Last week I wrote about some of the body expectations I grew up with, and how they shaped the way that I live in my body. I’d like to continue now to share a bit about how I’ve done in my adulthood, what things have affected me and why I gained and lost weight over the years. Then, a bit on my plan going forward.
I was a normal weight more or less through high school. I had my first weight loss my junior year of hs, as I mentioned a bit last time. I lost about 25 pounds by working in a stable, but gained it back throughout my senior year. My dad was separating from his second wife at that time, and it was a messy breakup, including theft, and a stint in a mental hospital for her. My dad worked on the Alaskan oil pipeline at the time, and was away for a week, then home for a week. His absence meant I wound up having to deal with things that were essentially beyond my pay grade, running the household for myself and my younger brother 50% of the time. I did not make great food buying choices during those weeks. Food was used as a crutch in our family, and I used it then, to deal with the stress of the breakup. Not trying to justify anything, but it helps me now to look back and see where I might have gone wrong then.
I was so grateful to graduate high school (barely happened, due to too many absences), and leave for college in Santa Barbara. I did ok with my weight for the first 3 years of college, maintaining a weight that was around the upper limit of healthy weight (according to BMI). My senior year I spent the fall semester in Alaska to save money (this was also about the time that my dad got married to his third wife), and gained a lot of weight during that semester at home, about 70 pounds. It must have really shocked my college friends when I got back to school in the spring.
Anyway, after I graduated I struggled for several years to right myself and get my feet under me. I was well into obesity at this time, but in the mid-nineties I managed another significant weight loss, this time losing about 80 pounds. I was working nights at a bank, and I was in a terribly unhealthy “relationship” with a guy I met at work. He was consistently highly critical of my body, and he was a lot like my dad in many ways. I was in that relationship for nearly 5 years before I finally broke it off, and during that time I both lost a bunch of weight (through starvation and excessive exercise-more disorder), and gained it all back, plus more.
Since the end of that relationship my life has gotten immeasurably better. I got better work and started making a decent living, and, most importantly, I met my husband in 2003. He loved me, thought I was awesome and sexy, even though I was overweight, and still does.
I’ve come to believe through the years that the reason I wasn’t able to sustain the major weight loss I managed in the nineties was not just because of the poor way that I did it, but because I used the weight gain to protect myself from a relationship with the wrong man. It was a safety mechanism. Being overweight in our culture is an excellent (but not foolproof) way to avert the male gaze. I truly believe that gaining weight protected me from a profoundly unhealthy relationship. I shudder to think what my life would be like if he and I had had a child together. I still have nightmares about that sometimes.
However, I don’t need this weight to keep me safe anymore. I can lay this burden down.
So, here’s the plan:
Fitness: At the beginning of my day, I do two workout videos, from the P90X and Insanity plans from Beachbody. I like to workout at home, because its embarrassing. I also do two because I have to modify both workouts a great deal. I simply can’t do all the moves, and for the ones I can do, I can’t keep up with the people on screen. I do my best, and I know my best will improve over time, but to get one decent workout I have to modify my way through two.
Diet: I’ve tried a lot of different ones over the years, as many people have. Right now, I feel like the healthiest thing I can do is to bring presence to what I’m eating, which includes not eating mindlessly, eating whole foods as much as possible, and tracking what I’m eating. We’ll see how this works. I did try a no-fat, vegan diet for a while, and it felt too restrictive. I plan to keep my meat and dairy to a minimum, but I can’t be too restrictive, but instead more mindful.
I’ve been working with a few myths about turning to stone and turning from stone to flesh, and I’ll publish that in the next few days. Onward!