it’s about to get heavy

Possible triggering re: weight loss.

I’ve been feeling…off lately. Scattered. Uneasy. Skittish. I think it’s because I’m about to really get into some shit. Some heavy mental lifting, if you will. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact I’m looking forward to it. But I can tell I’ve been preparing myself because I’ve been pretty withdrawn the past couple weeks (as evidenced in part by my complete lack of presence on this here blog). Not really wanting to go out for drinks, not particularly interested in meeting new people, in fact not wanting to be around people at all. I went to my parents house last weekend when they were away and it was simply delightful (love the ‘rents, but damn I wanted some alone time!). Which is interesting, this concept of wanting some alone time. I live alone. I haven’t made tons of friends here yet. I’m gettin’ plenty of alone time. But I needed something a bit more. So off I went with my dog and two bags full of dirty laundry (seriously Sabrina? You’re 30. time to stop taking dirty laundry home to your parents house. does anyone else still do this?) for a weekend full of close to nothing. Just me and three dogs, some horses, and chickens:

I sat outside a lot, just kind of staring at the pretty trees, talking to the animals, soaking up the sun. and I started Dr. Linda Bacon’s “Healthy at Every Size” which is blowing. my. mind. I’ve had the book for quite a few months now, but for whatever reason, didn’t pick it up until I was packing to go home. And I am so glad I brought it. I’ve spoken before about HAES, so I won’t go into detail again here. And I’m not going to turn this into a book review, at least, not until I’ve read the whole thing. Suffice to say, when a friend of mine asked me what I loved about it so much, I responded, “it’s like someone telling me it’s not my fault.” So powerful. And honestly? I think maybe I wasn’t ready to read it until just now. Because it’s bringing up all sorts of stuff for me, mostly around my relationship with food.

Historically, I’ve examined my relationship with food as a bit of a passing hobby. Sure, it came up in therapy (note to self: find a therapist here), but I haven’t dedicated a whole hell of a lot of time into really examining how I interact with food.

I think I’ve been withdrawn so that I could shore up energy, if I may get super touchy feely hippie for a moment. This shit ain’t easy, and the idea of spending real focused time examining, pulling apart, and staring at my relationship with food is utterly terrifying. But the best part is it is simultaneously the clearest thing in the world to me.

***so I wrote all of that up there about 3 weeks ago and then disappeared again. And I think I know why. I had quite the solitary and meditative Sunday this past weekend, and it just sort of hit me like a ton of bricks. I want to lose weight. This may not seem like much of a statement to most of you, but let me tell you in that in the fatosphere, and for those of us who call ourselves fat activists? Them’s fighting words. Or at the very least, they’re words will get you some attention.

But let me explain myself.

“I want to lose weight.” Even saying those words out loud to myself shook me. Why? Why all of a sudden am I starting to go there? It felt like going backward. If I’m all “hooray, fat activism, I love my body!” then how can I want to change it simultaneously? This tension has been with me from the beginning of my FA journey, to be sure. It’s just starting to come up a bit more. But then, on Sunday, I REALLY sat with that statement. What do I mean? What about losing weight is appealing to me right now? And it was as clear as day: I don’t necessarily want to lose weight, I want to feel better. Those are two very different things, but historically, they have NOT been two different things to me. The answer to the question “how can I feel better” was always, without fail, 100% of the time, to lose weight. So now, when I don’t feel right in my body, the answer that comes to me right away is: lose weight. The next step in this for me was to unpack it and go from there.

For the last few months, I haven’t been paying attention to my body when it comes to feeding it. It’s sort of been all processed, all the time.  As I have made abundantly clear in this space before, I am not interested in labeling foods as good or bad. Before we came in to fuck everything up, food didn’t have moral value. It was. just. food. Anyway, the food I’ve been eating lately hasn’t been the most, shall we say, whole and natural. (disclaimer: I don’t give two shits what anyone else eats. Eat Taco Bell and Cheetos every single day for every single meal if you want, I will not judge you for it, this I promise) Instead, my diet has consisted of foods on the more processed side of the spectrum. And it doesn’t make me feel good. Sure, it may make me feel good in that moment, but I’ve been feeling off for a while and it’s due, in part, to my dissociation from my body and my diet.

I joke that my diet (as in, the food I eat, not “DIET” in the way most of us use the word) only works in extremes. I’m either throwing back frozen pizza and no veggies or I’m cooking gourmet, locally-sourced, free-range whatever. There isn’t much in between for me. The time has come to head toward the more whole foods side of things (foods that are whole, not the store). I’ve been focusing on this for the last few days and it’s incredible how much better I feel already. I should also note how appreciative I am that I can make this choice. Cheaper food isn’t necessarily the food with the most nutrients, and there are millions of folks every day who don’t have the opportunity to choose the more expensive/more nutrient rich option.

I’m not saying this was the magic bullet and now all of my problems will go out the window. But it’s been such a glorious relief to recognize the difference between “I want to lose weight” and “I want to feel better.” And besides being a relief? It feels powerful. And I like it very much.


24 responses to “it’s about to get heavy

  1. Thanks for a great example of how to unpack old thinking.

  2. Beautiful writing and excellent thinking with the unpacking. Feeling better =/= losing weight. I need to learn this as well, I think. I’ve had “The Fat Chick Works Out” on my shelf for two weeks and barely touched it because of all the unpacking I have to do, mentally.

  3. I’ve often teetered between wanting to accept myself as is and wanting to lose weight. In fact, I’d say that’s the crux of the issue with me. Lately I have stopped counting every calorie and beating myself up if I don’t work out. What is in its place is a joy of movement (specifically dance), a respect for what my body can do, and a focus on eating food that makes me feel energized and good. I can still get better at it. It’s a process and a journey. I wish you the best on yours.

  4. the white rabbit

    i don’;t know. I lost half my bodyweight since this time last year, following a time when i completely accepted myself, filled my booshelves with fat positive reading material and damn near cleared asos curve out of their size 26’s. i’m a 12 now, that a 8/10 in the states i think, not sure i am 28. i eat like a hog somedays, 2 tubs of b&j,takeout with full fat cola, big piles of sweeties. i dont beat myself up about. i dont feel guilty. what am i trying to say? well i stopped saying if i were thin, thats a given with fa. i got happy., i walked my dog for an hour everyday, a few months later i was into 22’s. i joined a bellydance group, i kept walking my dogs for 3-5km everyday. i practiced dance everyday, i didnt diet. not conciouisly in the beginning anyway, it was gentle. a little from here, a little less from there, piles and piles of veg. id meet my friends more. i moved to an apartment that was near to where i worked so i didnt drive i walked everywhere. before christmas i started pole dancing. i was 18 stone then down from 23. i was the biggest one tehre, but also the most graceful from my otehr dancing. i met a shit of a man. it knocked me a bit, idecided to join a gym and train hard. i lost another 5 stone. i weightlift now, and go to spin. i d train all day if i had time. i met someone great, and iv been comfortable and happy with myself for all of this year.

    now here is the thing no one told me to expect-i am EXACTLY the same person as i was in my 26 jeans as my 12 jeans. and its been surreal to walk into a shop and fit things off the peg. so much so that i actually compleytely went off fashion. im on a fashion diet : P so be gently on yourself, give yourself space and time and no pressure. listen to what your body wants. if it says stay in bed and eat 3 bars of chocolate and watch old episodes of your fav show then do so, just dont beat yourself up for it after.

  5. i’m not really sure how to respond to this comment, because your first paragraph seems to read as a sort of “do it like this and you’ll lose weight like me” and my post hopefully makes it clear that it’s not the weight i want to lose, it’s my old thinking. that’s awesome if you wanted to lose weight and then lost it. sounds like you’re happy with where you are right now, and that’s great.

    but i definitely agree with your second paragraph! (be gentle on yourself, give space and time and no pressure) good words to remember!

  6. I love that you were able to unpack the old thought patterns, and I wish you the best. I struggle with this, too. I am not feeling well lately, and I can barely keep up with my life. I used to exercise and socialize and work insane hours, and now I can barely drag myself out of bed to work just enought to not get fired. So… I do have a doctor’s appt. next week, which I have been putting off b/c I have been so scared the doc will not be able to look past my weight (I am about a size 20/22). My problem is not my weight, I know, b/c when I worked out 2 hours a day and went to law school, etc., I was this same size. But the worst part is I keep telling myself that I would feel better if I lost weight. Your post helped me to realize the old patterns in that thinking. Just because we have heard something over and over- even from our own thoughts- doesn’t make it true!

    Also, re The White Rabbit: Some people DON’T lose weight when they “become happy” or even when they exercise ALL THE DAMN TIME (Read: I didn’t. When I got engaged and worked out “like an athlete” in the words of my trainer, I didn’t lose one. single. pound.)

  7. I’m all about doing whatever you can to make yourself feel better. Finish HAES and see how you feel about it then. Seriously! Every activist and fatty can succumb to those “OMZIMustLoseWeightOrDie” thoughts. But that’s not your logical brain talking, that’s your inner critic! When 95% of weight loss plans fail? It makes you wonder why anyone ever thought they could work at all. Would an MD prescribe a medication that would give 95% of those taking it a horrible side effect? Highly doubtful. Glad you are working towards feeling better. Time alone, away from your own space and issues, helps put things into perspective. And hey, I do hope that you consider me a friend, if you ever need a non-judgmental ear? I’m your gal! ❤

  8. As always, loving you and proud of you for finding and speaking your truth. I love that you’re finding the words/thoughts that make you feel powerful (b/c you are).

    As woo woo as it sounds, I believe in the power of affirmation. When I was so sick about 9 years ago, I started saying to myself, “I am whole, healthy, happy and well.” I’d say it over and over and over to myself… even though I felt like hell. Somehow, there was power in the words. And I say it to myself now, every time I’m feeling sick or weak.

    A few months ago, during another bought of feeling like junk (this time emotionally, not physically), I upgraded that little affirmation to this: “I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, wealthy, healthy and happy.” A mouthful, eh? But, truth be told, I need the reminder that I was and could be each of these things. I taped it to my bathroom mirror and read it as I brushed my teeth. I didn’t believe it all the time, but I said it anyway. If nothing else, for 4 minutes a day, I saw myself as exactly who I wanted to be.

    I love that you’ve found power in your words. While I don’t like to offer unsolicited advice, might I suggest that your bathroom mirror deserves some kind and loving and powerful words?

    Glad you’re taking time for yourself, and reminding you that even though you are strong enough, powerful enough, smart enough and good enough to do this work all on your own, the journey can be rough sometimes and I’m happy to walk with you and hold your hand.

  9. Do people feel better when they lose weight? I know it sounds like a dumb question, but I really don’t. If I actively do something to try to lose, I feel like crap. If I lose because of something else, like a pill I’m taking for something, it reinforces my idea that my weight is not really within my control (in either direction).
    I can understand that some people feel relieved when the fat stigma relaxes a little, and when they’re being complimented for weight loss, but where else does the “feeling better” come in? Sure, you can feel better with regular exercise and good eating habits (whatever that means for you), but isn’t that independent of weight loss?

    • “Sure, you can feel better with regular exercise and good eating habits (whatever that means for you), but isn’t that independent of weight loss?”

      Absolutely, and hopefully that’s the point I got across in my post. it wasn’t until i truly took those two things apart in my head that i got it. i want to FEEL better, and that may or may not have anything to do with my weight. the point is, i don’t care if i never lose another single pound. i care about how i feel.

      yeah, maybe people do feel better when they lose weight, and it could be because their “natural” weight is a bit less than what they’ve weighed before. i guess i don’t really care, so long as they’re happy 🙂 but i do agree that we should look into what “feeling better” means for us.

  10. Ahh I’ve been there! Sometimes I still lean that way a little, if I’m particularly tired, stressed or depressed. But that skill of being able to unpack those thoughts and feelings is a really significant one to discover – it makes all the difference. You’ve taken a big step baby!

  11. I think I have the “I need to lose weight feeling” when I’m feeling emotionally sturm-und-drang. It’s not really about weight, it’s about wanting to pare down all the stuff whirring about in my life and my head that is making me stressed, anxious, overwhelmed. It’s not a true desire to lose weight, but rather a desire to find some sort of simplicity amid emotional complexity.

    • that’s super interesting, and i definitely connect to the piece about wanting to find simplicity. for me it’s also coming from a physical place…wanting to feel better in my movement, but i completely see where you’re coming from as well. thank you!

  12. Love the blog post. Here’s a link to a piece of art that I think you will enjoy:

  13. Brilliant distinction! A revolutionary thing to say publicly, too, in a world that equates weight with everything else in life. I don’t care what anyone weighs. I care that we care what we weigh when we could be doing so many more interesting things that are so much better for individuals and for the world.

    I’m totally opposed to the idea that the *only* way for any of us to see improvements in any aspect of life has to come from losing weight.

    I love me some Health At Every Size(tm) as a radical, body-loving, safe and effectively health-enhancing alternative to the tired old weight=health stuff!

  14. Pingback: learning to be my own advocate | the taking up of space

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