I’m in diet recovery. My regular readers probably know that much from what I wrote about the process last summer. I haven’t updated you in a while, though, and I’m sure at least a few of you are curious about how it’s going. This post is for you (and for me, of course.)
Last summer my goal was to lift all restrictions on what and when I ate, and to eat publicly (instead of holing up in the library with the door closed so nobody would see me with my ice cream.) It was wonderful and nerve-wracking at the same time: I feared that without “rules” about what I should or shouldn’t eat, I’d have to keep buying new (bigger) clothes, among other issues.
It’s been about a year since I gave myself permission to eat whatever and whenever I want; a year since I started working on acceptance of the fact that I’m not skinny and will never be, barring starvation (or something very close to it); a year since I finally accepted that how I look in pictures is how people see me, and I just need to get used to it and stop posing in a way that I think makes me look thinner. It’s been a year since I started to entertain the idea that Mr. December wasn’t lying to me every time he said something appreciative about my body; a year since the first time I wore a bikini in public; a year since the last time I stepped on a scale.
So what has changed in that year? I’m happier, that’s what.
I’ve stopped putting myself down. Do you realize how hard it is to be happy when someone’s constantly telling you that your body is unacceptable, and that you’d better get it under control? It’s doubly bad when that someone is yourself. It’s a habit that I’ve given up, to my great benefit.
I’ve really enjoyed my food. I’ve also stopped bingeing. I don’t eat something unless I actually want it. This is a huge change from before, when I’d eat any junk food we had because it wasn’t normally something I “allowed” myself.
I’ve given up the illusion of control over my body size. After a year of observing my body, I’ve learned that it changes from day to day; weight comes on and goes off, depending on what’s happening in my life and how active I’ve been able to be. What hasn’t happened is a continuous expansion of my waistline (or anything else.) I have finally accepted that my body knows what it’s doing (far more than I do, anyway, given that I’m 42 and the body’s finely tuned systems have evolved over millions of years.) Now, instead of admonishing or praising myself for changes to my body size, I just notice the changes: Huh. That’s interesting. Good to know. Sometimes I even take a moment or three to be thankful that I have a body that takes care of me (ensuring that I remain famine-resistant, for example.)
Some of you might be reading this and thinking, “But it’s not healthy to be fat!” Stop right there. You’re concern-trolling, and it’s neither appreciated nor helpful. The bottom line is that diets don’t work in the long run, and people who diet repeatedly (yo-yo dieting or weight cycling) have more health problems and worse outcomes than people who were fat and didn’t try to lose weight. I can’t change my body for a new one even if I want to—and believe me, I’d love to, given my weak joints, asthma, and fibromyalgia—so there’s no point in making delusional (and self-harming) efforts to that end.
I still have some work to do. I still pay more attention to my body size and shape than I think is warranted—I had a hard time deciding to attend a social event with my dance group, because I’ve gained so much weight since I last danced—But I’ve come a long, long way from where I started more than a year ago, and I’m proud of that.