsessed and craving. I was already lying, cheating, and stealing for a fix. And if I were to try to use it again, it would backfire on me hard and immediately. So I keep my boundaries and love my meals, and find something to do to take my mind off of my existential dread.


But truly, I have had some level of existential dread for much of my life. It’s part of being motionally sensitive with an exceptional imagination.


I am so deeply grateful to have a solution to my eating problem as well as a way of life that gives me tools to ease my worries and anxieties. I am not saying I am “fine.” I am nervous about the future. I am worried about what comes next, not just for me, my husband, my family, my life, but also the world.


But nothing in *my* life is wrong. My loved ones are all healthy. The people I know who have been infected and sick with coronavirus/Covid-19 are are all over the worst of it and are making a full recovery. I have money and food, and I genuinely like spending time with the guy I am stuck inside with. So really, I’m as lucky as it gets. I will remember to count my blessings, do what I can, and love my meals.

Eating like a queen will have to be good enough for now

My self-imposed quarantine will technically come to an end Tuesday. It will have been 14 days since I was out in a public space. In my case, to buy groceries for two weeks. Since, I have only been to the outdoor track across the street from my apartment complex by myself.


And people were sometimes there. And, to my chagrin, often refused to try to keep 6 feet from me, which meant I had to take all of the responsibility for keeping the distance. So I did. Because one of the most important lessons I have learned in 14+ years of keeping my eating boundaries is that I am responsible for taking care of what is important to me. If 6 feet of distance is important to me and not to other people, then it’s my responsibility. So I did what I needed to do. But it made me angry.


Because I am scared. Here’s the thing. I am in a small town in Oklahoma. And where I am is a “hot spot” in terms of per capita spread of the coronavirus according to a recent map in Scientific American. In other words, there aren’t enough people here to be a hot spot like New York or Chicago, but in terms of percentage of the population, we have a rapidly growing problem. And my expectation is that in a week or two, it will be a crisis here.


And the other thing is that starting on Monday, my husband goes back to work. It will be 14 days since he was on a plane or in an airport, so they will let him back on his job site now. The work we do here is considered essential. Which is nice in one way. I am grateful to have money coming in. I am grateful to not be worried about money when so many people are.


But it also means my husband will be going out into groups of people. And then coming back home. While we are in an area with a rapidly growing number of cases of the coronavirus. And I am going to have to manage my stress over it.


But so much of my life is the same. And can be the same. My food is the same. My exercise. My work. And that is a blessing. It keeps me grounded and sane. Or as sane as I can be when I am worried and stressed.


I am grateful I am not face first in the food today. Because while food certainly helped me deal with a lot of feelings and fears as a kid, it only worked until it didn’t anymore. And when it didn’t work anymore it was a powerful burden. So eating compulsively cannot help me now, and I am grateful that my food is under control. My three meals a day keep me grounded. They keep me in the moment as much as possible. And that keeps my stress levels at a minimum.


I don’t know what will happen. And I am allowed to be worried if I want to be. I am probably not going to leave the house until next Saturday’s grocery shopping, except to jog . Because while my 14 days after the airport is just about up, I don’t want to go out into a busy store in a hot spot.


Today I will cook some frozen vegetables for the week, instead of fresh. And I thankfully had the foresight to buy 5 jars of some really delicious pickles, along with lots of bacon, when I was in the Chicago suburbs two weeks ago. So I will still be eating like a Queen for the next week. And that is going to have to be good enough for now.

It was always life on Life’s terms, but now I accept it

I am sitting home on the 6th day of my self-quarantine after traveling Sunday and Monday. I am feeling well.


The thing is, my life has not changed from my life before this corona virus outbreak in any noticeable way except that I didn’t go to the grocery store yesterday.


Yes, I have more than enough food and supplies to make it the coming week. Maybe maybe at the end I will need more water. The water in this town doesn’t agree with me, and gives me a bad stomach. But other than that, my food supply is fine.


And in general, things are much the same. I go on my jog alone in the park across the street from my apartment complex, like always. I work from home, and thankfully still have a job, like always. I, apparently, am one of those actual introverts (which might surprise people who know me since I am a friendly, loud, social being when I am around people), because I wasn’t leaving my house more than once a week before and I am certainly not leaving it now. And this in no way upsets me. And I am apparently not the rebel I sometimes believe and sometimes fear I am, since I am not itching to go anywhere simply because I have been told not to.


But I am not peaceful. I am not calm. I am maintaining an admirable level of outward calm, but my body betrays me.


I am having a hard time focusing on work. I am not doing any crafts. I can’t even seem to read or listen to audiobooks like usual.


And I have a lip twitch.


I have known for many years that I live with a steady, manageable stream of low-level anxiety. I learned to make friends with it about a decade ago. I think it’s helpful to know what you can change, and what you have to manage. Like I can’t change my addiction to sugar and simple carbohydrates, but I learned to make friends with that and manage my eating. I also had to make friends with my anxiety, and learn not to give it the microphone. It can chatter away all it wants, but I don’t have to listen.


But I also know that stress lives in the body. And because I know how to manage it, sometimes when things are particularly intense, I get an eye twitch. It’s my body’s way of letting go of the stress without me crying and screaming and stomping. (OK, sometimes I cry. But usually over fiction, and it’s an excellent catharsis, even if it is not strictly about my own life.)


But this lip twitch is new. And it is particularly uncomfortable. And a little scary. Probably because it is new.


I don’t want to pretend everything is “fine” because my life looks the same as it did a month ago. Things are changing. And I am not immune from the heightened sense of fear that everyone is experiencing right now. And I would not be doing myself a favor if I acted as if nothing is wrong. Even if nothing is “wrong” in my life at the moment.


And the last thing I want to say is that having boundaries around my eating has created a structure for me that is invaluable in an upside down world. I learned 14+ years ago how to do things “no matter what.” Like my 3 portion controlled meals a day. Like my jog. Like my wake up and bed times.


Aside from not eating myself into oblivion out of anxiety or boredom, which I am particularly grateful for, I am not ruled by circumstances. It feels great to go about my life. To feel the fear but not be overwhelmed by it. To know that this too shall pass, as all things pass. To understand that no matter how the world changes, that I know how quickly I can adopt a “new normal.” To know that having my food under control has taught me how to adapt and change. The world has always been “life on life’s terms,” but it wasn’t until I got my eating under control that I could understand how to accept that. And once I learned how to go with the flow, even when the flow is like white water rafting, I can hang on and, if not enjoy the ride, certainly make it to the shore.

Just a short one about being prepared

Another short one for this week.


I just want to talk about being prepared. Again. Because obviously, the world is a crazy place right now.


Our original flight from Florida got cancelled, and we had to spend an extra day in paradise. (Poor me…oh the sarcasm!) But with plans in general so subject to change at this time, I spent the extra time before we left to pack 2 full days worth of meals. I only need the one, but I wanted to be fully prepared and not worry about if my eating boundaries could be met. Packing 2 days meant that if we got to the airport and we could not get a flight out and had to go to a hotel for the night, my food would still be taken care of. And that was a load off of my mind.


I don’t want to be a person who panics in general. And I most definitely don’t want to worry about how I am going to meet my food needs.

All of the nothing I have to do

Today’s post is going to be short. Because I am in the Florida Keys, and there is a beach chair calling to me.


But here is an important story about my food. When my husband and I travel, we book hotel rooms with kitchens. That way I can go to the grocery store and cook for myself, and have dishes and cooking tools there. Even when I am on vacation, I don’t take a vacation from my eating boundaries.

Well they booked it so that the smaller room for 1, my husband’s mom, got the kitchen. And we didn’t. And that was scary. But they agreed to move us to a room with a kitchen today.


But the thing is, I had a dinner with me last night. Because when I travel, I always have the whole day’s worth of meals with me. Because things like this happen. And this morning I weighed my yogurt for breakfast on a paper plate and used yesterday’s wiped-off spoon. But again, things like this happen.

Today I am getting my kitchen. And other than keeping my eating boundaries, I don’t have anything to do. And it is really nice to be able to relax and do all of the nothing I have to do with a peaceful heart, because I planned ahead and was prepared. Because the only thing I take more seriously than my relaxation time is my food.

Nothing to do but relax and eat my delicious meals

Folks, between today and my next post, I am leaving for Florida! I am spending a week in the sun and I could not be more excited!

But also, my food boundaries are a thing I do always, and no matter what. So when I travel, there are some things I need that most people don’t. I need a kitchen where I can cook. I need access to a grocery store. I need to bring at least one food scale with me. 2 is better. And on the day I travel, I need to bring all of the food I am going to eat that day, already prepped, portioned out, and ready to eat at meal times.


If we are going somewhere for a short time, and especially if we are driving, I can just bring the whole trip’s worth of pre-prepared meals with me. I did that to go to New Orleans several years back. And I prefer that. But when we travel to far places, and we fly, it’s impossible to bring a week’s worth of meals. So we spend more on hotels than most people in order to get a full kitchen.


Also, flying with food regularly gets me stopped by TSA. Even though I have Precheck. And that can be a little stressful, to be honest. OK, more than a little stressful.
But ultimately, knowing that my food is taken care of is the most important thing to me.

After my eating disorders are taken care of, everything else is just a situation to deal with between breakfast and lunch. And I can do that. Especially if dealing with it gets me on a plane to Florida with a week in the sun with nothing to do but relax and eat my delicious meals.

There is no perfect configuration of hoops, so I stopped jumping.

When I am on social media, I block all diet ads. And not just the scams, like the supplements and diet shakes. I block the exercise and weight loss tracking apps as well. And the Meal delivery services. I block anything that says that if I hit on the perfect equation, I will get exactly the body I am told is the perfect, most beautiful, most desirable body.

Because for the past 42+ years, the body I have is exactly my body. Sometimes it has been fat. (300 pounds. U.S. Size 28.) Sometimes It has been skinny. (133 pounds. U.S. Size 6.) And all manner of weights and sizes in between. But certain things never change. And never will. The boxy shape of my butt, for example. The fact that my thighs touch and will never not touch. (They touched when I was my skinniest. There is just no way around it. It is about the position of my bones.) How short my very wide hips are, especially compared to my long torso. I don’t have that long graceful curve from waist to thigh. And I won’t. Because the only way to change these very specific things is with cosmetic surgery and 1) I have more important thing to spend my money on than meeting some made up ideal of feminine beauty. And 2) I really like my body. Exactly the way it is.

It took me a very long time to realize that most people who have “perfect” bodies, (bodies that fit neatly into the aesthetic of modern beauty standards) and faces, have had some form of cosmetic work done. The richer they are, the harder it is to tell, because the work is of such good quality that it looks natural. But ultimately, very few humans will ever just naturally fall into that “ideal Western beauty model.”

I once saw a post that had a side-by-side picture of a famous model (who was just recently, and with plenty of controversy, called “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World According to Science”) before and after what is obviously extensive cosmetic surgery, with the caption “No one is born ugly. Only poor.”

I am not judging people who choose cosmetic surgery. I think it is a choice, just like any lifestyle choice. And it’s none of my business.

Also, cosmetic surgery can’t keep a person skinny. That is most definitely a combination of lifestyle and genetics. I expect that people who get that kind of cosmetic surgery spend a lot of time exercising and actively not eating. (Probably actually starving, frankly.) My guess is that a lot of drugs are also involved. Or at the very least lots of cigarettes and Diet Coke.

But to be told that if I jump through some series of hoops, indeed, if I figure out the *exactly right configuration of hoops* for my body type or blood type or lifestyle type or whatever else nonsense, that I will then mold my body into exactly the “ideal beautiful body” as seen in magazines and on TV, is cruel, offensive, predatory, and blatantly false. (And that’s not even touching on Photoshopped images.)

The other reason this is so particularly offensive to me is that this myth gives society leave to judge bodies, especially women’s bodies, as a kind of character judgment. Because if [insert name of woman you would like to judge] had any willpower/self-respect/shame, she would figure out her hoops and jump through them.

I, of course, don’t believe in willpower. It has never helped me control anything to do with my weight or my eating disorders. And I have not eaten sugar for over 14 years. So as someone with the experience of abstaining, let me assure you, willpower has nothing to do with it. It has been about support, community, and the gift of desperation to stop eating constantly. I am not in possession of any moral high ground, just a deep sense of humility around my eating.

I choose a particularly specific eating lifestyle to keep my eating disorders in check. It’s no man made sugar, starches, and no grains except some wheat germ. It’s 3 meals a day with strict portion control with nothing in between but black coffee or zero calorie drinks. The boundaries I keep also help keep my weight/size within a certain range. And I am grateful for that because it means that I live mostly pain-free. I am free from the emotional and spiritual pain of addiction, free from the pain of weight on my joints, free from the pain of exertion while doing mundane things like climbing stairs or walking long distances. In other words, if you consider them hoops, I jump through them for my personal peace, not to live up to anyone else’s standards.

And I love my body the way it is. And I don’t just mean that I tolerate it. I don’t only love it for being my vehicle. I think it’s beautiful, not just useful. And I treat it like the precious thing it is.

Freedom isn’t free. And what would I do with a toaster?

Last week I waxed poetic about the amazing freedom that I get from putting boundaries around my eating. This week I want to talk about one of the less savory (though still really important) aspects of having my eating under control.
I feel all of my feelings. ALL of them!
And this week has been a difficult week for feelings. My husband and I not only live together, but we work together and we travel together. And we have both been under a ridiculous amount of stress. Tempers have been running high. We have been fighting about work. And we had an emotionally “frosty” drive home on Friday.
And then a person commented on a post of my blog last week saying, “Talk about deprivation!” And I was frustrated and angry. Because my post was all about how I am *not* deprived in the slightest. And I had to decide if I wanted to respond.
I didn’t. Because this blog is not about being “right.” And it’s not about getting people to do what I do. I’m not promoting an eating lifestyle. I am sharing my experience. I want to be a beacon. I hope I help someone who needs to hear that there is a solution to what they are suffering.
But it’s not like I get a toaster if I convince people to try my way of eating.
Also, what the hell would a person who doesn’t eat bread do with a toaster?
My point is that I felt all of those feelings this week. And more. I did a lot of crying. I did a lot of talking it out with trusted friends. But there was no escaping the reality of those feelings like there was when I was eating sugar and eating compulsively.
The thing about feelings that I learned early in putting boundaries around my eating was that you don’t get to pick and choose. It’s all or nothing. And even when you choose “nothing,” it’s not really nothing. Those feelings still live inside you. It’s just that they are twisted, and corrupted. When I finally put down sugar, I had to feel 28 years worth of feelings. 28 years worth of feelings that spent all of that time bouncing around the echo chamber of my sick, sad mind. And wow did that suck.
So now I have to feel them as they come, one at a time. But I also get to feel them as true, pure feelings. Not warped and amplified after years of pushing them down and in.
There is that saying: Freedom isn’t free. It’s usually meant to be political and patriotic. My experience is that it’s true spiritually as well.
I had to make sacrifices to get this freedom. I’m not talking about giving up cake. I am talking about giving up the numbness that accompanied my eating cake. It may not occur to you that there is a difference, but to me this is not a subtle distinction. It’s glaringly obvious to me.
So I am happy, joyous, and free. But in order to be that, I also have to be sad, frustrated, humiliated, angry, or any other feeling that comes upon me.

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