Because so much of my life at this moment is focused on fitness, health and wellness, I have oceans of things I want to share with y’all on those topics. Before diving into the murky depths, I thought I should lay a little groundwork on my relationship to food, diet, exercise and body image so you know where I’m coming from with all of it.
I was a skinny kid. Like rail-thin. And tall. At age 8 my mother, sister and I moved to California to join a cult. Kind of a hippie-ish thing with an oppressive(non-Satanic) religion attached to it. That is a whole slew of other stories. The connection for the purposes of this post is food. Their food was awful. Like truly awful. It was vegetarian before vegetarians had so many options. And as my mom was on staff and we lived in their housing, it was also large quantity cafeteria style. It was a monumental shift from the typical Mid-west American diet I had eaten my entire life to that point. I subsisted off apples and bread for my first year there. Probably a little cheese once in while. So I got even skinnier. And then I went back to typical Mid-west American eating in the summers we spent with our dad and I plumped up like a fatted calf.
Food became many things other than sustenance. It became rebellion, control, comfort, reward. One year after my summer plumping I overheard a friend whisper to another girl, “She’s fat.” That was my first experience with shame regarding the way I look. It wasn’t my last.
My starve during the school year and then binge in the summer pattern paved the way for disordered eating. I started purging at age 12 and then binge eating and purging shortly thereafter. At age 16 I was hospitalized for depression and family issues and I learned the fine art of deprivation, aka starving.
I cycled through anorexia, bulimia and binge eating for most of my adult life. When I was 26, I went to rehab for the not in anyway related substance addictions I had added to my resume. When the gunk was out of my system, I coped by starving myself once more. It was a familiar comfort and one of the only things I was able to control at the time. Luckily, my rehab was stellar(Rimrock Foundation in the house). They quickly recognized my exchange of addiction and put me in the dreaded food group. They made us eat everything we were served, even meat although I had been a vegetarian prior to my stay. And I’ve been one ever since. I also left the treatment center at 225 pounds, the heaviest I had ever been.
My weight fluctuated with my period, the season and most of all, my depressive episodes. I have what’s been called atypical depression which means that I sleep like a hibernating bear and I eat like I’m preparing for that famine. There were times I did great and times I did not. Even when I was doing great, I was not a particularly healthy eater. I eschewed fruits and vegetables, preferring instead carbs and empty sugars.
Weight Watchers changed the fundamentals of how I fed myself. It showed me that if you load your food up with veggies, you get more. More = bueno. I learned how to season food so it was tasty and flavorful and found a repertoire that worked for me. I also found that if I always fit a treat into my daily points, I was satisfied with saving the big caloric splurges for rare occasions and to eat only the things that I really wanted instead of eating to fill a hole or because it was there.
My first experience with WW was a weekly meeting that was held during lunchtime at my place of work. It worked for me because it was easy to attend and I had friends to go with me. It started out as this awesome structure of support and encouragement. I thrive in a setting of structured freedom and I lost weight every week. My friends lost weight in the beginning and then fell off the wagon one by one. The encouragement and support lessened and turned to indifference and attempts at sabotage. I wasn’t derailed by those attempts(certainly unconscious and not malicious) and ended up losing 35 pounds and reaching my goal weight.
I lived Weight Watcher lifestyle, with a few temporary deviations, for the past 14 years to a pretty decent measure of success. Currently I am struggling with the in portion of this calories in, calories out thing life has thrown at us. That switch has not yet flipped back for me. But I feel it coming, in part due to the out portion.
I’ve never been more than an occasional exerciser until 2007 when my girls and I started hitting the gym together. The gym and I were on again, off again ever since. Now I like to walk. Preferably outside. Which is kind of rough this time of year when you live in Oregon. But I have a posse who likes to be physical and inspires me to stick to my game even when I’d rather be under the covers with a good book. I’m loving the camaraderie, the feeling of pushing myself, of meeting my goals and doing it with my favorite peeps. I also love the natural pain management of my sciatica. Moving is the ONLY thing that works for me since my awesome chiro helped me heal from the last excruciating flare.
On the whole, I feel that I’m in a fairly decent place with food, fitness and my body image. It’s certainly better than it ever has been. Is it because I’m older and wiser? Older and suffering from memory loss and forgot those former issues? Because I’m just sick to death of the struggle after forty-almost-five years?
I believe the main factors for me are:
- Having a tribe that supports me in my journey, who encourages me when I’m lacking motivation and sets me straight when my vision starts to distort.
- Witnessing the self-love movement and the positive sisterhood trend. This come on people now, smile on your sister attitude has me positively giddy at the prospect of our daughters not feeling like they have to wear a t-shirt over their swimmies in the pool. Of respecting and loving their temples so much that they put thoughtful consideration of where and when and why, of what substances or sustenance they consume and of who they deem worthy of entry. Of joining their own sisterhood of acceptance, support and inspiration.
- Being of an age, and having slogged through the trenches for many a year, where I realize I don’t know it all, there isn’t only one correct path and getting anywhere of value takes work and someone to watch your back on the road.
This is where I am now:
Age: 45 in November(wish list on Amazon and etsy.com, y’all)
Height: 5′ 10″
Current weight: 181.2
Goal weight: 170
Diagnoses: Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent
Eating Disorder NOS, in remission
Cocaine Addiction, in remission
Alcohol Addiction, In remission
Food sitch: Working toward WW or 80/20 lifestyle
Increasing veggies, fruits and whole grains
No food is forbidden
Eating only what I truly want
Finding satisfying substitutes for unhealthy choices
Body image: General acceptance
My body is strong and healthy
My body is not hideous
My body type is not going to change and that’s ok
My arms are my least favorite body part
My legs are my most favorite body part
My butt is the hus’ favorite of my body parts
Fitness goals: Manage sciatica
Show my kid by example that being active is awesome, fun and important
Make and work toward small goals
Walk a 10K in under 2 hours
Move my butt(and other parts) at least thrice weekly
Walk outside as often as weather permits
Piyo thrice weekly for flexibility and awesomeness
Gain strength and stamina to keep up with my whirling dervish kid
Have fun and spend time being active with my homies
Look better in my clothes
Lose 11.2 pounds
Follow the 80/20 plan with all these goals