Being thin doesn’t solve your problems.
Yes, people told me that back during my days of being (nearly morbidly) obese, but I’ll be damned if I ever believed them. I fell right into that trap of thinking that if I were skinny, I could find love. That I would be happy. That all of the negative thoughts and feelings I had been carrying with me for the first 25 years of my life would just magically go away. I mean, intellectually, I understood that it couldn’t really be that way….but since I had always connected my weight with everything that was wrong, at the same time I just had faith that it would all get sorted out if I could get my weight under control.
But, it didn’t get all sorted out. I was still a total mess, just in a smaller pair of pants.
Now I don’t want to belittle the magnificent benefits to losing 95 pounds. The difference in quality of life is huge. Truly unmeasurable. For the first time in my life, I could shop at any old store I wanted. I didn’t feel like people were looking at me with disgust when I went grocery shopping or ate out at a restaurant. I did find the confidence to pursue a relationship. I wasn’t always sweaty and out of breath when doing normal things like standing on the bus ride home. I learned how to swim, I ran races, went on hikes, learned how to (half ass) cook and most recently worked up the nerve to learn how to bike. All things that I had never thought I’d ever be able to master. It’s unbelievable how different I became.
And also unbelievable how much I hadn’t changed at all.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve put about 30 of those lost pounds back on, which I think is part of the reason I have shied away from blogging. I just didn’t know how to face the world as a failure. I have become that statistic…that one that says that most people who lose weight gain it all back within X amount of years. Here I am, pants 2-3 sizes larger than they were in 2009 and I wonder, what happened. How did I go from this person that was getting all of this positive attention about the amazing feats I achieved, to one who is afraid to blog, feeling like a loser and struggling to keep herself squeezed into these size 10 Levi’s because she thinks the world might be over if she has to buy a size 12 and teeter on heading back into the plus sized clothing department.
What happened, I believe, is that while I learned about nutrition, exercise and health, I never cracked the nut on why I was ever fat to begin with. When I really started to focus on this question, I came to the conclusion that I have an eating disorder. So I started researching eating disorders…..and then felt even worse off. Why? Because it appears that most people don’t seem to recognize emotional eating, over eating or being overweight as an eating disorder at all. It’s like you have to be anorexic or bulimic, and if you don’t have the common decency to starve yourself or vomit up your mistakes, then you’re actually just a lazy piece of garbage who deserves the ridicule that you receive. Really, this mentality makes me want to run to the store for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s like nothing else.
Recently I’ve started listening to “Live.Love.Eat“, the podcast affiliated with the “Paleo for Women” website. While there is a paleo leaning towards the content, it is mostly about people telling their stories. What I immediately appreciated is that there are people who are expressing all sorts of battles with food, weight and body image. And for the first time I heard a couple of people discuss what it is like to live with disordered eating that involved emotional eating and over eating…and they were actually referring to it as an eating disorder. It was very empowering to hear about their struggles, not as people who had no self control, but instead, people who have had unhealthy relationships with food that they constantly have to work on. Something that isn’t solved by Weight Watchers, O.A., Jenny Craig or taking a trip to The Biggest Loser ranch. Something that is deep inside that has to be acknowledged and attended to.
I also loved how an eating disorder was defined in one of the episodes. It was said that you know you have an eating disorder when you eat/relate with food while alone in a manner that you would never allow other people see.
How last year I would wait until my boyfriend left the room to eat another cookie. The way I go an entire day eating clean and not overindulging with friends, then come home and eat an entire pint of ice cream with a side of cookies.
It’s like a skeleton in my closet. My big secret, which has never been much of a secret given how visible the aftermath is over time.
I don’t know exactly how it is going to happen….what I am going to do to change this situation. But my current goal in life is to figure out what the deal with me and food is. I’d like to see myself someday not be embarrassed, making excuses for what I ate because other people ate “better”. Someone who doesn’t associate eating 1600 calories when I know my friend only ate 1200 as something that is worthy of shaming myself over. Someone who doesn’t reach for food when bored, sad, alone, scared, happy or stressed.
As hard as losing 95 pounds was, I imagine this will probably be much more difficult.