the body and one important question

I’ve been exploring my eating habits a lot on this blog lately. I’ve been really trying to get to the root of my struggles and try to help myself understand where to go. In my life, I’ve turned to so many experts and counselors, so many guides and books, so many plans and prescriptions that I really think it’s time for something different. As much as I want to seek guidance and validation from an outside source, I don’t think this is the type of thing that I want to do that with.

Right now I think I’m at a point where I understand the basics of ditching diet culture. I’m past the tutorials on why dieting is pointless and how a history of deprivation can lead to binge eating and feeling out of control with food. I’m past the initial discovery phase. This information has definitely changed my outlook on myself and is helpful to know, but it’s not helping me get where I want to be.

I want to stop separating how I think and feel about food from everything else. I’m tired of it being this looming category in my life. I have my pros and cons list, I’m working on creating better ways to manage stress, and I’m helping myself avoid urges by putting myself in places I that promote positive behavior.

The other thing I’m working on now is getting more in tune with my body. To do that, I’m asking myself one simple question: What do I want to eat?

This may seem overly simplistic, but really that’s where I need to work. Asking myself this is helpful because often I eat without paying attention and just eat for any number of thoughtless reasons. So every time I think about eating, I ask myself “What do I want?”. The answer can be anything. It can be a big ice cream sundae or an apple slice. Whatever it is, I can have it. But I have to really, fully want it.

This is helpful because the simple question helps me dig deeper into my urge to eat. I ask myself what, knowing that whatever the answer is I can have it. That then instantly leads me to why I want it. I could want to eat for any number of reasons. Some common possibilities include:

  1. I’m hungry;
  2. The food sounds appealing;
  3. I’m stressed and need to zone out;
  4. I’m bored;
  5. I feel obligated because… it’s time to eat / people expect me to eat / I’ve been offered something and it would be rude to refuse / I don’t want to be perceived as restricting / etc.);
  6. I want to reward myself.

When I get to the answer here, I can better evaluate if I really want the food I’m craving or if there is something that might be a better fit for the answer to why. This strategy has worked pretty well for me so far. It’s given me some useful information. I’ve thought about creating a simple document to record this, but I’m not sure I want to get that much into tracking. I’ll think about it a bit more.

For now, I really am using this system to learn about myself and my urges without judgment. Nothing is the wrong answer, I’m just here to learn.

 

the body and normal eating

There’s a concept that I just can’t seem to get in my head. It’s about what normal eating is.

All these sources I read that are super in tune with how I feel about food still haven’t hit the mark for me. That’s because they articulate a feeling–I’m out of control with food and can’t stop binge eating–but insist that if I could just stop controlling and judging my food choices then I’ll be well on my way.

But here’s the thing. I have tried so hard to stop judging my food choices. I feel I am very permissive. No food is off limits, aside from most meats because I’m an ethical pescatarian. I still binge eat all the time though, almost daily. And despite the many helpful people who write and talk about how letting go of diets and over-control of food will help you become more in tune with what you actually want to eat and help you stop binge eating.

And I can’t help but believe that the reason I’m still gaining weight is because I’m being permissive with my food AND still binge eating.  I don’t feel good after I binge, but I never think about that when I’m about to binge. I’m not trying to lose weight anymore, but I do feel fear about continuing to gain weight (which is another post), and I’m afraid the way I’m eating is the reason I can’t let my body settle into a set point. I know that dieting won’t work, and will probably make the problem worse, so I feel very stuck.

At this point, I guess I’ll revert back to some DBT skills to help me resist the urge in the moment. The urge to binge seems like a more emotional thing than any kind of hunger thing, since I feel that I’m fueling my body properly with as minimal judgment as I can muster.

I think I’ll shoot for some pros and cons, and emergency kit, and removing myself from the opportunity to binge. We’ll see how it works.

the body and the program

Recently I started to follow a “Baby Steps to 5k” program, just one that comes on my phone (which, how weird is it that your phone automatically comes with a health app that you literally cannot turn off? But compulsory health tracking is another post).

I started the program mostly because I want to make a mental challenge for myself. Physically, so far the program isn’t too challenging, mostly just a good walking workout, but not painful to my knee or anything else. But the real push here is to stick with the program. I am notorious for planning and then letting the plans slip away. It’s a constant pattern in my life. I love making spreadsheets and tracking tools, downloading apps and adding reminders to my calendar, whipping myself up into a delirious planning frenzy. Then I do the plan for two weeks, tops, and slowly abandon it.

So this program is more of a personal test to see if I can choose a plan and stick to it. It’s something I feel I can complete, on a physical level. The real test is simply to work for 10 weeks on this. I could have chosen anything–it didn’t have to be a physical goal–but this is simple because the plan is just right there in the device I carry on my person at all times.

The good news is, I’m four weeks in now and still going strong. I’m noticing that my sense of accomplishment is really growing with these workouts, something that has nothing to do with my body size or health or fitness level, but more to do with the pride of having accomplished a goal I have set for myself. I’m hoping that I can continue as the workouts get longer and take a bit more energy.

I have six more weeks to go to see. We’ll see how things are by the first week of July!

the body and standing up

I’m trying a new thing at work these days. At the advice of my physical therapist, I’m trying to practice standing for longer times. Sustained standing still causes a lot of aggravation and swelling in my knee, and like most of my recovery, the best way to improve this is to practice it incrementally.

Ideally, I’ll work my way up to one hour standing, one hour sitting throughout my day. Right now I’m at 50 minutes sitting/10 minutes standing for every hour. Once my knee begins to tolerate that–hopefully in about 1-2 weeks–I’ll move to 45 minutes sitting/15 minutes standing for a week or two, and so on until I can do an even split in an hour. It’ll probably take up to two months to get there, but slow and steady is just fine with me.

It’s hard to realize how important just being able to stand in one place is until you can’t do it anymore. Lines are impossible, the grocery store just sucks, waiting for the bus is a huge challenge, etc. etc. etc. I’m really grateful that I’m able to stand relatively comfortably at this point, but I still have a lot more work to do to get back to my previous ability.

I’ll check in again about how my standing up is going in a month or so.

the body and the wedding

Right now, I’m planning a wedding, and it’s super exciting but also rife with weird moments. Like, did you know it’s basically impossible to get a tailored, masculine-looking suit as a fat woman? Did you know that essentially every wedding planning site and book suggests a weight loss or training plan, especially for the bride? Did you know that traditions are so full of heteronormativity and fatphobia that it’s impossible to avoid, even when you think you’ve found someone understanding? I didn’t know before, but now I sure do.

I’m so excited to have a wedding with my wife. Yes, we are already married. When the US election went the way it did last year, we immediately decided to just go ahead and get legally married. We’d been engaged for 8 months by then anyway, so it wasn’t a sudden thing. Still, the election, plus me really needing better health insurance thanks to my injury, plus us really needing legal rights to each other for family reasons were factors in making us just go for the courthouse wedding. And it was lovely. My parents were there and my brother Skyped in. We wore matching bright orange converse and, as true lesbians, our dog was part of the ceremony. Here we are exchanging rings:

laura puts wedding ring on ilana while casey watches

So cute, so in love!

Still we really wanted to have a bigger wedding. Having friends and family affirm our marriage is really important to me because we need and want the support of our community as we grow our relationship. So we’re planning a wedding for next year.

Now, I love planning events. It such a satisfying thing to me to coordinate a bunch of things and have them all come together. But I’ve never planned anything as elaborate, as steeped in expectation, and as high-pressure as a wedding. This is the ultimate challenge.

Having a queer wedding is freeing in many ways because there’s not a lot of a tradition to uphold. Still, it’s frustrating when doing research to only see straight, white (mostly thin) couples in the stock photos. Queer websites often cater to gay men or femme lesbians who they assume are taking on the traditional role of planning a wedding. In our case, we’re both pretty androgynous to masc, and neither of us is interested in a fancy, large wedding. We just want people there to lend their support and love to what we think is a beautiful and lasting companionship.

We’re making it work in our own way, putting our priorities ahead of others’ expectations, and knowing at the end of the day what matters is our love.

 

the body and doing that pushup

I have to admit, I have kind of a mental block. It’s a mental block about strength training. It’s driving me nuts.

I love strength training. My body excels at building muscle and getting strong. I love feeling buff and powerful. I love pushing myself to the point of total muscle fatigue and feeling the (appropriate) soreness the next day.

Or at least I used to. Now I’m filled with fear of doing any strength training aside from what I do at PT because I’m afraid of how much strength I’ve lost. I know it’s counterproductive to do nothing and that I will not improve unless I try something, but I’m still ruled by that fear.

I know the only way to break through is to just do it. So I’m telling myself to just do the pushup. The month of May is  pushup month. My goal is simply to do 5 pushups per day. They can be one at a time or all at once, but they have to get done. I figure this way I’ll at least be able to see if I can make progress on this one strength skill.

So far, I’ve achieved 6 out of 9 days. The days I missed were really just days I forgot. I’ll keep pushing to complete them all. If I’ve learned anything from recovery, it’s that the mental blocks can be more limiting than the physical ones.

Here’s to many pushups!

the body and the beginning

Welcome to my first blog entry! I’m not sure exactly how I want to start this, so I’m just going to jump in.

I’m starting this blog because I have a lot of thoughts all pushing around in my head for attention, and I’ve found writing them down has been helpful in the past. I’m starting it because I want to learn about myself and the ways how I think and feel about my body affect my life. I’m starting it because I’m tired of feeling turned around and confused in my own head. I’m starting it because I hope I can build a community that supports me as I explore my experience.

My plan is to have this be a multi-faceted blog. Topics I want to include are:

  • fat acceptance, body positivity, Health At Every Size (HAES), and my body
  • my health, exercise, foods, meds, and my body
  • queerness, gender, my gender expression, and my body
  • photos of me, the way I am, in my body right now
  • anything and everything about what I’m thinking about my body

You can see why I called this blog “The Body.” Recently, I’ve begun to think about my body constantly. In October 2016, I was hit by a car while riding my bike. I got incredibly lucky in that my injuries were limited, mainly to my left knee. It still wasn’t great: I tore my MCL fully, tore my PCL partially, tore my meniscus partially, and had fractures in my fibula and femur. Basically, it was out of commission. I was fortunate enough to be able to avoid surgery, but otherwise I am on the long journey to regaining a fully functioning body part.

Before the accident, I biked to work every day, ran about once a week, and worked out another two or three days. I’ve completed four Tough Mudders, run two 5ks, and lifted weights heavier than my body. But my reality now is much different. Part of what I’m exploring here is how to come to terms with having to redefine the movement that is possible in my life, right now. I’m tired of saying to myself: “When my knee is better, I’ll be able to do that.” What about right now?

Another thing I’m really interested in exploring is how I take care of my body. Since my injury, I haven’t wanted to think about my body, or think about caring for it, or think about the long term. Part of that is movement, another part of that is what I eat and why. Another part is how I care for my mental health. I want to figure out how I can better commit myself to taking care of myself, rather than waiting until “I’m better.” What about right now?

I’m a huge proponent of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), because it literally saved my life. One of the first things you learn in DBT is to reduce your vulnerability to out-of-control emotions by using your “PLEASE skills.” PLEASE stands for

  • treat Physical iLlness
  • balance Eating
  • avoid mood Altering drugs
  • balance Sleep
  • get Exercise

Okay, so it’s a bit of a stretch in terms of an acronym, but you get the point. These are incredibly important for life. I think this is where my main focus should be for now, since I could improve on so many.

Anyway, you see where I’m starting now. From a place of a lot of thoughts but not yet a ton of action. From a place of wanting to think about my body and behaviors in a new way. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.