Last week, I shared a bit about my journey with eating healthy and body image, and this week I thought I would share some good posts I’ve read recently on weight and/or eating. These are just snippets, CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE WHOLE POST.
Am I heavier than I’ve ever been? Yup. Am I 30 (okay 40) pounds overweight? Yup. Am I happier than I’ve been in years? Yes. Yes. Yes. I feel more alive and more like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do with my life than ever before. My marriage is happier and healthier than it has been since we had the boys over four years ago. I feel like I am being and doing the best that I can for my children and the causes that I support. My husband thinks I’m sexy and tells me so on a regular basis. I am my most authetic self. So why in the world did I get so bent out of shape at one stupid comment? I wish I knew. But I think at the root of it- I know my own shortcomings. I’m harder on myself that anyone else could ever be. So I don’t really need anyone else to point out my flaws- especially about my weight.
Sometimes it seems when everything in my life is going pretty well, I like to toss in a few things to sabotage my wellness by celebrating it with, what else? Food. And specifically, food that isn’t all that good for me. It lets me play this vicitm role which allows me to absolve myself of any responsibility from doing what is right and needed in my life. In short, it lets me eat shit without feeling guilty.
What I don’t want to do is diet in a way that makes me crazy again, so I tried to find a compromise. Lately I’ve been surrounded by the gluten-free (heh); lots of my friends have given up gluten, and this was never more apparent than at my last conference when my friends were rejoicing because the restaurants in the town of Asheville is unusually accommodating for the gluten-free. I decided to go one step further and dump wheat altogether. Well, actually, I decided to give up all forms of carbohydrates other than fruit. This lasted until day two, when I broke down and had some brown rice sushi. So I’ve basically decided no wheat and to keep the other carbs – rice, corn, potatoes – to a minimum. I felt better in two days.
It’s funny though – vegans (and other people demeaningly deemed “health nuts” (NUTS! As in CRAY-CRAY! GEDDIT??!)) invariably get pegged as being the Snotty Judgmental Ones, called out for condescendingly looking down their noses at troglodite non-vegans. But if anything, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. The vast majority of what I’ve heard since going public with the changes I’m making in fact falls along two lines: 1. Good for you, but now I’m going to slowly back away from you warily like you have the plague, because suddenly you’ve gone from being someone I understand to becoming someone I couldn’t possibly relate to (because, clearly, the basis of my relationships with most other humans is about what we eat… Uh, WHAT?). 2. Gee, I wish I could stop eating X/Y/Z things as well, but I can’t, or have convinced myself I can’t (because that’s easier), so your lifestyle changes are making me simultaneously envious AND filled with profound self-loathing. I am, in essence, JUDGING ME FOR YOU. And based on my own judging of me projected onto you, I think you think you’re better than me. BITCH.
As far as I’m concerned, that handful of belly (or two generous handfuls, because who am I kidding here) is a sign of what saved me through this last winter while I learned how to live it sober for the first time in my adult life. Seriously. My comfort foods brought me through some very low moments since last August, and on more than a few occasions they were what kept me from running out to a local dive and sucking back some liquor where no one I knew could see me do it.
Last month I posted about my first experience canning. In the comments, Ana said: “The best part of reading your blog is seeing how you manage to actually do fun/interesting and time-consuming things even with small children in the house.” That made me smile because if only Ana could see all the things I would like to do, but don’t because it’s too much hassle, takes too long, makes too much mess…how many fun things I’ve put off and put off and put off because “who has time/energy for X with all these kids in the house?”
I’m tired of trying to shoe-horn myself into tight little jeans. #1 it’s uncomfortable. #2 nobody deserves the punishing view of me overflowing my denim. Come to think of it, I don’t deserve the punishing view of you overflowing your denim, either. But somehow, we’ve all decided that smashing ourselves into jeans is really pretty awesome. This needs to stop. I mean, at what age is it OK for a woman to stop warring with her womanly curves? I’m dead weary of fighting my curves. Sometimes, wearing jeans just feels like such a cruel thing to do to my childbearing hips.
For a long time I believed that if I could just get skinny enough then I would be happy. It isn’t true. While I am happy that I am healthy and that my body shows that, I want you to know that looking better hasn’t changed my life. It hasn’t made my insecurities go away. It hasn’t made me like myself more. And it hasn’t fixed any of my problems.
The thing is, we always think that the next thing will make us happy.
Can a Feminist Diet? from Sociological Images
That said, recovering from anorexia made me a feminist. While battling for my sanity and health, I became increasingly pissed off at the THIN=BEAUTIFUL*GOOD environment we live in. Our culture’s valorization of thinness caused well-meaning friends to compliment me on my rapid weight-loss, literally up until the weeks that I entered treatment. Even after entering treatment, some people didn’t think I was skinny enough to be “really” anorexic. Worse, my awful then-boyfriend hinted that it would be great if I could recover without gaining any weight, “since you’re not, like, scary-thin.”