I Look Good and I Do What I Want

a journey of loving my body and myself

100 miles May 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mae @ 3:39 pm

I noticed this morning on the Nike+ website that compiles all the run data from my Nike+ and iPod getup that I have logged 100 miles since getting it for Christmas, 2007. That’s basically 100 miles since the beginning of the year, though I ran a few days prior to the start of 2008, but I have also run a few times without my iPod or (doh!) paused it in the middle of a long run for a water or stretch break and forgotten to unpause it. My average run length was 3.22 miles and average pace was something really slow, in the 14:00 range.

Last night I avoided eating-to-stomach-ache which has been a problem for me this week, I think because of dredging up so many emotions, starting this blog. I also received the When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies book and read the first chapter before bed. I’m enjoying it so far; its intelligently written and seems to strike a chord with me.

I am also wearing clothes that fit and match today, which does make me feel a tiny bit better about my appearance. I initially tried on a short-sleeved teal blue sweater that fit me two years ago when I was about 200 lbs, and it was too tight and rode too high. Frustrated, I pulled it off and threw it aside. I’ve been toying with a clothing purge next weekend (this weekend is all booked up) to get rid of everything too small. Unfortunately, that is a large proportion of my current wardrobe. I was in a funk for about an hour over that stupid teal sweater.

On my drive to work, I tried an experiment. I tried to say some things to myself. Things like, “I look good and I do what I want!” and “My body is perfect just the way it is,” but I didn’t believe them. It was like one part of my brain was going, “Uh huh, yeah right, whatever fatass,” at the same time. I am depressed and perplexed today, wondering just how I am supposed to change my own thoughts.

It seems simple– I am clearly in control of my brain– but then sometimes I am not so sure.  It a little like when you’re a kid and someone tells you for the first time that Santa isn’t real. You want to keep believing in Santa, but now that you know that the reality is that Santa isn’t real, you can’t make your brain go back to believing something untrue. I feel like my whole 29 years on this planet have been filled with evidence of the reality that fat is a bad thing to be, and there is basically no standard medical or otherwise that would remove me from the fat category, so clearly my body is a bad kind of body. Reality and truth don’t care how badly I want to believe that my body is okay, its clearly not. And I’m just an obstinate kindergartener in love with Santa if I refuse to admit it.

I offer, as evidence, the discrimination that fat people face all the time, from everywhere. Probably more deeply engrained are my childhood experiences. My father has a sister, Aunt S. She is a sweet, loving, vivacious lady who was a size 16 when she married and is probably about 300 pounds now. She and her husband were missionaries for many years, and have served in their church their whole adult lives in varying capacities. Due to problems unrelated to her weight, they never had children, but my Aunt S treated all her nieces and nephews like her favorite people on the planet. She never forgets birthdays or important milestones. She’s affectionate and says nothing but kind things about people.

When I was growing up, one of my stepmother’s favorite “threats” was, “You are going to turn out just like your Aunt S!” This was delivered after I had been caught “stealing” food, or after a humiliating weigh-in (performed in front of my whole family, who would be encouraged by my stepmother to berate me for gaining or not losing), or if I asked for a second slice of pizza. She didn’t mean that I would turn out to be a woman who was beloved for her sweet nature and effusive personality– no. She meant that I would be a fat, digusting person who everyone loved to secretly look down on. I didn’t matter how wonderful my aunt was in other respects– to turn out like her, to be very fat, was a life outcome I should be terrified of.

This is probably not at all a coincidence, but now that I am grown, I realize that I do look very much like my aunt, in my facial features and my build. I was about a size 16 on my wedding day, too.

I really need something concrete I can do to change things. I feel so stymied. I’m hoping doing some more reading will be “doing something.”

I have an incredible mindfullness of what I am eating, cultivated through years of dieting. Of course, that doesn’t hold true for bingeing– bingeing always was a blissful release from the mindfulness of dieting, when every crumb had to accounted for. I have read the whole Intuitive Eating book and know that, at the end, the writers do advocate nutritional guidelines for the content of your food, and choosing low-fat or low-sugar choices when the difference isn’t important, and reserving only 10% of your food intake for “fun” foods.

I am both attracted to and repelled by that mindfulness, because that way lies madness for me: I feel panicky, remember the tyranny of my stepmother’s control over my food for 10 years, want to reach for the ice cream just “because I can and you can’t stop me,” but also because thanks to my grandmother food is love, healing and acceptance.

I want to write down what I’ve eaten to prove I’ve been good today: a small bowl of Fiber One cereal (special bowls I bought for dieting, they hold only one cup of cereal at a time) with 2% milk before work, a banana an hour ago. See how good!

But isn’t rewarding myself mentally– and by writing it in my blog to show off– isn’t that the wrong attitude? Aren’t I supposed to be saying that the lowfat vanilla ice cream with sugar-free chocolate syrup and a handful of walnuts that I ate last night was “just as good”? But see, that last sentence– I don’t really believe. Argh. Didn’t need the ice cream. Wanted it, didn’t need it. Probably because my husband is still gone and was working and couldn’t call at the end of the night, and I was lonely. A food eaten out of anything but body hunger is bad. Even the IE book says so. Well, maybe it doesn’t say it like that. But it says to only eat when your body is hungry, not when you are lonely.

I feel like I have far, far more than 100 miles to go to learn how to be good to myself.

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2 Responses to “100 miles”

  1. Hope Says:

    Intuitive eating is a good idea, yes; not only do your eating habits become healthier but you become better at reading your body in general. However, you should never be expected (especially by yourself) to stay away from food that brings you pleasure. Food is not only a source of nourishment; it is a social experience, something that brings people together. To give up those things that are considered ‘bad food’ is to give up an opportunity to really enjoy the experience of eating.

    Besides, if you eat a healthy diet most of the time, you can ‘get away with’ eating a piece of cake every now and then.

    Never feel guilty for giving yourself pleasure.

  2. Mae Says:

    Yes, thank you! That is a perspective on eating I am not used to considering. If food were only for nutritional purposes, we’d all be taking those Twilight Zone meals-in-a-pill.

    I guess I am stuck on the mindset that because I’m fat I don’t deserve to eat for pleasure, at least not until I am at an acceptable weight. Since sweets have always been “my downfall” of any diet, I’ve made many a promise to myself to not have any dessert until X date or Y weight.

    I think I have been telling myself for too many years that I “have no control” around sweet foods and “can’t be trusted,” and so forth. How I envy my friends who still have Easter candy in their freezers!


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