My eating story

I found the following when reading some stuff on my laptop. I felt very moved by what I had written and felt it would be good to share.

There was a time I was happy with my body when I was younger. I had a healthy appetite, ate quite large portions but there wasn’t a lot of snacking or treats. Then, when I became an adult, left school and started work, I gained weight. I was able to decide what I could eat and how much I could eat at the same time as having a sedentary job so my whole way of living changed. I have always wanted my fair share of food: growing up in a large family I needed my share of love and this is how love was displayed. I don’t think I ever considered how much I actually wanted to eat: I ate quickly so I could have more so I could get more love. That feels really sad.

I always paid more attention to negative comments about my appearance than the positive ones. I never felt I mattered or that I was good enough so it was or had become natural for me to obsess on the things that were missing, the things that weren’t right rather than focus on the good bits and let my mind skip over the bits that might not be “perfect”. It was always, and still is, about what I hadn’t done; I feel I am a “Yes, but…” person and that is the opposite of what I want to be and usually claim to be.

I am tall, I am attractive but I have spent too many years focussed on the number on the dial on the scales. An upward shift of even a pound would overwhelm me, giving me a vision of myself as being out of control, destined to become a huge whale of a woman, pointed at and laughed at by everyone. Being mocked brings back so many painful memories for me.

I have spent so many years dieting, losing and gaining weight, wasting time focussing on everything I ate and then giving up, eating anything I wanted. Recently I have become aware that I can’t spend the rest of my life doing this: it makes me unhappy, it makes me focus on something that should be a minor part of my life, it’s boring, I need to spend that energy focussing on something that matters. Need I go on?

Food is too big a part of my life: I eat when I am bored, tired, when I want to reward myself, when I feel stressed. It’s my go-to tranquillizer, it’s my pathetic self obsession that haunts me when I don’t want it to do any more. I have given up dieting, allowed myself to eat what I want but now I am just eating a lot of junk because I can whereas what I really want is to eat like a normal, healthy person, eating food that makes me feel good mentally and physically, food that tastes great so that I can enjoy some of it without having to eat all of it because I know this is a “treat” and they won’t be on the menu for much longer.

Writing this without too much thought makes me aware of how confusing and overwhelming this all feels. It is only food but in my life it is so much more: it is love, it is companionship, it is distraction, it is reward, it is something to do, something to think about. It is a big, huge monster stalking me, overwhelming, stopping me enjoying my life as much as I should. It is all those negative thoughts and looks from my past, it is all the judgements I feel that have been made about me, it is the way I feel about myself, never feeling good enough, never feeling very interesting, never feeling I mattered so I might as well enjoy the food, and plenty of it. I might as well stuff those feelings down my throat with food, but not too much food so I can maintain the illusion that this weight is somehow nothing to do with me, a mysterious unwanted gift not a thing caused by me. What a sad, confused child I sound.

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Losing my weigh

When I started writing this blog I knew I couldn’t carry on with the endless dieting cycle I had been on for all of my adult life: losing weight, gaining weight, knowing the calorie content of every food in the universe, talking negatively to myself all the time, having a rubbish life. I wanted to do something different: I wanted to feel normal around food, I wanted to not worry about a number on the scales, I wanted food to be nourishment, not the answer to my problems, my friend when I was lonely, something to do when I was bored. I wanted it all to go away.

I have read endlessly about how to give up dieting, how to live with food again and I thought I had come up with the solution. I couldn’t ban foods anymore, I needed to think about what I wanted to eat, I needed to eat slowly, I needed to think about whether I was hungry and what for, I needed to use food for its original purpose and not for everything that was wrong with my life. I understood the logic, I threw out the bathroom scales, I stopped wearing clothes that were too fitted as a tiny feeling that they had tightened would be enough to send me back into a dieting panic. I thought I was doing all the right things, but now I feel I am back at the beginning.

I suppose I thought that I would go through the months I have gone through, thinking about what I am doing, working hard to overcome all these issues, and would emerge as a smaller person, magically transformed into the person I wanted to be, physically at least. But today I had to wear my swimming costume and it took me right back to the world of self doubt and insecurity, with those negative voices screaming abuse in my head. It feels so sad, so demoralising, so unfair.

So I go back to the start, I remember how I want to be, I start all the intial steps all over again, trying to feel positive but feeling scared about my future and uncertain where I shall end up.

Checking myself out

I look in the mirror quite a lot: when I’m at home I will stop to consider what I see. When I am out I will sneak a quick glance when I get the opportunity. I’m not looking at my face. I like my face, it’s me and I like the way I look to the world. That bit’s ok. No, it’s the rest of me I am looking at.

I will turn sideways to see if my jumper is resting on my hips (then tell myself off for having a big bottom), I will look at my back to see if there are signs of back fat (then move everything around to reduce it), I will look at my trousers and if they seem too short then I will conclude it’s because my hips are getting bigger so they are moving up to compensate. Day after day, constant negativity, constant criticism. It doesn’t matter if people compliment me, tell me I look good, I will still insist on doing myself down.

One problem is not knowing what my body should look like: I’ve been so tied up with dieting for so long, losing and gaining weight, that I have no idea what I would look like. If I stopped dying my hair I can guess it would end up back as a mousy brown with lots of grey, but when I get to the end of this part of my life, when I feel at ease with my body, my weight, my eating, what will my body look like? Of course I’d like to imagine it will be slender, full of vitality, no rolls of fat lingering but maybe this current version of me is the me that I will always be, perhaps I won’t change, but how will I know? I don’t want to keep focusing on weight, on my body, but when will I feel ready to stop looking in the mirror and just know I am there?

Another step

I’m sure I’ve said before how frustrating I find this process: understanding what I need to do, trying to do it but having to wait so long for results. I want to change my thinking and I know I have to do that slowly, in baby steps, not rushing anything, but I want to get to the end. I want my thinking to be different, my mind to be different, I suppose I want me to be different and, being really honest (and what has really only occurred to me while sitting writing this) I don’t want to put in all the hard work. That’s a bit strange, as I was always a champion dieter: once I decided on a plan I stuck with it, losing weight faster than most of my friends, following the rules religiously. This feels different: there aren’t any rules, I have to trust myself not follow someone else’s plan. It’s hard for me.

Often I feel blown off my course: I can wake up feeling positive and then decide I’m letting myself go (for no other reason than I look at myself differently) and then I seem to go into a decline. I have to keep fighting those voices in my head, those negative irritating voices that tell me how awful I am, how I should be slimmer, basically how my whole existence and its meaning is dependent upon my dress size! Sounds ridiculous when I write it down.

So I am going to keep working, I am going to keep telling those voices to shut up, I am going to keep trusting myself. This is just one more step forward.