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Posts tagged ‘eating disorders in women over 50’

Five lies, out of many, that we tell ourselves . . . .

askyourdoctorLIE: I’ll start on that manuscript as soon as I finish this Facebook update.

REALITY: Haw haw haw! You’ll start on that manuscript as soon as you stop sniveling and whining and carrying on about how haaaaarrrrd this is and about how you aren’t appreciated by so and so and such and them and whositwhat. You’ll start on that manuscript as soon as you kick the ass of Fearsome Monster—and Fearsome Monster is difficult to kick the ass of since every time you kick it, YOU are the one who feels the pain. Right? Right. Riiighhht.

Oh, and for some of you out there *Kat gives the personal trainer evil eye* insert “exercise” where starting on manuscript is written. Yeah.  Uh huh.

LIE: If I fit into these jeans comfortably, I’ll stop losing weight. Or: All I want is to fit into my jeans comfortably. Or: My jeans shrunk! No wonder I can’t fit into them comfortably.

cartoonREALITY: If you have any kind of eating disorder/disordered thinking about food/weight, then I am on to you. Oh, I know you mean it when you say it, but I also know those jeans will fit comfortably and then the mind games start up: Well, if they fit comfortably, then what if they fit a little looser ; well, people are telling me I look good, I better not fail them! I better keep this weight off! And in fact, I better lose a few more pounds for a “Safety Net” so I won’t look as if I am failing by gaining it back. If my jeans fit comfortably, I then forget that they once fit tight and I think the “fit comfortably” is now “oh, my jeans should be looser” so I have to lose weight to make them looser and then I may forget how they fit after—you see the circuitous crazy-ass-psycho thinking here? Please god, make it stop, y’all! For those who think their jeans shrunk—I’ll give that to you once, and then after that, LIE LIE LIE!

I’m sure there’s a writing metaphor in there—I’ll leave that to you.

well, sheee'it

well, sheee’it

LIE: Once my novel is published, I will be forevermore happy! I will never want for another thing! I just want to see my book published even if only I read it and maybe a friend or family member or two!

REALITY: HAW HAHAHAHAHAHA HAW HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *gasping for breath* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, okay, right. It ain’t happenin’ – you will have that book published and then you will want something else. And then something else.  And then maybe something else. Will to! Will to! WILL TO!

*See Above Lie about fitting jeans comfortably – hey! I found a way to tie it to writing. WHUPOW!

LIE: I don’t care!

REALITY: Yes you goddamn do.

It's easy to be sucked down - but then again, I wonder what's in that hole?

It’s easy to be sucked down – but then again, I wonder what’s in that hole?

LIE: I’m SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy for so and so’s: weight loss, publishing contract, award, accolades, rise to the Kindle Millionaire list, cash flow, new baby, face, body, legs, breasts, lips, ass, writing, husband, wife, dog, cat, house, car . . . .

REALITY: I’ll give you this one, that you really are happy for them,  but with a caveat: though you may be truly happy for this person, there is a tiny part of you that may feel like shit on a big fat ugly ass stick that you have not accomplished these things or do not have these things and may never have these things or most certainly will never have these things or may always want want want and never have have have. And meanwhile, someone is envying you for what you have, and on and on it goes. What I will tell you if envy hits: Own it.  Own up to it. It just could be the thang that spurs you on. But when envy turns to Jealousy, when you are being eaten alive by it, then it’s time to take stock—it’s time to consider the realities: can you have it? Do you really want it? How much will it cost you (not just in $)? And how do you pull yourself out of your Green-Eyed Monster’s Ass?

Hey! He has more seeds than I do! BASTARD!

Hey! He has more seeds than I do! BASTARD!

I always say: A teaspoon (or even a tablespoon) of Envy is a great motivator. But Jealousy is destructive and negative and big ass ugly.

Also, I will tell you: Sometimes going to that person and congratulating them and really meaning it, feeling their happiness, feeling good for them, will make the envy lose some of its power—you face the demon of your own lacking, your own wanting and can’t (or not yet) having.

What lies do you tell yourself and do you or will you recognize the reality?

(*and folks – The Lightning Charmer is now on sale at Amazon and at Bell Bridge Books site. The “official release date” is November 1, so it should be going up for sale at other places, like Nook and bookstores and wherever else books go to find their ways to wonderful readers’ hands. I thank you all for your support. I *heart* you dearly*)

The Lightning Charmer cover

Work-out writer: the sneaky hidden world of eating disordered thinking in women over fifty

The photo that started it all . . .

The photo that started it all . . .

Last year I wrote a post entitled: “Does this obsession make me look fat?”

There’s been a lot of talk lately about eating disorders in women over fifty. Well, I would guess that while there are some women who are dealing with this issue for the first time, there are an awful lot more of us who have had eating disordered thinking most of our lives and have just hid it really very well or have had it under control. Then, according to what is going on in our lives, the eating disordered thinking may rear up its ugly head right as we think we are at our most confident and powerful: in our fifties, the time of our lives when we are feeling the most kickass, when we don’t care what people think, when we say what we want and live how we want. Imagine our surprise when eating disordered thinking sneaks up and bites us on the ass. What? Me? Wait a minute now! I’m not that teenaged girl any longer. I’m not that mixed up frightened little thing. I’m strong. I’m sexy. I’m ready to take on the world.

What the hell is going on?

The “experts” will tell you and/or your family and friends to watch out for these signs:

‘. . . there are signs to look out for that may indicate someone has an eating disorder. These include: precipitous weight loss or low weight; withdrawing from family, partner and friends; evidence of binge eating or purging; extremely low self-esteem and body esteem; not eating with the family; avoiding events where there is food.” (Taken from HealthDay by Steven Reinberg)

What goes on behind the eyes of a woman?

What goes on behind the eyes of a woman? Secret secret things.

Sure, those things are true for a certain group of women—but not for us! We aren’t like that. We’re out enjoying life. We’re reaching long-hoped for goals. We’re walking with our head up and eyes forward. We are feeling sexual power. We are power. If you looked at us, you’d see a woman who is in pretty good shape–not too thin at all. We may look pretty danged good “for our age” – hell, maybe for any age.

But there is the sneaky hidden eating disordered behavior that no one may ever know.

We’re told that eating disorder in aging women is because “fifty is the  new thirty; seventy is the new fifty,” and yes there may be some truth to that, for some women. Not us!  We have taken care of ourselves; we feel awesome; we feel sexier than ever; we will be kickass well into very-old-agedom. We are not our grandmothers kind of grandmothers. We strut. We look back over our shoulder and say, “Yeah, you think you can handle this much woman? I dare you to try.”

Though it doesn’t start out that way, it quickly becomes about Control. Think about it: what else is completely under your control? Since the time you become aware that you could tell your mommy, “No! Don’t want it!” you have been able to control what goes into your mouth. And what goes into your mouth, or not, has the side effect of affecting your body size—a double whammy of Control. While the outside world can twirl about you; while people—your boss, your spouse, your parents, your friends, your editor, your colleagues, a stranger on the street—take their pieces of you; well, by golly gee, they can’t force you to eat! They can’t dictate what your body looks like! As your body changes, your power grows. Look at you! Control! Control! It’s both as simplistic and as complicated as all that. Even if you don’t really believe that’s what it’s all about, this is a truth that must be explored.

What you really tell yourself is, “I like myself like this.” And you do. To a point. But the toll must be paid. Tolls always must be paid.

We lose our daddies

We lose our daddies

Sure, our aging bodies can frighten us a bit, and it isn’t only about what we look like, but thoughts about our mortality. Our grandparents die; our parents are nearer to death or they do die—we are next in line. Every line or wrinkle is another sign that life is heading towards death. And not just physical death, but what about the death of dreams? Or desires? Or what about the death of health? Or good looks? Or time to do the things we want to do? And there’s nothing you can do about growing older, kiddies. It’s a fact of life, growing old, and then death.  And when we arrive at Very Old, will we look like ourselves? A fear is: We don’t want to look like someone we don’t recognize. We don’t mind becoming older, just let us look like US! Don’t let our face and body melt into a stranger’s face/body. We want to be able to look into a mirror and see the person we have always been. To recognize our faces as ours.

I suppose for some, gaining weight would mean we do not look like ourselves.

Oh, it’s heady powerful stuff. As the scales lower, there is that thrill—look what I have done! Look at the control I have! I am powerful! I can plan, plot, quirk my food and my body into whatever I want it to be, just by my own strong free will, by will-power.

Will. Power. WillPower.

For many  of us in the fringes, it never reaches the anorexic stage, or the bulimic stage, the binge and purge stage.  The “under weight” stage. We find that stuff distasteful. Yuck. They aren’t In Control. We are! We find the sweet spot of Control just at that edge, just at that spot where people would never know the struggle we are going through. We still are within our healthy BMI; we still eat—we don’t avoid food situations, and in fact, may embrace them, for we can eat whatever and how much ever we want, for tomorrow is another day where we’ll just eat less to make up for it. Ha! Fooled up, sumbitches! We don’t binge and purge—gross! That’s for the “crazy ones.” We don’t starve ourselves into emaciation—why, that’s for those obsessive whiners. Give us some credit, whydontcha. We walk that fine line of eating enough while still maintaining our control. We exercise and we eat healthfully, but we also know how to manipulate food just enough. Just enough.

We are many times highly intelligent and highly motivated and goal driven women–and for some of us, people don’t see this in us, so we give them what they want: A perfect sexy body they can objectify. Then while we have their attention, we kick their ass with our smarts and our insights. WHUPOW! Gotcha! Suck on that!

Will.Power.

007

we have to remember that the jeans we bought to fit our new bodies are supposed to be tight, we bought them that way. They should stay tight.

The danger comes when the weight drops lower than you meant for it to. Oh oh. You tell yourself you won’t go any further. You tell yourself you’ll gain back a few pounds. You tell yourself this, but by then the Control Demon has its claws in you and you must tread carefully now. You don’t want to be one of THEM. You put on muscle, eat more protein, find ways to walk that fine line of “healthy but thin.”

It isn’t always about what we look like—for really, there isn’t a true concept of “what we look like,” for when we look into the mirror, we do not see what everyone else sees–no one really does, it’s just for us, the body dysmorphia is more acute. And, honestly, one day we may feel quite good about ourselves, fit and thin and wonderful, and the very next day we may feel willy nilly bound; oh my god oh my god am I gaining weight(losing control/losing will.power)?

If someone would hear us say, “Oh my god! I’ve gained two pounds,” they may roll their eyes and say, “Get over yourself! Two pounds! Get real!” But what they may not understand is that it is not the two pounds itself that is the problem—it’s the fear of careening out of control. Two pounds leads to three and then four and then six and then ten and where does it stop? If we are not vigilant, two pounds becomes more and more and more, and what if we can’t stop it? What if we gain and gain and gain and gain and gain . . . No! Must.Gain.Control. We do not like the out of control feeling and it must be Stopped.

Because we are better than that. We are too powerful to let something have control of us!

I'm not listening. I'm not listening. (Yes, I am too listening - please shut up).

I’m not listening. I’m not listening. (Yes, I am too listening – please shut up).

People who do not struggle with eating disordered thinking would see that two pound gain as a shrug in their lives. People with eating disordered thinking sees that two pounds as weakness. Are you weak! No! Get back on the program! NOW! Do not relax! Vigilance! You are stronger than this! You can beat this! And when the two pounds releases out into the air and off your body, it’s almost sexual, an orgasmic thrill. Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, oh god yes.

There are many thrills to the eating disordered life. That’s why it’s so powerful. We may start out only trying to lose a few needed pounds. Perhaps we’ve been going through our lives and step on the scales one day and go, “Oh oh. You have let yourself go. You idiot!” We really mean it when we tell ourselves we will lose those extra pounds and be happy with that.  People notice, and we feel better, yes. Good. Done. But . . . wait. Hold up. The little voice cajoles, “Lose a couple extra, just in case. That way, you’ll have a cushion! You can relax some. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?” Hey, that does sound great! So you lose a couple more pounds. The compliments rise, and you feel even better.

There comes the thrill of seeing the scales bow to your power, to your will. You are kicking the ass of those scales. You are In Control. Yeah! WILL.POWER!

I am light. My body is under my control.

I am light. My body is under my control. What else can my lighter body do? Exciting.

You lose a couple more, maybe even accidentally. You think, why not? Your clothes are fitting looser. You feel lighter. Your body is buoyant! Your body can do things it couldn’t do before–move in ways it couldn’t, bend in ways it couldn’t, exercise in ways it couldn’t, have sex in ways it couldn’t; it is pleasing, pleasurable, giddy, heady.

When you lie down at night, your stomach is flat and you can feel your hip bones—and this becomes one of your litmus tests. If you lie down and can’t feel that slight concave belly and those hip bones, then You Are Out Of Control! Oh oh.  You begin to like the way you can feel some of your bones under your skin, not hidden by layers of fat, no, but right there, so beautiful, the body is so very beautiful. Your body is beautiful. The curves and knobs and sharp planes and muscles that you manipulate with your hand. Your partner slides his hand along your body and you hum and shimmer–he can feel it, too. You still have enough body fat to be curvy and soft, but you’ve lost enough that as you explore your body, as he does, you/he feel all the new nuances of it. Your ribs, your hipbones, your collar bones, the tiny waist, the lean muscle. Your cheekbones ride higher and you think maybe it makes you look more knowing; there, those cheekbones below your big dark eyes full of deep dark secrets.

When you work out, your body is light and airy-air-borne. It flies over the treadmill, as if your bones are hollow, yet they are hard as a boulder, unbreakable. You are unbreakable! You feel strong, competent, powerful. People begin complimenting you more and more. Men stare appreciatively, and even younger men wink at you, tell you that you look hot.

You feel a sexual thrill you have never felt before–they are under your control now, helpless–who’s the little bee-otch now, huh? I am in control; you are in my control.

Your clothes skim your body, rubbing against your skin, nothing spilling over, no binding. You could almost float, so light you are!

And meanwhile, (practically) no one is the wiser. No one knows your obsessive thoughts about food and weight. No one knows the fear and anxiety. No one knows your need for control. No one knows that sometimes you go to bed hungry because you “lost control” and ate too much earlier that day or the day before. No one knows how you don’t know if you ate enough that day and because you do not want to become One Of Them, one of The Crazies, you force yourself to eat more the next day.

No one knows that hunger, your growling belly, is so fucking scary, for it means two things: you need to eat, your need to eat.

Sometimes friends will know what's going on because they know you best, and they'll miss the extra you.

Sometimes friends will know what’s going on because they know you best, and they’ll miss the lost part of you.

No one knows that every time you step on the scales you tell yourself not to be happy if you’ve lost weight and not to be sad if you’ve gained weight. Then, if you’ve gained weight, you try to calm the out of control feelings. If you’ve lost weight, you try to calm the tiny little thrill that shimmers up your spine.

In my post I linked to above, I listed how my weight began to drop, and my feelings about it at the time. And now? . . .  No, I did not gain back to 120; no I did not stay at 116. Yes, I am stable where I am now, and I must be, because I will not be one of Them.

I am Will.Power. Stand back. Get out of my way.

Don’t get too close now . . . . that’s right.

People are at all times prone to their own stupidity. We're sorry about that.

People are at all times prone to their own stupidity. We’re sorry about that.

Control. Power.  Isn’t it ironic? Because, really . . . yes. That’s right. You got it. We are so good at justification. We are so smart. We are so stupidly smart.

I am your personal trainer: Does this obsession make me look fat?

Does this obsession make me look fat?

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.

keep the train on the tracks – and fuel it well, right? riiighht!

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

kick-ass strong women

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?

Babies should look this way-healthy and chubby cheeked

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 . . .

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