I want to wish you all a happy (if belated) 2010! I hope this year is one where you learn to be gentle and kind with yourself and your body. May you find acceptance in the person you are, inside and out!
With the start of a new year often comes resolutions. The emphasis tends to be on weight loss or “getting fit” and products and programs encouraging these goals are everywhere. Gyms tend to have specials, diet foods are on sale, Weight Watchers undoubtedly has some new offer and some program tweaks to entice you into trying it (often for a second or third time). Commercials on the radio talk about how right now we might be hiding under winter clothes, but May - and bathing suit/shorts season - is only four short months from now.
It’s enough to nauseate me. It’s also enough to test even the will of the most resolved NOT to diet again, or at least to question our choices to love, accept and respect our bodies as they are.
We all have our moments of self-doubt. We see a picture and think we look fatter. We’re hearing tales of newly committed dieters and their “incredible” successes on (insert fad diet of the moment). Many of us have been that person at some point in our lives. The one who decides “this is the year. This is when I lose the weight.”
Most of us failed to accomplish that goal, and even the ones who did frequently find that the next year is the one where they gain that weight (and oftentimes more) back. That is a familiar feeling of failure. A feeling of sinking so low you want to cry. You had tasted success. How could you have let it slip away?
Intuitive Eating reminds us that we are not the failures. Diets are. If diets worked long term, the industry pay check wouldn’t be in the area of $50 billion dollars a year. Diets are designed to seduce you. You believe that if you just try harder or eat less or eat some bizarre combination of foods, you will lose weight. Initially, most do. The reality of eating in such a controlled way, combined with the body’s natural desire to self-regulate, however, is often a harsh wake up call.
I am a good example of this. I have (proudly) not gotten on a scale since 2007. I do not know what I weigh, nor do I (for the most part) care. It would be lovely to be a smaller size. I am not willing, however, to sign my soul away to try to get there - and that’s what dieting felt like for me. It was an all or nothing game. I either was “good” or “bad.” I am far, far happier being whatever number on the scale I am than I was fighting against that scale weekly. I am far happier in accepting who I am and what I look like than I was in constantly battling to be someone else.
Still, there are times when I get frustrated. I caught a glimpse of myself in an unattractive pose recently and thought, geesh, I’m SO fat. I have these moments far less frequently than I did while dieting (even when I was actively succeeding to lose weight). I’m human, though, and still susceptible to those thoughts from time to time.
I have been dealing with a lot of issues related to my stomach for some weeks now. Gastrointestinal issues are often bedfellows with fibromyalgia, so this isn’t shocking. That said, the problems have worsened in recent weeks, and it’s incredibly frustrating. I never know what might cause nausea or horrid reflux. The result of these issues is that I’ve been eating far less because I often can’t decide what will make me feel better or worse. I’ve been hungry, but sometimes just unable to deal with that hunger because what I can eat I don’t happen to have, or because there’s nothing I can think of to eat that won’t make me feel worse.
In the past, I’d probably have taken advantage of this situation to try to milk it for weight loss. I am very glad, however, that my mind no longer automatically goes there. Why? Well, amongst the obvious reasons there is the bitter reality of I haven’t lost an ounce. In fact, I’ve probably gained a few pounds. My engagement ring is too snug to wear, which is the only barometer for my weight that I have since I will not get on a scale. So, this would be incredibly frustrating - and undoubtedly defeating - if I were dieting.
But I’m not dieting, and while the irony of eating less and weighing more is not lost on me, and while not being able to wear my ring is frustrating, I’m not beating myself up. I would be, though, if I were still trying to do Weight Watchers or something akin to that. I would be furious and angry and I’d be calling myself horrible names in my head. Instead, I’m mildly irritated and wistful for the point at which my body decides to behave more normally again and I can wear my ring. Probably when I can start eating more, that will happen.
Whether you’re in ED recovery or you are a former chronic dieter, I hope the New Year’s fuss over looks hasn’t challenged you or weakened your resolve to live a healthier lifestyle - one without recrimination and repeated disappointment. One without the danger an eating disorder brings.
PS. I have an article from a guest blogger that I will be posting in the next day or two, so keep an eye out for that. Happy (belated) 2010!