Monday, November 12, 2012

Uncomfortable with the new me

I'm fatter these days, but also happier. I've kicked my harsh inner critic out of the driver's seat and am treating myself gently and kindly (see this post for the details). I'm not restricting food, I'm not eating for emotional reasons and I feel physically great: more grounded, more centered. I enjoy walking more than ever (which works out well for the dog).

But it's not all peace and joy because I'm not completely comfortable with the new me. I feel afraid I'm out of control, that being nice to myself will backfire horribly and I'll end up diabetic from all the sweets I've been eating. I worry that my relaxed attitude will make me apathetic and inactive and things will start to fall apart. Contentment makes you stop working for things while discontent keeps you moving forward and watching for trouble, right? So being unhappy is better and safer? Here's the evidence:
  • My inner critic kept me at a normal weight: when I'd start stretching my clothes, the critic would kick in and I'd increase exercise and reduce junk food until things were back under control.
  • Feeling worried about the state of the country kept me active politically, canvassing for presidential candidates and donating money.
  • Thinking of myself as defective motivated me to improve my finances, health, peace of mind, relationships and self-esteem. I saw problems in all parts of my life and I never stopping trying to fix them.
But what made me such a conscientious person was constant anxiety, low self-image and expecting catastrophe at all times. I didn't maintain a state of vigilance; I maintained a state of active fear. This fear aggravated my chronic depression, dulled my enjoyment of people and activities, and made me damn hard to be married to.

I'm struggling now to determine which is better: a miserable thin, politically active woman who's constantly trying to improve her depressive self  OR a chubby, happy, relaxed woman who makes a good wife, friend and co-worker, while the world goes to hell in a ballot box.


I recently hit size 14 at 145 pounds (I'm 5 feet, 2 inches). My discomfort with my first spare tire (the bulge of fat that sits around my waist, even when I'm standing up) could be because I'm used to being thinner or it could be because I'm used to being unhappy. That distinction is extremely hard to make in a culture that pounds into my head that even middle-aged women should keep looking like 30-year-olds who are size 4. My inner critic is howling at me, "You're turning into a disgusting pudge pot! Your watch doesn't fit anymore and you've had to stop wearing one of your rings. It's not too late cut out the sweets and cheese and drop down to a size 12 by the end of the month. You've done it before. Come on. If ever there were a time to restrict eating, it's now!"

The loving, kind part of me responds with, "No. No more restricting food in any way for any reason. Dieting turns into self-punishment too easily for me. I'm happy these days and even the dog can tell. There's no way I'm messing with this formula when it means I'm finally not beating up on myself all day."

I'm looking for the middle ground between thin-and-miserable and spare-tire-happy. I suspect a content, peaceful Regina Rodriguez-Martin needs to be bigger than a size 8. I no longer believe I have to be thin in order to be happy (that obviously didn't work). I need to feel comfortable in my body in order to be happy. Thinness isn't the goal. Completely accepting and loving my body, whatever its size, is the goal. That would really be a dream come true.
11 November


Steve Meier said...

The search continues... My suggestion is to focus on "wellness" which would integrate all factors in your life. You should not obsess about size or weight, but be more concerned about how you feel. Better factors to focus on are metrics such as resting heart rate, blood pressure, BMI, and aerobic capacity. Exercise particularly as part of a group or team activity is a known cure for Depression, even better if you can do it outside in the sunlight. See "The Depression Cure" by Dr. Stephen Ilardi. In terms of eating work on a solid baseline of nutrition and build in treats as part of the overall scheme. Do away with diets, but build everyday habits. If you exercise you will kick you metabolism into a higher gear so you can burn more calories, yet the bulk of these should be healthy choices. Like pick banana walnut bread instead of cheescake.

Cece Meng said...

I think you look beautiful. As you know, I have struggled both with my weight and depression for what seems like most of my life. I have also come to the conclusion that diets are unhealthy for me emotionally. The comment before mine gives great advice about just focusing on health and I totally agree. I have a number of super healthy foods that I eat regularly (to include starting each morning with a homemade fruit smoothy). I avoid saturated fats, red meat - because I want to. I just had a recent cardiac scare 7 weeks ago (you can read my latest blog post, what timing you have). I can honestly say that after years of diets, just remembering to exercise and make healthy food choices (without obsessing over it or writing anything down) has been the best thing for regulating my brain chemistry. (And hopefully it will do my heart some good as well!)

Anonymous said...

I think you look great. I also think that as long as a little extra weight does not keep you from doing the things you love, you are golden. I also want to know the odds on two internet posts in a row signed a version of Ceece.
I think you have followed some hard to follow eating regimes for years. You are due time to relax about food.

Tom said...

I know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, bulimia. it's difficult.

Mick said...

Reg, You really do look great and aslong as you are healthy no problems. Eating can be one of lifes pleasures so why sholdn't you have a little of what you like occasionally.