Body Love and Dieting: They’re Not Mutually Exclusive

At the recommendation of a very dear friend, I have started reading “Things No One will tell Fat Girls” by Jes Baker aka “The Militant Baker”. If you’re not familiar with either of those names, here’s the SparkNotes version. “The Militant Baker” is a blog written by Jes Baker which is all about body love, body image, feminism, and fatshion. To be completely honest, I’ve never read her blog. Jes is, in short, one of the biggest voices in the body love world right now.

I’m currently twenty-seven pages in and I am struggling. I just finished reading a guest essay about diet culture and how it’s basically the root of all evil. The essay is called Living the Dream at 250 Pounds or “Why Diet Culture is Full of Shit and can Suck my Lady Dick” by Virgie Tovar of #LOSEHATENOTWEIGHT. Basically, the essay says that if you’re dieting, you can’t possibly love yourself. Which…what? I do agree that diet culture can be toxic when taken too far. When people cross the line between dieting/healthy living and pro-ana (anorexia) ideology. Eating disorders are incredibly serious and it’s very possible to cross that threshold from “dieting” to “disordered eating”, trust me…I’ve crossed it. But losing weight in and of itself, isn’t harmful. Wanting to get healthy so you no longer get winded from a flight of stairs isn’t harmful. Wanting to make sure you live a long life so you can see your nieces and nephews grow up isn’t harmful.

I’m currently eleven pounds shy of my highest known weight, actively following Weight Watchers and exercising, and I’m honestly the happiest I’ve ever been. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see something or someone I hate. I just see myself; a 25 year old woman who has a great job, a beautiful home, and an adorable but trouble making puppy. I see a woman who went on vacation this summer and wore several two-piece bathing suits and didn’t bother covering up. I have a boyfriend who treats me like a princess, and loves me exactly as I am, but also gives me his full support while I’m on this weight loss journey. A boyfriend who makes me feel beautiful even when I first wake up and have mascara in the corners of my eyes and ogre-like morning breath. Making healthy choices and going on daily walks, which I happen to love, doesn’t negate any of that. It adds to it. When I’m outside on a sunny day with my puppy’s leash in one hand and my boyfriend’s fingers tangled in the other, I feel incredible. I feel light, and happy, and truly blessed. When I make dinner and it’s mainly green beans and broccoli with a little bit of grilled chicken, I’m excited to eat because green beans and broccoli are fucking delicious.

I’m getting more and more heated as I write this. Because seriously…fuck anyone who tries to take my happiness away from me. Fuck anyone who says that because I’m following a certain diet I obviously hate myself. Fuck anyone who tries to tell me how I feel. This body of mine, this fat body with all its rolls and stretchmarks has gone through a lot with me. It’s gotten me through dance recitals and golf tournaments. It has taken me all around London, Paris, the Netherlands, Croatia…It has been broken, and bruised, and burned, and scratched but it’s still here. It’s still here to take me on walks, to be loved by my boyfriend, to be fed more green food than it has had in all its 25 years. I love this body. I love what we’ve been through, and I’m excited about where we’re going.

I don’t know if I’m going to even finish this book. As I wrote this little rant I realized I may not even need it. If it’s a guide to loving yourself, I think I managed to reach that point without it. If it’s anti-dieting propaganda, it’s two-hundred some pages of garbage. I’m done with things that try to dictate my feelings and my life. Fuck all of it. I love myself.

Bite, Chew, Swallow

You could feel it building all day. Or, not building. Crumbling. You could feel your grip on it slipping through your fingers like the grains of sand that made up the beach you frequented as a child. You know you have no choice. It’s going to happen. You don’t want to binge. You’re not even hungry. But you keep shoving the food in. You’re terrified. Bingeing is terrifying. Not because of the amount of food/calories you’re consuming, but because of the complete lack of control you have over the whole thing. Your body is acting completely independently from your mind. You don’t even take the time to consider what you’re doing. You hardly take the time to breathe. Bite, chew, swallow. Bite, chew, swallow. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat until there are no more bites to be had. Until your spoon scrapes the bottom of the container. Until your hand reaches the slippery bottom of the bag. Until the plate is no longer home to a mountain of pizza rolls, but to a few crumbs. The only evidence there was ever a mountain there to begin with.

You’re struggling for air. You’re uncomfortable. You can feel the consequences of your unwanted actions settling in to taunt you. Have you always been able to feel your neck? If you turn your head side to side, will it sway with you? Your jeans feel too tight. Did they cut into your flesh when you put them on this morning? Are they even really doing it now? No. It doesn’t work like that. Your feet begin to tap restlessly on the floor. They want to take you to the scale. Your mind isn’t ready to deal with that. The back of your throat itches. Clear it. Your fingers twitch. Run them through your hair to stop them from doing something stupid. Something you’ve never gone through with before, but have thought about doing over and over and over again.

Your brain slowly starts to come back online. Blink, blink, blink. Notice the carnage surrounding you. You want a drink of water to wash the lingering taste out of your mouth but you’re not sure your body can take anything more. A groan. Was that you, or the floor boards protesting your weight? Go upstairs. You can feel the masticated food slosh in your stomach as you go. Track down the biggest sweats and sweatshirt you own. The ones that should make you feel like you’re swimming in cotton. The ones that trip up your feet like vines in the jungle. You strip off your clothes, not making eye contact with mirrors. Not making eye contact with yourself. Don’t look down. Your normally massive outfit feels suffocating. Deep breaths. You climb into bed, ignoring the squeak of the mattress and frame. Deep breaths. Tomorrow is a fresh start. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow you will be better.

Plus Size Musings

I find that I have a very difficult time separating body positivity from complacency. For me, being okay with my body means being okay with being fat. It means not wanting to lose weight. But I do want to lose weight. I don’t want to be fat. I guess it might just be the ironclad grip society has on me. Actually I know that’s exactly what it is. Despite knowing that there’s nothing wrong with being fat, I still don’t want to be labeled as such. Is internalized fatphobia a Thing? It must be, and it’s becoming increasingly more apparent that I’ve got it.

It’s such a strange situation to be in, knowing that what you think and feel is, for all intents and purposes, wrong, but not being able to change your way of thinking. It doesn’t help that I’m constantly reminded that I’m fat and that it’s Bad. I’m reminded every time I look in the mirror and see a curve or roll in a place it really shouldn’t be. Every time the store doesn’t carry an article of clothing in my size, or I have to pay extra for it, or I have to order it online and pray that it fits when it finally arrives 5 to 7 business days later. Every time an airplane stewardess asks me, in a hushed voice, if I need a seatbelt extension. Okay so that last one has only happened once, just this week in fact, but it was still humiliating.

The problem is that it’s always on my mind. My size is always on my mind. Even when I’m spending a day relaxing at home, and I’m sitting on the couch reading a book, I’m consciously aware of every roll, every single minuscule piece of skin that’s peaking out, how my neck must look; does holding my head like this give me a double chin? It’s exhausting. And that’s just an easy day. That’s a day where I don’t have to worry about what other people are thinking. On those days, it’s almost impossible to get myself out of bed in the morning. Walking down the hallway at work is a chore. Going to the cafeteria to get a salad is a nightmare. What all of those people must be thinking…look at that fat girl, getting a salad. What is she trying to prove? Does she really think we believe she normally eats like that? If she did, she definitely wouldn’t be the size she is.

Some days there just isn’t enough false confidence in the world to get me through. People tell me to “fake it till you make it”. Well I’ve been faking it for 24 years now. When do I finally get to make it? When do I finally get to look in the mirror and be happy?

I Wish I Wouldn’t Have Eaten That: How a Fat Girl’s Quest Backfired

Yesterday I posted what I suppose could be considered Part One of what I’ve just now decided to call the “Fat Girl’s Quest” series. It documented my less than healthy, but ultimately effective, start to my weight loss journey. The timing for posting that last night and writing Part Two today couldn’t have been better, for this morning while I was doing my daily social media scroll, I had one of those ‘Your Memories on Facebook’ things pop up. I took a screenshot for you:

Yupp, that’s right. On this day one year ago I was at the peak of my weight loss journey. I had managed to lose 50 pounds through a ‘diet’ of barely eating and obsessive exercise. To say that the 12 months since then have been less than stellar would be a colossal understatement. About a week and a half after that post, I went on the most amazing 11 day vacation to London. I’ll have to tell you guys about it sometime. Anyway, when I returned home from vacay, I had the hardest time getting back on track with my exercise. As in, I didn’t exercise at all. Sure, I had a few bouts of walking on the treadmill here and there, but it was nothing like I had previously been doing. I’m still struggling. I go through these weeks where I make exercise a priority and then suddenly the next week I’m just completely drained and couldn’t make myself move after work if my life depended on it. Which, if I keep these horrible habits up, it just might.

During my obsessive exercise stint I start having quite a bit of pain in my knees. Not only do they hurt, but they make this awful, crackling sound whenever I bend them. My nurse mom and PT best friend told me it’s crepitus. So I just forgot about. That is until I was attempting to do mountain climbers during one of my random exercise benders and my foot slipped. I almost cried it hurt so badly. After about a month of it hurting more often than not, I made myself an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Turns out the crepitus and aches in my knees is from being fat and that the number one thing I need to do is lose weight. No shit, Sherlock. I’m glad that I wasted the time and money to come here and have you tell me that. It’s not like that’s the one thought constantly running through my mind. But not only was that ‘diagnosis’ glaringly obvious, it was fucking embarrassing. I mean, while trying to not be fat anymore I hurt my knees because I’m fat. I cancelled my follow-up appointment. One, because I haven’t lost any weight and two, because my insurance wouldn’t cover the physical therapy sessions he wanted me to go to and I don’t have 500 bucks to shell out twice a week for the next 6 weeks. It’s cute that they thought I did though.

I still struggle with disordered eating. Or maybe it’s an eating disorder. But ‘eating disorder’ sounds too serious. Inaccurate. I mean, I eat. Obviously I do, otherwise I wouldn’t look like I do now. I have a close friend who suffered from an eating disorder for a number of years, and I talk to her about this stuff a lot. She tells me that on days that I binge (and wish I had the guts to purge) that I did it because my body needs the calories. She tells me that if I just ate enough to keep my body satisfied those binges wouldn’t happen. She tells me that recovery is great, but it only works if you’re ready for it, and that I’m just not ready yet. The thing is, I don’t think I need to ‘recover’. I don’t think I have anything to ‘recover’ from. Like I said, I eat. I probably eat too much. In fact, I know I eat too much. Those 50 pounds I lost last year? Yeah…well, I’ve found ’em. They dispersed themselves across my body. How can I not regret every single bite of food I take when I can feel it settling in my hips, my stomach, my thighs. How am I supposed to enjoy food, want to eat food, when all it ever does is fill me with regret, shame, and hatred. How am I supposed to enjoy food when all it’s ever done is ruin my life? Show up on the scale. Show up in the mirror. Show up in pictures. Make me feel like I’m undeserving of love, kindness, even basic human decency.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m actively trying to not eat a lot, actively trying to force myself to workout, and all I’m doing is gaining and gaining and gaining and I just don’t see the point anymore. I hate how I look, I hate how I feel, and I  don’t know what to do about it.

I Can’t Eat That: A Fat Girl’s Quest to Not be Fat Anymore

Note: This is old writing from about a year ago. It details the first 7 months of my weight loss journey. I will be posting an ‘update’ of sorts next.

6 (almost 7) months ago a morbid curiosity overcame me and compelled me to step on the scale at home, “just to see”. What I saw made my stomach turn to lead and my head spin. I knew I was fat, obviously you can’t miss something like that, but I didn’t know I was THAT fat. In all honesty, it made me want to die. Not in a “I want to kill myself” kind of way, but in a “Dear God, just strike me dead on the spot” kind of way. I have always been big, overweight. I don’t remember a time in which I wasn’t. But I also don’t remember when I went from being overweight to being obese. Just the word makes me cringe. It feels shameful. Disgusting. But, I guess I’m lucky that seeing such a large number on the scale motivated me to do something about it.

Continue reading “I Can’t Eat That: A Fat Girl’s Quest to Not be Fat Anymore”

I say, “I’m not hungry”. What I really mean is, “I’m starving.”

I say, “I’m not hungry”. What I really mean is, “I’m starving.”

I read eating disorder stories like fucking How To manuals. Make note of things I haven’t tried yet. I lay in bed and imagine flattening out until I’m as thin as the sheet draped over my bulbous body. My stomach clenches with hunger pangs. I chug a bottle of water to make it stop. Stupid stomach, you think you’re full. I try to wrap my arms around my body. They only reach my sides. I grasp onto the rolls as hard as I can. I squeeze and I tug. Hope that if I pull hard enough, I can separate them from the rest of me. A piece of gum has 5 calories. A sugar-free mint has 10. They say, “you look good.” I hear, “you don’t look good enough.” I’m aware of every part of my body. I feel my sagging neck. Compare it to a rooster’s wattle. Will it sway if I turn my head from side to side? I take naps when I get home from work. Pray my parents don’t realize it’s to skip dinner. They’re lying to you…a stalk of celery has 6 calories. They say, “keep it up”. I hear, “I still think you’re fat”. My head is dizzy. Stand up slowly. My stomach rumbles. Chug more water. The mirror is my best friend. The mirror is my worst enemy. It tells me the truth. I’m constantly covered in goosebumps. Put on a sweatshirt. The layers help hide the fat. I have knees that ache. I remind myself it’s because of all the weight they carry around every day. On my chart the doctor wrote “obese”. I read “Disgusting”. I read “Unlovable”. I felt Nothing. Step on the scale. Take a deep breath. Look at the number. Jot it down. Chug more water. Come back in an hour. Repeat. I buy clothes that I know will be too small. I use skeletons for inspiration. I chew so slowly it’s like my jaw isn’t moving. MyFitnessPal tells me I’m not eating enough. MyFitnessPal is a fucking liar. I kneel in front of the toilet, mouth open, fingers poised. I hear my mom change the tv channel. I stand up. I think, tomorrow. I hope tomorrow I’ll have the nerve to go through with it. I hope tomorrow never comes. There are 69 calories in 10 almonds. There are 6.08 grams of fat in 10 almonds. I survive off water, fruit, and willpower. I miss red meat. I glare at my stretch marks. Dig my finger nails into them. Drag them all the way down. I hate them. I hate them for reminding me of how disgusting I am. I’m sorry skin, you’re only trying to hold me together as I tear myself apart. Fad diets are just short-term anorexia so you might as well go all the way. Go big or go home. Get small and get love.

They say, “what you’re doing isn’t healthy”. I say, “you made me this way”.