onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “body dysmorphia”

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.

Broken eyes and second breakfasts

My eyes are broken when it comes to size. When it comes to food portion size and my own body size. I am bad at those.

I think that there is an expectation, by others, and occasionally even myself, that over time certain aspects of my thinking will normalize. That somehow I will know what a portion looks like. Or that somehow I will see my body clearly.

After over 12 and a half years, that is still not the case for me. Even right now, when my body dysmorphia isn’t looming large, I am subject to my own broken eyes.

I gained weight a couple of months ago. It hasn’t come off, even though I stopped eating soy nuts (the weight gain offender, in this case) and I have come to terms with the fact that it may not. At least not on my schedule. My weight fluctuates. Or stays stubbornly static. I had to make friends with that.

Also, it occurs like more than it is. My weight does change from time to time. But I am particularly sensitive to it. So a little gain will feel like a huge one. My jeans got a little tighter a couple of months ago with the soy nuts. But in my head, I got “huge.” The same jeans still fit, just differently. But I sometimes wonder if anyone notices, and thinks bad things about me, if people at work can see the difference. (Spoiler alert: nobody at works cares enough about me to notice if I have gained or lost weight, except my husband, who actively avoids thinking about my weight, because “nothing good can come of that.” – His words. Compulsive eating ladies, this is the kind of man you want to marry.)

And then this week I bought some new workout clothes on the internet. Based on the size chart, I was supposed to buy a medium. But I thought for sure I would need a large. This is ridiculous when I think about it rationally. A medium was for size 8/10, and I am an 8. I could still go up a size and need a medium. It was still so hard to buy a medium.

When they came, they were hard to get on, and for a moment I thought, “damn it! I knew I needed a large.” And I almost didn’t even bother to try to get them on. But I did, and they actually fit perfectly. I just forgot how hard it is to struggle into new workout clothes. (My old ones were pretty stretched out, because I’m cheap, and I have only had 3 sets of clothes for over 2 years, but I work out 5 days a week. So my old ones have been worn and washed twice a week for years. Hence the need to buy new ones.)

As for food size, I control my portions with a scale. Some people seem to think this is extreme. It may be. But I have an extreme problem. I don’t know when I’m full. I don’t know what enough means.

This morning, I ate some bacon, sausage, and egg, plus whole milk in my coffee, and a quarter of a ginormous honeydew, and I will tell you, I could have eaten a whole other one. I mean a second complete breakfast. Seriously. Please know, sometimes I fantasize about it. Because I love to eat. I love food. It’s why I control my portions. Because how does a girl who would happily eat like a hobbit, know what enough is? The answer is, she doesn’t.

I am glad to be aware of the fact that my eyes are broken, and to have measures in place to make that irrelevant. I weigh my food to know exactly what I should eat. And as long as I control my portions, and keep boundaries around my eating, I don’t need to know what my body looks like. As long as I stay rational and look at the size chart when I buy clothes off the internet, I should be OK. Also, there is always sucking it up, and paying for return shipping. (I better keep an eye on the size chart, because let’s face it , once it’s here, it’s probably not getting sent back.)

Dear Pork Products, I love you but I need some space.

My husband sometimes teases me because when he is not around for dinner, I eat “like a four-year-old.” His words, not mine, though I totally agree. Obviously everything is within my food boundaries, but my food boundaries have a lot of room. I don’t have to eat a particularly healthy diet to be within my boundaries. So while I might eat, say, filet minion and sautéed broccoli when I am making dinner for the two of us, I eat homemade sugar-free frozen yogurt, and pork rinds when I am on my own. He calls it “chips and ice cream.” And over the past week my husband had to go out of town unexpectedly, and I spent more evenings alone than I usually do.

And I found that while I was loving my dinners when I was eating them, I was feeling kind of off, maybe even yucky, about them later. Not that I was physically ill. I wasn’t. I was feeling guilty, and I was worrying about my weight.

I believe that I have a physical allergy to sugars, grains, and starches. I believe that when I put those substances in my body, I set up a craving for more that not everyone experiences. That is what makes me an addict. But I believe that there are other aspects to being an addict that stem from, but are not, this physical allergy. And of course, after 28 years of putting those substances in my body, I acquired a handful of those other addiction-based consequences. Some are behavioral, like lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, blaming, and feeling entitled. And some of them are psychological, as in obsessive thinking about food or my weight, or my body-dysmorphia.

I have been able to keep an eye on, deal with, and transform the behavioral consequences by having kept my strict eating boundaries over the years. But the psychological ones live on in me in varying states of dormancy. I don’t think I will ever entirely rid myself of them.

Honestly, I don’t think an extra day or two of “chips and ice cream” had any real or noticeable affect on my body. After all, my boundaries are not just about food choices, but are also about when, and how much I eat. I have strict portion control, whether it’s my “legal junk food” or a pork chop and roasted cauliflower. Even though I might occasionally indulge in higher calorie options, I don’t binge. Ever.

But it still messed with my mind. And that is important to note, because part of having my eating under control is having the ability to see clearly the things that are making me unhappy or worried, and to do something about them. My point is that I may be “allowed” to eat “chips and ice cream” every day, but that comes with consequences that I am not a fan of.

This has happened to me many times in the past 11 years. I stopped eating sugar-free, calorie-free condiments. I stopped baking with soy flour or TVP as my base. I cut down on, and eventually gave up, soy nut butter. Even in the past six months, I started substituting an egg for 2 ounces of fatty meats like sausage, because it didn’t feel good that I was eating so much. I didn’t quit eating sausage, just like I am not entirely giving up pork rinds. I just cut back because it was making me sick in the head. I was thinking about my weight all the time.

I’ll be blunt. I haven’t noticed much of a change in my body in the months since I cut back on sausage. But it’s not about my body. It’s about how I feel about my body. And I feel better about my body when I don’t eat as much of certain foods.

Is it purely psychological? Maybe. But I have found that there are psychological things that are worth working through and getting over, and there are psychological things that are better to simply accept and adapt to. And frankly, limiting the amount of sausage or pork rinds I eat just makes more sense. I want to save the real spiritual work for my relationships with myself and others, not my relationship with pork products.

P.S. I still love you pork products.

When enough becomes too much. (I’m talking about giant fruit.)

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that, for me, it is not about my weight. Don’t get me wrong, I am living in a lovely body that I am (usually – damn body dysmorphia) comfortable in. But my weight is not, ultimately, the point for me. This is hard for people to grasp. Some of the ways I eat can be confusing to people. I can think of a few examples, mostly over apples believe it or not, where random people told me point blank to my face that what I was doing was “cheating” or “didn’t make any sense.”

When I eat an apple, it can be any size. I can only eat one, but it can weigh over a pound. No, that does not mean that I can eat two eight ounce apples. One is one. One eight ounce apple, or one one pound apple are each considered one fruit.

This confuses people. And the reason is because they think I am trying to deal with my weight. (For the most part, people can’t fathom why anyone would manage their food, if it didn’t have to do with weight.) They are thinking in terms of calories. They are thinking I am “on a diet” and that choosing an apple that weighs over a pound must be cheating. 

But what I am really dealing with, of course, are my eating disorders. And sometimes a giant fruit makes me feel safe. Because when I was eating compulsively, along with a general craving for sugar and carbohydrates, there was a constant sense of missing out. I didn’t just want a cookie. I wanted all the cookies. Not just in that moment because I was hungry, or craving. There was an obsession to “own” food. There was a kind of aching fear that I would not be the one to eat something. (That’s not a joke. And it sounds funny when I write it, but I promise it’s not.) As if there were not an unlimited supply of cookies. It was as if I were afraid there would not be enough for me.

Eating a giant apple makes me feel like I’m getting enough. It makes me feel nourished and taken care of. Without having to eat all of the apples in the world.

Now something has started to happen in the past few years. I have started thinking that giant fruits are too much. Too much food! (Huh?!?!?! I know!!! I looked for pods in the basement too. No, it’s really just me.) I never thought I could think there would ever be enough food, let alone too much.

I’m not saying I will never eat another apple that weighs more than a pound. I almost certainly will. If I need some comfort. Or if I am feeling particularly hungry, as happens from time to time. But there is some peace in knowing that I can be satisfied with an average apple, or 8 ounces of berries. There is a little extra cushion of comfort knowing that less is still more than enough. 

Historically, I have always wanted more. A large drink is better than a small. Two tea bags are better than one. You name it, bigger was better. Getting my eating under control and coming to a place where my food was enough was a miracle. So It’s funny to come to a point in my life where I can see “enough” cross into “too much.”

I like it, but it’s a little scary. I’m boldly going where no man, (alright, fine, plenty of normal people have gone there…) where have never gone before. 

Look, the reality of writing this may scare me into looking for a cantaloupe bigger than my head so I can have half for breakfast. And that’s ok too. Two steps forward, one step back is the dance of life. (Cha cha cha.) But knowing that I have reached this new place around food, even after 10 years of food boundaries, is a little more peace. And peace is one area of my life where I will always think more is better. 

The willingness to be willing is the beginning of change 

I used to weigh myself once a month, on the first. Only on the first. Because it was a good way to keep an eye on my weight, without the obsession of getting on the scale every day. Or multiple times a day. People with eating and body image disorders can become obsessed with the scale. I was one of them before I put boundaries around my eating. I would get on the scale constantly, looking for the secret recipe for weight loss. Was I down a pound in the last 2 hours? What had I done? Could I replicate it? 

It was insanity. I was treating it like science and wishing for it to work like magic. Needless to say, it was neither.

When I quit smoking, I gained at least 30 pounds. Almost certainly more, but I stopped weighing myself. It was devastating to me. I lived in fear of stepping on the scale. It haunted me constantly. Not just around the first, but for the whole month. I started to obsess about how I could stop the weight gain, and lose what I had gained, within days of weighing myself. It was never over.

I started to feel the same crazy I had when I was eating compulsively. I wanted something to work. Anything! I wanted some sort of magic.

So my friend who helps me make decisions about my food and my weight told me to stop weighing myself. She didn’t want me to make myself miserable. My job was to keep my food boundaries, and not focus on my weight. 

Now, it’s almost 4 years since I quit smoking. And I have lost what seems to be most of the weight I gained. I don’t know, because I haven’t gotten on a scale in 2 1/2 years. 

It makes sense for me to get back on the scale. But I’m scared. The truth is, that experience scarred me. 

I was angry at life. I was angry that I did the “right” thing by quitting smoking, and I was punished with the worst possible thing that could happen to a former fat girl. I gained weight with no relation to what I was eating or how much I was moving. It made me feel crazy and desperate. It triggered all of my body image disorders. It was hell.

But now, I think I should start weighing myself again monthly. And that means having a conversation with my friend about it. And I don’t want to. I’m worried. And it makes me feel a little nauseous. 

The truth is, what if it’s not enough? What if the number just makes me feel fat and gross? What if I hate myself all over again?

But I guess I am telling you this so I can keep moving forward. When I put it out there, I can be responsible for it. I need to out myself so I take some action. And so I don’t keep all if this fear bouncing around in my head. 

I don’t know when I will have this conversation with my friend. I don’t know when I will be ready. The point, I guess, is I’m getting ready. And it’s that, the willingness to be willing, that is the beginning of change. 

I prefer flow to puches, but I’ll go or roll, as the situation dictates.

There’s a saying among people who keep the same food boundaries I do. (If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of sayings among the people who keep the same food boundaries that I do.) A day when everything goes my way and I keep my food boundaries is a great day. A day when nothing goes my way and I keep my food boundaries is a miracle.

I have a lot of miracles. It’s a nice feeling. That is not to say that things aren’t going well for me. They are. But so few days are without some sort of hiccup.

One of the things I had to learn early when I stopped eating sugar and eating compulsively was to go with the flow. Or, on a particularly bad day, roll with the punches.

There were things that I didn’t understand before I got sober from sugar. I didn’t know that I was making life harder by fighting what was, instead of accepting it and adjusting myself. I refused to go with the flow, or roll with the punches. I spent almost all of my time either drowning, or getting the crap beaten out of me.

In self-help books and top-whatever-number-habits-of-whatever-kind-of-people essays, there is a lot of talk about planning. Have a goal. Have a plan. I wholeheartedly agree. Having a plan is great. But having a plan is the easy part. There is something else that is often talked about, but harder to do. Having the ability to be flexible when some part (or all) of your plan falls through.

When I was eating compulsively, I felt like “fairness” equaled Life going according to the plan I made. And when it didn’t go that way, I was angry at Life. Because I had zero skills for adapting and adjusting.

And I believed that people who were happy, well adjusted and peaceful were people whose plans always went smoothly. I was fighting the way things were because I thought the way things were “supposed to be” was the way I had planned them.

What I would eventually come to understand was that happy people were people who understood that the way things were was really the way they were “supposed to be.” Happy people didn’t fight what was, in order to get reality to coincide with their plan, but adjusted (or scrapped) their plan to coincide with the reality.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was going to start eating more raw vegetables because it helps me keep a tighter hold on my body-dysmorphia. And I did just that. It was great. I felt great. And then I started working, and the days that I have to eat a meal at work, I only have 15 minutes. I can’t eat a one-pound salad in fifteen minutes. It’s just not physically possible for me. So I have to make smaller, denser meals when I have to eat during a shift.

Now I could fight the reality if I wanted to. I could become resentful of my job because I only get a 15-minute break. I could get resentful of my food boundaries because they are inconvenient, and wonder why I can’t just skip it on the days I work.

Or I could choose the softer option. I can adjust to the situation as it is. I can be grateful that I have boundaries around my food, and that I have a job, and that I can take care of my meals in 15 minutes on workdays by making them smaller and denser. I can go with the flow. And I am grateful to have the clarity to see that eating smaller meals is definitely an example of “going with the flow.” I reserve rolling with the punches for the big life-and-death stuff.

It’s not the salad, so much as the principle…

I have been eating a lot more raw vegetables for several weeks. I have been having big salads at least once, and often twice a day. Colorful, delicious arugula salads with radishes, onion, mushrooms, bean sprouts, cucumber, and a handful of steamed broccoli and canned artichoke hearts.

I haven’t generally thought much about raw versus cooked vegetables, but I have noticed that my body dysmorphia is in what seems to be a dormant phase. And it makes me wonder if the two are connected.

I eat my vegetables every day. I have done so for over 9 years. I have been regularly consuming fresh produce like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, onions, bok choi, Swiss chard, cabbage and green beans. Mostly roasted or sautéed. But since I have started eating so much salad, I have been feeling significantly calmer about what I look like.

And I have not lost weight. That’s what makes it interesting.

I have questions about why. Is it chemical, and physiological? Is it all psychological? Is it a combination? Or is the whole thing just coincidence? Am I just in a good phase regarding my body image issues?

There is a part of me that wants to say that it doesn’t matter if the two are connected. What matters is that I am mostly well now. But ultimately, it does matter. It is the difference between peace and torment. And I need to admit that I do not believe it is a coincidence. But I don’t want to, because I love eating lots of cooked vegetables. And if I admit that is having an effect on my mood or my happiness, it means I will have to moderate how much of my food is cooked.

I am a compulsive eater. I might have my eating under control, but I will never be neutral around food. If I ever had the ability to be indifferent, that ship has sailed. And then it sank. I like my food, and I like it decadent.

It’s not that my big salads are not delicious. They are wonderful. I love every bite. But I can often forget how much I will enjoy them when I am not in the actual process of eating one. There is a kind of mental block I have around salad. And I know that I am not the only one. I have talked about this with lots of other people.

And there is that part of me that doesn’t want any more limits. Whenever I think it might be time to make a change, my first reaction is always to be a crybaby-whiner. But I already gave up sugar and grains, and I quit smoking, and I limit my coffee, and severely limit my diet soda. Don’t take anything else away from me! I mean, they are just sautéed Brussels sprouts? Can you really find fault with Brussels sprouts? Seriously?! (Can you hear the whining?)

The first thing I have to remember is that moderation does not have to mean The End. I do not have to give up my Brussels sprouts forever and always. I can limit them to, say, three or four times a week. But the more important thing I have to remember is that I don’t have to do anything. It’s one of my Jedi Mind Tricks. It takes away a lot of my initial instinct to rebel when I remind myself that I’m a big girl who lives her own life and makes her own decisions. If I want to fight and make a fuss, I can eat cooked vegetables every day on principle. Who is going to stop me? But just like every other action I take, I will reap what I sow. There is no escaping that.

In the end, I always want the gifts. If limiting my cooked vegetables means more days of peace and sanity, I will choose that. It’s how I roll. But I don’t always choose that first. Sometimes I take longer to get out of my own way than others. But ultimately, I want what I want. And I have learned over the years that I want sustainable happiness more than I want instant gratification.

I am still interested in the ways you take care of yourself and the gifts you get from not harming yourself with food. Use the hashtag #betterthanchocolate and share your experiences. I want to hear from you!

Also, follow me on twitter @onceafatgirl5.

And please feel free to follow, share and repost my blog!

I prefer shopping alone, but my body dysmorphia insists on tagging along.

Today was my cousin’s wedding shower. It was a lot of fun! And I love celebrating love! I am a huge fan of love!


I got a new dress for the shower. Nothing too fancy. A sleeveless linen dress with a tasteful abstract pattern. Very flattering. Very spring-bridal-shower-appropriate.

But when I was shopping for it, I was terrified. Of what, you ask? Of being a size 14 (American).

This is a very specific, very strange fear. 

First, I want to say that there would be nothing wrong with being a size 14. It is a perfectly lovely size. 

But I am not a size 14. I am a size 10. And I can’t seem to grasp it. Even when I am looking at my body in the mirror. Even when I have just tried on a size 10 dress and it fit. And looked great! I even brought two of the same dress into the dressing room, one a 10 and one a 12, thinking that the 10 surely wouldn’t fit. And then I worried that even the 12 would be too small.

I also ordered a dress online for another upcoming wedding, and they gave measurements in the description to determine what size to buy. My measurements coincided with a size Large. And yet I really wanted to order the X-Large. Because I was positive that a Large would be too small on me. And when it came, I still tried it on expecting it to be too small for me. They gave me the measurements! I didn’t believe them!

This is body dysmorphia. This is how sick I can be with my body image disorders. There is nothing wrong with my body. But my head is a disaster area!

I am grateful to have my eating under control. If I didn’t, I can’t imagine the kinds of torture I would be putting myself through. At least right now I don’t have to obsess over what to eat, when to eat it, where to eat and in front of whom. Especially in order to fit into a dress I already fit into. After all, with all the clarity I have because I am not high on sugar or preoccupied with the next thing I will put in my mouth (or refrain from putting in my mouth), I still don’t know what size I am. Even when I am actually wearing that size at the moment.

My body dysmorphia is one of the things I have agreed to make friends with. Not good friends, mind you. But I choose to tolerate it. Because I am pretty sure it will never go away. (Though I am always grateful when it is in a dormant phase.) So I will take too many clothes into the dressing room. And I will be afraid of being sizes I am not. And I will not believe the measurements posted in the description. But I will still look just as good in the dress, once I manage to get it on. So there’s that. 

What is more beautiful than a woman in love?

I write a lot about my body image issues in this blog. I write about my body-dysmorphia, and my insecurities. I have even written about how I feel less attractive living in The South, or in the suburbs of Chicago, because strangers (men) are not particularly forthcoming with gentlemanly admiration, like I got used to in New York City. And, of course, I am heavier than I like.

It’s coming up on 3 years. 3 years is a long time to hover somewhere between misery and meh about your body. Though, I lived in overwhelming hatred of my body from around the time I was 7 until I was 28, so I suppose meh isn’t so bad. But once upon a time, I had years when I loved my body. I woke up every day just plain liking it. Thinking it was fantastic.

So right, for almost three years, not so much. Except for one crazy exception. When I am dancing. When I dance, I think my body is gorgeous. Not just meh. Not just not terrible. Really amazingly beautiful. It’s not about what clothes I am wearing. (Today was faded yoga pants that are fraying at the inner seams and a t-shirt with a cartoon of a turtle on its back that says “AWKWARD.”) It doesn’t matter if I am sweating. (And if I am dancing, I am sweating. And red-faced.) I look at myself and I think Hot damn, I am f***ing sexy!

I don’t know why it is that way. In some ways, you would think that it would make me feel worse, fatter, less attractive. Jiggling and bouncing around. But no. I think I’m the cat’s pajamas when I dance. I’m a really good dancer, which probably helps. And maybe it has something to do with the cardio of dancing burning off stress hormones.

But the other thing that occurs to me is that maybe, just maybe, my body looks so beautiful to me because of what dancing fundamentally is for me. It’s a celebration! Not just at a wedding, or a party. Any time I dance, I am celebrating my existence. And that existence is manifested in my body. I am expressing joy and gratitude. Dancing, for me, is about love. How much I love life and the infinite experiences of living. And what is more beautiful than a woman in love?

Walking my mean dogs

I went for a walk yesterday. It was nice. I haven’t gotten to walk much in the past year.


I don’t miss living in New York City, but I miss various lifestyle options I had there. New York is a city of walkers. If it’s closer than a mile, you may as well walk there. If it’s a beautiful day, you may as well walk there. If you have the time, you may as well walk there.

Here, in the suburbs of Chicago, I haven’t had as much of a chance to walk. 

This winter was so long. It’s already mid April and we have only had a handful of nice days. 

And people don’t expect me to want to walk. Regularly, my boyfriend or neighbors will tell me to call if I want a ride, and then be surprised when I go wherever, or return from wherever, never having called them. People around me are always taken aback by my choosing to walkover getting a ride.

For me, walking is a great way to keep my eating disorders at bay. Especially my body dysmorphia. 

My body dysmorphia is dormant right now. I am not in the throes of hating my body. But where I am is a place of resignation. I don’t look at my body and feel content. I still don’t love my size. I wish I would lose this 30 lbs I gained when I quit smoking. But I’m ok. I can be with it.

But I can feel that there is a body image disorder attack in me somewhere. So I am looking forward to being able to walk every day.

When I walk, I do a few things for myself. It’s a kind of meditation for me, so I get my head straight(er). I work off a lot of my stress hormones, so I feel peaceful. It makes me feel like I’m doing something for the health and strength of my body. And it’s exercise, so it lets the bulimic part of me calm the hell down.

I mostly manifested my bulimia through exercise. Though I did have a short (thank God) stint of old fashioned making myself throw up.

I keep a watch on myself when it comes to exercise. When I start asking myself how many calories I figure I just burned, that’s a glaring red flag. Seriously. A have-a-seat-and-drink-a-diet-soda-because-that’s-enough-for-today red flag.

When I was fat, people treated me as if I didn’t care what I looked like. They seemed to assume that if I were really ashamed (and a lot of people thought I should be ashamed), I would do something about my weight. But I was always that ashamed. I cared so much it was killing me inside. 

And now that I live in a healthy weighted body, people seem to think I shouldn’t care so much about what I look like. But I do. Because no matter how I have learned to take care of myself, and lovingly put boundaries around my eating, I am still that same person.

It’s funny, because people encourage others to work out. Excessive working out is often praised. And I truly believe that people who work out because they love their body and want to nurture it are praise-worthy. Same for people who do it for love of sport. Or any kind of love. 

I exercised because of hate. I hated my body. I hated the way it looked. I hated how I couldn’t stop eating and I wanted to hide that fact from the rest of the world. I exercised to the point of exhaustion and injury. I was punishing my body for not looking like society told me it should look like. What society told me it could look like if I were disciplined enough. What it would look like if I were a “Good Girl.”

I had to give up those notions, but I am still sick around those things. I will always be sick. I have to actively keep from killing myself with exercise. Just like I have to actively keep from killing myself with sugar and compulsive eating. And I have to remember to accept myself the way I am right now in the moment. So I don’t abuse my body.

It’s OK. As problems go, it’s not the worst. I have a solution for my eating disorders. And along with that, a way of life that keeps me happy, sane and well adjusted. And now that the weather is breaking, I will get to walk, and keep my body image issues on a short leash. Like the mean dogs that they are.

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