Life is short. Eat the ducking cake.
There was a time when I feared my body gaining pounds (beyond what I deemed acceptable) more than I feared death.
Dramatic first sentence, right?
But truly, when I was at my lowest weight of adult life, I:
- Never felt thin enough, pretty enough, or that I'd reached my ideal weight (sure, at least my—what I saw as—chubby cheeks were less chubby, but I still had thighs for days and hips that I'd self proclaimed as "child bearing" my whole life).
- Felt pretty hopeless. Didn't much care about life. Didn't want to die, but had very frequent moments of utter doneness. I vividly recall thinking that at some point or another, I'd missed my pick up date by the grim reaper. My best years behind me, all I saw ahead was being trapped in an endless battle with food and my body.
Again, it sounds super dramatic. But it actually isn't.
the feelings were so very real.
Fortunately, the grips of an eating disorder never fully took over to the point where I ended up with my life on the line, and I was eventually able to quiet the voice of ED (say "ED" like you would a guy named Ed, not erectile dysfunction, which is what everyone who's not acquainted with ED always goes to first thanks to ads on Hulu in between episodes of Handmaid's Tale).
When I was coming out of it, I dealt with the discomfort of talking about my experience with ED and ongoing struggle with a lot of humor. I still do, actually, with most anything that makes me uncomfortable. Humor is my go to.
But it wasn't actually very funny. The descent into an eating disorder could have been curtailed if it weren't for the overwhelmingly loud voice of diet culture out there in the world.
In fact, one of the "health" books I read when learning how to control my body through restriction and over exercising taught me about my body's "natural weight." The book explained the various reasons why I was unable to lose that "stubborn last 5 lbs," and you better believe I memorized each one of those reasons and made it my life's mission to lose that stubborn last 5 lbs (which, in hindsight, was so beyond ridiculous).
When I started being candid about my experiences with ED, I told my sister about this "natural weight" concept, and we made a joke that diet culture should just go ahead and say what's on everyone's mind: We're told that we can "get back to our high school weight," but all we all really want is to get back to our birth weight.
Can you imagine? Can you imagine if right now you were trying to get back to your BIRTH WEIGHT??
This is almost as rational an endeavor as trying to get back to your high school weight for a few reasons including (but not limited to):
1. your body's set point
2. you have bones
3. you have a constantly changing internal environment which is drastically influenced by hormones
4. your cells are constantly regenerating
Did you know your body has a weight that she really loves to exist at? It may not be the ideal weight that YOU have in mind for your body, but she is so, so happy there. When you try to control her and force her to be a different size/shape/proportion, she is no longer happy. Usually this conversation is shared in diet culture as a "natural weight" that your body is happy at that means "you don't have that stubborn last five pounds weighing you down." But... trust me on this one: your body can be happy with a few more pounds on her than you think she should have. Your body is built for survival, and she WANTS to hang onto energy so that if there is a famine, you are SOLID for the duration. She has your best interests at heart, and she is far more wise than your logic brain, which is ruled by math and adding calories and subtracting calories. She is happy with some cellulite and some scars and some sustenance. She's happy within a range of weight that fluctuates throughout life. Think of this like a thermostat. When she is happy, you are happy. And when you are happy, she is happy. Why? Well... because she is you, and you are her.
Yep. You have bones, and you can't change them. With the exception of extremes like the Gibson Girls removing ribs to have smaller waist lines, not many of us are trying to effect change in our bodies when it comes to our bones. Can you imagine if we went to the gym and tried to... break and reset our bones? Each of us has an inner framework that keeps us from collapsing into a sad sack of muscle and skin and organs on the ground; thank goat for our bones, because without them... we'd be floppy muppets.
Constantly Changing Internal Environment/Hormones
Yes, our bodies are amazing powerhouses in flux throughout the day. All night, all day, hormones are racing around inside our bodies, from seratonin regulating the sleep wake cycle to estrogen optimizing the effectiveness of insulin, your body is changing all. the. time. Once I began to learn more about my body, I realized how ACTUALLY HILARIOUS IT WAS that my fool ego thought it could enforce willpower over this majestic orchestra. Girl, if I'm craving carbs, my body PROBABLY NEEDS THEM. Can I choose the KIND of carbs I nourish my body and palate with? Well, yeah. But if I'm making my food choices with some kind of OUTWARD body shaping agenda in mind rather than JOY and fueling up my body with some nourishment... well THAT is a diet and THAT isn't sustainable. Starving our bodies isn't the answer.
Your Cells Are Constantly Regenerating
Every seven to ten years, your body's cells have completely replaced themselves. Which means that... with the exception of the eggs we were born with in our wombs... we are basically completely different people than we used to be. So why are we trying to achieve our high school/birth weight? You have new cells! You have opportunities to shift and grow and change however you WANT to shift and grow and change.
Don't punish yourself. Don't choose a number on a scale that you want to attain. Don't force yourself to do exercises that make you want to never exercise again. Move because it makes you happy. Eat because you love to taste and savor. Love the food you eat. Live the life you love. Ditch guilt and regret.
Let's all choose to shift away from mindless eating and forced exercise regimes in favor of embracing possibility.
What's possible for you?