How Did I Get Here? Taking Stock

Written by Kate • December 5, 2018 •
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FULL RESPONSIBILITY

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I take full responsibility for being here as much as I take full responsibility in how to live more authentically. But a key difference in my new way of BEing is that I’m no longer “figuring” out a new way. I’m not thinking up new ways to BE and then muscling my will to bend to my mind’s machinations. Instead, I’m softly allowing new ideas to come to me and I’m feeling my way, with my body, to see which are healthy and which are just more of the same from the past.

NO MORE FAKING IT. NO MORE DIETING.

One of my new key ways to be is that I just can’t fake “it” any more. I can’t diet because I promised myself a long time ago that I’d stop but it took me a long time to truly honor that commitment. This summer, my body just said “no. You promised me no more diets and I calling in that debt. NO MORE DIETING”. I started to gain weight, like I  have in the past, but I haven’t been able to use my old ways to manage my weight. So I haven’t been able to diet and resist carbs and sugar and engage in “restricted” eating in order to get back to a manageable weight. And given that it was simply impossible for me to diet, I started looking to see if this could be considered a new life style change and if maybe this was the Universe’s nudge to look at my weight in a new way. And I’ve gained tremendous insights into what overeating is a symptom of and trying to only manage the symptoms is never the best course of action. I also need to look at why I’ve overeaten in the past. More on this in a later blog post.

LOOKING BACK

In looking back, I believe the first time I dieted was when I was about 14 years old, a sophomore in high school. My Mom told me I was fat (technically, she said overweight) and that I needed to lose weight. I weighed 135 lbs and I am 5’5″. I think she thought she was doing me a kindness because she literally spent her whole life, probably 65 years when you exclude her childhood, on a diet. She told me stories of dieting all day and standing in a phone booth (look it up if you don’t know where they are, ROFL) and sliding down the wall onto the ground because she didn’t’ have the strength to stand.  What a story! I think it shows a lot of things but mainly that my Mom believed in extreme dieting and was very attached to being thin.

I believed her, as my whole life my family made fun of my large derriere (before JLo and just after Twiggy). My Dad and Uncle used to laugh at me? towards me? at Thanksgiving and say things like, “you might as well take that gravy and smear it directly on your thighs”. I think we all know how sensitive teens are, especially teen girls and how they are bombarded with body negative images and expectations. None of this helped me realize that I was a perfect weight for my size. Literally a perfect weight for my size.

And so the dieting began. I was playing soccer for two seasons and on the swim team in the spring season. I was extremely active and I was at the perfect weight for me. And then I drastically cut my calories. What happened? I was starving all the time. I gained weight. And I would essentially binge on food due to the cravings brought on by denying myself the correct amount of food.

In truth, I have some work to be done around this because as I write this, I find myself still mildly angry and somewhat indignant that anyone would tell a 14 year old that she needed to diet. In the next two years, I gained 20 lbs and I assumed it was because of the binging and not from a slowed metabolism brought on by the inappropriateness of dieting.

When I was a senior, two years later, my Mom and I were looking at a photo of me around the time she told me I was fat. I was astonished at how thin and perfectly muscular I looked and said to her, “Mom, I wasn’t fat at all. Why did you say I was?” My Mom, looked at me sheepishly (because she could see I was right) and said, “well, you were just bigger than the other girls”. And when, a few months later I was getting ready for a date and I couldn’t really find anything that looked good on me, as I continued to gain weight until I was about 155 lbs at the end of high school and felt incredibly fat, I sat in the living room waiting for my date to come pick me up and my Mom said to me, JUST BEFORE MY DATE, “I think you’re the heaviest you’ve ever been”.  I was already off kilter because I couldn’t find anything that looked smashing on me for my date. I was wearing an outfit belonging to my much taller sister and I felt slightly frumpy and then my Mom says this. Any confidence I had that I looked at least presentable was out the window. Now I felt like I just looked fat and gross.

DON’T DO THIS TO YOUR KIDS. DON’T DO THIS TO YOURSELF

Hey, parents: Don’t do this to your kids. Hey kids: Don’t do this to yourself. Hey adults: Don’t do this to yourself. Try to get to remember that the critical voice is almost never telling the truth and certainly it’s not telling the truth in a loving way. But I digress.

I dieted for the next million years, always searching for the best way to eat. Using my head rather than my body to feel my way through it. Not using my body as the barometer but instead ate what my brain wanted. Eating way too much in order to feel good.

I started sharing a house with someone who, for what felt like the first time in my life, had a “good relationship” with food. She ate well. Baked cakes all the time and enjoyed her sweets, her beer, and she loved her exercise. She was in bed early and up early and enjoyed her meals, her life, and moving her body while she walked to work or cycled on the weekends with her boyfriend. I watched and studied her as if I was an anthropologist who  had been sent to study another culture. And I was fascinated. Mostly because she ate a fair amount and enjoyed the heck out of her meals.

I have lost weight a few times in my life. Once was just before I met Dion, where I was exercising for two hours a day, five days a week, and I was using a great deal of will power to monitor/slow every bit of food that entered my mouth But it didn’t last. How could it? Two hours a day working out! Two other times I was overseas. In the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa, my life slowed down and I started slowed down with it. No electricity. No phone. No movies. Few distractions. I began to notice when I was hungry and when I was full. It took me a while to notice if I was hungry. I started drinking a lot of water and broth to see if it was thirst or hunger. The broth helped to replenish the salts I was losing to sweating in the humidity that is tropical Africa. After a while, I started having clear hunger signals and I knew they were hunger signals. Not bored so let’s have something to eat. Not something rocked my world today so let’s eat something to feel better for a moment. Just hunger.

I needed to eat upon waking. I had my breakfast of rice and beans and would have a hard boiled egg with it, all drowned in a very tasty tomato sauce with palm oil. I ate a portion about the size of my palm. It always seemed so little. I lost something like 30 lbs in Peace Corps. I was still. I was present. I ate to satiety and no more. But when I returned to the whirlwind of my life here in the US, I started to eat to feel better from the stress I was feeling and pound by pound, it all came back. And when I was in Bali in 2017, I had the same experience where my life simplified and I started listening to my body’s cues rather than my head’s. And I lost 10 lbs in 6 weeks.

So 35 years of dieting, restrained eat, fasting, binging, etc has taken its toll mentally and physically.

My metabolism is slowed down by the years and years of dieting. My body and even part of my brain is saying no more.

WHAT’S NEXT? NEXT STEPS

I don’t want to be talking about my weight. I don’t want to spend any more time or energy over my weight. So why am I talking about it here? One thing I have learned is that I haven’t listened and respected my body in a long time.  I pray every morning before my meditation session:

“Divine Beloved, please give to me and take from all that I need to be fully surrendered as fast as possible”.

I can’t move forward without being fully present in my body. And I can’t be fully present in my body unless I stop eating or drinking to excess to avoid being in my body and being present. Therefore, this is something I can must heal.  And I’m really grateful that my body, my weight, my way of buffering from my life is coming to fore again. I see how I’ve made food and going out something to do, as an activity, a source of pleasure, rather than as fuel for my body.

There’s so much more out there than going out to dinner and eating. Even with toddlers,  I can expand my concept of what’s possible to do for fun besides go out to dinner.

 

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