onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “self-care”

Work Wonders

Having my eating under control has transformed my work life in ways I never expected but I am so grateful for it.


When I was in the food, I was a terrible student and employee. I was either high on sugar, or crashing from it, all of the time. I couldn’t concentrate or think straight. And I was so afraid of being reprimanded that I was willing to be dishonest or disingenuous to keep blame off of myself.


One of the things that I got from putting boundaries around my eating is the ability to be wrong, even very wrong, and be honest about it. Just let it be. And take the consequences as they come.


I did not know how to do that growing up. I didn’t know how to own up, apologize, or make amends. And I did not have any idea how transparent I was to everyone else.


I see it all the time now. The way people humor liars, cheaters, and thieves. The way they pretend to believe and accept. And the way the offenders, relieved, believe they have gotten away with it. And I suppose they have. Though not in any meaningful way. They have escaped outward consequences, if not the judgement of peers and superiors, but they have not escaped the internal consequences. Knowing you have lied does something to you inside.


I should know. I was one of those offenders for much of my life. Fear ruled me. And appearances, the appearance of innocence and rightness, seemed to be the most important part of getting through life.


In getting a handle on my sugar addiction, and fixing the wrongs I have done in my past and my present, I have changed the way I think about “trouble.”


Trouble used to be what I got in with other people. It used to be me against them. Now trouble is something I get in with myself. Now it’s me, my Ego and my fear, against me, the person I respect and like and love.

That shift has made me an excellent employee. It has made me an excellent coworker. It has made my work life one of pride in my work, and camaraderie with the people on the teams that I work with.


And not being high or strung out all the time has meant that I do quality work. I understand what I am taught. I learn quickly. I am willing to stretch my comfort zone and take on new and more complicated responsibilities. I am also up front about what I don’t know and what I have attempted but failed at.


My husband and I have just been given two new jobs to run for big clients. It’s a big deal. And there will certainly be a learning curve and probably more than a few hiccups along the way. But I don’t doubt my ability, or my worth. I know I can rise to this challenge, because I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to take it one step at a time, be honest about where I am, and willing to do things that are scary or uncomfortable.


And those are all skills I got from giving up sugar, putting boundaries around my eating, and cleaning up the messes I make in my relationships with people.


I did not expect my work life to change when I put boundaries around my food. I thought it would change my relationship to men, certainly, because when I was in the food I thought my love life troubles were about being fat. But now I can see that my troubles in all areas of my life were about my addiction. And with the sugar out of my system and out of my life, so much is different and better in ways I never expected but am eternally grateful for.

Lots of love, but no pretending

When I first started this blog, I wanted to heal the parts of myself that had been squashed and damaged by all of the self-preservation I had put in place. I wanted to work through the default thoughts and actions of my life to that point that kept my life small. That kept me protected from any kind of hurt or embarrassment. From really any kind of emotions.

Also, I hated fatness. I hated being fat. I hated seeing fat people. Even the ones I loved and liked and admired and respected. And having given up sugar and lost over 100 pounds, I felt incredibly self-righteous. 

Since then, I have grown and changed a lot. Much of the change was because of this blog. And one thing that I have changed my mind about is fatness. I am so much less judgmental. I have love and compassion for my fat self, and that love for myself has overflowed into love and compassion for others.

But there is a place that I stand that is very much considered fat phobia by fat people and fat acceptance culture. And it is that I do not want to be fat. 

It doesn’t matter that it is about me and nobody else. It doesn’t matter that I have been fat and hated it. To not want to be fat is to value thinness. (Sigh. Again. I am not that thin. I wear the biggest of straight sizes and I have plenty of chub.) But I do value not being fat. For myself. For my life. For how I feel about my body. For how I feel about navigating the world in this body. 

I am writing this because I saw a social media post that said “If you don’t want to be fat, that is fat phobic.” And I immediately thought “No! Not me! I’m not fat phobic!” But maybe I am. Probably I am. 

My body stays relatively thin-ish, because I don’t eat most sugars, grains or starches. And I don’t eat those things because I am addicted to them and I have the same kinds of behaviors as an alcoholic or drug addict (btw, sugar is a drug for me, so I really am a drug addict.) I lie, cheat and steal. I manipulate. I am self-centered and emotionally volatile.

I don’t continue to abstain from sugar because of my weight. I do it because I don’t like the person I am when I eat it.

But I also don’t want to be fat! And I don’t want to have to feel bad or ashamed or uncomfortable or like a heartless asshole because of it. And I guess if that makes me fat phobic, then I am. And I don’t feel the need to do any work on myself over it. 

I remember what it was like to be treated like a disgrace for being fat. The way people would comment on my body with laughter and jeers and sneers. Strangers and acquaintances and people I considered friends. And how people would stand by and let it happen to me. And to this day I hate doctors, and the medical community in general. Because the way they treated me as a fat person always made me feel like I was a failure as a human being. I always felt ashamed and embarrassed. And I was scrutinized and reprimanded whenever I went for an appointment. And yet, I was never offered a solution that worked. (Willpower is not a solution, my friends.)

I see other people, fat people,getting the same hate and cruelty that I received for so long, and I am so sad and hurt by it. When I listen to the casual fat jokes and dehumanization of fat people in all forms of media, I still feel an echo of the excruciating pain I used to feel as a kid when I saw a fat joke or a fat shaming on TV shows or in movies. Some of those movie lines and jokes are burned into my psyche.

I want to be trusted and accepted by the fat acceptance community. Because even if I don’t look like it, I feel like fat people will always be my people. But maybe I can’t. And maybe I shouldn’t. And maybe I need to let that go. Because the actual, absolute truth for me is that if someone wants to do what I do – give up sugar, weigh their food and keep strict portion control, keep boundaries about when and how and how often they can eat – I want them to. Because it is without a doubt, the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and it is the foundation for the life that I have which is a life beyond my wildest dreams. And I didn’t get it because I wanted to have a spiritual awakening. I got it because I didn’t want to be fat anymore when I was in my 20s.

So I am going to keep following my fat brothers and sisters on social media, and loving them and their hot fashions, and their beauty. But perhaps I am going to have to give up wanting to be accepted, and a true part that movement and that moment and that group. Because I have a different set of experiences. And I don’t know how to be over here, grateful to not be fat, and still make fat people feel loved and honored as themselves.

Maybe I can’t. Maybe I can, and I just don’t know how yet. But I love having an easy body. And I am not willing to pretend I don’t.

The long game of self care

I started out writing a blog today about the food industry, and how they use the same model as big tobacco to keep people addicted to their products. But it’s a lot. It takes a lot, both energetically and emotionally. And I don’t have it in me today.


And that is a valuable lesson I learned from getting a handle on my sugar addiction. I know what kind of energy I have. I know what I have to offer and what I don’t. I know how to prioritize and organize. I know how to practice self care.


I feel like self care is such a funny term right now. When I hear it in the media it could mean taking a bath, getting a facial or a pedicure, or even just getting really drunk so as not to face reality. In other words, it is so often sold as things you want to do.


But that is not my experience of self care. In fact, I find that self care is basically the opposite for me. It’s never hard for me to do the stuff I want to do. (At least in “the before times.”) I was always willing to make time for a mani/pedi or a full body massage.
What was (still kind of is) hard was prepping my meals for the work week. Waking up an hour before my husband to get my jog in before work. Stopping what I am in the middle of to meditate. Drinking my water instead of yet another cup of coffee. Flossing even though I just want to brush my teeth and get into bed.


These things are not easy, because I don’t enjoy them. These things are the things I do that don’t lead to instant gratification. These are things I do because I am playing a long game. Because I want to live a long time with a healthy, easy, relatively pain-free body.


But back to the idea of writing a long post, delving deep into the manufacturing of addiction and the food industry. One thing that regular self care affords me is the means to recognize what I have time and energy for. Without judgment or expectation. And the ability to remember that while I may not have the wherewithal today, I will on another day. And that is perfectly acceptable. If nothing else, playing a long game is an excellent reminder that it *is* a long game, and there will be time for more.


Ultimately the things I do for self care do make me happy, and keep me grounded. But their power is in the practice of them. The results come from consistency. And it is not the same kind of happy that gets the blood pumping. Instead it’s a contentment and a peace. And while that may not be exciting, I apparently think it’s worth it, because I keep doing it.

Is This Growth?

Obviously, this is my blog about how I have and keep my sugar addiction under control. And one of the ways that I do that is by keeping boundaries around my food. Part of that is weighing and measuring most of the food I eat. There are lots of rules and they make me feel safe. Having hard and fast rules means that I can eat guilt-free. Which was not a part of my life when I was eating sugar and eating compulsively.

But I am still an addict, and I still love to eat. One of the rules is that I can have half a cantaloupe for breakfast. And one of the ways that I and other people who have the same eating boundaries I do work the system, is to find the biggest cantaloupe we can. I once heard a woman tell a group of us she found one that weighed 8 pounds. And we all laughed and cheered and nodded. We all would have bought that 8 pound cantaloupe. It is not breaking the rules or crossing boundaries to do this. It is in bounds and fair game.


I have had people who don’t do what I do or understand my lifestyle tell me that buying an 8 pound cantaloupe or a 1 pound apple is “cheating.” Which only goes to show that they are mistaken as to the game I am playing. I am not on a diet. I am not trying to get skinny. I am trying to navigate my eating life, so that I am nourished, sated, and serene. I do that by keeping my boundaries. But my boundaries have a lot of room for personal choices inside them.

But over the past 3 or 4 years, my cantaloupes have gotten smaller. I mean, they are still really freaking big. But I started to realize that I don’t always love the way I feel overstuffed after breakfast when I automatically buy the biggest cantaloupe I can find. When I told a friend with food boundaries she laughed and said, “Yes, I don’t need a basketball sized cantaloupe. A volleyball sized one will do fine.”


I am still an addict when it comes to food and eating. I still always want more. Even when I am stuffed. Even when I just ate. Eating still holds all of the charge that it did when I was eating compulsively. But having boundaries is the best way for me to keep my feelings out of my food life. I can make myself sick with cantaloupe and still not feel bad about it. And I can finish a meal and be done. Even if it was wonderful and I wish I could have more. I can. At dinner. Or tomorrow. There is always another meal coming.


But I also want to say that sometimes, I eat 8 ounces of pineapple for breakfast. A nice, “normal” sized bowl of fruit. And it’s enough. More than enough. It is delicious and satisfying and gets me through the morning to lunch completely content.
I guess what I am saying is that so much of my eating life is still about how much I love to eat. How much I want to eat. How much eating still makes my life better and happier. It is not now, and never has been, and I expect never will be about eating to live, or food as fuel. It is still about eating as a joy, as a comfort. And in these times of great discomfort, food as a true comfort, without guilt and shame, is a wonderful blessing. But maybe another blessing is that I ate the second half of my very large cantaloupe for breakfast today and tomorrow’s breakfast fruit is going to be a 12 ounce apple.

Fat Bitch Running

On my jog the other day, a guy, a stranger, rolled down the window of his car, and took a turn way too fast and hard, to take the opportunity to yell at me that I was a “fat bitch.”


When I was 19, I weighed 300 pounds. So if you think this is the first time I have been called a fat bitch, you would be mistaken, and frankly, grotesquely naive.


I mention all the time in this blog that I am not particularly thin. I often call myself chubby. And I have had people tell me they do not think this is true.


But one of the biggest problems and questions I deal with when I think about fatness, is who is using the word fat, and how are they using it? Because I am not using it as an insult. Merely an adjective. But many people use it as an insult. And it doesn’t even have to be “true” for them to use it and for it to hit home.


So if I tell someone I’m chubby, and they say “you’re not!” I am not clear if they hear chubby and think I am insulting myself, or if, from their perspective, I am not even chubby. Because fat women who describe themselves as fat are *often* told by friends and family and acquaintances that it’s not true. When it objectively is. But their friends see it as a jab, and want to assure their fat friends that they would never insult them.
The problem there is that the underlying idea is “fat is evil, but I love and respect you, so you can’t be fat.”


Friends, get over the idea that fat is bad. And stop telling your fat friends that they are “special fats.” That you don’t see them that way. They are not special. They are not different than other fat people. It is the connotations that you add to fatness that are the problem.


Trolls know that to be called fat in our fatphobic culture is devastating to most women. To women who have bought into the idea that thinness equals “goodness” and “morality” and “true womanhood,” to be called fat is to be called “lazy,” “shameful,” and “pathetic.” When a woman is committed to the idea of thinness as a virtue, what she hears when someone calls her fat, is that the one dishing out the word thinks she is unworthy of love and respect.

And those women don’t even have to be objectively fat to feel this. To be fat in the United States in 2020 currently only means “to not be thin.”


Does she have a belly? Call it fat. Wide hips? A big butt? Fat and fat. Thighs that touch? Fat.


I am 5’ 6.5” and I wear a size Large or XL, depending on the cut, and I have all of the things I mentioned above. I have a belly, and wide hips, (though not much of a butt I guess) and round thighs that touch. But most people would probably not consider me fat. *I* certainly don’t consider myself fat.


But a stranger in his car was so invested in the idea of the fatness of my body that *while I was working out* he felt the need to call me a fat bitch. The bitch part was just for existing, I suppose.


Much like AOC, I was not deeply hurt by this. It was just another day and another moment dealing with another asshole. I also worked in bars and restaurants in New York City, and have walked city streets and taken public transportation. Lots of men are like that. Lots of women too. (But more men. In case you were wondering.)


I want to close with this thought. If you are going to describe me as being fat, use the word fat. I don’t think if it as an insult. I hate euphemisms. Fluffy? Makes me want to gag. I am not a dog. And there is no fluff. Only jiggle. Heavy set? I am a beautiful woman, not a lumberjack. Big Boned? It’s not my bones that are big.


And don’t expect that yelling out a window that I am a fat bitch will do anything more to me than inspire me to write a blog about you. Because fat doesn’t bother me. And neither does bitch. As a woman with integrity and boundaries, with whatever adjective they choose, I expect people will call me a bitch for the rest of my life.

My Body as a Temple

There is a saying. My body is a temple.

Now that is originally a quote from the Bible. And the short, paraphrased version of it is that our bodies are temples to the Holy Spirit and that our bodies do not belong to us, but to God.

Yeah…look, your body may, indeed, be a temple to God with a capital G. But mine is not.

My body is a temple to me, to my own life, to the things I want to do and the person I want to be. To this amazing vehicle! I remember I was in my 20s when I realized that this body was the only thing in the world that I owned outright. And I take that seriously.

When most people use that quote, “My body is a temple,” they are usually talking about why they are eating unappetizing food or doing some kind of intense, strenuous exercise routine. And they are often bragging (overtly or covertly) about how they fit neatly into the modern Western beauty ideal.

From my point of view, their body is a temple to the fitness and beauty industries. Those are gods I refuse to worship.

It is true that I gave up sugar and carbohydrates to be thin. And I was really thin for a while. And I hated fatness, and I hated myself for having been fat, and I hated the poor fat kid I had been.

But I did not stay very thin for long. I was pretty thin for about 5 years. And really skinny for about 2 years. But that was it.

But I didn’t ever go back to eating sugar and carbohydrates. Not because I continue to try to be skinny, but because my body *is* a temple. And I am freer, happier, less anxious, and more peaceful since I quit those foods which are poison to me. I am not honoring thinness. I am honoring my own life.

I hated myself so much and for so long and so completely, that I didn’t even know that I hated myself until it stopped. And it stopped when I gave up sugar and carbohydrates. It did not stop when I lost weight, though I did lose weight. And it did not come back when I gained weight back. And I did gain some back. It was not my weight that was the true issue. The true issue was sugar and how I was using it as a drug. And how I was addicted and behaved like an addict. I was a liar, a cheater, a thief, and a master manipulator. And sugar made that possible for me the way alcohol makes those things possible for an alcoholic.

When I say my body is a temple now, I mean I honor it as a way of honoring my life. And my life is not marathons and intermittent fasting. Hell, it’s hard enough “fasting” between dinner and breakfast!

I honor my life and body with regular exercise and water. With fruit at breakfast and raw vegetables at lunch and dinner. With flossing. With meditation. With skin care. With limited caffeine.

But also, giving up sugar and carbohydrates gave me a new, better ability to sit still and focus. To learn new things. To have the patience to fail and keep trying. So I honor my life and body by knitting blankets and crocheting dolls.

It gave me the ability to get things done and fulfill my duties and commitments, and then to give myself time to rest. So I honor my life and body by lying on the couch for Netflix binges and YA Fantasy audiobooks.

I learned to love my body as beautiful, even when it doesn’t fit into society’s beauty standards, so I honor my body and my life by buying clothes I love for whatever weight or shape I am, and by seeking out and following models of all shapes and sizes on social media. Because seeing only one kind of body portrayed as beautiful made me hate the body I was in.

My body is a temple to celebrate myself. And in my temple there is exercise and hydration, but also bacon and homemade chocolate ice cream. And that is a temple I am happy to worship in. Good thing too. It’s the only temple I’ve got.

My body is not an issue

I have been writing a short gratitude list every day for the past few months. And one thing that has been coming up for me a lot is how grateful I am that my body is not an issue.

A little over 15 years ago, I was doing some volunteer work for a self-help seminar. The idea was that you gave them your time and you got the seminar for free. I was poor and that worked for me. At a prep meeting, the seminar leader asked me what I wanted to get out of the seminar, and I said “I want my body to stop being an issue.”

Because for basically all of my life up until then, my body was on my mind, in some form or another, all of the time. I was obsessed with sugar and carbohydrates, and I was obsessed with my body. I was constantly worried about what it looked like to other people, what other people were thinking about my body. And what they were thinking about me because of the size and shape of my body. My own body was my enemy. I hated it. I was ashamed of it. And I was continually thinking about how to change it. Or perhaps it would be truer to say I was continually trying to figure out how to eat the way I wanted to eat, but at the same time have my body look/be socially acceptable.

Over the course of that one six month seminar, I went from being on a diet and in the first stages of being an exercise bulimic, to being an all-out exercise bulimic, to abusing laxatives, to making myself throw up, to giving up and eating myself 30 pounds heavier.

But on the last day of that seminar, I had my current boundaries around my eating in place, and I was weighing my food in the restaurant around the corner from the building where the seminar was held. In other words, by the time it was done, I had gotten what I had asked for. Or, if my body had not ceased to be an issue quite yet, I was doing the thing that would let me stop thinking and worrying obsessively about my body. I mean forever.

I don’t want to imply that I have *never* had body image problems since I put boundaries around my eating. When I quit smoking and gained at least 30 pounds, that sure did freak me out. And that was a difficult time for me emotionally.

But for the most part, in my daily living, I don’t think about my body. It doesn’t even cross my mind. I don’t walk around thinking anyone is looking at me in judgment. I don’t worry about someone saying an unkind, unsolicited remark about my body.

Before I changed my eating, I was eating myself to misery. I was harming myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually with food. With addictive foods that made me feel crazy and unhappy.

I have often noticed that when we harm someone, we have to do one of two things:
1) Own up, take responsibility, and make amends,
Or
2) Double down and make it their fault, so we don’t have to feel bad for being the jerk.

I did this to my body for most of my life. I fed it foods that are poisonous to me, and then blamed it for looking a way I hated. (Which, in retrospect was just internalized fat phobia.) Blamed it for my difficulty of mobility. Blamed it for being sub par and not as “pretty” or easy or socially acceptable as other girls and women.

But today, there I have a peace around my body that I never expected. And the even more unexpected thing is that it’s not about the size of my body. It’s not about how skinny I am, because I am not. It’s about how comfortable I am with the way I treat my body. My food is in line with my commitments to it. My exercise is to love it and care for it, period. Not to make it thinner, or shaped differently. In getting my eating under control I got to stop judging my body.

Basically, though it was fraught with difficulties at the time, I got exactly what I wanted out of that seminar. More! Because all I was looking for was to stop thinking about my body, and instead I got to love it.

I’m no monk. I’m “The Drinker.”

There was a funny video on Twitter the other day about “types of people on Zoom meetings,” and one had a mug, and a cup, and a water bottle, and kept switching between them. This person was “The Drinker” and that is 100% me on Zoom meetings. But also, that is 100% me in real life. And it has been for at least as long as I have had my eating under control.


I am drinking coffee, water, herbal tea, or zero calorie soft drinks all day, every day. Because it helps. Even 14 years later it helps to have something in my hands that I get to ingest right into my body.


I feel like the way people talk about people changing their eating (*if* they are even talking about eating instead of weight loss) is as if the people changing have now become monks. Like they gave up cake for God and now they do yoga, and pray, and train for marathons in all the time that they now have that they are not eating.


I am all for all of those things if that is what gets you through. But that is sure as hell *not* what got me through.


What got me through my first two years was a pack of cigarettes a day, hours upon hours of anime, comics and books, pots and pots of coffee, bottles and cans of diet soda, and packs and packs of sugarless gum.


I quit smoking almost 8 years ago now, but for many years it helped me not eat compulsively. It was bad for me, of course. But eating compulsively was killing my soul. And I am 99.99999% sure that if I had not given up sugar and carbohydrates first, I would not have been able to quit smoking. I quit gum more than a decade ago, and to be honest, now even the thought of it makes me a little sick, and the sound of someone chewing it gives me the heebie-jeebies. But it sure did get me through in the beginning. I cut way way back on the diet soda, except when I go to a bar to hang out with my husband and/or some friends, and I may still have one as an occasional treat at home. But I don’t generally keep it in the house. And I don’t drink coffee after noon, except perhaps once in a while when we visit my mother-in-law. But there is always some drink in my hand, ready to go in my mouth.


And it’s definitely not usually water. For me, water is a thing I *force* myself to drink as an act of self care. Like my workout. It’s not a thing that helps the addict in me calm down.


I definitely believe in quitting the thing that is killing you quickest. I expect to continue that road until I’m dead. But even 14 years later, I still have my crutches to “get by.” And I am so fine with that. Better than fine. Overjoyed!


There are many things that I have learned over the years of having my eating under control, but one particularly important one is knowing that some things are “good enough.”


Did I pour 7 cups of coffee down my gullet between 7 am and noon? Maaaaaaaaybe. Did I stop at noon and switch to herbal tea? Yes! Good enough!


Knowing that I don’t have to be, or even appear, perfect is important. Because I am not. And I don’t want to worry about that. I don’t need you to look at me and think that I am a paragon of spirituality. I am just a lady who doesn’t want food to run her life anymore. And if a case of Vitamin Water Zero is gonna help with that, I’m gonna stock up.


I have done a lot of spiritual work. I had to in order to get to this place. But it has been a journey. And there are currently bacon and pork rinds on this journey. And coffee in the blender with ice and artificial sweetener. And days where all I do is eat my portion controlled meals and watch streaming TV, or read comics.


I am no monk. I am “The Drinker.” I am just a happy woman who learned to be happy with “good enough.”

The First of Many Ways I Learned to Honor My Body

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post Navigation