I am going to write to you something that is quite uncomfortable for me. But, I want to open up discussion to it. I want to tell you that you are not alone.
The first thing that popped out of my mouth when I saw this photo my brother took last September 2011 was, “I look fat.” Not, “Boy were we having fun,” or “I look so happy!” (because I was very happy—this was before Daddy become ill. My brother and I had spent the day on the Smoky Mountain Railroad train and it was wonderful.). Not even an, “Hey, not so bad for a 54 year old!” Nope, “I look fat.” And thus it has been for as long as I can remember. Way back, back to my pre-teen years. The roller-coaster ride of acceptance and dissatisfaction with my body image.
A few days after this photo was taken, I went to the gym and stepped on the scales to note I’d indeed gained five or so pounds. Folks, that is not the end of the world. I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m so very lucky in so many things, but those pounds and that photo sent me into obsessing thinking.
Me to GMR that day: “Omg. I told you! I told you! If I relax I gain weight! See? See how come I’m so vigilant? See why I have to be on the edge of obsession? Because if I’m not, then I gain weight. Every time I relax, I gain weight. I can’t relax. I can’t. I have to be vigilant. I have to be careful. I have to watch what I eat!”
And even as I spouted out that tirade, I knew I sounded a bit over the edge, or more than a bit. I knew I was being self-indulgent, for after all, isn’t that what “obsessive thinking” is? Isn’t that what our “issues” are? Isn’t that how we are behaving when we focus on something about US us us us/ME me me me?
I was watching a segment on Super Size vs Super Skinny on OWN not long after that photo was taken, and became so frustrated with the anorexic women on that day’s episode. I called them whiners. I said they should get over themselves. But, really, inside that part of me I hide from the world, I understood them. My frustration with them mirrored my own body image and food “issues.” I didn’t like what I heard and saw in these women because it was a fun-house mirror image of what I would become if I were not also a woman who loves to be and feel strong—and I happen to like to eat—and you can’t be healthy and strong if you are starving yourself. I want to make it clear that if you are starving
yourself, then you need to find help–and you know who you are; yes you do, too. That’s not what this is about—I’ve been and remain in a healthy BMR (you can see that I am a healthy weight from my work-out photos taken the other day in the post last Wednesday, and to right), even at my most “vigilant.” This is important to note. What I am talking about is the never-ending Worry. The Fear of Food.
That woman in that photo at the top of this post is not “Fat.” That woman in that photo is smiling and happy. That woman in that photo isn’t thinking about her obsessions. That woman in that photo is a 54 year old woman who is a bit curvy and healthy and happily grinning her way to her brother to talk about how relaxed she is, how much she loves trains, how this day is the best day she’s had in a long time. And I summed up that beautiful day with my wonderful brother by spitting out, “I look fat.”
That’s the lamest most self-indulgent thing I could ever have said. And it is also sad.
There comes a point when a woman who is hyper-vigilant about her body image or weight where the things people say have an affect. When we hear: “You’ve lost weight! Wow you look great!” This sets up the voices to talking, urging, poking: “If I gain the weight back, they’re all going to judge me.” Even strong women like me feel this way. Even women like me who are kick-ass women. Even women like me who know what to do to be healthy. Women like me is me.
But, we feel the pressure to stay where we are. We feel the pressure to please perhaps? Please ourselves, please others, please strangers? And, we are so very goal-oriented, aren’t we? We are beady-eyed on what we want and where we want
to be and we work our asses off (literally) to get there. And when people note it, we note their noting it. We think, “So, before this, what did they think about me? If they like me so much now, what about before? Geez. Lawd.” And the weirdness jitters itself in a chaotic swirl of voices—those from now and those from the past and those from the very first time we were told we were lacking—or that we were chubby or fat or Not Good Enough.
It’s extremely difficult for me to come here and talk in such an open and honest way about this. I’m a private person. And too boot, I talk about health and fitness and how to remain strong and healthy here on my blog, and to friends. I was a personal trainer, and a good one, for five years. I want to encourage and inspire others to be fit and healthy. Maybe that’s what made me good at my job as a personal trainer–I understood/understand the Voices.
And in my visiting other blogs and talking to other women and reading women’s magazines, I know that I am not alone in what I know is fear of Losing Control, and because of this, food can become the enemy, and isn’t that just sad?
The question is: how far do we take it? My friends, if you are in that slippery slope of weight and food and voices and fear, it is not the kind of life to live, right? Rigghhht! If you are starving yourself (and I am not—again, I want to make that clear), please find help. If you can’t find that balance, then talk to someone. I will tell you from experience that I understand the feeling of not knowing what you truly “look like” or how difficult it is to correctly find that balance of food and activity to remain healthy and strong.
Dig deep and find what is driving you to some kind of Perfection, or Control, or “How You Think You Should Be.” Find that voice, or those voices, who tell you that you are not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, successful enough—whatever that voice tells you—and stomp the shit out of it. Pull that voice out and beat the ding-danged snot out of it. Kick its ever-hating ass to kingdom come and back again. Aren’t we worth that? You are worthy—say it with me: I am worthy. I am good. I am beautiful. I am worthy I am good I am beautiful; I am worthy; I am good; I am beautiful.
So, does this obsession make me look fat? I guess it did:
That day last September: 130 pounds in that photo.
126 after my father becomes ill and passes away
124 Yay! I’m back to my goal weight!
122 Oh, okay, well this is a good weight too!
120 What happened? Well, I kind of like it here but I won’t lose a pound more! No, not a pound more. La tee dah.
119 Huh? Well, guess I’ll eat more—don’t listen to people don’t listen to people telling me I “Look so good!” Don’t listen. Watch yourself. But, not a bad weight – no, not . . . or . . . ?
118 Well, that’s a surprise. A friend who hasn’t seen me in a while comments on the weight loss, “Are you okay?” Me: “Yes. . . (no).” Time to take stock, Kat!
117 I do not like where this is going—pay attention, Miz Kat! Add a smoothie at night!
Today at the gym: 116.5 Add more calories, Kat. Add more calories.
My BMI is around 21, which is still in the healthy range, but, I do not want to continue to lose weight. My goal: to gain back to around 120.
Repeat after me: I am worthy. I am good. I am beautiful.
You are worthy; you are good; you are beautiful. Come over here and let me hug you . . .