With all this writing about what I do and don’t eat, why I eat, when I eat and how I feel about eating I have found it easy to forget that the way I appear in the world is much more about the way I feel about myself. In the past a tiny gain in weight was enough to ruin my mood, imagining that I had somehow become a different shape overnight and everyone could see the extra bit of weight on my hips! It sounds ridiculous when I write it down but I know that’s what was going through my head. I’d like to say that giving up the bathroom scales had cured me of this but I think I just put another measure in its place, ie panicking about eating too much like the whole bag of chocolate as I wrote about yesterday.
When I look back on my adult life I can see my weight fluctuating by several stones, me feeling great in tight jeans and a failure in stretchy trousers but when I talk to friends they didn’t notice this; what they did comment on is the way I looked to the world, whether I was happy or sad. I’ve always made an effort with the way I look regardless of my weight: my hair is done, make-up applied and I like to think I coordinate my clothes well but a tiny increase was enough to make me doubt myself, worry about what others were thinking. I’d be very angry if my daughters only judged their worths by the size of their thighs but I can see now that perhaps I passed on a lot of my weight hangups onto them and that’s probably how they do feel. Yes I dressed it up as healthy eating, with the odd random alleged allergy, but the message was probably the same and I can remember telling them occasionally when I felt “fat”. That makes me feel sad. I am worth more than that and they are worth more than that.
I am learning to like myself more. Of course the negative body chatter still goes on when my clothes feel tighter or I’ve eaten more than I eat but I find it easier to shout it down. I might never lose weight, I might end up bigger than I am now but I feel determined that I have better things to do with my life than obsess about what I eat and the size of my stomach!
Or it could be called Setback no 4836.
So it’s all going well and I beginning to think I am getting somewhere. I am putting together a way of being around food (in my head) that works for me. I understand I need to work out what I want to eat, give myself a reasonable amount, leave some on the plate (whenever possible) knowing I can have more later. Nothing is forbidden: I can have it but do I want it? I understand I eat to reward myself, when I am bored and when I know I haven’t had much food that day regardless of whether I am hungry and in hundreds of other ways that I haven’t discovered yet. I know that food is my first go-to drug, the thing that can make me feel happy, damp down my feelings, stop me being bored. I know I want food to get back into its box: be my fuel, enjoyable fuel, but not the answer to all or any of my problems.
So what happened? I had a good day at work, not thinking about food for one second, until I got in the car to drive home when I started thinking about what I would like to eat when I got home. I chose something healthy, ate that when I got back (whilst watching tv – no, no) and then ate a whole bag of chocolate. As soon as I had finished I felt awful: I had stopped halfway through but then got a thought that said “well you might as well finish them so they won’t be there to tempt you”. I don’t even like chocolate that much, especially the chocolate that I was eating, but I felt compelled to eat them all. Why? I think I was considering that I deserved them as I had had a healthy meal (without protein) that didn’t fill me.
Anyway I am not going to dwell on it: I did something I don’t want to do but I am just human even though I don’t like myself very much at the moment. I will get over it.
We had a lovely family day yesterday: a birthday meal, plenty to eat and drink, lots of laughter, a really lovely day. I went to bed feeling blessed and happy. And then I had a horrible dream: the only bit of it I remember clearly is being told I had put on a lot of weight. I woke up feeling awful, and then sad that this obsession I have with my body, my eating, my weight, could impact on me so strongly and spoil the end of a lovely weekend.
The primary feeling I had was shame or embarassment. Perhaps the idea that I could enjoy a family day without monitoring all I was eating and drinking was too much for my subconscious, perhaps it was trying to inflict my old ways of thinking back on me? I sat and thought about it, remembering I hadn’t actually eaten that much so why were these negative voices so strong? And even if I had eaten more than normal why did it matter that much? We don’t do this every day, every week or even every month so one day wouldn’t have a huge impact. It just all seems so pointless and negative.
I don’t want the focus of my life to be on this, I want food to be simply fuel but it seems like parts of me are fighting back and I hated the feeling of shame, the idea of someone really hitting me where it hurts: the way I look and the way I feel about the way I look. I imagine every mouthful causing my hips to expand and I am fighting this really hard, talking to myself with the kindess I use with other people, but it is still fighting back. I still look at photos of friends from school to see if they are bigger or smaller than me: what a sad way to judge the world and the people in it. I realise the fight has just begun just when I was hoping it was getting nearer the end!
After a bit of a wobble I am feeling more positive today. I’m doing something new and that is bound to feel strange, it will take me a while to get used to this way of thinking, and most important of all start to accept myself the way I am. If my weight settles at a higher level than I would like am I going to spend the rest of my life thinking about it, contemplating everything I eat, being tempted by the scales and thinking about going back to dieting? NO! I don’t want to do that so I have to live with the doubt, the nerves,the newness of it all. It’s just very hard, especially when I don’t know where I will end up.
So my latest thought is to distract myself, to think about something else, make sure I am busy and happy and then food/weight won’t matter so much. I don’t need to think about what I weigh, what I look like, what I am eating, what I am allowed etc anymore. If I am really honest my biggest fear is getting fat and people noticing but not saying anything about it. What does that say about me? Do I want or need to be around people who are even remotely bothered about the size I am? I suppose the bottom line is that I need to accept myself and not worry about other people but not being able to do that is probably what got me here in the first place – sigh!