Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Feeling Heavy

I have great intentions. Then I just ate three packs of Welch's fruit snacks, because they are delicious. I have been overweight since I was fourteen. My weight has fluctuated up and down significantly over the years. Up and down, and up and down. It's up right now. I know why it's up. The last four years of my life have been the most stressful, dramatic, anxiety filled years of my life, also two of the best years. But yeah, I'm stressed. Everyone's always stressed, I hear you. But I'm out of energy to care about it right now, and I eat to make myself feel better. I eat to celebrate, to wallow, to numb, to fellowship, but I can't seem to stop long enough to say no to myself lately when I should.

I've worked and read and focused on body positivity, and loving myself for who I am, and where I am in my life right now. And it's helped. I believe in most of what Lindy West and Jes Baker have to say in their books. But my weight is still a goddamn struggle, and sometimes makes me feel like a fat failure. I can easily start to hear all the stereotypes about fat people, fat women in particular, of which I am one. I am a fat woman. I'm trying to shut those shitty cruel voices out. They don't know me. Most days I think I am beautiful and strong and powerful and generally a pretty good human person. I have what would be deemed remarkable confidence and self esteem, particularly for a fat chick. Because we aren't supposed to be successful or happily married or have a great sex life or be considered attractive. But I do and have those things. Many, many of us do actually. And reading books by strong, gorgeous, successful fat women, and seeing their photos, and reading about them taking on the bullies and assholes has been amazing in the last year. You won't find these women on TV, in fact fat women only make it on TV if you're watching The Biggest Loser or a sitcom with a funny housekeeper or goofy fat funny side kick or a woman obsessed with her weight at all times. And I think that sucks. But I'm also conflicted here. All this body positivity and loving yourself as a fat woman is wonderful. I'm all in. But all that aside, in order to stay healthy as I age, and in order to have more energy, to take more risks, to put myself out there more and just feel better, I need and want to lose weight. It's just a fact.

I want to lose weight. I know the logic of how you do this. I've been on every diet. I know the calorie count of nearly everything I put in my mouth (80 per packet of Welch's fruit snacks x 3, in case you were wondering). I just don't make myself break the habits that I've locked in place over the last decades. Or I do for a short while only. If I could somehow turn that energy spent bemoaning my shirt that used to fit but is now slightly too tight or beating myself up for not getting a handle on this complicated issue I've struggled with for almost thirty years, then I could probably help myself. But instead, like so many other people, I get caught up in my own loop. I don't want to beat myself up constantly. This is a battle I'm always fighting, about to fight, planning to start fighting again on Monday, or just ignoring the need to fight. Because it's not like you can go cold turkey on food. Ooh, cold turkey sounds delicious. See?

No amount of body positivity books will make this not a fact. And that feels awkward. I don't think us fat people should be mocked or demeaned or stereotyped, but I also want to be less fat at the same time. I'll always be at least a little fat. I just want to be less fat.  I don't want surgery. I don't want to spend the money and without real behavioral changes, surgery isn't permanent weight loss anyway. So I'm at a crossroads. I don't want to join Weight Watchers even though Oprah said I can have bread. I feel like any diet business doesn't really want to do much for me long term except take my money, and tell me I'm less than if I don't stay on this "journey" while they encourage me to buy their products, and supplements, and bars and make taco soup for one point.

I don't honestly know what to do next. Maybe I find a slew of reputable books and read about diet and nutrition and educate myself so thoroughly I will want to make changes. Maybe I try some psychological support/training. Maybe I meet with a nutritionist. Maybe I find a group to join that is focused on healthy lifestyle choices and not specifically on weight, with other women in a similar boat. I don't know. I just don't. Not today at least.

It feels like my own weight is just part of an enormous weight on me today. I feel discouraged, and not just by my own struggles, but by the struggles in our country too. The weight of my responsibilities as a wife and mother, daughter, sister, employee, and friend are enough most days, but I feel called more than I ever have before as a citizen, feminist, vocal supporter of causes that I feel are vital to the well-being of our most vulnerable family, neighbors and friends. I feel overwhelmed today. I feel heavy. I feel tired. I feel so much and need to find new outlets to draw some of this weight off of myself both figuratively and literally. I'm contemplating. I'm thinking about what to do for myself and for my neighbors and friends, and finding a way to make sure their voices and mine are heard. But I'm going to need more energy to do that first.

I'm going to try and start fresh here. Maybe you can help. Have you struggled similarly with your weight? Has anything worked to help you break old habits or start new ones? I'm curious to hear your story too. And I'm having a salad for lunch, I promise.

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