Thursday, July 14, 2005

My loss is my gain

It comes as no small surprise to me that each week, the scale shows me a weight that is exactly one pound less than it was the week before. This trend has been continuing for several weeks, and no one is more surprised than me. There are a number of issues that begin swirling in my head when I think about this.

Firstly, it has come to my attention that I never thought I could do this. Not that I didn’t think I was good enough or strong enough. I quit biting my fingernails cold turkey when I was twelve. I quit a pack-a-day cigarette habit even colder turkey fifteen years later. So it’s not that I doubt my ability to do the difficult stuff. But when I think about body image and the body dysmorphia I have—well, I’ve never hesitated (at least, never in my adult life) to flaunt what I’ve got. I haven’t let my fatness stop me from having a great relationship, a great job, buying a house, being a person. I have looked at myself in the mirror and thought, yep, you look good, considering the circumstances.

Those circumstances though? Literally, it never occurred to me before last September that I could change those. In fact, I have spent my entire life thinking, well, this is the hand I have been dealt, this fatness. I will simply make the best of it. And to a large extent, I’ve done just that. I have always thought of myself (and been thought of by others) as super confident. My line is that I have, if anything, a little too much self esteem. And yet, and yet, I have walked through this life in a body that would seem to broadcast the exact opposite. And more than that, I have done nothing to prove that billboard wrong.

Until now, that is. More on this in a moment.

I guess what I’m wondering is, that body dysmorphia, that…well, we’ll call it an ability…to look in the mirror, see a woman who was somewhere in the neighbourhood of a hundred pounds overweight (and is now 70-some pounds over the line) and feel ok about the reflection: is that good or bad? Healthy or not? I don’t know. I think the lack of self-loathing is good. I think the lack of motivation to change was very, very bad indeed.

How did I get here? I guess I woke up from a long, long dream. Felt a pain in my knee, finally, finally realised it was from carrying around that extra hundred pounds and thought: right, this ends now.

Even then, I was a little unfocused, for months and months. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances (relentless work-related travel, my dad died, Taco and I were in a monumentally frightening car crash), but still, it took me from last September until the first week of May to figure out that half-assing it was not going to result in a smaller behind, so to speak.

And now? Now I feel unstoppable. On Sunday, I worked out THREE TIMES because it felt so good the first and second times, I didn’t want to stop. Weights with M&C at my house, a 60-minute walk outside, and a yoga DVD. On Saturday, I bought new cross trainers. Walked right into Aerobics First like I belong there (which of course I do, though that would NEVER have occurred to me a year ago) and dropped a hundred and fifteen bucks on some New Balance sneaks without blinking an eye. Because, as the ad says, I am worth it. Yes I am.

I am eating cherries and carrots and quinoa (not all together, that’s just weird) and loving it, but that’s no surprise. My problem was never not eating well. I mean, I am the only person I know who eats salad every day. I always have. Italian and all, you know. But I’ve figured out that if I don’t cram the food in, I don’t need as much of it. And if I forget, and I do cram the food in, I tend to realise that I’ve done so as I eat the last bite. And instead of going for more because I feel ripped off that I spaced out and didn’t enjoy eating it, I say, oh well, self. You’ve eaten your fuel, you forgot to enjoy it, maybe you’ll pay more attention next time. Or, I figure out some exercise to do so I can make room to eat more should I still desire it when the workout is done.

And this, I think, is how the thin world lives. Oh my god, I get it. I get that if you look at your food log (ok, the thin world doesn’t keep food logs, but in their head they do, for sure they do, that’s HOW THEY’RE THIN) and you see that calorically speaking, you’re right on track for the day, but percentage wise, wow, that’s a lot of fat you’ve eaten, well you can figure out something with complex carbs to eat to balance it.

I realise, additionally, that all my life I have felt, in general, that there was a piece of information that everyone except me seemed to have about how to be in the world and be happy. Do I think that I have now found it? Yes. Do I think it is related to food and exercise? Well, no. But somehow, that September day last year, a lock in my head tumbled, and out fell this new way to live, and here I am, and I no longer feel like I’m not in on the secret, and oh boy, oh mister, what a goddamn relief that is!

It’s not so much about the eating and exercising. But it’s not NOT about that, either. It is, I think, about living in the world right now. Not scheming and planning for the future (a future in which magically I am no longer fat, because I schemed and planned though never actually DID anything, because, see above: I didn’t know I could, or was entitled to, or some other equally absurd idea, and yet somehow, I got thin simply by wanting it. Oh, that’s a good one!), not analysing and regretting the past. I don’t hit the mark all the time, of course. But it seems I’m hitting it often enough. Staying mostly mindful when I eat (and most other times, too, come to think of it), or at least realising that I should have and working harder at it the next time. Realising that it makes me feel good to exercise. That I have never, ever regretted working out. That I am perfectly happy to exercise for 60 to 90 minutes a day, every day, especially if it means I can sometimes eat pineapple upside down cake, as I did last night.

I realise there’s a chance that someday, this easy pound-a-week pace will dry up and I’ll have hit a plateau. I will probably feel frustrated when that happens. But I hope I’ll also feel that what I’ve gained thus far is so much more important than what I’ve lost.


Blogger Wendy said...

Hey chica - I have managed to catch a glimpse of this feeling once in a while - it reveals itself to me as a "be HERE, now" sentiment - and I think you're right. it's a bit magical, to pull off the veils we have somehow placed over food, exercise, our feelings. it's fulfilling to say, look at this moment, look at all that surrounds me and fills me, look at the person I am, right now, what I have accomplished. and it's empowering.

I too never really thought I could do this. I mean I know *how* to lose weight, but I've never gotten all the way there - and just never really imagined myself all the way there. Still having a hard time with this actually. But uncovering the realization that you don't believe in yourself, well, that's a HUGE first step, right?

Keep on blogging, Steph. I love reading you. Oh, and your song choice? Also my own personal anthem. Good taste you have there! ;)

4:13 PM  
Anonymous fb said...

Thanks for that post, it was great to reminisce about how it used to feel, I think I have forgotten! It was a great post, I read every word of it, fantastic, and impressive. You are on the road, I am still “half-assing” it as you say on the side lines, maybe I will be able to catch you on the next lap!

Every pound off is 4 pounds of pressure off you knees, that means 120 pounds so far, great! I don’t think you need to worry about hitting any plateau with all the extra exercise you are doing, your metabolism will probably pick up quite a bit to compensate.

Keep going you are an inspiration!

1:07 AM  
Anonymous dietgirl said...

oooh you are brilliant, i love this post. everytime i come here you've learned more about yourself than the last time :)

and there is no reason why it won't keep coming off... not many people genuinely plateau. i've thought i was on one in the past realised all i'd actually done was stop following the plan ;)

7:51 AM  
Blogger eli said...

That was a lovely post. Found your blog reading "Road to ambition". I totally agree about the now feeling. We have to enjoy what we do, as no-one can ensure that a future exists. I don't mean this in a negative way, it's just life is like that, it can end at any moment. So that it why it is so important to enjoy every second of life, including the road that takes us to a goal. I also feel great the more exercise I do. I find myself smiling, more happy, more energetic, and basically more alive. Liking the food is algo important,( instead of giving a piece of lettuce the evil-eye ). Not only is this good for ourselves, but that goal will be achieved will less strain and before you know it you will be there. All the faith in you


10:21 PM  

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