the body and getting a hand

It’s been a while since I’ve done a life update, so I think I’ll give it a go.

Right now I’ve just started with a new counselor who specializes in body issues and also knows a lot about gender. I think I really need it because my body image is so much in flux and I just can’t put my finger on what I need to do next.

I am often extremely upset about my weight and feel stuck in a holding pattern, wanting to lose weight but also knowing diets don’t work, wanting to treat my body with respect but paralyzed by an inability to know what that means.

Why is thinking about my body so emotional? How can this have such a huge hold on my life? I feel so sad to think of all the time I spend being jerked around by my brain while my body suffers mostly silently. It’s the perfect time for a counselor because I know that I simply cannot answer these questions myself. I have tried many, many times and never progressed. It’s a frustrating cycle that I just can’t maintain.

I’m tired of feeling held back by my beliefs about my body. I miss doing things I like because I’m afraid to find out I’m not as good at them as I once was. These body image issues are sucking the joy out of my life.

So this is where I’m at. Hopefully I’ll keep blogging through this journey and have some success in accepting myself.

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the body and the 10 percent

Today I’m going to write about a topic in diet culture that plagues me. It’s the concept that if you “just” lose 5-10% of your body weight, you will suddenly be SO MUCH HEALTHIER!

Everyone says it. The CDC says it. A bunch of sources link to this study about it.

But there are major problems with this. First of all, that study notes that people have gained back half of the weight they lost within two years, and then don’t check back in with those people again. They then go on to say the benefits of the initial weight loss remain, despite the fact that nearly every person in the study is highly likely to have regained all of the weight they lost within 4-5 years. Will the benefits continue then? If so, how? Clearly, this makes no sense.

So many studies of weight loss conveniently stop before the weight gain portion of dieting comes back into play. Not everyone gains back weight after they lose it, but almost everyone does. Even if there are benefits to losing weight, which is a disputable claim to begin with, since often weight loss takes credit for other health improvements, this is just not a viable solution for health.

Look, I am highly aware that my view on this is not part of popular culture. I know that many people will deride this point of view and perhaps think that I am making excuses for my or others’ lack of self-control. But the thing is, the 10% has never worked for me. I’m almost 30. If it hasn’t worked yet, over theĀ countless times I have tried it, why on earth would I keep trying it?

Health is not a requirement, but I will say that even though I’m heavier than I’ve ever been, I’m also just as healthy as I’ve always been. I don’t have more ailments than I’ve ever had despite my weight gain. My metabolism is perfect, my cholesterol levels are stellar, my blood pressure is right on. I’m active, I work on my mental health, I’m recovering from an injury that literally anyone–fat, thin, or in between–could get. So tell me how I’m unhealthy for being fat?

If you want a more comprehensive and well-researched examination of this idea and fat bias in the medical field in general, I highly recommend this post by Ragen Chastain of Dances With Fat.

the body and its current form

So here’s the thing: I’m fat. Seriously, actually fat. If you look at me, you will see this. If you ask my doctor, she will say my BMI is in the “Obese” category. Before my accident, I was less fat. Now I’m more fat. It’s just a fact about me.

Coming to terms with this simple fact about me is anything but simple though. I have struggled so much as I’ve gained weight over the past six months, watching my arms get bigger, my tummy get rounder, new stretch marks appear on my hips and thighs. I’ve hated scouring my closet for things that might still stretch to fit me, and finally tossed almost all my clothes in a donation pile and then cried because I couldn’t wear them anymore. I’ve broken down in dressing rooms, much to my wife’s distress. I’ve pinched my stomach and felt under my chin, feeling the softness and feeling shame.

But the truth is, these feelings are not new. My weight now is 30 pounds more than it used to be, but my thoughts are the same as they have been my whole life: I need to lose weight, it’s embarrassing to be the size I am, I hate this or that soft part of me. Before my accident and this rather sudden weight gain, I was already planning to lose weight. I was trying to exercise more and telling myself to eat less.

It seems like no matter what, I’ve always been on or thinking about being on some kind of diet.

This is the most important thing I have realized recently. It doesn’t matter what size I am, I have been programmed to want to be less. The world around us tells us (especially women) that we need to control ourselves. That we need to spend time and effort and money on shrinking ourselves. That we need to take up less space. That people are bothered by our too big presence. That there is a right size to be and you must fit into it or be striving to fit into it or you are not worthy of respect. These ideas have been so ingrained in me that from the age of 8 through my current age of 28, I have thought about dieting, exercise and weight as a constant, necessary companion. TWENTY YEARS OF THIS AND I AM MAD AS HELL! There is no point in continuing this cycle of society-approved self-abuse.

Now I’m working to counter these thoughts. I’m working to see my weight as merely a fact about my body, like the fact that I’m short or have blond hair. So here’s the truth: I’m fat. That’s it.