Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “dismorphia”

My head is midnight in a dangerous neighborhood

Well, there’s another year gone. And I don’t mean 2013. Though, that too, obviously.

January 2nd is my double anniversary. 8 years ago I stopped eating sugar, grains and starches and put boundaries around my eating. And 2 years ago I started writing this blog. So there are 2 things I want to talk about. But the theme is getting out of my head.

First, writing. And this blog. And how my life has seemed to change at warp speed since I started writing it.

I love the saying “I’m only as sick as my secrets.” Secrets are burdens. They are shame. They have this magic power. But it’s black magic. Dark magic. Secrets take my worries and doubts and fears, and amplify them. Secrets limit my options and play every story through to the worst possible conclusion. Secrets make the worst possible conclusion the only possible conclusion. Secrets make the thoughts that live in my head as real and inescapable as the chair I’m sitting on to write this. Secrets cause me to manifest the very things I am most terrified of. I know this. I have known this for a long time.

But then 2 years ago I started this blog. And I started to realize that there have been things that have lived in my head, and festered and swelled, that I didn’t even think of as secrets. That I didn’t know had grown toxic. Septic. I thought they were simply things I would rather not say out loud.

But it is, of course, the saying out loud that shifts everything. That gives me proper perspective and makes everything right-sized again. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

I was an actor for a while. And a singer. I could get up on stage in front of a packed theater and not think twice about being nervous. But my knees often shake if I go up to sing karaoke in a neighborhood bar. In other words, I am better in front of a big crowd.

This blog has been about performing in front of a big crowd. I’m not telling my family or my friends something (though they are reading it too), I am telling nameless, faceless strangers.

Two years ago I made a decision. That I would tell a bunch of nameless, faceless strangers a bunch of things I would rather not say out loud. And the course of my life has shifted more drastically than I could ever have imagined. I have changed the way I thought about myself, my love, and my worth. And I have continually taken risks that I never would have taken on December 31, 2011. And the rewards have been beyond my wildest dreams. Love, adventure, travel, freedom, security. That is what has happened just from getting the ideas out of my head and on a page.

But then there’s 8 years of dealing with the food. And the importance of the actual boundaries. And what they mean in practical terms.

See there’s this thing that I have heard that upsets me deeply. That it is “normal” for people with eating disorders to have relapses. (I’m looking at you, “Psychology Today.”) And I have even heard that it is inevitable. And it upsets me for 2 reasons. The first is for myself. It fills me with a sense of fear and dread. What don’t I know that will send me into a tail-spin? What is my future going to be like if I relapse? Will I lose everything? My self-respect? My relationship? Not to mention the body…

But then I also fear that hearing that will give people who are suffering from eating disorders a serious case of the f***-its. I don’t want to spread the message that it’s normal or inevitable to relapse into bingeing or purging. I want to spread the message that there are ways to keep your eating under control. That while I don’t believe there is a cure for eating disorders, there is hope. That there are ways to keep them on a short leash.

And now, I’m not dead yet, so I don’t know what will happen in the future, but for 8 consecutive years, I have maintained control over my eating. And I am very much interested in continuing this streak. I do not want to go into relapse. And I work every day, in small but significant ways, to remember that I have eating disorders, and to renew my commitment to keep them under control.

When I hear that relapse is normal, and I start to feel anxious and frightened about the unforeseeable future and what will happen to me “when” I have a relapse, I remember that I have boundaries around my eating. That one meal at a time, I can maintain those boundaries. That people have maintained boundaries around their eating for multiple decades. That I don’t have to believe everything I read about eating disorders. Even if it comes from a respected, major journal.

My boundaries are not wishy-washy concepts and ideas about “moderation” and “satisfaction.” I’m talking about clearly defined rules. I’m talking about definitions. I’m talking about quantifiable, measurable, and specific. I am either within my boundaries or I am not. There are very few times when I have to “use my judgment” to figure out if something is within my boundaries. There are times, but they are rare. And I have a friend I get to ask if I feel uncomfortable about making the decision myself.

If you are wondering why I would possibly feel uncomfortable about making a decision about food for myself, let me explain (or remind you) that I weighed 300 lbs at 19 years old. My judgment about food and eating is…well, just plain bad. This is why I have rules and boundaries.

I also want to clarify that I am certainly not implying that there is shame in relapse. Everybody has their own story. Their own life. Their own journey. I am sick when it comes to food too. I am not immune to relapse. If I were, this idea of it being normal would not scare the bajeezus out of me, like it does. I just don’t think it’s fair to those of us who are suffering from eating disorders to hear that we are hopeless. That hurting and punishing ourselves with food is “normal.” Because that is what we do when we act out with food. We hurt ourselves.

Now in this past 8 years, there have been things that have happened in my head that might be considered “relapse.” For example, I have had spells of overwhelming body-dismorphia. Where I look at myself in the mirror and I see a hugely fat woman. And my rational brain cannot comprehend the truth. That I am in a healthy, smaller than average body. Or I have become “afraid” of certain foods that are well within my eating boundaries. And I have stopped eating them because the thought of them made me nauseous. Or sometimes literally made my cry.

But that was in my head. It had nothing to do with how or when or how much I ate. The food has been under control the whole time. And I know that it has. I’m clear that it has. Because all I have to do is ask myself if I have broken my rules or stepped out of my boundaries. And the answer is no. No I have not.

For me, relapse is about the food. Because the food is the one thing that I can control. My actions. When, where, and how my hand goes to my mouth. I cannot make my eating disorders disappear. I cannot just eat like a “normal” person. I have made the decision to accept that I am not now, and never will be normal around food. But I don’t have to binge. Or starve. Or restrict. Or vomit. Or use laxatives. Because I have a definition for “binge.” And one for “starve.” And “restrict.” Because these things are not gray areas for me. These are not merely ideas. I make sure they have strict grounding in reality.

In other words, I make sure these things don’t just live in my head. That like my secrets and the things I would rather not say out loud, that what goes on with my food sees the light of day. My head can be midnight in a dangerous neighborhood. I make sure not to wander off alone.


Putting the ‘fun’ in functioning like a normal human being

This is the first weekend in long time (6 weeks? 7?) that my boyfriend and I didn’t have any obligations to take care of. I didn’t have to jump out of bed and get ready for the day. I got to lay around until whenever this morning. (Whenever was about 7:30) I had a leisurely breakfast. I took my time cleaning up the kitchen. I threw a couple of loads of laundry in.

The last couple of months have been exciting. It has been great to travel. It has been fun to see friends. To celebrate life and love. To dance. To experience new places and things. I have enjoyed it very much.

And I am also positively loving this lazy day at home with my boyfriend.

One of the best parts about having my eating under control, is that I can enjoy just general life. (Frankly, the very best part about having my eating under control is having my eating under control, but anyway…)

I was basically unhappy when I was eating compulsively, but not just about being fat, and food obsessed, and ashamed. I was also never satisfied. With anything. I would have been easily angered and frustrated by all the traveling I enjoyed so much this past month. I would have been devastated by the smallest hiccup in any of the plans. The truck breaking down. My flight from New York being delayed. I would have been so worried about embarrassing myself and trying to be, look and act perfect that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the wedding.

And then this morning, I would have been some nonsensical mix of anxious and bored. Or I would have spent my entire day doing nothing (high on sugar), and then have been humiliated at night when I did nothing all day.

The other thing that I sometimes forget is that when I ate compulsively, I never slept at night. I stayed up until at least 1 or 2 in the morning, if not later. If I had to be awake in the morning, I often overslept. If I didn’t have to wake up, I would easily sleep until 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

I hated the daytime. People were doing useful and productive things in the daytime. I wanted to eat and smoke and read comic books and not have anything be expected of me.

I am so the opposite of that now. If I am up past 10 pm, I am exhausted! I love the morning. I love breakfast and coffee and sunshine and making the bed and straightening up the house from the night before.

When I was eating compulsively I lived in terror of missing out on all the fun. But I never really enjoyed the “fun”. Now, I show up for what is going on, and I usually have fun, whatever that is. Whether it’s driving for 12 hours, dancing at a wedding, or laying on the couch reading and drinking coffee.

And finally, there is one more thing I want to talk about today. At the very end of September, I spoke to my friend who helps me make decisions about my food, and she recommended that I stop weighing myself on the first of the month for a while. She understood that it was torture for me. She said that as long as I was keeping my boundaries around my food, I was doing the right thing. And that there was no reason to punish myself by weighing myself. This is what I’m doing for now. The time when I begin to weigh myself on the first of the month will probably begin again at some point, but that point is not now.

Well… since I stopped weighing myself a little over a month ago, my clothes have been getting bigger. Around mid-September I bought some new jeans. One pair that I bought was a size 8 and fit. One pair was a size 6, and I could get them on, but they did not fit. Last week I noticed that the 8s were falling off of me, and today I am wearing the 6s.They fit.

Everything in me wants to get on the scale. Wants to see the number. Wants to see exactly how much weight I have lost in the past 2 months.

But the truth is, that will only lead to eating disorder thinking and I know it. I will not be happy with the number. Whatever it may be. I will want to lose more. More quickly. Now.

And the other truth is that I do not think it is a coincidence that I started to lose weight after I stopped weighing myself. I have not been eating any lighter. (If you didn’t know, I got a deep-fryer!) I believe that fear of my weight kept me stuck. I believe that the obsession with my weight wouldn’t allow me to release it. In other words, I couldn’t let it go until I let it go. I don’t want to think about my weight any more than a body-dysmorphic girl with eating disorders has to. And insisting that I get on the scale, when I have been given a loving suggestion not to, is to go looking for pain and drama.

I don’t want to care about my weight. Yes, I want to be healthy. Yes, I want to be sane. Yes, I want to be in a comfortable body. But I want to be free to be comfortable in the body I am in…

Just because it was cute and funny in the afternoon, doesn’t mean it wasn’t actually a nightmare at night

Thursday this past week was the 1st. If you’ve been reading for a while you know the first of the month is “weigh day.”

Since May, when I started to lose the weight I gained from quitting smoking, weigh day has become less and less scary for me.

When I was continually gaining, with seemingly no rhyme or reason, and no correlation to what I was eating, I was constantly afraid. I worried about stepping on the scale no matter how far away it was. I was worried about November 1st on October 2nd.

Just last week I wrote about how I’m not so worried about my weight lately. And that’s true. Even on Wednesday (7/31) I wasn’t worried. Aware, yes. Thrilled about getting on the scale, no. But not worried.

Or so I thought.

Wednesday night I had a crazy nightmare.

First, I started to eat before I weighed myself (which is not something I do in real life. I have my weigh day ritual. I weigh myself bone dry before I so much as take a sip of water and after I *ahem* go to the bathroom.) But then I remembered it was weigh day, so I stopped eating and I ran home. I told a friend who was standing outside my door that I had forgotten to weigh myself as I ran past her. And I downloaded a free app to my bathroom scale that would make it talk to me in the voice of The Cat in the Hat (a la the 1971 animated special. What the hell. It was free.) So I got on the scale and it told me I had lost 4 lbs. “Ho ho! It went in the direction you wanted it to go!” But when I looked down, I noticed that the scale was not flat on the floor. And that my floor was so cluttered with junk that I couldn’t find a flat place to put it. But I finally found a place to put it. Only when I went to step on it, the app kept giving me various menus, and I had to figure out which one was the right one to tell me *my* weight, not somebody else’s.

This absolutely occurs to me as hilarious now. Both ridiculous and humorous. But at the time it was an out-and-out nightmare. I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. And it took a long time for me to get out of bed Thursday morning. I did not want to get on that scale.

But I did. And I lost half a pound. I have lost 6 lbs total in the past 4 months.

It takes a lot of thought management to deal with my body image disorders. And even then there is only so much I can do. I didn’t want to have that nightmare. And it would be ludicrous to blame myself for my subconscious working things out.

Thankfully, there are boundaries in my life. Actions that I take and don’t take. Things that make nightmares and thoughts and wants utterly insignificant.

I weigh myself on the 1st. And only on the 1st. It’s what I do. It doesn’t matter how I feel about it.

I eat within my food boundaries. Always and only. It doesn’t matter if I’m hungry or not. It doesn’t matter how I feel about it.

There is a freedom in that which is counter intuitive. It may seem like a limitation. But what it frees me from is being a slave to my feelings. And having to decipher which of my feelings are real and honorable, and which are my crazy trying to get out. Weighing myself when I have made a commitment to do so makes it go away. I don’t have to second guess myself. I don’t have to wonder if I made the right decision. It doesn’t have to stay with me and haunt me. I can let it go. And it will actually go.

So after I weighed myself Thursday morning, I spent the day cooking and packing food within my boundaries to take with me to the airport on my way for a family visit this weekend. I made and packed a full day’s worth of food, even though we should land before lunch and long before dinner. Just in case of delays or unexpected trouble. Because whatever my weight, or my situation, or how my plans work out, or don’t, there are still boundaries to keep. And 3 meals every day to be relished and savored.

I know that all things are temporary. And I am looking forward to the time when my body becomes a non-issue. Both consciously and subconsciously. But until then, I am grateful I always have rules. Rules that I follow no matter how I feel. Clear and simple.

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?!?!

If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. You just might not realize how good looking you are…

About 2 years ago, when I was skinny (and didn’t know it) my mom came to visit me in New York City. When she saw me her first reaction was “You’re so skinny!” And not in a you’re so beautiful way. In a should I be concerned for your health? way.

I, of course, scoffed. I was not skinny. I was thin, certainly. But not terribly so. I was regular. She was just used to me being about 10 lbs heavier.

Later, as we were standing in front of the restaurant waiting for my stepfather to join us after parking the car, my mom watched a woman walk by. She made a funny face when the woman was past and said something like, “Oh. Does everybody here just look like you?”

I think my response was something like, “Sorta. It’s New York City.”

I am bringing this up because until a few days ago, I was feeling big and fat and uncomfortable in my skin. But for the past few days I have been down south with my boyfriend again. And a lot of my body image issues have calmed down. I mean I look in the mirror and I am not any smaller. But I am not embarrassed. Or ashamed. I feel normal. Better than that. Beautiful. Sexy.

Of course, I am spending my time with a man who thinks I am incredibly beautiful and sexy. And I am sure that that helps.

But I knew that he felt that way about me when I was in New York. And I am in love with him. I was not walking around the city looking for male attention. I am perfectly clear that I am madly in love and don’t want anyone else. And yet even knowing that the man I love is deeply attracted to me, I felt fat. Big and gross and ugly. Or maybe just not good enough.

One thing I will say about New York City, often people don’t notice that I have special food needs when I eat in public. Because almost every New York woman is on a diet of some kind. Low fat. No fat. No carb. Just a salad. Dressing on the side. Is there oil in that? Can I get it with no oil? No potatoes, no toast. Can I get tomatoes instead of potatoes? Whites only. No skin. Steamed. Is it baked or fried? How big is it? Just one, two plates.

Women in New York City are hyper-aware of their food. Because they are hyper-aware of their bodies.

New York is filled with thin people. So many, that skinny seems to be average. I think it is self-perpetuating. You look around and see that the majority of people are thin, you work hard to stay thin. The woman you are looking at in comparison to you is looking at you. You are thin, she needs to stay thin.

And it is a culture of judgment. Everyone is being critiqued on their appearance at all times. Usually silently. But it’s around. It’s almost as if it is in the air. There’s an ad that was up in the subway for a while. “New Yorkers. Tolerant of your beliefs. Judgmental of your shoes.” It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.

Please don’t misunderstand. I love New York City. I love the fashion. And the energy. I love the people. And I even love some aspects of the “judging appearances” lifestyle. I love the parade we put on for each other. It’s a real-life runway show all the time. Love your dress! Fantastic shoes! Where did you get that bag? Fabulous!

And I am the one with the issues. I have the eating disorders, and the body image problems. They live in my own brain. I am the one judging my body and my beauty. And my worth based on my body and my beauty. Nobody else gets to dictate how well I love myself.

But being away has me see that the city has its stresses for a girl like me. That it makes it harder for me to love myself the way I am.

I guess more about my body image disorders will become clear as time goes by. I have the whole rest of a life to deal with them. And get to know them better. And I’m sure that they will morph and change as I do. But it’s nice to be in a place, and a time where I can enjoy my body as it is, and not have it be an issue.

Now that I’m normal around food, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat…

I want to talk about my body dismorphia again this week. Because I don’t have it today. And it really seems gone. Like *poof*. Like magic.

The first of the month is just days away. That’s the day I weigh myself. And I will weigh myself April 1st. And I am not worried. I feel beautiful. I think I look great.

Sure I could freak a little if I gained more weight. But I’m pretty sure I would get over it pretty quickly. And I am not filled with anxiety anticipating getting on the scale. Knowing weigh day is coming is not eating away at me like it has for almost a year.

I’m in love. With a man who thinks my body is beautiful. Right now. Not skinny. And I’m happy. Stupid happy. If I were not-in-love Kate looking at me this happy, I would make myself gag. Seriously. It’s ridiculous how doe-eyed I am. How filled with benevolence toward all of mankind.

That is the thing about my eating and body image disorders. They are excellent at occurring like they have disappeared. Especially when I’m super-duper crazy happy. Like now. Don’t be fooled. I am not fooled.

It’s imperative that I remember that just because I am happy and in love, it does not follow that I am better. Or normal. Around food or my body. Being in a good mood does not make me cured. Love doesn’t take away my eating disorders. I am just as sick around food and my body as I have ever been. And this could even be even more dangerous. It’s not, but it could be. If I’m not careful.

I feel normal. Or more like super-human. Eat uncontrollably? When I’m so happy? When the world is all sparkles and tickley and pink? Why would I? How could I?

But I know. Of course I could. And I know I would kill this buzz by acting like I’m normal. I know I could hate myself in an instant by acting like I’m neutral around food all of a sudden. It wouldn’t take much. A chocolate easter egg. One of those little itty bitty ones. Wrapped in pretty, shiny gold foil. A little bite. A little extra. A little taste. And I’m royally and undeniably f***ed. Just so we’re clear.

Many times I have been told that I don’t look like I need to put boundaries around my food. Of course I don’t look like I’m sick with food. I look the way I do because I put boundaries around my food. My default setting is a 300 lb girl who can’t stop eating.

I don’t keep boundaries around my food when I’m fat, until I get thin. I don’t keep boundaries around my food while I’m unhappy, until I get happy. I don’t do it when things are not going my way, until circumstances are better. I do it always. Under any and all conditions. No matter what.

And here’s another thing. I have a brand new reason to maintain my boundaries. One that I haven’t had before. If I pick up sugar, grains, or starch, or start eating compulsively, a really important part of the woman who my boyfriend fell in love with goes away. And so does a part of the woman who was ready and able to fall in love with him. I don’t do what I do for him. God knows I did it for years as a single woman. For myself. But now there is someone else I want to take care of myself for. I want to like myself when I’m with him. I want to know that I have integrity when I talk to him. I want to know that I have been treating my body with respect when it is in his arms. I want to be present for him. I want to be available for our relationship. I want to make sure he stays as important to me as he is right now.

Because if I were eating compulsively, I would care about food first. More than myself. More than him. More than love. Cake would trump my relationship. And that is not hyperbole.

I am not telling you this because I feel like I’m in danger right now. I am not actually worried about crossing my boundaries. I’m telling you to keep myself out of danger. I’m telling you because I have to regularly remind myself that I have food and body issues. Every day, in fact. It’s a preemptive measure. And especially right now, when I “don’t seem like the kind of girl who needs to keep boundaries around her food”, it’s in my best interest to remember that this beautiful, happy, glowing, beaming, stunning, effervescent, specimen of radiant joy and serenity is a 300 lb, binge-eating, laxative-abusing, 14-miles-a-day-running, bulimic. Who hasn’t had to do that stuff for so long that she had time and space and peace enough to fall in love.

That actions have consequences, and other things that piss me off

I’m having an interesting week with my body. I have been continuing to think it’s beautiful. Loving the way it curves. Really enjoying how big and round my butt is. No seriously. I’ve never had a butt before. I carried all my weight up front when I was fat. I’m not trying to escape my body. I’m not disowning or disparaging it.

But then, weigh day is coming up again. Like it does once a month. So I am attempting to stay off the roller coaster that has me worry myself sick, and then be devastated by any weight gain anyway. Even just writing this I am starting to panic.

I want to start being in control of my body again. I want it to go back to making some semblance of sense. Eat less, walk more, lose weight. Or at least even out. At least stop gaining.

I wonder how much of the panic and unhappiness is the lack of control. How much is about feeling crazy. And wanting to explain all the time that I haven’t eaten sugar! I’m not eating compulsively! I haven’t done anything wrong!

Because I feel like I look like I’ve been doing something wrong.

When I was eating compulsively, it felt like a moral issue. Eating the way I did felt wrong. Shameful. If I were a good person, I would be able to control my eating. And that I couldn’t control my eating, that I was weak and pathetic, or just plain bad, was written all over my body. And here I am, being incredibly “good”. In fact, some people think my boundaries are “extreme”. And I feel like my body is saying I’ve been bad. I feel like I have gained more weight than is natural.

Of course, it is natural. It is what happens when people stop smoking. And I was a heavy smoker. My poor body surely doesn’t know what the hell is going on. It’s doing the best it can. It’s built to survive. That’s how life works. It’s the nature of evolution. The body that is best equipped to survive goes on to produce survival-equipped offspring. Humans have been around for a while now. So it’s probably safe to assume that the human body has learned a few tricks. And I’m sure my body is doing its best to keep me alive.

But that feels so incredibly unfair. I want everybody to know it’s not my fault!

But that, of course, is not exactly true either. I was a heavy smoker for 20 years. I can’t expect that doing a drug 20 times a day for most of that 20 years isn’t going to affect my body. It’s like saying “I wish actions didn’t have consequences.” Um…Ok, Kate. Good luck with that. And wouldn’t I be pissed if my body didn’t get healthier because I quit. How interesting that I want it to all work out the way I want.

But I have also been thinking about beauty culture in America. And how standards have gotten more and more narrow throughout my lifetime. And that as we as a population have continued to get fatter, we have glorified skinnier and skinnier woman. Women who are so skinny that their bodies stop working. Women who only exist in photographs, because even the model was “too fat” to represent the clothing line, shoe line, makeup line.

I keep saying that the amount of weight I have gained (27.4 lbs from June 1st to Feb 1st) is a lot for a girl with eating and body image disorders. I have just exclaimed to you that it’s not fair! I weighed 300 lbs. I completely changed my life to get into a healthy, beautiful body. I did my time. I paid my dues. I should be exempt from this.

But I am not the only one who is in a body they wish were different. I am not the only one who feels less than. Who feels judged. Who feels her body isn’t “perfect enough to be beautiful.” Welcome to being a woman in media saturated 2013 in America, Kate.

I never wonder why I bother maintaining my food boundaries. Even in the face of gaining so much weight. My weight certainly has something to do with why I keep boundaries around my eating, but I mostly do it to stay sane and clear-headed. I do it so I can keep on liking and respecting myself. I do it because it affords me dignity. I know that food makes me crazy. That I am bad at life when I am eating sugar. Plus I know that this weight gain has to stop at some point. Where as if I were eating compulsively, it would never stop. Screw 9 months. The way I eat when I’m eating compulsively, I can gain 30 lbs in two weeks.

So let me tell you what I would like. I would like to stop pitying myself. I would like to stop comparing myself. Even just to myself a year ago. I’d like to be grateful that I quit smoking with ease. That I have not struggled or relapsed. I would like to be grateful that I have gotten through the hardest part. And most importantly, I would like to remember that I am incredibly lucky to have a solution to my food problems. When so many women don’t. And that while my food is under control, I stand a chance to love my body. And myself. And my life. While so many women can’t.

I don’t know what will happen this week. Or on weigh day. And I don’t want to be too hard on myself. Because I have a serious problem with eating and body image disorders. Which is not trivial, or shameful, or something I can just “get over.” And I do a fantastic job of living in the solution every day. But I want to have a good attitude. I want gratitude and humility. I want to love my life the way it is. And I want to be an example of that. Of self-love and grace. So I’m telling you now, that what I want is to love my body as much on weigh day as I do today. And maybe, just maybe, because I have told you, I can have that.

My other body is a Porsche

The few weeks before this week were filled with all sorts of insights and revelations. They were exciting and moving. But, as happens in life, the new and exciting makes way for the practical. Don’t get me wrong. Things really have changed. And I have used my new information to make some changes. But life goes on. It’s like that Zen saying. Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

I have been making a point to be in my body. To feel every feeling and experience every sensation. The way my clothes feel. The way my stomach feels after my meals. What it feels like when I wake up and I’m hungry. The way an emotion registers physically. How I feel in my skin.

I have also been looking at it in the mirror. Not to scrutinize. Not to look at it to make declarations about what “needs work”. I have even chosen not to suck in my stomach. Not to distort or imagine my body in some other form than the one in which it exists.

I have decided to celebrate it. To admire it. To love it. To enjoy it. To enjoy the physical experiences of being alive. Not just the intellectual. To think it’s beautiful. Now. Right this moment. And I do. It’s beautiful. I love it. Most of the time. Which is a pretty good start.

I also changed my Facebook profile picture to one of me in the body I’m in now. (I might change it again. To a different picture of me right now. A friend said it’s cute and pretty, but not very sexy. And, you know…That’s a big part of how I identify myself.)

I hadn’t wanted to change my picture. I hadn’t wanted to exhibit my weight gain. I was thinking I would wait until I at least started to lose weight again. But to intentionally not post a picture of myself the way I look now felt like hiding and manipulating. It felt yucky. I can go many months without changing my picture and not think twice about it. But this time I wanted to specifically not do it. On purpose. So I pulled a Jedi mind trick on myself and changed it anyway.

And it worked. Putting up the new picture eliminated a lot of my worry and anxiety. The truth was out. There was nothing left to struggle against.

I even took some pictures of myself in my sexy underwear. (No! Not for Facebook! I don’t need to be that sexy! Good Lord! Get your mind out of the gutter! They are just for me.) And I’m hot. Seriously. And taking them made me feel hot.

All of these little actions have helped me stop thinking negative thoughts. When I notice myself having a negative thought about my body, I stop having that thought. I cut it off. Like I cut off thoughts about cake. Instead, I have a thought about how beautiful and sexy my body is. I create the new thought.

It’s something I understand now. That if I do something, take an action, that is different from what I have been doing (and usually different from what I want to do), it opens up an opportunity to change my thinking. When I change my thinking, it opens up an opportunity to act differently.

It’s scary to me how I pass judgment my body. And I wonder in some ways who I am judging it for. Who is telling me it’s not good enough. And why am I agreeing? Because I have been seeing it as beautiful. And basically, because I have been choosing to.

But first, actually, I had to stop running away from it. I had to make a choice to let myself be me in this body.

Of course, there wasn’t any other option. It is my body. I am me in it. But I have been spending many months disconnecting in my head. And this is reminiscent of how I thought about myself when I was fat and eating compulsively. I was not my body. I was my ideas. My personality. I was so much better than my broken, gross body. It was just this unfortunate card I was dealt.

I once heard a woman say that when she was fat, she carried around a picture of herself when she was thin, and would show it to people and say, “This is what I really look like.”

Since I gained this 27.4 lbs when I quit smoking, I have been doing something like that.

My real body is in the shop and this is just the loaner they gave me. I mean, it’s ugly, but it gets me around.

Um…Ewww. That’s repulsive of me. It’s so disrespectful of my body. And my journey. It’s such an eff you to God and Life. Not to mention a blatant denial of reality.

Plus, being disconnected from reality has been making me miserable. Just like it did when I was fat. And when I stop fighting what is so and surrender to life, everything always feels better. My experience is always better.

I don’t know how I will feel next week. But for now it feels right not to identify as my mind, my thoughts, my personality. To remember that I am my body. And my body is me. And that there is nothing wrong.

For my next trick, I am going to *not* juggle…

So it happened. I gained more weight. 3 more lbs. I weigh 160.4 now. Over 160. I’m kind of devastated. It makes me wonder if it’s ever going to stop, let alone reverse. It also makes me feel crazy. Because my clothes are getting looser.

And I wanted to not write about it. I wanted to not mention it this week. I have never been happy to tell you my weight in numbers since I quit smoking and started gaining. But 160. Holy shit! It feels epic. It feels shameful. I imagine you sitting at home thinking Wow (or ewww) (or so pathetic) 160 is really fat. So I wanted to skip talking about how I gained weight this month. Not because I have better things to write about (though I do have better things to write about…) but because I wanted to keep it a secret.

I can’t keep secrets. It’s not that I’m not capable. I am much too good at it for my own good. But secrets eat away at me. And feed my ugly thoughts. And skew my view of the world and reality.

I have made a point to tell you my weight through this whole experience. Not just that I gained weight. But how much. And the number. This may not make any sense to you, but if I kept the number a secret, it would make me question if I was actually keeping my food boundaries.

Secrets live in me like a form of lying. And they trigger that same lack of clarity, muddled thinking, and hatred, or at least distrust, of others that lying perpetuated. That I can tell you the number, no matter how embarrassing, is a reminder to myself that I am not lying cheating or hiding my food. That my integrity is intact. That even if I am ashamed of the number, I don’t have to be ashamed of myself. And it’s a reminder that I’m ashamed of the number because I’m sick in the head around my body image. Because I don’t know what I look like. Not because the number or my body are shameful.

And it’s the same as it has been while I have been gaining weight. Not only am I not fat, I’m gorgeous. I’m sexy. Men dig it. Why do I have to feel so ugly? And crazy? Why can’t I just be with it? Why can’t I just trust that like every other person who has ever quit smoking, my body will readjust?

A friend told me to forgive myself for being unhappy. And scared. Irrationally afraid. Because these issues are at the core of my personality. To give myself a break. That I am doing a great job. Keeping my food boundaries. Being in touch with my feelings. Being present. And then she said, “Get on your knees and pray.”

Now let me tell ya, I pray. A lot. But I don’t get on my knees for much.

But I got down on my knees.

At first I just did a lot of whiny-baby-poor-me complaining. And a little how-could-you-do-this-to-me accusing. But finally I asked God, what’s the solution?

And God said “Sweetie, you are going to have to drop your fortress.”

I know that quitting smoking really did slow my metabolism. And I know that there are things about food and weight that are basic math. Calories in, calories out. But I also believe that thoughts, ideas and beliefs can affect me physically. And when I heard this, on my knees, asking for a solution, I understood.

I collect fortresses. So I can juggle them. A fortress of fat. A fortress of bitch. A fortress of indifference. I spent my life building them with food and cigarettes and drugs and drama and taking my toys and going home. When I would drop one, another would go up in its place. Something had to keep men out of my heart. Or there was going to be love. And love inevitably leads to getting hurt. Even when it’s beautiful. And reciprocated. And lasts.

But who am I kidding. I built them because I “knew” the beautiful, reciprocal and lasting weren’t meant for me.

The truth is, I really do have better things to write about this week than gaining 3 lbs. I have had some really intense epiphanies about love. And a personal paradigm shift. I have to reevaluate the impact I had as a girl growing up, even though I was fat. And the assumptions I made about myself. Then and now. And how I painted the girl I was into a corner. And how she painted herself into a corner. And how I projected my beliefs about my own insignificance on others. And possibly (probably) provoked it, fed it, created it.

But if I did that work, if I got down to the business of healing, I would have to dismantle my fortress(es). And that would leave me unprotected.

See, I think that maybe I don’t want to lose this weight. Because this weight let’s me feel bad about myself. Irrationally. Ridiculously. It let’s me say that no one will ever love me so fat (while men go bug-eyed when they check me out on the street…) And it gives me something to make a big dramatic stink about. And I even wonder if I manifested it so that I could have a nice upset to distract myself. Because my clothes are getting loose. And clothes don’t lie. But a “significant” weight gain when I thought my metabolism had started up again sure did give me a break from all of my progress toward love and intimacy and partnership. Because it was starting to look like a possibility. And a reality. And close. Like it could be just around the corner. And I could be ready for it when it showed up.

Good thing I had a weight/body image crisis! Phew! Dodged that bullet.

I don’t want to be hard on myself. I know that I am doing the best I can. And that it’s pretty fantastic. Especially for a girl who spent the first 30 years of her life expecting to be eternally alone. I am just telling on myself. Because I would like to move on from here. Soon. I want to get back to the task at hand. To take down my fortress. And not put up another in its place. To be available to be loved. In whatever body I happen to be in at any given moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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