So, I’ve been reading. And reading. And reading.
And having discussions about weight, weight loss, and weight gain with people. Coworkers. Family. Friends. All this has been sneaking up on me, or rather, surrounding me, giving me multiple chances to express and explore where I am with Fat Acceptance / Health At Every Size.
Ideas like this give me pause regularly:
For [Las Vegas] to thrive the way it does on the backs of gambling tourists, you need a combination of bad math and each individual’s deep-down belief that no matter what the odds are, s/he will be the special one who hits the jackpot. Which kinda reminds me of something else, come to think of it. Hmm.
As I followed along the inevitable link trail that started in that paragraph at Shapely Prose, I found more and more that this one nebulous thought drifted upwards into my conscious mind: I will never be thin again. I can never be thin again.
If I’m really honest with myself, I still want to be. I’m still buying into the great fantasy that says some combination of exercise, nutrition and willpower will somehow guarantee that I can mould my form back into the version I had when I was 16 and depressed, or 23, when I was so upset about my newly up-to-size-ten body that I bought a swimsuit with a skirt.
Today’s conversation was the same as all those posts: Diets Don’t Work.
I also realized:
During the few times I didn’t diet before gaining weight, I was either coming back out of depression or severe stress-induced not-eating.
The only times I have maintained my weight have been when I quit worrying about it.
Despite having actual experience with the concept of Diets Don’t Work, to the extent that my entire journey from skinny child to lanky teen to average-size college student to chunky woman is a textbook case, I still, somewhere in my mind, am holding onto the idea that I will, someday, because I’m taking care of myself and being healthy and getting good nutrition, someday I’ll get skinny again.
I know I’ve read them myriad times, but I don’t think the real ideas described by Fat Acceptance and Health At Every Size have truly sunk in yet. I mean, Fat Acceptance: accepting that I’m fat, that fat is okay, accepting that fat happens. Accepting the reality that my body is not supposed to be 36-24-36, size 6 or 120 lbs., which is what the images in my head look like*.
With HAES, the same thing. My focus has to be my health. I have to eat green vegetables because the vitamins and minerals are good for me, I enjoy the flavors and textures, and my body feels good once I’ve eaten them. The magical thinking has crept into my thought processes, in the form of “all those dieters don’t know the right way. I know that it’s nutrition and exercise that will make me thin!”.
It’s insideous, the way even good habits can be bent to promote the Fantasy.
I am stronger than ever. I am enjoying good health. I have a moderately active lifestyle. I have more energy than I used to.
All these things I still forget, when faced with the thought that I need to be smaller than I am. The Fantasy bullies its way to the front of my mind, and flaunts itself around gaudily, so as to outshine those drab little images of health and vitality.
So I’m not well yet. I am learning, and struggling to see, and accept, myself for how I am, with no reservations, and to finally see the Fantasy of Being Thin as what it is: a phantasm plaguing my mental, emotional and physical health, with absolutely no basis in reality. It’s the nightmare from which I’m struggling to awake.
*They look this way, because in my mind I look thin and healthy, and the idealized images we’re given to compare ourselves to portray thin, as described by arbitrary guidelines such as measurements, clothing sizes and weight, as healthy. The disconnect between my mental image of myself and the bill of goods we’re sold is where the magical thinking happens.