Tuesday, March 08, 2016

As slow as weight loss

I've spent most of my life as a thin person. I was a skinny kid and then a gym rat who constantly struggled to stay down at a size 10 or under. My raging sweet tooth that never stopped somehow never tipped the scales past size 12, and when I reached 12 it was only because stress had caused me to hit the sugar hard for weeks.

In 2012 I started reading a lot of Geneen Roth's books on women, weight and food issues. I was taken by the idea of letting go of all my fear-driven behaviors and just letting myself eat whatever I wanted and exercise as I felt like it. I joyfully blogged about stopping the frantic exercise and food restriction, learning to not hate myself and my body, and the relief I felt at letting myself gain weight. I didn't feel afraid of food or terrified of being fat and that felt great (from October to December of that year, I went from size 10 to size 14).

Then the fear kicked in and I began to feel uncomfortable with my new fatness. It didn't feel like it was really me. But through the winter of 2013 I stayed with Roth's recommendation of not dieting or restricting, kept eating whatever I wanted and reached size 16. I fluctuated between feeling free and feeling unattractive. One of my most positive posts was Fat and middle-aged: the advantages. One of the most negative was I want to bend easily again.

By spring 2013, I hit size 18. My husband ended our marriage and my mother died and oddly, those two events were closely followed by my weight gain stopping. Snacking on baked goods and eating junk food every day stopped. I'd had enough! That food no longer called to me and I began to want healthier foods. I was over the Doritos and ice cream sandwiches. I had gone from size 10 to 18 in nine months, but in the summer of 2013 my weight plateaued and receded a bit. I was back to size 16 by the end of the year.

And I stayed at size 16 for all of 2014. Continuing to trust Geneen Roth's approach to healing one's food issues, I refused to see my body as in need of dieting and exercise. I accepted myself as I was, although my chubby body still felt foreign to me and I looked forward to getting my true, natural body back. I wanted to ask Roth: so when does the real me emerge?

Health problems (unbearable menstrual cramps) required me to greatly change my eating habits in 2015 and that's when the weight loss began. Relief! I was finally able to do yoga poses I hadn't managed in years, my clothes began to fit better, my mood and general health improved and my face came back (anyone who's put on enough weight to change the shape of their face knows what I'm talking about). By the end of 2015 I was back to size 14 and heading towards 12.

But then I stalled out and I can no longer pretend I like being this size. In January and February 2016 my depression came back and I indulged in a lot of cookies, candy and fruit juice. Although my daily eating habits have permanently changed and I now exercise regularly, I still wear the sugar monkey on my back and crave sweets whenever I feel stressed. Also I'm going to be 50 in July and realize that a lifetime of messing with my blood sugar levels (by eating lots of sugar and starches) have affected my insulin sensitivity which contributes to my body retaining extra fuel (fat). I'm frustrated.

So I'm being careful to keep meditating, practicing EFT and continuing all the things that have helped me so far. I've switched chiropractors to Dr. Katie Ray at New Day Network Wellness Center (with her I've made remarkable progress which I'll blog about another time) and I've added a specialist in nutrition response testing. I'm trying very hard to kick the sugar addiction (does it ever end??), but I get discouraged and upset when my size 14 pants barely fit (like today). I get angry at myself for "ruining" my body like this and I feel angry at Geneen Roth for suggesting that by giving in to your food obsession you can heal it. I admit that it worked because I no longer want junk food all day long or get mesmerized by donut shops, but look at me.
Taken just now.

Actually, just writing this post has helped me to put things in perspective and recognize that as long as I'm heading in the right direction, my problem isn't progress but impatience. Maybe it'll be okay. Maybe I can trust that if I just keep sifting out the bad (sugar) habits from my daily routine, I'll settle into the natural weight where I belong (by "natural weight" I mean the weight one's body reaches when one eats a healthy, energy-supporting diet without the blood sugar level spikes). Maybe I can trust my body to reach its healthiest state without me having to fuss so much. Maybe I need to let go of the belief that my real body is the thinner one I had for most of my childhood and adulthood. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm as body-fixated as the rest of American culture, but I guess I am. Ugh. Ugh! If that's true, then what was all this for?

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