When I started sketching out what I wanted from the blog, I thought it would be a fabulous idea to begin at the beginning and address the main pillars of living a mindful life: spirituality (soul, mind), movement (body), breathing (body), and eating (body). While I categorize my entries either as mind, body, or soul, many of these pillars cover more than one thing. Sure breathing is life-giving in body but it also quiets the mind. Same with movement. Spirituality nurses the soul but using it as a foundation for finding a community that you can become a part of is also of the mind.
Eating follows the same path and is another pillar.
I’m an overeater and I use food as a substitute for emotional and mental release.
Like 99.99% of those who identify as women, I’ve been sexually harassed as well as having been date raped multiple times. I have also struggled with self-image problems for the entirety of my life. Being “fat” protects me from futher sexual abuse and tells me lies about my mind and my self.
I don’t remember a time I wasn’t dieting because I was “fat” when pictures of my youth tell a wholly different story. I am tall for a girl (I’m 5’10”) and because of my height, I did not nor do not fit into standard issue clothing. (Being fat and tall, lol, right.) The story my mother loved to tell as I was such a big baby (11lbs 7oz; 24″ long), my grandmother had to come with 12-month-old sized baby clothes because I couldn’t fit into what the hospital had given my mother. And because I could not fit in clothes that were was accepted for my age (going forward), I was labeled an “other.” And that otherness shaped my entire life.
My mother put me on a diet when I was about 10 or 11. I remember being weighed and clocked in about 113-117lbs. I was about 5’2 or so. I was told by my family I was “fat.” I ate pineapple, grapefruit, and cottage cheese for so long as a kid, I get terrible memory flashbacks as an adult. When I was 13, I was 5’9 and about 140lbs. I used to watch exercise shows obsessively determined I could get back to 120lbs and have rock hard abs.
I remember my mother took me a modeling agency when I was 15 or so. I was told at 145lbs, I was “too fat” to model and needed to lose 20 or so pounds. That went over well.
When I was 17, I was 5’10 and 170lbs.
In every one of those pictures from my early life, I don’t look just average, in some, I look positively underweight.
But I was “fat.”
And no matter what I weighed (my highest was 326), I’ve always been “fat.”
I needed to rethink my relationship with food, what I was using it for, and how to give myself a better quality of life.
Last summer, my partner and I got colds and they were pretty horrific. I spent a good four or five days on the couch with tissues, cough drops, and trashy TV to sustain me. In my mindless wandering of something to watch, I stumbled across My 600lb Life, a reality show that “examines” (my quote marks) and exploits (totally) people who are beyond morbidly obese, sometimes beyond 100lbs or even 200lbs. The carrot, from what I have seen, is the “stars” of the show get bariatric surgery as we also follow along with their lives before and after the surgery is completed. For many, it’s a godsend but for others, we are told, they are shamed when it is discovered they were eating six meals at McDonald’s in one go as the camera pans to their secrets laying on the floor of their car.
I saw how easy it was to live a 600lb life. Eating for soothing purposes was “easier” than keeping your body in motion. Having a healthy relationship with food seems “hard” when it is far easier to sustain that rather than trying to drop 100, 200, or even 300lbs from your body.
That’s when I started becoming self-aware in my struggle to maintain a healthy relationship with my body and my dependence on food for support. My self-esteem and confidence are shot because I hate myself so much and because I hate myself so much, I’m overeating for that quick endorphined high where I don’t feel like I hate myself even for a minute. And in the process, I kept telling myself I was fine because I didn’t have any problems typically associated with being fat (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease)
It’s a never ending cycle. My own private ouroboros. I am exhausted and I want to stop eating my own tail.
In late January, my partner and I decided to make the lifestyle changes we need to make for a healthier and longer lasting life. Not long after, he found out he has diabetes so that doubled down our decisions. In early February, we started a no added sugar, low sodium and carb, no cow dairy, and no gluten (for me) diet. Since the beginning of January when he was at his heaviest, he has lost over 30lbs. Me? Even after weeks of being on the straight and narrow, I take every opportunity to overeat. Friends in town? Time to binge. Period coming? Time to eat all the things. From February 10 to mid-March, I lost 11lbs but it was the hardest 11lbs I have ever lost. As we begin to head into May, I’m bouncing around the same five pounds lost / gained in the last month. I am struggling now to not put a time limit on how much weight to lose before a specific date. If I don’t poop on a daily basis, or my period is coming, or I’m stressed, I can weigh as much as five pounds from one day to the next. My body is literally fighting me to get the weight off.
It’s hard. It’s hard accepting these things about yourself that is self-sabotaging to your health because it is, as you see it, failure. And when you’re a failure, you need to self-soothe and the process begins all over again.
And I haven’t even started on the societal roles placed on those who are deemed “fat” (whether actual or perceived) or the diet industry in itself because that’s another post or twelve.
I want to get this post at the beginning of the blog because in order to accept mindfulness as part of my life, I need to accept and let go of things that have been harming me and stalling a participating life. It’s scary accepting the things and working past them but I want to a live a participing life rather than a paralyzed one.