onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “surrender”

Here’s to a peaceful 2018 for me. And wishing you growth in whatever form you choose.

Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I have been thinking a lot about this past year. It was a rough one for me emotionally. I have been tense and on edge more than I used to be.

But there is something else that happened this year. I feel like I hit a new level of boundary setting.

Setting boundaries is the basis of the way I take care of my eating. I have rules. I follow those rules no matter what.

But when I got my eating under control 11 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 5 days ago, I was only just learning to set boundaries. And only around my food at first. Since then, I have learned how to set them in every area of my life. I have learned how to say no, how to ask for what I want, how to recognize what I really want, as opposed to what I think I should want because I believe it would please others.

This is the thing about personal growth, if I don’t stop, if I never say, “Welp, good enough…” I end up revisiting the same aspects of myself over and over, just on a different level. I have always been learning about boundaries. But the boundaries I set now are different from the boundaries I was learning to set over 11 years ago. They are more advanced, because my level of self-love, and self-care are more advanced. Those first boundaries were just about food. They were the bare minimum to not eat compulsively. And they were enough then. But for 2017, I had found they were not enough. And I had to dig deep, and have some difficult conversations, make some awkward choices. And it was worth it. But I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the foundation I started laying in 2006.

But I have not been feeling very peaceful or serene this year. Sure, I am more peaceful than I was 11 years ago. Or 7. Or 5. But I can feel myself yearning for an even more peaceful mind. (Please note I did not say life. Life is life. I would like to deal with life the way it is more gracefully.)

So I am grateful for the lessons of 2017. I am grateful to be a woman I like even more than the woman I was in 2016. But I still want more. More calm, more surrender, more gentleness.

So here’s to 2018! May it bring me more peace. And may it bring you whatever it is that will help you grow into the person you genuinely like and love even more than who you are this very moment.

Happy New Year!

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I don’t make the rules. And I don’t pay in money.

I think one of the hardest parts of dealing with addiction, especially food addiction, is the surrender. It’s giving up your will. Before I gave up sugar, grains, and starches, I tried to deal with my food issues myself. And because of that I read all sorts of information about food and nutrition. I knew about calories. I knew about superfoods. I was up on all of the latest scientific research. 

But I only used the information that fell in line with what I wanted to eat. I loved nut butters, so I ate them whenever I could. By the jar. I hated vegetables, so I didn’t eat them. Or I ate the ones that were all starch. In fact, the fruits and vegetables I ate then were exactly the ones I don’t eat now. I especially ate sweet potatoes and bananas. Not just one, but one after the other. I was still bingeing, just not on cake. I don’t eat either of them anymore. The people who helped me get my eating under control said that those were foods we don’t eat. I could either accept that, or I could move on. I chose to accept.

There are two aspects of the way I put boundaries around my food that make it so effective for me.

1) I don’t make the rules.

2) I don’t pay in money. I pay in being part of the group. I pay in honesty.

What I do is not science. As the years go by, science gathers more and more evidence that what I do is healthy. And also that food addiction, especially sugar addiction, is real. But people have been doing what I do for decades. Before the research and the studies. There were people doing what I do way back when rice cakes and plain baked potatoes were considered the perfect diet foods. When “fat makes you fat” was the mantra of every dieting woman in the United States. I do what I do, and the people who do it with me do it, because it works. Anecdotally? Sure. But anecdotally, I have personally lost over 150 pounds. I have kept it off for 10 years. (For the most part. There was some metabolism trouble for the 3 years after I quit smoking, but even that seems to have passed now. And even when I was gaining weight, I was not binge eating, or eating sugar or carbs.)  

Part of the reason it works is because the rules are laid out. You are either within the boundaries, or you’re not. And the rules are not about weight. They are about what when and how we eat.

When I put boundaries around my food 10 years ago, I was told I could not have nut butters or avocado. I did not like that at all. I tried to bargain. After all, avocado is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Nuts as well! And I was told that in order to keep the boundaries, I was going to eat 3 meals a day, nothing in between except zero calorie drinks. But I knew that six meals a day was optimal. In fact, a mid day snack of almonds or avocado was highly recommended by sports nutritionists. I did the research! I knew what I was talking about.

But I didn’t know what I was talking about. I knew about nutrients. I knew about recommended blood sugar levels and eating habits. But I knew precisely jack squat about how to control my own eating. I knew nothing about how to keep myself sane and healthy. 

But people who had been unable to stop eating before, and who now lived a life free of food obsession, did it by following the rules like giving up avocado and eating 3 meals a day. No, they did not save a little milk from breakfast to slip into their coffee through the day. (Yep, I asked about that as well.) They had surrendered. 

It didn’t take long for me to give up the fight either. The peace and freedom from food obsession was enough pretty quickly. Black coffee became the norm for me. Avocado? Don’t miss it at all. 

The second part, the part where what I do is free (financially speaking), is another aspect of why it works so well for me. See, if I pay for a diet, the exchange is made. I pay, I get the diet. I now “own” the diet as it pertains to me. If I don’t want to do it today, well, you can’t stop me. And I don’t have anyone to answer to. You got your money. The rest is none of your business.

But with what I do, I don’t pay in money (though I do choose to donate to my groups). I pay in honesty. I pay in showing up. I pay in doing service. I pay in keeping the boundaries around my food. 

So, someone is giving freely of their time and attention to give me a chance at a peaceful life. Not someone. But many someones. Hundreds. Making phone calls, sharing their stories, helping people make difficult decisions about food. (If you don’t know what I mean by a difficult food decision, bless you. You are probably not a compulsive eating sugar addict.)

When my life is the currency, I don’t own anything. My life is connected to all of those other lives. And if I don’t want to keep my food boundaries today…well, I have free will. I can make a decision on my own. I can have my reasons and my justifications. But I have also created a community that holds me accountable. I have to be responsible for the time and attention that has been given to me free of charge over the past 10 years. And I am either in the boundaries, or I am outside of the boundaries.

This is not about shame for people who struggle or people who leave. Addiction is a bitch. And what I do is not right for everybody. This is about surrender. This is about when you are so hopeless and desperate that you give up your will when it comes to eating because you know you are sick with food. 

I know its natural to want what we want. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to know that when it comes to food, what I want is toxic. And while I am part of the group that saved my life, what I want is also irrelevant.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I recently did something I stopped doing. Years ago I stopped reading health and nutrition articles. And this week I read one.

When I was fat and thought my body was broken, I never read those articles either. Because in my head, they were for people who could be thin. And healthy. But let’s face it, mostly thin.

But when I was thin but plagued by eating disorders, I read them a lot.

For one, I was looking for that magical food experience. The one that would let me “eat like a normal person”. That would make me want to eat normally. That it wouldn’t take anything on my part. No commitment or effort. It would just happen with some diet or food combination.

For example, I read once that when one has a sugar craving, one should quench it. But with naturally high sugar or starch fruits and vegetables. That to deny oneself all sugar would make one feel deprived. I wanted a high sugar fruit or vegetable to stop me from wanting to binge eat. So I started eating a roasted sweet potato for a snack. Well, it started out as a roasted sweet potato. Within a week I was eating 4 or 5. I would finish one and put another into the oven immediately. Or eventually just cook 2 at a time.

It happened with bananas too.

Those are both foods that I no longer eat. It doesn’t matter that they are natural. They are sugar. Pure and simple. And I can’t handle them.

I also read those health and nutrition articles looking for excuses to continue my bad eating behavior. “Chocolate is good for you,” comes to mind. Um yeah…but not in the quantity I ate it…

So I don’t read articles touting the newest thing in eating. Definitely no fad diets. But not even scientific studies. I have a solution that works for me. It does not matter that dark chocolate is filled with antioxidants. I am addicted to it. It cannot do me any good. It will only make me crazy and miserable. Insane and fat.

So the other day, I read one of the kinds of articles I don’t read. It was posted on Facebook by a few people who I really respect. And I was curious. Not to learn something for myself. Like I said, I have a solution to my eating disorders and body image problems. But to see what they were giving a nod to.

What I read made a lot of sense. It was not exactly the same as the way I eat, but it was very similar. And it did not seem like a fad or a ridiculous way of eating. It seemed like good, sane, quality food advice. But there was a part of it that bothered me. It was how to “end sugar addiction in 10 days”.

My problem is with the idea of addiction. And ending it. And 10 days.

Because I am an honest-to-goodness sugar addict. That is not a euphemism for liking to eat. When I put sugar in my body it sets off a physical craving and a mental obsession. I was eating 4-5 sweet potatoes in a row as quickly as I could cook them. I am sick with food. And it took a year and a half of no sugar grains or starch just to come out of the fog that was getting sober from sugar. (Yes, I was high getting sober. It was as disorienting and bizarre as being drunk or high on drugs. Or high on sugar itself.) And that sure as hell doesn’t mean that I can eat it in moderation now because I am fixed.

Not fixed. Still addicted. Eternally.

It’s not the first time it has occurred to me that the word addict gets bandied about. Especially around food. Or maybe I just notice it about food because it’s a tender subject for me. But if you are an actual addict, someone with a physical allergy with an accompanying mental obsession, then I don’t think 10 days is gonna save you. I think you are headed for a life of constant vigilance. Or continual shame and misery.

I’m not saying that it is not possible for people to change the way they eat. Or that a person wouldn’t look and feel better by following this diet I read about. If you haven’t found a solution to your food issues, I say yes! Try one of the eating lifestyle movements out there. And maybe it will work. I found the thing that brought me peace around my food. I hope you find peace around your food too. I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s so simple if someone is an honest-to-goodness addict.

I guess what I am really asking is can we stop calling bad habits addiction? Please? It is too serious. It takes too much. Work, and hope and surrender. It’s not a 10 day fix. It’s a total alteration of the way you live your life. One day at a time. But forever. It’s treatment. It’s recovery. From a disease. And it totally sucks ( in the beginning. – Now it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But that’s after years of being sober from sugar grains and starch.) It’s not something one does half-assed. I don’t know any addict who had sobriety just happen to them. And I know a lot of addicts.

As in life, so in crochet

Yesterday I finished crocheting a new small throw blanket. And there is a story about this throw. And the story is an analogy.

Several months ago, I made a baby blanket for a specific baby. (Unlike my tendency to make things, including baby blankets, for no one in particular.) And when I was done, I had quite a bit of extra yarn in a shade of pink that I loved.

Around early September, I learned how to crochet squares with flowers in the middle. And around that time, I found a light shade of green yarn that I liked a lot. So I made a bunch of pink and green flower squares. And they were lovely. But I didn’t know what to do with them. And I didn’t really have enough of either color of yarn to make much.

Plus, I had just purchased some fancy (superwash cotton and wool blend) yarn at a specialty yarn store. Needless to say, I was very excited to make something with the fancy yarn. So I put the pink and green aside and I completed a project with my fancy yarn. And then it was done. And it was time to do another project.

So I went back to my pink and green flowers and decided I would make it a 3 color blanket. I went to the store and I bought a bunch of skeins of another shade of green. I brought them home, held them all up next to each other and thought, “Ugh. This is not right. This is going to look terrible together.”

But this was the yarn that I had. So I decided to move ahead with the project. And I kept telling myself, “Just do the next thing.” And I kept crocheting.

And I kept stopping. “This can’t be right. Should I quit? Should I just give it up before I put a bunch of wasted work into it? Should I go online and order more of the light green and the pink? Well, for now just do a few more squares. Just do the next thing.”

So I crocheted. And stopped. And crocheted. And scrunched up my face wondering if this was going to end up a complete fiasco. “This really can’t be right.”

But it was something to do. And even with all of the stopping, I had already gone pretty far. So I kept just doing the next thing.

And it went on like this for the whole project. Right up until the very end. “I should just stop now. This can’t be right. Ugh, just be quiet and do the next part.”

I think that this turned out to be one of the most amazing pieces I have ever made. It is maybe my favorite.

pink green throw

IMG-20131123-00822

pink green throw 1

And I could never, ever EVER have planned it. Because it seemed like it couldn’t possibly be right the whole way through.

I see life this way. It starts out with something I love or I want. But I don’t know what to do about it. So I don’t do anything. I just go about my business. And then opportunities arise. And they turn out not to be what I expected. Or what I thought they should be. Or what I would have chosen as the best option for my happiness. But they are what I have. So I do the next right thing. And I stop. And I make false starts. And think, “Are you sure? Really? This can’t be right.” But I keep doing the next thing. In bitty baby steps.

This happened for me with food. (Give up sugar? Forever?!?! That can’t be right.) And it happened with writing this blog. (Write every week about being fat? Or bulimic? Tell people personal things about myself and my eating disorders?! That can’t be right.) And it happened for me with falling in love. (Leave New York City? With my childhood friend? To travel Small Town America in a pickup truck?!?! That can’t be right.)

And in the end, these turned out to be the greatest decisions I have ever made in my life.

I am limited. I can’t imagine anything outside of my own experiential frame of reference making me happy. But I have this amazing tool. Willingness. Surrender. To go along. To not seek too far into the future. To just do the next right thing right now. And to trust. That life knows better than I do. About blankets and yarn and blog writing and love and food. And anything else that I am willing to be open to.

Let sleepless kids lie (awake) and other thoughts on surrender

There is something I believe. A tenet. A belief that I use to shape my life. A belief that I try to keep in mind when I think, speak, and act.

I believe that Life is always right.

Sometimes I believe it in a “religious” way. (I put it in quotes because I am not religious, nor am I affiliated with any religion.) But I believe that God is working His plan, and whatever happens is a stretch of the larger road leading to a better life for me. And yes, I do actually believe that. Because my experience has been that even when crazy, scary, upsetting things have happened that have been devastating setbacks, they have always also been merely a leg of a journey to something much, much better.

And sometimes, I just believe it in a practical, basically Zen, kind of way. In other words, it is what it is. (Whatever that is.) If there were any other way for it to be, it would be that way. There is no should have, could have, or would have. That once something is in the past, it is unchangeable. You must accept it, and move on.

I do not mean to imply that I don’t believe in changing things that can be changed. I do not believe in giving up, staying stuck, or becoming resigned. Nor do I wish to imply that I don’t believe in plans, or preparation. God knows that I am awful at flying by the seat of my pants. But “even the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.” And the question becomes how do I react when things don’t go the way I want, or expect them to.

I want to be the person who trusts. I want to trust that God is preparing something even better for me. And I want to trust that Life is always giving me exactly what I need.

And I want to remember that when I trust that Life is giving me the right things, I shift my consciousness so that I am creating an opportunity. In other words, I make it true by believing it. I can make anything into a gift, or a lesson by thinking of it as one.

So why am I writing this? Because I need a reminder. I am unhappy in my situation right now. I had a lot of plans. And I have had a lot of frustrating setbacks. And I’m feeling resentful. Toward God. And Life.

Here I am, doing my best. My best to be good person. To keep my eating under control. To take care of myself by planning and working to create order and comfort for myself. And I’m still not getting what I want! I am not comfortable. I am not happy. I am not in control of my circumstances.

There is something I learned as a babysitter. The Jedi Mind Trick to get a sleep-hating kid to fall asleep, is to not care if the kid sleeps or not. It is to stop resisting their “awakeness.” It is to find peace with whatever happens. And I tell you, that kid will fall asleep every time. (And if they don’t, it doesn’t matter, because you have peace anyway.)

This is true of life too. If I stop resisting, things shift. And if they don’t, who cares. I have peace.

I wish that writing this brought me instant peace. It didn’t. But I’m giving up the right to be resentful. And I’m being gentle with myself. There is no use in beating myself up for not being peaceful.

All in good time. All in God’s time. Life on Life’s terms. Because if I’m being practical, there isn’t any other time, and there aren’t any other terms.

If I wanted to be tested this often, I’d go back to school

I am in mourning this week. I had been in a relationship for nearly 8 years. And I had to let it go a few days ago.

It was a relationship with a particular brand of alcohol-free vanilla flavoring.

When I gave up sugar and carbohydrates over 7 1/2 years ago, I had to make a lot of little changes. A lot of things that probably wouldn’t occur to most people. One was giving up alcohol. Because alcohol is sugar. And things with alcohol in them. Like vanilla extract.

But I love my food. So I found an alternative to vanilla extract. A kind of vanilla flavoring that was alcohol-free. And it was expensive. But I loved it in ricotta cheese or yogurt, and even mixed it in with my butter. It made me so happy. It felt so decadent and yet I could eat it without guilt or shame. It was totally within my eating boundaries. I used it every day for years and years.

And then this week I noticed that the label had changed. Instead of saying alcohol-free, it now said non-alcoholic. And on the back in very small print, it says “contains 0.5% alcohol by volume”.

Now, I’m going to tell you, I wanted this to be a negligible amount of alcohol. I wanted to pretend that it didn’t matter. I wanted to keep using it. Dammit I wanted it to be not a big deal.

Maybe you’re thinking “Jeez, Kate! It’s not a big deal.”

But it is. To me, food is a big deal. And my relationship to food is a very big deal. And keeping my boundaries around my eating with honesty and integrity is the very biggest deal of all. And knowing that my vanilla flavor was no longer alcohol-free, but wanting to pretend that that was no big deal, and that I could just keep using it, and it still said non-alcoholic so it shouldn’t count, gave me a sick feeling. It made me uneasy. And uncomfortable. And a little nauseous. In other words, it felt like a lie.

So I called a friend who helps me make decisions about my food, and I told her about the change in the label. And if I’m going to be honest, I will say that I tried to present it in such a way where she could say, “Meh, half a percent of alcohol by volume. Pssh. You just feel free to keep using it.” But in spite of my presentation, I was still fully and perfectly honest. And she said, “Well, now it has alcohol. So you’re going to have to find another brand.” And she even told me of one she knew of.

So I agreed. And I got off the phone. And I cried. Sobbed hysterically, actually.

I know that I will find another vanilla. It’s not that I don’t know that. But I am going to have to mourn this. I had become attached to it specifically. I am not ashamed of that. It was part of my fantastic life of guilt-free eating. When I put boundaries around my eating, I gave up the foods that were killing me, not my love of eating. I don’t eat to live. Food is not just fuel for my body. I want it greasy, gooey, big and juicy. I want to be transported. I love my food. And there is one less thing that I can have now. And I don’t like giving things up. I do it if I have to in order to maintain my integrity, but I’m sad. And I’m going to be sad. I’m going to miss the vanilla that was my vanilla.

And, hey, God…if there could be fewer tests to my willingness and honor around my food, well yeah…that would be great. Thanks…

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.

Take on the world or take a nap? Decisions decisions…

Do you know what’s amazing? How quickly new and different can become the norm. Accepted. Expected. How quickly the human brain can assimilate.

I’m tired lately. Often sleeping more than 8 hours. And having a hard time getting out of bed. I have been having (and remembering – which is unusual for me) vivid nightmares and anxiety dreams. I have been getting tired earlier in the evening. Physically too. Finding it hard to sit up at the table after dinner. Want to go be limp on the couch or on my super-comfy chair on the porch. I’m having a new, minor outbreak of my eczema. And found out I’m allergic to something else I didn’t know about before.

I have been feeling kinda beat up. (Not emotionally unhappy. Just put through the ringer.) And I have been wondering why.

And then today I looked at the calendar, and I realized that I have been here, in my new life, for less than 7 weeks. Not even 2 months.

And a bunch of stuff has happened in this 7 weeks. Good and bad. Exciting and stressful. It’s not like it has been one big 7 week vacation. But the important part, the relationship part, has been so natural, that it seems like it has been going on for years. So I forget. That I need to adjust. Yes, even though it seems like regular life by now.

I know I’ve touched on this topic before. But apparently I forget things I already know. So I’m telling you again. Because I’m telling myself again.

Because this happens to me all the time. I start something huge, like quitting sugar, or quitting smoking, or, in this case, moving half way across the country and starting a relationship, and I adapt. Quickly. And then I wonder why my body is “acting up.”

These things that are happening right now – the dreams, and the fatigue, and the eczema – these are all things that have happened to me before when I have made big changes.

And even now, I am anticipating that this should end soon. Soon. In a week or two, right? Isn’t two full months enough? Can we get a schedule nailed down here?

If I were a friend of mine, I would laugh. And tell me to give myself a break.

But there is this part of me that thinks I’m so special. You don’t understand. I’ve got this. I’m settled now, and I know how this works.

I so often give so much honor and credence to my thoughts, and so little to my body. It’s a bad habit. One that almost certainly stems from when I was fat. And shame for my body made me think of it as “not me.”

But of course, it is me. And, frankly, my body is significantly more honest and straightforward than my mind.

My mind tells me that if I were good enough, if, I would be healthy, and full of energy, and ready to take on the world. That I have had enough time to adjust. That I should be done adjusting.

My body, on the other hand, tells me that the reality is that I am not. It wants me to take care of myself. Take my time. Take it easy. Be patient with myself.

And that slow, still, quiet voice in my heart, the one I started to hear when I stopped eating sugar and started putting boundaries around my food, reminds me there is no “should” and no “if.” That if there were another way for it to be, it would be that way. That I am exactly as I should be. Nightmares and eczema and all.
Note to self, sit still and listen to that voice more often…

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.

How I gave up chasing unattainable tail

At the beginning of fall, I bought two new pairs of jeans. I packed away the jeans that I wore every day last winter, and stuck them under my bed. I knew there was nothing to do about gaining weight. I knew I was going to have to wear clothes that fit me this winter. And that last year’s jeans weren’t them.

When I noticed that my metabolism was starting to kick back in and my body seemed to stop getting bigger and start moving in the other direction, I decided I wanted to see how far away I was from my last year’s body. Or more accurately, how far I had to go to get back into last year’s body. I went under my bed, pulled out the jeans and tried them on.

I didn’t think I had any expectations, but it became very clear very quickly that I had indeed. I pulled the jeans up. And that was it. That was as far as it got. There was nothing else to do, except take them back off again. I gained 24.4 lbs from June to January. And apparently, 23.4 of it settled between my waist and my knees.

Thank God I didn’t do this a month ago. I don’t know what I would have done. To myself. I really don’t think I would have been able to handle it. It is a blessing that I waited until I started producing dopamine again. (Thanks God! Good looking out!)

Very quickly and without tears (yet), I realized that I might never get back into those jeans. Or that body. (Since then I have cried about it a few times. I’m crying about it now. But it’s not despair. It’s mourning.)

If I have a lament, it’s that I didn’t know that I was skinny when I was skinny. I knew I loved that body. That I was comfortable in it. But I was skinny. And I didn’t know because I’m a fat girl. And skinny is something I can never be. It is incompatible with my existence. My mind has never been able to wrap itself around the idea. Which is a shame, because I would have liked to have enjoyed the experience.

And then I had an epiphany of sorts. And I took a bold action. Yesterday, I got rid of last year’s pants. I put them in a donation box. I made a decision. A really freaking empowering decision. I will not chase that body. It was a good body. It was beautiful. But it’s in the past.

There are things that I like better about this body compared to that one. I’m more hourglass than I was a year ago. Last year’s body was more pear-shaped. My hips have always been kind of square, and now they are round. I really like the curve from my waist to my hips right now. It’s beautiful. And I have a butt, which has not always been the case.

Oh, right! And I was poisoning that body. It’s not a moral issue for me. I am not lashing myself over having been a smoker. But it is probably safe to say that in the long run, the body I’m not poisoning with cigarettes will end up more beautiful than the body I was.

I like that I have given up the idea that there is a specific mould I’m supposed to fit into to (literally). It gives me a certain amount of freedom to let me be in the body I’m in now. And to let it go where it’s going to go from here. And to let me see the beauty of my body as it unfolds. Instead of stubbornly insisting that my beauty can only exist in a form that doesn’t exist anymore.

And it turns out that stores are still carrying jeans. If I do lose a lot of weight (I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for that, of course…) and need to buy some new ones next fall (I don’t wear pants in the summer), chances are good that there will be a pair or two that fit next year’s body.

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