So, I’m retiring Good With Cheese.
It’s been a tough decision, but honestly, this chapter of my little life’s journey is over. I need a fresh start, and I need it away from the these months and months of posts.
I’m exploring new things these days, new ways of eating (not dieting, mind you – just eating more whole foods and trying to really nourish my body) and new ways of working out, and I want to talk about all that without feeling the shadow of my past disordered behavior hovering in the background.
I’ve started a spankin’-fresh blog that I’m going to use to chronicle my new experiences (up first: what the hell do I do with this millet now that I’ve got it home?).
To those of you who offered your advice and support and kindness over all these months, I can only say thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish you ten-fold the healing and peace I have found.
The GWC leg of my journey is over, but happily, I have many more miles to go.
…I had a blog. That I updated. With some kind of regularity.
Man, those were the days, huh?
There’s not been a lot to say these last few months. I went to the doctor back in June to figure out why I seem broken in a lot of ways, and the results went something like this: “Hey, you’re in the your 30s now. And you come from a long line of chubby women. So, unexplained weight gain? Jacked-up gastrointestinal system? General feeling that something in your body is malfunctioning? Totally normal. You’ll get used to it.”
Thank you, doctor. Can I have my co-pay back now because I could have gotten that much useful information from the janitor for free?
I like my doctor; she’s nice and never rushes me, but I’m annoyed that she threw a blood test at me, looked at the results that fell into “normal” ranges, and sent me on my way. Knowing that I meet the lab ranges for “normal”? Doesn’t actually make me feel better. So, I’m still fighting maintaining my body weight (which isn’t about the weight, but the fact that I’m eating a really healthy diet* and getting 60 – 90 minutes of pretty intense exercise a day and still watching my weight creep up). And I’m wiped out by 9 PM. And my face is weirdly puffy. And…and…and….it just goes on.
I don’t care what I weigh. I don’t care what size I am. I just want my body to respond in a way that seems normal and at all related to my behaviors. It feels like things have gone off the rails. I’m eating well and exercising a lot because I like how I feel when I do those things, but I find it disheartening to have to keep buying new pants. And my joints aren’t happy about the weight gain; when I run or kickbox, I feel it in my knees more than I did 10 pounds ago. And 6 months or 12 months or 2 years from now…I’m scared that these things I love, this running and kicking and jumping around, will get painful because my joints will be suffering from the increased stress of however much more weight I’ve gained by then.
Anyway, I had a follow-up appointment with my doc scheduled last week (only relating to my going-off BCPs and how I was feeling after that, nothing to do with my other stuff), but I cancelled it. Why? Because I’m frustrated that the tiny issue of BCPs is getting more attention that the GIANT issue of my body not working right.
I know I need to go back. I need to make a big, long list of everything that doesn’t feel right or feels out of whack, and I need to advocate for myself. I need answers. ‘Cause “being in my 30s”? Not an answer.
So that’s where I’ve been: biking and running and shopping for new pants and being bitter over an appointment that happened 3 months ago. But now fall’s almost here, and it’s my favorite time of year, and I’m not going to waste another month watching my body go haywire.
I’ll let you know how things go.
*”Diet” = the foods I eat on a daily basis, not a plan for weight loss.
I tell a lot of stories about myself.
Not long stories — they’re usually just one sentence, a few words to box myself up in a small, easy-to-grasp package.
For example: I have issues with food. I’m shy. I don’t look good in green. People make me nervous. I’m not musical. I’m not very funny. I exercise too much. I’m not good at sports. I don’t have any real talents.
It’s so damned appealing, this summing one’s self up. It feels orderly and neat, and it’s what people expect, a sound-bite biography. It gives information but spares any messy, burdensome intimacy. And really, these stories become so easy to tell after the first hundred or so times; it stops mattering whether or not they’re true.
But that’s the thing. These stories don’t stay true. I’m not all of my stories on any given day; some of them I haven’t been in years.
For example, part II: I don’t have issues with food — I eat normally and that clashes with all the messages that say I shouldn’t. And I’m not shy — I’m just not gregarious.
And I don’t have a damn clue if I’m good at sports since I haven’t played any since elementary school, and honestly? I bet I’d be decent at some of them these days since I now have coordination and good endurance, two things 10-year-old Megan lacked.
And I have lots of talents; they’re just not necessarily the ones that spring to mind, like singing or dancing or painting or what-have-you. I can cut out anything you can think of with scissors; my line-dancing-turkey paper dolls are legendary. I bake awesome molasses cookies. I give the best nicknames. These aren’t exactly talent-show material, but hey, they’re still pretty cool.
So, what’s my point? It’s this: I want to give up my stories. They’re holding me back; those sentences create paths that I’m hesitant to step from. They give me excuses not to try. I want to stop telling the stories because it makes me live them and that makes them true.
And I want a bigger life than that.
And as for the story about not being musical? Hell, that’s just because I hated piano lessons when I was 8.
We’ll see if that one’s true when my banjo gets delivered next week.
So, I blew off two (count ‘em, TWO!) workouts this week. One was today’s workout — I’m going to a play tonight and am incredibly lazy and didn’t want to shower and re-fix my hair before I could go out again. But the other time? Well, that’s the fun one. I skipped out on Monday’s five-miler to spend my evening shopping like it was my job.
I bought stacks of clothes. Piles. Heaps, if you will. Mostly shirts, because, well, pants are trickier, but after it all was over? I have actual choices hanging in my closet. Not just four pairs of capri pants, one pair of jeans, and 95 t-shirts.
Every day since then, I’ve worn something adorable. And my hair has started looking extra-sassy because I finally sprang for grown-up hair products instead the equivalent of bar soap. And you know the secret to looking freakin’ awesome?
Thinking you look freakin’ awesome.
Yeah, everyone probably already knows this. But I’m a girl who rarely strings together two or more “freakin’ awesome” days. I usually feel presentable, passable, not offensive to the eye (at least not from a respectable distance), but to feel pretty? And to have it be simply because I treated myself like I was a pretty girl, a girl worth effort?
Well, that’s a heck of a thing to know.
Of course, I know I’m lucky. I had a small windfall this month that didn’t have to go towards other expenses so I had some extra cash for these indulgences, but even the free stuff I was inspired to do as I felt prettier (things like putting on good lotion or putting on a favorite necklace) also made me feel glow-ier, and I think that had just as much of an effect as the new duds.
So, that’s the secret. You’re pretty if you think you are. And if you think you are? Well, what everyone else thinks pretty much stops mattering.
There’s something in my nature that has always made me disappear when things get too hard. It’s not that I like to abandon things; it’s more that I don’t trust myself to be able to work hard enough to get past or over them. So I just kind move slowly toward the nearest exit and then dash out the back. Believe me, it makes me a totally awesome wife, sister, daughter, and friend. I’m the Houdini of all my relationships.
I think I’m kind of a Houdini-blogger, too. Back in May, I was seriously floundering and a few comments left me feeling vulnerable and attacked, and I decided this was Too Hard. I didn’t need to make my journey a public thing if it was going to hurt more than it helped. I wasn’t trying to be a role model or anything, not trying to achieve Poster Girl status — I’m just a woman who wanted a place to hold herself accountable. But if it didn’t feel safe anymore? Well, I huffed to myself, it’s not like I’m getting paid for this. I can switch back to a regular ol’ notebook.
So, I did. I wrote stuff. I went to the doctor. I ran. I got bloodwork done. I bought new pants because my other pants felt too snug and made me anxious. I ate homegrown tomatoes. I graduated to 15 lb. weights for my biceps curls. I perfected my Sea Breeze. I napped.
And even in the midst of all that life-living, I missed my little blog here. I missed the introspection, the Examined-Life quality it gave to my experiences. I missed how honest it forced me to be with myself.
Here’s a happy thing: I ran 7.5 miles yesterday at my preferred pace and probably could have run a few more, so strong my lungs and legs felt. My upper-body strength is back and I feel all kick-ass and powerful when I’m working out. These are good things. These things make me proud of my body and what it can do.
And here’s a hard thing: My weight continues its inexorable creep upwards and while my bloodwork all says “Normal!” I cannot quite shake the feeling something is malfunctioning in my body. The weight gain is unexplainable, seemingly unrelated to my lifestyle, and it’s challenging my self-image in a way I haven’t experienced before. The weight gain of ending my diet was expected because I wasn’t starving myself any longer, but this weight gain? Unexpected and confusing.
I don’t mind being heavier. I just would like to know my body isn’t broken.
So, here I am. Stronger, faster, somewhat fatter, and taking care of myself the best way I know how. And it’s nice to be back.
Thank you to those commenters who left notes checking on me! I appreciate it!
First, I’m thinking of instituting what I’m calling “The Lady Time Clause” here at the ol’ blog. Basically, anything I post the week of my Lady Time should be read with the awareness that the writer is adrift in a sea of hormones and discomfort and therefore is not in her best frame of mind.
Because y’all? I don’t really want to diet. It’s so not even about my weight or my appearance right now. I literally have no issues with the size of my jeans or the shape of my thighs. And honestly, I am keenly aware that dieting would make the tiny cleavage I’ve grown (second puberty! Woo!) go away and I’ve grown rather fond of it.
What is making me CRAZY is how unfit I feel. Running is too hard these days. It didn’t used to be this hard. I could fly through the miles at a respectable pace and not feel like I was going to throw up. Now I just putter along, wheezing. And it’s not just the running. My upper body strength is a joke; ten push-ups shouldn’t leave me noodle-armed. Add that to my gastrointestinal system going on strike, and I kind of tumbled into a hole.
I feel out of shape and out of sorts, and my Secret Dieter is always ready to remind me of how easy it used to be to run and lift heavy things; she says it’s because I was smaller.
She’s, of course, an idiot. It’s not because I was smaller; it’s because I had a very consistent exercise plan that incorporated lots of running and strength training, which in turn made me better at running and strength training.
Why, it’s almost like practicing something makes it easier! I should totally fund a study!
So, here’s the thing. I want to be better at running and I want to improve my upper body strength. I’m already working on the running, and need to just give myself some time to build my endurance back. And as for my noodle-arms, I’m going to try to get a plan together that I enjoy, and trust that I’ll get stronger. I mean, my husband has gotten downright cocky these days, and somebody needs to take him down a peg with some arm-wrestling.
In regards to the digestive issues, I’m going to the doctor next month, so in the meantime, I’ll keep a very informal journal of what I’m eating and how my body is responding. That feels like a right thing for me, and it may offer some solutions.
The thing is, after I initially lost that 50 pounds and then “maintained” in the mid-130s for the five years, I didn’t actually feel like I was still on a diet; I simply didn’t know any other words for what I was doing. I was just trying to eat more whole foods and lots of veggies and fruit because it made my body feel better and it helped with both my high cholesterol and The Crazy. But I also went out to eat whenever I wanted and had dessert and didn’t write down every morsel of food. I worked out regularly and intensely, but only once a day, and I took rest days when I felt like I needed or just wanted them. All the real restriction and overexercising didn’t start happening until January ’07.
So, now that I know more, I think what I was doing for those 5 years fell more in the realm of HAES (for me)-type behaviors. I wasn’t trying to lose weight and wasn’t actively trying not to gain either; I was just doing the things that made me feel healthy and strong and good, both in my head and in my body.
I’m going to try to resist painting every healthy behavior (Eating veggies! Following a training program!) with the broad brush of “dieting,” and I’m going to try to recapture those feelings of health and fitness and bendiness and vigor that I had back then by embracing the behaviors that made me feel my best.
And even if my weight changes nary a pound? I’ll still feel better, which is all I really wanted all along.
I weighed this morning.
Granted, my period is due later this week and what with my chronically broken digestive system, I’m sure I’m retaining all kinds of…well, you get the picture. So I know it’s not all permanent parts of me, not all bone and fat and muscle and gooey bits. But that number?
Again I say: Yowza.
Why did I weigh, you may be wondering. The answer is simple: Because I wanted confirmation that I was truly as fat as I suspected I was. I wanted a number. I wanted a reason to toss all this damn body acceptance shit out the proverbial window and I wanted an excuse to get back on some kind of Program. I wanted something to shock me so badly I could say, “Man, this past year was a horrible, horrible mistake.”
It kind of worked. It kind of didn’t.
I really want to lose weight. Really, really badly. Not a lot of weight. Just a little. Just…well…17 pounds. That’s not a little, is it?
Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn. I hate this. I hate feeling like I have to choose either hunger and exhaustion, or sadness and a pervasive sense of being icked out by my own chub. Where’s my middle ground, damn it? It’s like I’m not allowing myself any other choices: I’m either a disordered eater and compulsive overexerciser, or I’m a girl who feels regret over what she’s given up, who misses both her functioning colon and the tiny shred of social acceptance her smaller ass gave her, but who is too terrifed to pay attention to what goes into her mouth lest she spiral out of control again.
I miss seeing my abs. I miss feeling fast and light. I miss sitting in a chair and pulling my feet up and tucking my knees beneath my shirt, so lithe and bendy I felt. I miss feeling like I could trust myself with a freakin’ food journal when having digestive issues and trying to track down a cause. Now I feel lumbering. I feel Too Big for the kind of life I like leading. My abdomen hurts. I feel heavy and bloated and full of rage.
I don’t know what to do anymore. It all feels like I have to pick one path or the other. Do I fight the good fight on behalf of all the fat girls and eschew anything resembling restriction or dieting, or do I try to make this fat girl feel her best, even if that means a food journal and workout logs?
I want to be where I spent those five years between 11/01 and 1/07, where I worked out hard and ate mindfully, but didn’t beat myself up over pizza and beer on occasion. I felt good there, strong and healthy and fit, but not disordered or deprived or sluggish or bloated.
I guess to be there, I just do what I did when I was there.
I just wish it didn’t feel like a betrayal.
I started this blog on May 13, 2007, as way of forcing myself to be accountable to my three-month No-Dieting contract. I suspected that without someone, even the faceless internets, knowing what I was doing (or not doing), it’d be easy for me to quit. To diet again. To hop back on the treadmill and stop the fattening as soon as that first pair of pants got too tight.
The only reason (and I really do mean ‘only’) I did not return to dieting is because of the community of body acceptance and fat acceptance I found out here in the ether And I remember being so shocked that people were even reading what I was writing, let alone taking the time to comment, to buoy me up after a hard day or to celebrate with me after a good one. I felt so propped up by this community as I tried to figure out what healthy looked like for me.
Because let me tell you, after that initial high of not counting grapes wore off? I wanted to diet a lot. More than I even said. Like, daily.
I was freaked out by my changing shape, freaked out by not knowing to the ounce what I weighed each day. Again and again, as people “noticed” my weight gain, I found myself trying to put into words why I was making the choice to leave behind the socially-accepted body I’d worked so hard for.
I still dont have a good answer that doesn’t sound like justifying or, well, loser-talk. Every answer sounds like I just wanted to eat malted milk balls and go out to dinner a few times a month. And you know, a lot of it is that I wanted to eat malted milk balls and go out to dinner.
Because the fact is? Dieting totally works for me. I’m a person who can lose weight pretty easily while still eating a reasonable number of calories (far more than, like, Weight Watchers would let me have) and working out a mere hour or two a day. I can achieve a body weight that is BMI-approved. I can fit into clothes at any store. I mean, my body settled at 135 for over 5 frickin’ years, only requiring a bit of mindfulness in regards to my food choices, and would probably still be there now if I hadn’t decided to screw with things back in January ’07.
True, to get to anything below 130, I have to get obsessive about food and overexercise, but to hang out around 135 and a size 8/10? I just have to eat one tablespoon of peanut butter instead of two on my English muffin. I just have to run 30 miles a week and lift every other day. I just don’t eat the second I get peckish, and instead ride it out to the next snack or meal-time.
Is that dieting? Hell, I don’t even know anymore. I do know that lately I’ve been really missing that 135, but the choices I’d need to make to get leaner sound restrictive and therefore…hypocritical? I mean, not eating when hungry is going against the first rule of demand-feeding! Not eating when hungry is restriction! Restriction is Dieting! Bad Megan for even considering!
I don’t know where I’m going with this. I know it’s physically easier to run when I’m thinner because my body doesn’t bounce about quite so much and I feel…speedier. And running at 135 simply doesn’t make my feet hurt like it does at 148 pounds. While this hurts the most to admit, I know how to recognize my body at that size. Even now, my brain doesn’t always understand the dimensions of this body; I often find myself trying to squeeze through too-small spaces. I glimpse my reflection in store windows and can’t immediately recognize the chubby girl I see there. I feel the terrain of my body beneath my hands in the shower, and it seems like the topography of a foreign land, all hills and valleys I don’t know.
I don’t hate it. I don’t find it unattractive. I just don’t feel like it belongs to me.
The truth is, I’d prefer to be 10 or so pounds lighter than I am now for practical and aesthetic (yes, that too, I shall not lie and say it’s all about function) reasons. It’d take minimal effort to make the rather small changes to get me there. Because right now, my intuitive eating sucks. I eat past fullness routinely and snack when bored almost daily and my digestive system is jacked upbecause I’m no longer careful about fiber and vegetables and such because it sounds diet-y and I don’t want to be a bad intuitive eater and OHMYGOD JUST MAKE IT STOP. It makes me long for the relative easiness of my old meal plans.
It sounds like I’m trying to talk myself into dieting, doesn’t it? Maybe I am. After all, most everyone around me is doing it.
Maybe I’m just tired of swimming upstream.
Comments disabled because I’m about 85% certain I’m going to regret this post tomorrow and take it down anyway.
Back when I first started running, my goal was to run three miles without stopping. Once I’d accomplished that, I began working on increasing my distances. I wasn’t fast, and knew I’d never be fast, what with the stubby legs and knocked knees, but I could boost my endurance; I could learn to run and run, knowing my legs and lungs wouldn’t quit on me. I never ran, like, marathon distances (because…well…I also enjoy lots of couch-sitting), but I’d generally clock 30+ miles a week with a couple long runs of 6 or 7 miles. It was a respectable number; it was enough to make me feel like a Runner with a capital R.
And then I got really into dieting, and while I continued to put in hours of running a week, I lost my ability to run very many miles at a time. I’d break my distances into smaller amounts: 3 miles before work, another 4 when I got home, that sort of thing. My endurance was shot to hell; consecutive miles became too hard.
When I ended my diet, I had to shelve consistent running for a while. Physically, I had some injuries that needed to heal. Bu I also had to heal my relationship with running. It had come to represent only a way of burning calories; every mile was a number.
It’s taken time, but I’ve gotten back to a place where running is joyful. I even run outside regularly, away from the mile-tracking of my treadmill. That’s how I know it’s not about calories for me anymore. After all, as I wind through my neighborhood and let myself choose my path based on what street has the prettiest flowers that day, I can’t even attempt to calculate the distance and calories burned.
But even on the days when darkness or rain or American Idol has driven my run indoors and I can see the distance ticking away, I never run more than 4 or 5 miles. I can’t even remember the last time I ran a 10K distance. It makes me feel like a runner with a lowercase r. And that makes me sad.
I feel like I’ve put some healthy distance between me and my overexercising; I think I’m ready to attempt something resembling “training.” So, I have found myself a training schedule for running a 10K, and plan to work my way back to that distance in the next few weeks. I know I can handle 6.2 miles; I’m just out of practice.
I want my capital R back.
It’s Public Service Employees Recognition Of Willingness To Be Paid Peanuts And Get Yelled At Week, or something like that, so the office party-people have planned events for each day.
They all involve food.
I like food. Like, a lot. But it’s such a semi-painful experience to be in an office filled with disordered eaters and watch them navigate the minefield that is a box of donuts.
Should they? Shouldn’t they? Perhaps just one? Perhaps just that harmless, glaze-glistened yeast one? That’s a better choice than the chocolate iced, right? Or the one with the lemon filling and drifts of powdered sugar?
It goes on and on, and then my head falls off and rolls under my desk. Or I wish it would. Either way.
Today was Cake Day. At precisely 2 PM, the cake was due to arrive. The Weight Watchers began discussing whether or not they would be having said cake at 1 PM — yes, a full hour before it got there. They asked if I’d be having cake, and I told them I had no idea if I’d be hungry or even want cake in an hour, so I couldn’t say. And the cake arrived and a while later I got hungry, but for yogurt and crackers, so I had that instead. I don’t have to eat cake just because it’s there and/or free. They were befuddled by that. I remember that befuddlement. I’ve been there, too.
Honest truth is, I’ve been feeling sorry for myself for a couple of days because my brain has been spreading rumors that my body is lumbering and awkward, that it is Too Fat. And I’ve been kicking myself rather endlessly, both for being such a tool for believing that “Too Fat” is a Bad Thing, and for being such a sap for believing my giant ass is anything but revolting. Kick, kick, kick — for falling short in every possible way.
But these two days of watching my coworkers turn pastries into morality plays reminds me of what I have to treasure.
Hard days happen. Even the most deeply rooted belief can shake if the wind blows hard enough. But even on those hard days, I know my value isn’t dictated by my menu or my jeans. I’m lucky, because even when I don’t like what I see in the mirror, I still get to feel love for it in my heart.
Happy International No Diet Day, everybody.