Why do I do this? Why do I meal plan and work out and want candy and be angry that I can’t have candy? Why do I think maybe I should just give it up and eat whatever I want and sleep in. Why do I get angry at strangers in the grocery store who have ‘delicious’ (read: bread, cookies, anything from the bakery, candy…basically a Type 2 Diabetes starter kit) food in their cart while I’m staring at broccoli, greek yogurt and seven fucking dozen eggs?
Honestly sometimes I don’t know.
I remember being maybe 10 or 12 years old and complaining to my mom that I didn’t have a flat stomach and I needed to go on a diet. She became kind of angry with me (rightfully so). I literally had about 4% body fat as a child. I was a stick but already had absorbed enough somewhere along the way that “skinny” or a flat stomach was where it’s at. She angrily asked me if I wanted to be a woman some day. To which I responded with yes and she said something along the lines of needing to have a healthy body to be a woman. I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was a good answer! It did not deter me though…
I still want a flat stomach. It is the thing I obsess about most. Unfortunately, more often than not I want sugar more. Sugar is my drug. Legit. I get a little taste and the wires in my brain are tripped and I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. I feel terrible while I’m doing it (literally shoving handfuls of cold cereal in my mouth or eating a bag of gummy candy I don’t even like) but I don’t stop. Then the remorse and self disgust hit. It’s not a pretty.
Like most women (and men), I am my own worst critic. I can be cruel to myself; downright mean. I sometimes justify this self inflicted emotional abuse as “motivation”. As in if I make sure I am aware and own up to just how awful I am when I do eat something I “shouldn’t” or when I think about trying to lose 10 pounds for the last six months and not having yet successfully reached the goal, then #1 – that self hatred will spur me on to get it done. Be better. Be stronger. Have more will power! and #2 – and actually maybe more importantly, if I say it first, or think it, then no one else can. Or if they do, it won’t hurt as much because I owned up to it first. I know it’s true so ‘whatever’.
Pretty fucked up, no?
Luckily I am surrounded by an amazing group of women and people that I could refer to as my “fit family” if that didn’t make me feel like a little bit of an asshole…but that’s what they are in all reality. They are the people who inspire, encourage, and motivate me to be the best version of myself. They are the people I can be honest with about what I’ve perceived as transgressions and have some common sense loved back into me.
So today as I eyed up a young tiny student at work who is super cute, super petite, and looked super duper cute in her little tiny outfit, I thought to myself: “That’s enough. That’s what I want to look like. That’s how I want my clothes to fit! I will NOT CHEAT ON MY ‘DIET’ EVER AGAIN.”
Then I paused for a moment and thought “Will I be happy though? Will being that fit and trim make me happy?” I honestly couldn’t answer with an immediate ‘Yes’. I thought it through and came to the conclusion I would feel accomplished and proud because I would have reached my goal. I would feel more confident in my clothing (and out of it). I would no longer feel ashamed of my ‘failure’ because I have yet to see the number I want to see on that stupid scale. Those things would, indeed make me happy, but would it be enough?
So the thing I’ve been mulling over all day was to make a list of Pros and Cons about continuing to pursue this goal. Right now all it does is make me feel badly about myself and leave me prone to binge eating because this girl enjoys nothing more than snacking on her feelings and coating them in sugar. Some of you are likely thinking, “THEN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP!”
No. I’m worth continuing to pursue this goal. I am strong enough to reach it. I am an all or nothing girl and if I stop now? The all would likely mean a free for all of binge eating to excess, bloat, and self loathing.
So here’s the list and I honestly haven’t thought this out but I need to get it out of my head. There is a real bitch in there and she keeps saying mean things and telling me it doesn’t matter and that I can stop now. It doesn’t matter. Love my body the way it is. Wait? I’m supposed to love my body no matter what, right? Right. I am. Everyone should. I 100% believe that but I also believe everyone is entitled to working for and earning the body they want. For some people that body is very curvy and soft (and beautiful) and for some people that body is very lean and lithe (and beautiful) and for others it hard, muscular, and thick (and beautiful). So what body is it that I want?
I want a toned body with definition and goddamnit I want a flat stomach or as at least as close as I can get it. I want a body that can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, now and when it’s 90. I want a body that I can dress proudly and easily without tears in a dressing room at the mall or in my bedroom before work.
The list, right! Pros of continuing to try and lose 10 more pounds: Goals. Health. Fitness. Confidence. Accomplishment. Pride.
Cons: Negativity. Battle (with myself). Less Blizzards. All the comparing…I am also an evil comparison junkie. She is in better shape than me and it didn’t take her as long. She has more money than me. She has better hair. She is better at her job and omigod her life is perfect.
Who is she? Anyone and everyone. It is never one specific person. Actually, come to think of it? She is me. That’s the only person I am actually in competition with and my god am I tired of her. She’s mean, petty, negative, and weak. She makes me think and feel things like: failure, embarrassment, and shame. She rips the joy out of my life and not quietly but fiercely and in a way so as not to be ignored. She quietly screams “loser”. She must be silenced.
I am the only one who can make her stop. I am the only one who can silence the bitch. I am the only one who has the power. I am the only one who has the strength. I am in control and she? Is not.
So there you have it…the very honest ramblings of a 39 year old woman who is coming close to her 30th year of struggling with body image. Who has fought herself tooth and nail and has let ‘her’ steal the joy out of her life for too long.
So what am I going to do? Quit and accept my body for what it is and what may come as I slip into a carbalicious coma? Keep going and punish myself for any slip ups or life that happens along the way? Shaming myself into diet submission?
Neither. I am not going to quit. I refuse to quit. There is literally a sticky note beside my bathroom mirror that says “Don’t Quit”. It pertains to more than just a meal plan and exercise program. It’s a mantra for life.
I am going to continue to get up every day and make sure I treat this body with the respect it deserves to ensure I can use this body for what I want, when I want, for as long as I want. I am going to continue to try to make more good food choices than bad and to enjoy those moments that call for dessert.
Simply because she must be silenced. Life is a gift. (don’t worry that made me throw up in my mouth a little but fuck it, it really is a gift, and fuck if it doesn’t fly past us and we miss all the good parts because of one or two of the bad). I don’t want to look back and wish I would have tried harder. I don’t want to wish I didn’t have to start over again. I don’t want to wish for my health.
I want to live. I want peace and I want silence and I want acceptance and I deserve joy. So I will give these gifts to myself, or at least try to. I will be kind to me. I will be patient. I will be positive.
p.s. I also still think abs would be really swell.