My tap measure finally arrived*, and I took my measurements. It’s official. I’m the fattest I’ve ever been in my life–or at least any time I’ve measured my boobs, waist, and hips. I knew I was up there because my favorite pair of pants were getting tighter, and the number on the scale at the doctor’s a month ago confirmed my suspicions; this is just crossing the t and dotting the i. I’ve been slowly working on removing things from my diet as a way to eat more healthily, starting with chips and then adding baked goods, but I backtracked today and bought cookies for the holidays. No, i’m not going anywhere or seeing anyone–they’re all for me. It’s better than buying muffins or cookies every time I went to the store, however, and this will be the last batch I buy, at least for a while.
I have to be careful how I plan on losing weight because I’ve dealt with eating disorders all my life. I was an overeater as a kid, partly because of childhood traumas and partly because my mother put me on my first diet when I was seven. She’s obsessed with her weight as well, something I didn’t realize until I was an adult. She disguises it by claiming it’s about her health, but it’s not completely true. If so, she would just eat better and exercise and not care about the scale or that she’s wearing smaller-sized clothing. In addition, when I was anorexic (twice), my mom made catty comments about how now I was smaller than she was, and she wasn’t being complimentary. There was a competitiveness to her that wasn’t pleasant, especially as I was struggling with the eating disorder itself. And, when I was in Taiwan the last time, she had to comment on my weight to the point where later, I wrote her a letter saying that any mention of my weight was off-limits. She protested saying she was just concerned about my health, but I knew that was bullshit because it was always my weight she mentioned. And, when I was anorexic, she never mentioned my health at all.
Anyway, I’ve written ad nauseam about how I’m wary about dieting or focusing on what I eat at all because I slip so easily into ED (eating disorder) thinking, even when I think I’m being rational and healthy about my decisions. I can start out being relatively healthy and then quickly become disordered in my thinking. Next thing I know, I’m staring at pictures of dessert for hours a day and fainting on the dance floor at a First Ave. concert. Believe me, I did not intend to end up in that situation, but it was inevitable given how crazed I’d become about my dieting. That’s the thing that scares me. I don’t intend to become trapped in my eating disorder thinking when I start to diet, but it’s always hovering just underneath my consciousness. I don’t know where that line is or if I’m just deluding myself into thinking that I wasn’t being disordered in my thinking from the very start. I know that the first time I lost a large amount of weight, I did it in an unhealthy way. I cut my intake down to roughly a thousand calories a day and exercised up to seven hours a day. This was the summer before I left for college, and I couldn’t keep up that exercise regime once I entered college. Instead, I cut down my intake even further. I ate a bowl of oyster crackers for lunch and another for dinner along with a piece of fruit (I didn’t eat breakfast and still don’t), and I’d be so starved by two in the morning, I’d binge on five or six packets of chips from the vending machine. Then, I’d feel guilty, so every few days, I’d throw up what I ate. That’s how my bulimia started, though I didn’t think of it in that way because I never did it more than twice a week. I know, I know. Bulimia is like pregnancy–you can’t be just a little bulimic any more than you can be a little pregnant. Granted, once or twice a week was better than every day or several times a day, but it’s the same mentality, which is not a healthy one in the least.
The problem is when I decide not to go down that road any longer, I do a 180 and give up everything I’d been doing up until that point. It’s a sensible reaction in the moment. I needed to get away from the behaviors that had trapped me into ED thinking, so I stopped counting calories and all my exercise. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, which would be OK except that I don’t have a sense of when I’m hungry or not unless I haven’t eaten all day long or I eat to the point where my stomach is physically hurting me. So, instead of not eating all day long, I eat all day long, and as a result, I steadily gain weight. I lost twenty pounds about a year ago when the antidepressants I was trying at the time suddenly went bad on me. All my safe SSRI decided they didn’t want to play nice with me and made me feel suicidal. I stopped eating and lost twenty pounds in two months without even trying, but I wouldn’t recommend that as a diet plan. I’ve gained that back and more, and it’s reached the point where I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. I mean, I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror regardless, but now I’m wincing at even the slightest glimpse.
I want to be excruciatingly clear that I’m not worried about my health in this scenario. I go to taiji 3-4 times a week, which is good for my health. I have low blood pressure and while one of my cholesterol levels is slightly high (the bad one) and one is slightly low (the good one), it’s pretty decent overall. I want to add more movement to my daily activities–say, doing the Sword Form and the Saber Form every day, but that’s pretty minimal compared to what I used to do. Again, my problem is that I’m wary of anything that smacks of disordered thinking, and because I’ve struggled with it all my life, I have a hard time discerning what actually is disordered thinking. Counting calories? Disordered thinking to me. There was a time when I could tell you the caloric count of everything in a single glance. I counted every damn calorie that went into my mouth, and it’s not something I can do without making a big deal out of it. As a result, I don’t count at all. I don’t even look at the caloric count of foods because it makes me anxious.
That’s part of the problem, though. Everything is all or nothing with me. Either I’m counting everything or I’m counting nothing, and there has to be middle ground in there somewhere. If I start counting, though, I’m afraid I’ll never stop. I can remember agonizing about an extra ten calories or feeling guilty because i couldn’t give up my chocolate. I’d cut other things out to make my self-imposed 1,2000 calorie cap, and it wasn’t healthy in the least. By the way, I was just looking for songs that have to do with eating disorders, and on one of the forums, people were saying you can’t “just get over” an ED. I would beg to differ. For most people, you can’t, but I did quit being anorexic cold turkey, twice. These people would say my ED wasn’t real, but they’d be wrong. I just switched to a different one–overeating. This is one thing I hate about group mentality, regardless of issue. “If you don’t experience this exactly as I do, then it’s not real.” There’s a twisted sense of how recalcitrant your particular ED is and anyone who hasn’t suffered as much isn’t hardcore. It’s so fucking dismissive and irritating. Anyway, I decided that I’d include a P!nk song instead, one which fits how I feel about myself much of the time. Plus, I love P!nk, so there’s that.
Anyway, this is not about fitness or health, even though I’m trying to make better choices. I’m slowly adding fruits and vegetables back into my diet. My mom made me eat them all the time when I was a kid, so I rebelled by dropping them. Yeah, I know it’s not very mature of me, but I don’t claim that I’m not juvenile in some ways. The thing is, I like many fruits and vegetables, so I really was only hurting myself. Now, I’m eating an orange a day as part of my taiji regime (it’s good for lactic buildup), and I’m trying to eat a salad every day as well. Not a lettuce salad, though, because fuck iceberg lettuce, but one with baby spinach leaves as the base. I add avocado because it’s fucking delicious, sunflower seeds, grapes, grape tomatoes, and baby carrots. Sometimes, I add ham, but I’m trying to cut down on my meat intake. I pour a small amount of full-fat blue cheese dressing over the whole thing, pop a LACTAID pill, and enjoy the hell out of my salad. As I’ve said before, I use full-fat products, but just less of them, because they taste better than low-fat/no-fat and are more satisfying. The only exception is skim milk because I actually like that better than any of the fuller-fat versions.
Having said all that, my decision to lose weight is strictly about looks. I hate how I look. I feel gross and like a beached whale. Yes, I know I could work on accepting myself as I am (and I’ve tried, god knows I’ve tried), but I just don’t feel good at this weight. I could go into a dissertation about why that is, but we all have things that make us feel better about ourselves, most of which are influenced in one way or the other by the mainstream. There’s nothing inherently wrong with me wanting to lose weight to feel better about myself–it’s just how do I do it in a way that doesn’t end up with me in a hospital somewhere. I’ve put off dealing with it for so long in part because I don’t know where that middle ground is. How do I set up an exercise schedule that doesn’t start feeling like a cage? How do I not end up feeling compelled to do it every day, regardless if I’m sick or simply not up to it? How do I keep it from becoming yet something else with which to cudgel myself over the head?
In the same vein, how do I not become rigid in my eating? I tend to eat the same thing every day anyway, so how do I stop myself from calcifying? I’ve tried things like buying one new thing a week,but I never managed to keep up with it. I’d stop out of boredom or just by slipping back into my regular habits. I think part of the problem is that I don’t cook, so it’s easy to just buy the same prepared foods every time I’m at the store. Even when I buy deli food, it tends to be the same thing. I know that’s part of my disordered thinking–not even considering anything outside my normal purview. I’m trying to break free from it, but it’s not easy. I feel like I have to change so many behaviors as well as more than a few thoughts, it almost doesn’t feel worth even trying. I’m feeling something similar with taiji, ironically. I’m in a place where there are so many refinements I could be working on, I don’t want to do any of them. Anytime I think of one part of my posture that I need to refine, I think of three or four more that I need to work on as well. It’s one reason I love the sword so much. I’m still in that stage of, “Hey, I’m pretty damn good at this!”, and I have to admit that it’s nice not to have to worry about the refinements. I know that will come later, but for now, I can just enjoy the sword.
Anyway, back to dieting. I need to refine my previous plans (or throw them out and do something completely different), but I don’t have a teacher to guide me through it as i do in taiji. I’m doing this on my own, and the margin of error is small. I’m somewhat heartened that I’m at least aware of the errors I made the last two times, which theoretically should help me from falling into the same trap again. However, I said that the last time as well, and I ended up in the same place again, so I’m not sanguine that I’ll do better this time. I have to, though. I can’t keep living the way I am. I’m hoping that the incremental changes I’m making will help me in the long run. It’s all I have at this point.
*Why it took a month and a half, I don’t know, but it’s two weeks earlier than it was scheduled to arrive, so yay?