onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “self-love”

More safe, less sorry

On Friday I was up at 5, went on my jog, took a shower and got ready to head into the office, and then my husband said he had a little sore throat. So we agreed that he should get a Covid test and neither of us should go into work until we get the results.


Before anyone gets worried, he is feeling fine right now. We have not officially gotten the results back, but he has not had a sore throat since. He does not have a fever. Chances are he is just fine.


In the past, he probably would have gone to work. And I absolutely would have gone to work. But these are strange times. And to go to work feeling a little under the weather is to potentially put people at risk. Our office also agreed that it was better that we stay home.


Here’s the takeaway for me about the positive aspects of having boundaries around my eating. I am not afraid of what my boss or coworkers think of me. Because I know that I am always doing what I think is right and for the best. For myself, for my coworkers, and for my company.


When I was face first in the food, I would have been terrified and overwhelmed by this monkey wrench. Any and every circumstance of life that was not me going along in my usual routine, threw me for a loop. I would have been worried about my personal standing, my personal money, my personal well-being, and would not have thought about how my actions affected anyone else. As a food addict, I am an addict. Just as selfish, reckless, and destructive as any addict.


But with a strong foundation of having my eating under control and a way of life that facilitates that, I can trust in my decisions. I can trust myself to deal with my life as best I can in the moment. I can trust myself to be calm and rational, even when I am afraid.


A friend of mine in New York City, who had a particularly scary bout of Covid in March asked me if I was worried for my husband. And my response was that I was terrified. (I am *much* less terrified now that he is feeling well again.) But not paralyzed. I was nervous but I was moving right along, doing the next right thing.

My eating being under control does not mean that my life is without terrible moments and circumstances. Having my addiction under wraps doesn’t keep my loved ones or myself safe from illness or accident. What it does save me from, at least mostly, is me making terrible rash decisions, and awful, selfish mistakes.

Even in a hard world, my life is easier

I feel rather out of sorts this week. My routine has been off. And some things have gone wrong. My hormones are slightly out of whack. Our very expensive kitchen faucet broke and I won’t get a new one for at least a week. Our refinished bath tub is peeling and the guy is coming early tomorrow morning to fix it, which means getting my run, shower and breakfast in before he gets here. And this is on top of what has been a hard year for me, like it has for everyone.


I am tired of feeling so stressed out. I am tired of worrying. I’m tired of the uncertainty of so many important things. I’m tired of all of it masquerading as normal in my head so I can deal with the day-to-day.

There is a thing that I have noticed. When I am faced with having to actually deal with something I don’t want to, as in take an action or even just look at the honest truth of it, I have a thought: “I’m exhausted.”

It does not mean what it used to mean to me. Exhausted used to be a body experience. It was what happened after a long day of physical exertion. It was the kind of thing that was satisfying. It meant a good, restful sleep. It meant a feeling of accomplishment, or at least it felt earned.


But when I say it now, it means something entirely different. It means emotional fatigue. It means spinning and spinning without ever feeling like I’m getting anywhere. It means a kind of spiritual and emotional impotence that is hard to put my finger on, except that it feels like I should be doing something, but everything I think I could do feels too small to make a difference. It feels like fight or flight with nothing to strike out at and nowhere to go.


But my eating is taken care of. And that means that other things, important things, are taken care of. My integrity, my self-esteem, my relationships. All of those things are in a place where I can look myself in the eye and feel like I’m honoring myself. I’m sad, and I’m frustrated, and I’m just so tired, but I still like me and love me. And I lived so many years hating myself, even when things were going right. Even when circumstances were easy, my life eating compulsively was hard.


I try to remember today, and every day, that life is not always easy or fair. And I am allowed to be having a hard time. And I am grateful to have tools and practices in place to help me take life a day/minute/step at a time. But most of all I remember to be grateful. Because even in the face of a scary world on the outside, treating myself with love and honor, first around food, but also around everything in my life, is a better life than the one of shame and self-loathing I had when I was eating compulsively.

With respect to Sally Field, I like me! Right now! I like me!

This week I had to go into the office for a meeting. And there was a new woman who recently joined the company. And about half way through the meeting, it became clear to me that she doesn’t like me. Because I am a know-it-all.


There was a time in my life, before I had my eating under control, and for the first few years that I did, when this woman not liking me, or my perception of this woman not liking me, would have haunted me, and I would have done anything in my power to try to coerce this woman into liking me.

Don’t get me wrong. I *do* want people to like me. Certainly this woman. We are colleagues. We work for the same company. And I tried to be pleasant, friendly, and relatable.


But ultimately, I don’t actually care. If this woman finds me insufferable, may she never have to suffer me. Because the reason I come off as a know-it-all could be that I am excellent at my job and I do “know it all.”


All of my life that I spent in active food addiction was spent hating myself, second guessing if I was “doing it right” and thinking that being liked meant I was doing it right, and being disliked or sneered at meant I was bad and wrong.


Having my food addiction under control means that I like myself. A lot. I like being me. I am not embarrassed or ashamed. I love myself. I love my life. And if I don’t, I have the clarity to pinpoint the things that are making me uncomfortable or ashamed, and take some action to make a change. To change me, really, and not simply someone else’s perception of me.


In my addiction, I was paralyzed by the numbness and the muddled thinking that came from using sugar as a drug, as well as the pain that came from looking at myself with an eye towards my faults and my character defects. Because it felt like I was my faults and defects, and they were me.

One great gift of having my eating taken care it is that I can look at my bad actions and see that they don’t mean anything about me as a person. Except that I am exactly as failably human as anyone else, and that in some particular situation or another, I need to make some amends.


But it also gives me the clarity to know what is not my problem, or my business. And how this woman at work sees me is really none of my business. I am coming from a space of helpfulness and generosity. And I don’t get a say in how those intentions are received.


I am grateful to have this clarity of mind and spirit. I don’t want to use my time or energy trying to force someone to see me the way I see myself. And that is the best gift of having these boundaries; how much I like and love myself has everything to do with me, and my integrity, and nothing to do with anyone else.

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.

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 kitchen as a church

I am home! As in my own home! I am so happy and grateful to be here, and with no job in the foreseeable future to send me away again.


And I am overjoyed to be in my very own, customized kitchen. I have my fancy double oven, and super swanky refrigerator. I have my top of the line dishwasher that is so quiet the first time I used it I messed up the wash cycle because I was afraid it wasn’t working. I have my funky, guitar pick shaped dining room table, and my farm sink with my luxury kitchen faucet. I have a restaurant quality vent fan, because my husband hates the smell of cooked vegetables and that is a huge part of my diet. I have my stone ware dishes and pretty silverware. And any number of specialized kitchen gadgets from the deep fryer for deep frying onions or Brussels sprouts, to a meat grinder to make my own Italian sausage.


My kitchen, whatever kitchen I called my own at any given time over the past 14+ years, has always been a holy place for me. Because it was the place I learned that my relationship with life and with with food was sacred. It was the first place I learned that what I put in my body, and how much, and when, was not about who could see me, or who would judge. It was all about a commitment I made to myself. It was where I learned that it didn’t matter if anyone else saw. I was the one who saw. I was the one who knew. I learned that the boundaries were my boundaries. They were between me and me. They were between me and god, or truth, or life, or whatever you want to call it.


I have learned how to make do with whatever kitchen I have. We just spent a month in an extended stay type hotel with two burners, no oven, and only place settings for 2. But we still ate really well.

Granted, there were fewer meals on the rotation. Not having an oven severely limits what one can cook. At least it limits what one can cook well. Who wants a 2” thick filet mignon pan fried? Or at least who can pan fry a filet so that it is cooked properly? Not me.


But there is a kind of giddy joy to having a kitchen that is made for you. A kitchen that you chose for yourself. (Yes yes, plenty of this kitchen is by and for my husband. He has his own kitchen gadgets. He just bought a sous vide and a vacuum sealer. And he has a tortilla press for making his own tortillas. Also, the double oven was so he could cook potatoes at a different temperature while I cooked the meat. I promise, he is taken care of.)


Here’s the thing. Most people who hear about my eating boundaries think that it is a punishment and a burden. That I do it reluctantly, like a bitter pill. Now, I truly am sick. And my eating boundaries are most definitely medicine. My food and my food boundaries are serious business. But they are also the gateway to my joy. And in many ways, that fancy kitchen is a monument to that joy. A church, a place of worship. And just like any church, it is not about the riches, though the riches are certainly nice. It is about the spirit. It is about the reverence, the homage, the honor, and the gratitude.

Food may be fuel, but that’s not why I eat it.

I love to eat. If you have read my blog for a while you know this. I know that a lot of people maintain their weight by only seeing food as fuel. I do not do this.


For one thing, over the years I have come to understand that being fat was not my problem. What I was eating was a problem. But not because I was fat. Because I was miserable. I could not stop eating and that made me feel shameful and crazy.


But also, I don’t know how to stop adoring eating. I don’t *want* to stop loving my food. Food is a refuge 3 times a day. It is a daily joy.


When some people start treating food as only fuel, they are potentially making food and eating a moral issue. I don’t ever want to live that way. I choose not to eat most sugar and carbohydrates because they get me high, and then make me feel bad about myself.


But I don’t want my life goals to be about the size of my body or how little I can eat and how skinny I can be. I want to keep my addiction under wraps, but I want to love my food.


So I will tell you that one of my favorite things about traveling is finding new things I can eat. So here in Nebraska, I found a new brand of flavorings that has an almond flavor that is to die for, and a banana flavor that, when I add it to yogurt, makes it taste like banana pudding! So They are delicious and fit in my boundaries and that makes me so happy. So I am stocking up while I am here to take them home.


I expect I will love my food forever. And I am not trying to have it any other way. If food being fuel makes your life better, then I salute you. But you know what makes my life better? Yogurt that tastes like banana pudding.

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.

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