Sunday, May 16, 2004

I wonder...

(Started on ) Sunday morning. Just a few moments ago, as I was washing my hands, I was suddenly struck by the strangest thought: what would happen if I stopped trying to lose weight and instead simply tried to be healthy at the weight I'm at? What I mean, I think, is, if I stopped obsessing over what I eat, stopped hating myself for the way that I look, and stopped feeling so self conscious of the way my body looks while I'm exercising at my current weight...what would my life be like?

This probably sounds pretty simplistic to all of you, but this truly is the first time I've ever allowed myself to seriously entertain these thoughts. I've spent my life since the age of 13 hating the way that I look and the shape and size of my body. I've internalized and memorized every cutting thing anyone has ever said to me - "You'd be so pretty if you just lost weight" and things along those lines. Not surprisingly, there is very little positive associated with my looks for me, and this has had a devastating effect on my entire life.

Things I won't do because I'm too self-conscious:
* Regular exercise. Sounds odd, I know, but my obsession with how all of my bulges and my tummy will look when I'm moving has created a huge amount of resistance within me to getting out and moving while I'm heavy. Of course, the Catch 22 of this is that I won't get smaller until I start to move.

* Kayaking. I loved kayaking while I was at a resort spa in Texas a couple of years ago, but I won't get out there and rent one at the Aquatic Center near my house because I'm too self conscious about how heavy I am and what it will look like with me weighing down the boat. A perfect opportunity to get out, get fresh air, and exercise, and I'm passing it up because of my weight.

* Socialize with people I don't know. At church, at OA meetings, wherever I go by myself, I bolt for the "safety" of my car once the event is over, because I'm not comfortable being in large groups of people that I don't know. I feel as though I'm being judged and laughed at because of how I look, and I simply can't stand the (real or perceived) censure. Some of this is real (I do live in San Diego, land of the perfect body), some is just my imagination, especially at the OA meetings because they are very accepting - it's me that is unable to accept me, not them.

* Make friends. I have always had a tough time making friends in real life. Funny thing is that I don't seem to have the same problem online. I chat all the time with people from different countries and cultures, and I'm not self conscious at all. Why? Because they can't see me!

The most important thing that I won't do at my current weight is feel good about myself. When I don't feel good about myself, I don't take the time to do the little things that are so critical to building and validating self esteem. Things like putting on makeup, putting together an outfit before going to bed so that I can choose accessories and such accordingly (instead of just throwing it together at the last minute), making sure that I take time to style my hair becomingly, and, last but not least, looking at myself in the mirror and feeling good about what I see. I know that it's not my weight that keeps me from doing that last item, because I can remember being 120 pounds (at 5'3") and still not wanting to look in the mirror because of how fat I felt.

I've read lots of articles about being fat and fit at the same time, and I believe them to be true. I know that, when I went to the doctor last year, my blood work was excellent in every category, and I was 225 at the time. My diabetes was under excellent control and my cholesterol, triglycerides, and all that good stuff was all well within desireable limits. I was watching what I ate and sticking to a low calorie diet, but I really think that the regular exercise I was getting was doing more for me than the diet. My thought now is, if I stopped obsessing over my food, if I allowed myself to eat anything that I wanted as long as I didn't binge, and exercised six days a week, moderately, for an hour, could I be happy and healthy? I think the answer to the healthy part is, clearly, yes. Happiness, however, is so much more elusive.

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