onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “beauty”

It could be worse. I could *look* 40.

This coming Tuesday will be my 40th birthday. And I am pretty excited about it, quite frankly.

I am not afraid of aging. I have written about this before, I know. I think that part of the reason I am not afraid of aging is that with my food under control, I am aging particularly well. I may be in the best shape of my life right now. And I don’t show a lot of the visible signs of getting older, though I do have a lot of gray hair. No seriously, a lot for 40. But it’s more white and silver than gray gray, so even that isn’t too bad.

And I don’t want to imply that I’m not experiencing the normal wear and tear that a 40-year-old experiences. My knees crack, and sometimes one or the other of my ankles is sore or wobbly for the first few minutes of my morning jog, and that’s with knee and ankle braces. And when I sit up after doing my crunches, I can hear and feel my back crack.

But at 16 I was morbidly obese. I had difficulty walking, let alone running. I was easily exhausted. I feared stairs the way people fear public speaking, though I had to face stairs daily, while, unless it’s your job, most people don’t have to speak in front of crowds very often.

But it’s not all about being thin either. It’s not just physical ease vs. discomfort. I look great, I feel great, I am generally happy, and content, and I believe that has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t poison myself with sugar.

The average American eats about 94 grams, or 350 calories, of added sugar in a day. That’s over 75 pounds of sugar in a year. And that is the average, not the extreme. For reference, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends about 25 grams a day for an average adult. So average Americans are eating almost four times the recommended amount of sugar. Every single day.

Now, I am not the food police. I don’t care if you choose to eat sugar. But as time goes by, science and medicine show more and more evidence that sugar is a drug, and that it affects us, not just physically (as in our weight), but also hormonally, and neurologically. I know it’s poison to me because I am addicted to it. But even if you are not addicted to sugar, it is becoming clear that it is still dangerous. And like all drugs, it has side effects.

I think a lot of my general beauty and good health has to do with the fact that I am not putting that particular poison into my body. The result is that I have glowing skin, bright eyes, healthy hair, and a strong body. I also exercise, am well rested, and I drink lots of water every day, and that’s all possible for me because I don’t eat sugar, grains, or starches.

I don’t use sugar as fuel. I don’t crash mid-morning because my breakfast was carbs with a side of sugar, so I need another fix. I sleep 8 hours a night because I am not hopped up on sugar late into the evening. I am hydrated because I don’t need to drink sugar to get me through the day, one little fix at a time, and instead I can manage get my water in. (Don’t get me wrong, I still drink coffee and zero calorie diet drinks. I just drink my water too.) I am not anxious, irritable, or moody because I need a hit.

Yes, not being high on sugar helps me make better choices when it comes to taking care of myself. It always made me lethargic and lazy. It made me comfortable enough in the moment to not think far enough ahead to take care of my health and my life.

But seriously, I strongly believe that look as good as I do (and seriously, I look pretty damn good), not just because I exercise and drink water, but because I am not constantly pumping poison into my body. In general, drugs age a person. You can find a million before and after shots on the internet showing their effects. If you hear the word junkie, there is an image that pops into your mind, and it’s probably not one of shiny hair and a big smile with a full mouth of teeth.

So I am grateful to feel so beautiful on the eve of a big birthday. And I believe that, more than any other reason, I owe that feeling to keeping sugar out of my body.

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The kind of stuff I want to buy

I will admit that I have a terrible click-bait problem. Ok, it’s not that bad. But I have a morbid fascination with plastic surgery before and afters and “no makeup” selfies. I swear I do it just to get myself riled up….Did you notice how I put “no makeup” in quotes? Yeah. Because more than half of these “no makeup” selfies are really makeup-that-is-meant-to-look-like-you-are-not-wearing-any-makeup selfies. Which, frankly, pisses me off.

I know that this is an eating disorder blog. But part of my having eating disorders is having these fun and exciting body image disorders. You know, the kind where you don’t really know what you look like, and perceive yourself as deeply flawed because you don’t look like the imaginary women in advertising. And how even knowing this intellectually, and being a highly intelligent woman doesn’t make it any better. Right. Those kinds of body image disorders.

If you don’t already know, I have a HUGE problem with the beauty industry. And with us as consumers. I am angry that we collectively agree that what is really beautiful is this elusive woman who can’t possibly fit all of her internal organs into her torso. The unicorn woman who doesn’t exist. Even underwear models get their images “fixed” by eliminating things like puckered skin under a bikini strap, or slimming down their thighs. Seriously! Slimming down supermodel thighs!

And if you also don’t know, I have a (slightly less huge, but still pretty darn) huge problem with internet culture and the way so many people only show the best sides of themselves, or in the case of trolls, the worst sides of themselves, because they feel protected by anonymity. 

That never impresses me. I know better. I mean, I have a pretty darn spectacular life in ways that I cannot begin to explain. And still there are so many things that go wrong, ways I get upset, times I am miserable for no reason. Or for some reason. It’s not all trophies and accolades. Nobody’s life is. And anyone who says differently is selling something. (Yes, I know that is a Princess Bride quote.) Selling something like no-makeup makeup. Like a meal replacement shake. Like an album. Like themselves. Like me on Facebook. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter! I’m going to make my Snapchat public!

So I look at the fake “no makeup” selfie, and I think “What a bunch of a**holes!” See, I thought the point of the no makeup selfie is to say “I’m imperfect too! You can’t be perfect because nobody is perfect!” But instead, it has become just another trophy. “Look! I’m the unicorn woman who wakes up looking like a supermodel. Too bad you can’t be like me. But you can worship me! And buy all of the things I am selling!”

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I, personally, do not wear makeup. I think I have worn it twice in the past in the past 5+ years. Both times to other people’s weddings. (I was conspicuously, yet unselfconsciously bare-faced at my own wedding.) But this is not about makeup. I have no problem with makeup, or women who wear it. I wore makeup for many many years. And I did not stop because I have some sort of moral issue with makeup. I still wear nice clothes and get my hair cut, and pluck my Groucho Marx eyebrows and Italian woman chin hairs. (I am an Italian woman, so I come by the chin hair honestly.) I really stopped because I was single and I noticed that I got hit on way more without makeup. And very early in our relationship, my husband said that he, too, liked the fact that I didn’t wear makeup. 

So this is not about makeup, it’s about lying. Deceit. This is about yet another way that we as women judge and disparage one another so that somebody can make money off of our insecurities. 

But I want to end with a shoutout to all of the women who post pictures of themselves with really no makeup! (Tyra Banks and Teri Hatcher, I’m high-fiving in your direction!) 

I know that these women are selling something too. But what they are selling is authenticity! Honesty! Womanly solidarity. And that’s the kind of stuff I want to buy. 

A city of not-so-secret admirers

I am in New York City for a few days. I’m here for a kind of conference. It’s a conference about eating disorders and getting your eating under control. It has been two days of community and fellowship. And I’m exhausted.

It’s good to be back. I like it here. There are things I had forgotten about living here. Things that I miss. Not all of it. I don’t miss the stress. People keep telling me I look so relaxed. And I am. There is a buzz in the city. Not always a pleasant one. Sometimes an anxious, neurotic, unfocused one. But there is something else here. Something that I used to thrive on and I don’t get it other places. New York is a city of show offs. Hence, it is a city of audience members. At any given moment, you are the player or the viewer. Looking to impress or be impressed.

Last week I was in tears over my body. Angry at God that I have not lost weight. Feeling fat and ashamed. Not wanting to come here. Worrying that I would be judged harshly for not being skinny.

But the truth is, I had been in the city for 20 minutes and I couldn’t even get the half mile to the farmers market without being admired. Without being called beautiful. Without being asked if I was having a nice day. Without being smiled at.

I had forgotten how much that was worth to my self-esteem. I had misunderstood what had changed. My beauty had not changed. My surroundings had. I had noticed that fewer men were making note of my attractiveness. I wondered if I was not aging well. If I was not a pretty as I had been. If it was because I was fat.

Now I just want to note that my boyfriend tells me I am beautiful every day. And I know he means it. And I love that. And need it. But, you know, he’s in love with me….

What coming to New York did was give me some perspective. That I live in a perfectly lovely body. That my weight is not affecting my beauty. And that, really, my weight is not a problem. All of these men kept telling me so in kind, gentlemanly ways. Not aggressive or objectifying. Just in admiration.

I will always have body image issues. Those will never go away. I know that. And they are not rational. I know that too. But I hope I get to take this with me back home. At least for a little while. This experience of being a beautiful woman among beautiful women. This knowledge that there is nothing to be ashamed of.

And, a woman at the conference said that her doctor recommended walking at night in order to jumpstart her metabolism. And she said it helped. So I am going to try that too! Not because there is anything wrong. Just because why not.

I make me feel like dancing

I have been listening to pop music and dancing around the house.

This is something I used to do all the time. Singing and dancing have always been a huge part of my life. From the time I was a small child.

There are two things about this that are important to me.

1. I don’t think I have done this since I quit smoking.
2. I am so grateful to be in a body that I am comfortable both moving in, and moving in front of people.

I have always danced. I danced as a small child. I danced when I was fat. I have always been a good dancer. (No seriously. A really good dancer. Like strangers feel the need to tell me.)

But when I was fat, I was always ashamed. As if I shouldn’t subject other people to having to look at my body. That my inability to control my eating forfeited any right to love moving that body.

It’s not that I didn’t dance. I did. Even in public. Because that’s how much I love dancing. But I was always self-conscious. And through my teenage years, I can remember being mocked at school or park district dances. But kids are mean. Even then I knew that kids were mean. And that I couldn’t stop dancing because of it. But it meant that I could never “dance like no one was watching.” I could never dance like I did alone in my bedroom.

And then, thank God, in my early 20’s I made friends with people who loved to dance as much as I did. They were great dancers too. And they knew that I was a great dancer. They told me. And to them, being fat and being a great dancer were not mutually exclusive. And we went out dancing two to three nights a week. And sometimes I forgot to be embarrassed. Sometimes it was just me and the music and I was free to honor my body by moving and shaking. Only sometimes. But that meant that I was no longer always worried and ashamed and embarrassed.

But even though I was graceful and talented, it was hard. It was hard on my body. I have always had an incredible amount of energy. But I had pain. My feet especially would ache. I wanted to dance all night, but I physically couldn’t. So I would sit out a few songs. But inevitably some song would come on that I just could not sit through. And I would hurt. I was hurting my body to nourish my soul.

But when I got control of my eating and lost my excess weight, dancing became one of my greatest joys in life. In public or private. I no longer worried if people were looking at me because they were disgusted. I no longer had to sit out any song. I could choose to dance to every song if I wanted.

I don’t know why I have started dancing again all of a sudden. I do know that I go through phases. With almost everything. I read constantly for 3 months and then don’t pick up a book for another three. I crochet in fits and starts. I eat the same thing every day for a year and then forget it exists. (What can I say, I’m a Gemini.) So maybe it’s a coincidence that I haven’t done it since I quit smoking. But I’m glad it’s back. It feels good. In my body and soul.

If you are wondering what I am dancing around my house to, here’s a sample.

Glamour is pain. Beauty is something else.

I have been thinking about beauty lately. Not just prettiness, though that too. But beauty. And where it comes from. And what it means. And what it is.

When I was a very small child, I was stunning. No, seriously. At 4 years old, I was positively striking. I had unusual coloring. My skin was on the darker side, and my hair on the lighter. Big deep brown eyes. I was a beauty. And I knew it, but not in an obnoxious way. In an innocent, 4-year-old way. It was just the way it was. And it was nice.

And then I started being told that I was fat, or that if I wasn’t careful I would get fat, or even if I was careful, I would get fat. And then I eventually did get fat. Really, truly, and undeniable fat.

I come from a fat family. In my childhood, the people I grew up around either were and had always been fat, had been fat and would be fat again but at any given moment might not be fat, or were fat, but had once been quite thin.

We were all scrutinized from a very young age. There was no accounting for growing and changing. There was no recognition that growing bodies look awkward. That bellies and thighs plump and elongate and shift as little people grow into big people.

And let’s face it, I would get fat. 300 lbs fat. But sometimes I have seen pictures of myself at some time or another and I see that I was not fat yet. And I can think back to that time and know that I believed I was. In truth, I think that 4-year-old beauty was the last me who didn’t think she was fat. I think by 5 I was ashamed. It’s a sad thought, really.

Because it was also never my experience that my fat family believed that you could be big and beautiful at the same time. The attractive ones were the thin ones. And the ones who went up and down were attractive when they were thin and not when they were fat.

I sometimes wonder if starting out so pretty made being fat such a hardship for me. Perhaps if I had been plain, or even just merely “cute enough”, I wouldn’t have devastated me the way it did. I wished so desperately to be beautiful, and at the same time, shunned all things pretty and girly. I wore men’s cologne and men’s clothes. I hated pink. It infuriated me whenever people called me Katie. Because Katie was a pretty girl’s name. (I still don’t love to be called Katie, by the way. But more because I am Kate. It so obviously suits me better than any other name.)

So yesterday, I had a group of ladies come over to my home for lunch. We are all women who work every day at keeping our eating disorders under control. And we are all beautiful. We are different ages, different sizes, different styles. But we all sparkle.

I remember years ago meeting the mother of a man I was seeing. And she loved me. And I loved her. (Frankly, she liked me more than her son did…) I think she liked me because I sparkled the way she did. I certainly liked her because she sparkled the way I did. And that sparkle was her beauty. She was a very pretty woman too. But it was her sparkle that made her beautiful.

And then I think about the women that I have known or met or just encountered who are beautiful, but not pretty. And conversely, the women that are very pretty, but in no way beautiful. I am very clear that prettiness and beauty are not the same.

So I have a theory about what that sparkle is. I believe it is self-care. Not just the physical part, like eating well, and keeping hydrated and getting enough sleep and exercise. Though, of course that’s a good part of it. But also taking care of yourself in other ways. Like taking care of your integrity. Doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. And being honest. So you can look God and yourself in the eye. And being confident. Not just in the way you look, but in your thoughts and actions. Doing things whole heartedly. Being bold. Knowing that it’s OK to be wrong, and get it wrong. Knowing that all will still be well if you fail. And feeling free to be yourself. Without regard to people and their judgments.

In other words, I believe beauty is peace.

In retrospect, I can see that I was still pretty when I was fat. In a different way, of course. My face was pretty. Rounder than it is now, but still pretty. And I had an hourglass figure. Just a very big one. But I was not beautiful. Because I hated myself. And because I had no confidence. And because I believed I was ugly.

I was not beautiful because I had no peace.

As every parent knows, “There’s nothing wrong with the one you’ve got.”

I’m in a funny place about my body lately. Not terrible. But not great either.

I have not been weighing myself for many months. And I am grateful for that. For some reason, numbers make me irrational. But I can tell I go up and down. In the way my clothes fit. And how big my butt is.

For whatever reason, a few weeks ago, I was up. And I can tell that I am in the process of going back down. And while I don’t know how much in terms of pounds, it is not a lot. I am not growing or shrinking out of my clothes.

But I am disappointed lately. Because I had hoped that I would have lost more weight by now.

If you don’t know, I quit smoking for my 35th Birthday. And I will turn 37 in less than 2 months. In the first 9 months of quitting, I gained 30 pounds. Not because I was eating to compensate. But simply because that was one of my side effects. I had others too. For the first 6 weeks I had open sores in my mouth and for about 10 months I was depressed. But it was the weight gain that was most devastating to me.

As a former fat girl, I have all sorts of eating and body image disorders. Sometimes they are dormant. And sometimes they are active. Though only in my head…When it comes to eating, starving, binging, purging, laxatives, over-exercising, and all other manner of acting out with food, I have the action part under control with strict rules and boundaries. And I have for over 8 years.

So gaining 30 lbs, especially with my eating under control, was triggering for me. It made me crazy. And unhappy. And it was hard to reconcile myself to it. I felt like I was being punished. And it was especially frustrating because I felt like I was being punished for quitting smoking. You know, no good deed goes unpunished, and so on.

But I felt like I could handle it, because I thought it would be temporary. I thought that after some time went by, I would lose that 30 lbs. Or at least the greater portion of it. And here I am almost 2 years later, and a full year since the excessive weight gain stopped, and I have not lost any weight.

There is something that I have told more than one person recently, and I would do well to remember it myself. When I was actively eating compulsively and eating sugar, my eating habits were surely the reason I weighed 300 lbs. (Duh.) But since I got my eating under control and stopped eating sugar, I have noticed that what I eat has generally had the least to do with my weight. The thinnest I ever was in my life was the time that followed the illness of my Dad’s mom, who was the first love of my life. In the months that led to her death, I must have dropped 15 lbs, and I was already thin. Then, and in the years following that time, it did not matter what I ate. Drenched in butter, deep-fried, bacon, full-fat dairy, huge portions. Every day. Just to maintain a tiny little body. And then I quit smoking. And even cutting portions in half, reducing fat content and limiting how often I ate certain foods, I still gained weight. I gained 30 lbs, eating less than half of what I had been eating before I gave up cigarettes.

I’m saying I don’t want to start worrying about what I eat. That I don’t want to start drinking skim milk and eating nonfat yogurt. I don’t want to start steaming my vegetables. I don’t want to stop eating roasted squash and carrots. In the (possibly vain) hope that I will lose 20 lbs. Because for years now, what I eat has not had nearly as great of an impact on my weight as all of the other things going on in my life. My stress, my sadness, my anxiety, my withdrawal, my unwillingness to let things go.

And I’m also saying I want to stop judging my “willpower” and my looks so harshly.

I know that my eyes are broken. And I can see that sometimes I think I look like women who are significantly bigger than I am. But also, the truth is that I am not particularly thin right now. And I don’t like it. And dammit! I don’t like that I don’t like it.

I really want to be comfortable in my own body. Exactly as it is. And I don’t want to feel like I should eat diet food. And I don’t want to judge myself on what I am eating. And I don’t want to feel like my worth is based on how “good” I can be. And I don’t want how “good” I am to be based on how much I can deprive myself, and how much I can suffer for a smaller body. And I don’t want to buy into the notion that a smallest possible body is always healthier, prettier, better.

Because that is the notion in modern Western culture, right? That any body bigger than tiny is fat. That the best body is the smallest one. That as a woman, that’s the one to strive for. And if you are not striving for the smallest possible body then you are somehow lacking. Lazy, or shameful, or ultimately unwomanly.

There is a kind of person that I want to be. And it involves having peace around what is so. And it involves trusting that I have exactly the body that I am supposed to have. And knowing that this body is beautiful. Because it is well cared for. Well fed. Well hydrated. Well maintained. Well used with out being abused.

And I want to be the kind of person who has some perspective about bodies. Specifically my own body, but also in general. Human bodies in the world. To have a realistic and sane outlook on them. To see that they aren’t all created to grow into doe-eyed, pouty, ectomorphs, if only their owners would behave properly. To understand that they all grow into different shapes and sizes. And at different rates. And that I got as good of one as anybody else. And you did too.

Now that I know what is possible, I am doing my best to forget it

Something came to my attention this week. Something that has absolutely nothing to do with me. But it affected me. So I am writing about it today.

A woman named Caroline Berg Eriksen, who is a famous fitness blogger (and the wife of a famous athlete) in Norway, posted an underwear-clad selfie 4 days after giving birth. She looked totally physically fit.

This made some people very angry and frustrated. Some (only some) of those people were downright mean, calling Eriksen names.

The angry people made other people angry. These other people defended Eriksen.

If you want to go look at her picture you can, obviously. But I am certainly not going to link to it myself. And if you have body image disorders, like I do, I do not recommend it.

I do not like this world we live in now. Where unless we choose to actively avoid it, we are inundated with images and stories of the daily lives of people who fit a narrow standard of beauty. And sometimes we see these images and stories in spite of our active avoidance.

I do not go out and seek pictures of other women to be told that they are beautiful. To be told what beauty is. I am an active avoider.

And I do not like this world where we as a whole global society selectively share with one another glimpses of our wins, our joys, and our successes. While hiding or glossing over our less shining moments. Asking the rest of the world to compare their whole lives to our manicured and polished outsides. Our facades. Our half-truths.

I do not like this world where we are so afraid of being inadequate that we feel the need to express ourselves to the ENTIRE WORLD, but only the parts of us that we think are adequate.

I certainly did not go looking for this story. It is exactly the kind of thing I avoid. It came to me.

Do I think the women who disparaged Caroline Berg Eriksen are right? No. But do I think Caroline Berg Eriksen has done women in general a disservice? I do.

First, people have said that this is her job. She’s a fitness blogger. She has to look good. I do understand that. So on that note, can we stop pretending she’s not selling something? That she’s “just really proud of herself.” I’m sure she worked very hard. But I’m also sure that she won the genetic lottery in regards to the modern standard of beauty. And that she is making a lot of money from that. So you’ll excuse me for not pitying her.

I think that we already put too much emphasis on women’s looks, and bodies. Their size and shape. And this is coming from a woman who lost 150 lbs. And is happy about it. You will not hear me defending my “right” to be fat. But does it really need to be put out into the world that it is “possible” to be “hot” 4 days after giving birth?

I think that men will be judging the women in their lives differently “now that they know what is possible.”

And I think that young girls will be thinking differently about who they should be in the world, and what they should expect from themselves “now that they know what is possible.”

And I think that women who are having and soon to be having babies will judge themselves much more harshly “now that they know what is possible.”

I think that all women will be judging themselves more harshly “now that they know what is possible.”

I have heard it asked why women have to be so mean to other women. There is, to me, an unspoken, underlying context in this question. They are asking why the “jealous” women are writing nasty things about the “hot” woman. Why can’t they just be nice?!

But to some of us, maybe the less cultivated souls, the less enlightened, the less peaceful, Caroline Berg Eriksen has put a limit on our options. We can either hate her, or hate ourselves. If these are my only options, I will hate her in a heartbeat.

That is not where I stand today. And that is not who I want to be. I don’t want to be a person who hates. Anyone. I definitely strive to cultivate my soul. To be peaceful. But I think self-preservation, no matter how clumsy and inelegant, is always preferable to self-hatred.

No, I don’t hate her. I can see that she has to live in the same society that I do. She just lives in it in a different way. But that picture did make me feel inadequate. And it made me sad. It made me cry for myself.

And no I don’t hate myself. But I have years of actively learning to love myself. And of not seeking out pictures of “what is possible” so I can compare myself. I have years of practice knowing I am beautiful just the way I am. And I mean practice. It takes practice.

And I still forget sometimes.

Do I think she shouldn’t have posted that picture? Who am I to say? I don’t know. Isn’t life too complicated to answer that question?

I can say that her picture hurt me. And shamed me. And that the outcry that came from so-called jealous women all over the world shows me that it hurt and shamed them too.

I am grateful that when I remember it, there is relief in knowing that the possibility of perfection is off the table. There is freedom in the acceptance of being flawed. But sometimes, like when somebody posts a picture of themselves being seemingly impossibly flawless, it’s hard to remember.

No. I don’t hate Caroline Berg Eriksen. I don’t wish her ill. But I don’t like her, either. I won’t defend her. I don’t praise her. I don’t honor her. I do not thank her for showing me “what is possible.” It wasn’t a gift to me.

This is only a test. If this were an actual emergency, I would do something about it.

I am being tested today. And it sucks.

I passed the test. And if I continue to be tested, I will pass again. And again. Because it is not a test of learning or understanding. It is a test of honor and commitment. And my commitment is strong and steady. But I’m feeling a little resentful toward life that I’m being tested.

First, weigh day. The scale this morning said I gained 3.6 lbs. It doesn’t seem right to me. It seems like a lot to gain in a month. I’m not eating that much differently this month. Not enough to gain almost 4 lbs in a month.

But hell, what do I know!? Maybe I did gain this weight. Maybe it’s not water, or hormones, or a problem with my scale. Maybe I gained a bunch of weight this month. The truth is, I don’t want to do anything about it. I don’t want to stop eating the way I eat. I don’t want to eat “lighter” options. I don’t want lean, or skim, or fat-free.

And I don’t hate my body. I don’t feel fat or ugly or yucky. And I am clear-headed enough to know this.

But I am miserable. And when I ask myself why, the answer is that I feel like I must have done something wrong.

Gaining weight=bad girl.

I have been crying since I weighed myself this morning. Ashamed. But I haven’t done anything to be ashamed of. I keep my boundaries around my food. No matter what. It’s a promise between me and God. And I honor it above everything else in my life. It is the one and only thing I have to do to when it comes to my body. I don’t have to be a certain weight, or size. I don’t have to exercise. All I have to do is eat within my boundaries.

But then being so upset about gaining weight, I didn’t want to eat lunch today. I felt like a failure. Depressed. And the thought of lunch felt heavy and thick. Kind of sickening, to be honest.

But I eat. That is part of my boundaries. I eat all of my meals. Even if I don’t want to. So I made a call and left a message for a friend that I didn’t want to eat, and that I had been putting it off, but that I was going to eat lunch anyway, because my feelings don’t have anything to do with food.

And then while I was making lunch, things kept going wrong. And I had to remake part of my meal 4 times. Four times, to make sure that it was within my boundaries.

But I did it until it was right. And my food was exactly as it is supposed to be between me and God. I didn’t say f*** it. Because I don’t ever say f*** it. I do what it takes, whatever it takes, to make sure my eating is under control. It’s the basis of my integrity. That is not an exaggeration.

I suppose it’s good to know that when the chips are down and I don’t want to keep my food boundaries, I do it anyway. Perhaps tomorrow, when I feel better, I will be grateful. Not only that I have the willingness, but also that I had this little reminder of how far I’m willing to go to honor those boundaries. I mean, I didn’t even want to eat the meal, and I had to remake it repeatedly to eat it anyway…

And it’s good to distinguish that I do not have to hate my body or feel fat to have a severe emotional reaction to gaining weight. And it’s good to put words to this upset. To understand that I associate gaining weight with being a bad girl.

And it’s good to have enough peace and clarity to know that I don’t have to do anything about any of this today. I have my feelings. And they don’t have anything to do with my actions. That I can cry, but I still have to eat lunch. And I don’t have to stop eating foods I love if I don’t want to.

Want to get a bikini body this summer?

Put a bikini on your body…

I have mentioned before, just last week even, that other people’s eating disorders can bring my own eating disorders to the forefront of my thinking. That’s true of my body image disorders as well. And I’m in a funny place right now. I would say that it’s a pretty good place. But weird.

See, for the most part, my body is not an issue lately. But also, grocery store checkout tabloids and people with body issues on social media are putting images that make me angry (frustrated? freaked out?) all up in my face.

I did not lose 150 lbs for my health. Period. (Just like I did not quit smoking for my health.) I have never ever ever done anything for my health. It is not what motivates me. And I’m not sorry for it. Or ashamed of it.

Yes, I know that the world wants health to be the great motivator. Good Lord, they say it often enough. Just try putting some artificial sweetener in your coffee in a public place. You’d think you were snorting cocaine on the Starbucks counter top. That’s so bad for you!

And it was certainly vanity that got me to get control of my eating. (And quit smoking.) But it was not really physical vanity. It was less what my body looked like, and more what my body said about me.

Here’s the way I think I can explain it. Being fat was, as far as I was concerned, the physical manifestation of how messed up, out of control, morally bankrupt, self-hating, unlovable, and pathetic I was. It was the big billboard that announced “This girl is totally f***ed up!” So yes, I did not want to be fat anymore.

But my experience is that there is a crazy paradox that goes along with losing weight. And even more specifically, getting the body I wanted. And now love.

I had to stop caring about whether or not I would get the body I wanted. And I had to love the body I had. I had to let go of what I thought would be a good body, the right body, a beautiful body.

Because I do not have the body that I thought I would have to have before I could love my body. I just plain don’t. But I sure do love my body. LOVE it!

Those fashion magazine articles that tell us to tape pictures of women with the bodies we want on our refrigerators for motivation, with the promise that if we work hard enough, and be good enough, we too will get that body, well…they’re lying. Those women are models. And I’m going to be blunt here, they are models because they have a rare body shape and type. That a very greedy beauty industry is trying to sell us at all costs. And those pictures are probably photoshopped. The truth is that no matter how disciplined, committed to our diets and regimented in our workouts we are, we will probably never get a body that looks like those women’s bodies.

I know for a fact that I never will. Never ever. I have my own body. It’s the one I got from my parents. And God, or Nature, or Life, or whatever you want to call it. And there is nothing wrong with that. Did you get that? Let me reiterate. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! I even abused the hell out of my body. And it is fantastically beautiful!

If I had gotten control of my eating to get a beautiful body, I would have given up a long time ago. I would have decided that none of it was worth it. If I couldn’t have a magazine-worthy body, I might as well have had chocolate cake.

But I don’t need to have a model’s body. Thank God! I don’t need to be seen as skinny. Hell, lately, I don’t even need to worry about how fast (or if) I’m going to lose the rest of the weight I gained when I quit smoking. (I do still have body image disorders, so frankly, that might come up again. But for now it’s a non-issue.)

I certainly do not think of this blog as being a weight loss or eating disorder instruction manual. I do my best to keep it about my own experience. But today I’m branching out a bit. So if you read me looking for clues about how to lose weight, here’s my advice. And it’s good!

Don’t wait to lose weight to love yourself. Love yourself now. Don’t wait to get a beautiful body before you start thinking your body is beautiful. Think it’s beautiful now.

Because there is magic in that! It’s a Jedi mind trick. It works. It will probably help you lose weight. And even if it doesn’t…You will love your body! How could that be a bad thing?!?!

I love you more than bacon. Just please don’t make me prove it.

So I’m unpacked and settled and happy at home. My new home. South. Hot and slow. And surprisingly enjoyable. I’m writing from the pool. And I’m wearing my bikini. In public.

I love it by the way. Wearing my bikini in public. I’m still a little insecure. Of course. I have a lifetime of thinking “nobody wants to see that.” But it’s my sun. And my summer. And my body. Just the way it is. And I am in love. And someone really amazing is in love with me back. Which makes my insecurities a little less. Seem a little silly. Who am I trying to impress? Plus it’s not New York City. It’s the south. Where people love their barbecue. And don’t care so much about body size.

I love the sun. And how it makes me look and feel. I’m allowed to just love it. It’s the first thing I am loving about leaving New York City.

And other things have changed already, as well.

When I stopped eating compulsively 7 ½ years ago, I went from eating constantly, to eating three times a day. But I still cherish eating. Or maybe “still” is the wrong word. I used to live to eat. Now I love to eat. Because I do it without guilt or shame. So I really wanted to relish those 3 times a day. I never wanted to share my meal times before. I always wanted to eat alone. I used to hole myself up in my room to eat. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to think. I wanted to be entirely wrapped up in my delicious, glorious, guilt-free meal.

Another thing that happened when I put boundaries around my eating, is that I would go through long phases of eating the same things. I refer to periods of my life by foods I ate. There was the summer of turnip “french fries” and coffee shakes. There was the winter of baked custard. There was over a year when I ate deep-fried onions three times a week. I just recently ate carrot cake and pickles every night for dinner. All specially made by me, without sugar or flour, of course. All within my boundaries.

But I just moved. And some interesting things about my eating rituals have changed. Like there’s somebody to eat with. Not that my boyfriend eats the way I do. And I certainly don’t expect him to. Or wish he would. But it’s nice to sit across from him. Not somebody. Him. This man whom I moved half way across the country to be with. I’m not wishing somebody were there to eat lunch with during the week when he’s at work. But when we are together, sharing my meal times with him feels sacred. Like family. Like home.

And the things I have been eating since I got here keep changing. I have had so many different things and I haven’t even been home for a week. Plus there are new things I want to make. To try. I am looking forward to experimenting.

So here’s the epiphany I just had. Before I fell in love, food was my biggest source of joy. And experimentation was a risk. I was risking how much joy I would experience on any given day. So I didn’t. I wouldn’t take the risk. But now my joy comes from love. So I have more room to risk not loving my food.

Don’t get me wrong. I still really love my meals. And loving them is still really important to me. But I love my boyfriend more. (And that’s sayin’ something!)

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