Saturday, December 29, 2007

Weighty issues.

Tish came to SnB on Thursday and the discussion turned to her remarkable experiences with GBPS and recovery. Hearing her talk about it and mirror so much of my own experience with food and weight was exactly what I needed at the exact right time. I am deeply moved by her struggle, both for her sake and for mine.

These issues are right on the front-burner for me too right now and it is tough to deal with them “alone”. I know my friends all support me and I am truly not ashamed of my body or my weight, but I do feel lonely about it: I am alone dealing with my body and what I need to do about it, and though we all have our own body issues and assorted related syndromes, nobody in my circle of friends is in a similar condition. I have acquaintances who are women of larger sizes (some knitters, some in singing circles) but not one of my close friends is actively dealing with this right now.

Don't get me wrong - I don't expect or even want to be what anyone would refer to as a skinny or svelte. I am not biologically destined to be a slender sylph in this life. I will always be a bodacious babe, and I am just fine with that - very good, in fact. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a zaftig woman of surprisingly good health so far, despite having spent 40-something mostly sedentary years on this earth (except for that brief period of relative fitness from 2000-02, achieved by somewhat obsessive means). Due to my varying Rubenesque proportions, I have a rotating wardrobe in every size from 14 to 26. I love myself and my body at all those sizes, though to be completely honest I have to admit that I am most comfortable in my skin somewhere in the middle, around sizes 16/18.

I am also politically motivated to combat the zeitgeist of fat phobia - the last permissible bigotry. With the onslaught of reality shows and "helpful" talk shows, from the fashion industry to news reports of the latest studies on obesity, it is very easy to become caught up in the media frenzy and buy into the myths of fat vilification. The word itself, "fat", has become overloaded with anxiety and negative values. It has taken on disproportional connotations of shame and mortification, and no longer functions as noun or adjective, but is used almost as a swear word. Women in particular are bombarded with the message that if we are fat, then we are physical, emotional and spiritual cripples and I refuse to participate in or perpetuate that mythology. We owe it to ourselves and our daughters to combat the tyranny of our fat phobic society and how it targets and denigrates women.

But, politics and social issues aside, I do want to live a long and healthy life. I want to enjoy my body in all forms of physical expression and I want it to work for me as I pursue my other goals in life. I am currently about 40 lbs lighter than Tish was when she had her surgery, and I am grateful that my health hasn’t yet gone too far down the river. But it is sending up lots of flares (my blood pressure spikes last spring and summer, I’m prone to infection, etc.) and I am paying attention because I refuse to let it get dangerous and inaction now guarantees it will get worse. I am definitely not going the surgical route (despite my mother’s urging and offers to pay for everything a few years ago).

I have vowed that I am never going to diet again. Yo-yo dieting and the inevitable deprivation/obsession mindset it creates are how I got up to this size in the first place! Instead, I am determined to take better care of my health and to eat a fairly well-balanced selection of foods, mostly from the healthier ends of the dietary spectrum. I have already revamped a lot of my home cooking and I’m back on the exercise wagon I tumbled off when I was sick in October.

Still, I recognize that I need an emotional support system especially for this process, over and above what I get from DH and my excellent therapist, and I’m not going to go to a program (One day I’ll share more about my history with some supposedly helpful weight-related programs, but for now suffice to say that I have learned that they are not for me). And it is hard for me to reach out for support about this - or most things, actually. I am usually the one providing the shoulder for others, and though I do share my story with people openly, I tend not to let the feelings really come out (except for my husband and my shrink). I need to learn to reach out more because if left to my own devices I will just internalize all the issues that come up, especially those about weight and food and all the associated baggage.

So (deep breath), here goes: I would be very grateful for any and all support and encouragement, and especially now while I get used to actually asking for help if you check in on me once in a while (here, by email or by phone) I’ll be grateful.

And on that note I need to go defrost the fish and clean some vegetables for dinner.


Carol said...

Ah yes, the whole diet vs healthy meals thing. I too have donet he diet program thing. Works for a whie. Then the chocolate backons. December was bad. Too many choclates adn cookies etc around. However, in january, I plan on returning to my healthy meal rotation. I have a family history of diabetes and would like to avoid that if at all possible. So I will be rigourous with the healthy meal plan for a while and actually usse the bike in my living room daily. This is the plan. We shall see. I'll cheer you on if you cheer me! (Hey I rhymed!)

Lisa said...

This is me sending you lots of love and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

My prof side reads and watches. My mothering side seems to kick in as well. I highly believe in a support system but my google acct simply won't kick in so as to give you my e-mail. Absolutely, healthy food choices are really valuable and can make a big difference long term. Good luck.