Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do You “Struggle with Your Weight”?

It’s a common phrase – one I’ve used myself many a time. I used it as a way to express that I was somehow a work-in-progress, that I knew and understood that I was flawed and that I was expending effort to fix the problem. It was a badge to hold up and say, “See, at least I know there’s a problem!” I could participate in the larger culture with my fat-exemption card. I have to admit that it was a big part of my identity, to the point where I created a whole social life around myself built on the very premise. Struggling together was easier than struggling alone because we all know, struggling sucks. It’s hard. It’s energy draining. It took over my life. I decided to revisit this idea after reading this post over at Living 400 lbs.

Now, I’d like to say that the struggle is over – that I’ve learned my lesson and all is healed. If it were only that easy. Life is never black and white and I am swimming my way through the gray. Some days I fully embody Margaret Cho’s Fuck it Diet, and feel really great, really in tune with what my body needs to function well and wants just for the joy of it. Other days, the anxiety creeps in and the struggle resurfaces as an effort to silence the food police in my head and the nasty thoughts about my current (and frightening-to-think-about future weight).

The one real tool I have to combat these negative feelings is exercise. The thing I sometimes forgot about when “working out” to try to lose weight, is that moving my body feels fantastic. Getting going is the hard part but usually I feel good while doing it and really good afterwards. It’s hard to feel bad about myself when I’ve just done an hour plus of walking, yoga, pilates, or other strength training. It just doesn’t compute. What I try to avoid, however, are the thoughts about how doing these things will somehow prevent the apocalypse of The Ever-Expanding-Amelia outcome that I so fear. I cannot claim to have overcome that one yet, but practice makes perfect. I try to reframe my desires for movement as something that is showing myself care, that I’m doing it to feel better in my own skin. The goal cannot be weight loss. It just doesn’t work for me. It makes the whole thing into a chore, something that must be checked off the good-fatty checklist. There is no faster way to churn up Please-Just-Let-Me-Sit-On-The-Couch thoughts than that.

I’ve started to notice that the more I talk to myself in this way, the closer I come to believing it. It’s the whole fake-it-till-you-make-it strategy in action. So, I’m calling it – I’m done with the “struggling” metaphor. My body and I are on the same team. Even when my brain sometimes rebels and I have to talk her down, we’re still on the same side. It’s all me and it’s all good. I’m all good. I don’t need or want fixing. I can take excellent care of myself with wholesome, yummy food and fun, joyful activity. I can do all that without the goal of changing my body or losing weight. I can be healthy and not at war with my body. I’m calling a permanent cease fire.

Does anyone else use this metaphor? Do you think it's helping or hurting your efforts to be happy and healthy?


drleah@singlemommyhood.com said...

Dropped over to say hello.

Love it! You and your body are on the same team.


Thanks, Dr. Leah! I enjoyed discovering your site earlier today :)

JenJam said...

hi Amelia - yes I hear you on this! A guy at work was talking about how he's lost 2 stone or something (to be honest, I wasn't really listening, ha ha) and said it was "really, really hard". I said I'd noticed my trousers were looser of late but that I found weight loss "really, really easy". And I meant it :) :)


That’s awesome, Jen! It’s funny how everything gets easier when we let go…