Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to be overweight

I'm a small-boned, petite woman who is all of five feet two inches tall. I'm 46 and a half years old. Most of my adult life, my weight has hovered between 120 and 135. With my sweet tooth and use of food as an emotional coping mechanism, I've fought hard to keep my weight down. I could easily have been obese decades ago, but I've done a lot of food restricting and forced exercise. My life has been full of low self-esteem, pounding myself against gym equipment and obsessing about food I told myself I couldn't have.

Since the beginning of October, I've been running the experiment of throwing all my eating rules out the window. I'm using Geneen Roth's approach to food: loving myself enough to stop depriving and punishing myself with food (and exercise, in my case). From the outside it might have looked like I spent the past two decades taking very good care of myself: eating well, exercising regularly, staying trim and fit. But on the inside it was deprivation and pain and feeling convinced that if I let myself relax, I'd turn into a huge fat cow and my life would be over. All my "healthy fitness" was driven by pure fear.

Roth knows from years of experience that if you take your focus off of food and work on the true issues that are causing you to emotionally eat, the food obsession will decrease. If you stop with the fear and self-punishment and let yourself lovingly eat whatever you want, the emotional need for food will recede. Through a combination of working on our true issues and eating what we want at all times, we can dissolve the hold food has over us and reach our natural weight.

I'm doing it. Since October I've taken my cruel inner critic out of the front seat of my mind. I'm being kind to myself instead of mean and judgmental. I'm keeping in mind that I deserve to have what I want, rather than put it off until one day when I'm perfect and can then be happy. Instead, I'm choosing to be happy NOW.

Part of this has been eating whatever I want, exercising as I feel like it (or not) and loving myself. Life is good and I don't have live in fear of losing control. As a result, I'm more relaxed, I don't worry as much, I sleep better, my personal relationships have improved, my digestion has calmed and life feels good. And as of this morning, I weigh 155 pounds.

Eating whatever I want means a lot of sugar, so my weight has ballooned. I find that the most difficult parts of this sudden weight gain are having to keep buying new clothes and not being able to do the yoga moves I like. My body doesn't bend the way it used to, like a bag that has been stuffed to the brim and has no more give. I don't like it. I'm used to doing this: sit on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me, bend in two, reach forward and grasp the bottom of my feet with both hands. These days my hands only make it as far as my ankles, so my spine and legs don't get the delicious, complete stretch I want. This makes me sad. I've also been noticing odd pains in my abdomen and upper torso which I imagine are the result of gaining twenty (or twenty-five) pounds in two months. This is not good for my heart.

But the experiment is beginning to take a turn: I'm getting tired of the sugar. I have no interest in the box of Christmas cookies in the pantry right now (the good kind from the bakery) or the uncooked chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge. In the supermarket just now, I heard the ice cream calling me, and the candy and the cupcakes, but I let them be. In the past several days I've started drinking more water and less juice. My carb cravings are shifting to sliced bread and dinner rolls instead of candy and cake frosting. It's gradual, but some days I actually want vegetables instead of potato chips (yeah, I know!).

Will Roth's theories hold true? Is it possible that I can overdose on my favorite things so that even during Christmas week -- that time of super-indulgence -- I actually want to pull back on the sugary junk? I've also been working damn hard on my personal issues and have made startling progress, so maybe I am about to stop punishing myself with food.

I solidly, inarguably weigh more than is ideal for my frame and have the odd pains to prove it. To go from a size 10 to a size 14 (16?) in so little time is unhealthy, but drastic times call for drastic measures. Bariatric bypass surgery also has its dangers: possible complications from anesthesia, infection and malnutrition. Liposuction also has risks and so do countless weight loss diets and treatments. Are my 25-pounds-in-eight-weeks so terrible compared to things other people try? I'm following a very specific path to rid myself of my food obsession and body image problem, once and for all. I trust myself to heal from my self-punishing food behaviors and I trust my body to guide me to a truly healthy way of eating. I'm committed to reaching my natural weight and living there, without the weight yo-yo-ing I've been doing since I was 25 years old. I am trusting myself and I'm sticking with the process.

WARNING: Following Geneen Roth, I put on 50 pounds that I never lost. Don't do it. 
-updated 28 Feb. 2018


Anonymous said...

Regina, I am so happy for you and all the progress you've made on your journey of self-discovery. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights! Elisa

Regina Rodriguez-Martin said...

Elisa, you're welcome. After I posted this yesterday, I wondered, "Why do I share this intensely private stuff with the world like this?" Sometimes I question myself on this blogging thing, but I think this blog is driven by two quirks of my personality: I value being unique and I value understanding. Keeping this kind of brutally honest blog definitely makes me unique. And when I can get anyone to understand why I do the things I do, the world feels a little safer to me.

So, uh, does anyone get what I'm talking about in this post?

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that you are helping others, too. You give them hope and inspiration by sharing your own story and they realize they are not alone. Elisa