I’m sitting at one of my favorite coffee shops in my city, waiting for the day’s rainstorms to begin and trying to figure out the right words for what has been floating around in my brain lately.
At the beginning of the month, I drastically changed the way I was eating. Smaller, more frequent and lower calorie meals, more fruits and vegetables, less processed foods, more homemade meals, less sugar, more fiber. I also started getting more exercise as my chronic pain disorder allowed me to. The result has been that I’ve begun to lose weight and been able to gradually increase the amount of physical activity that I can perform. Which sounds great and I am truly happy with how things have been going. I feel good, I feel a little stronger than I did at the beginning of the month, my mood is a little better, I’m getting benefits from all of this, except for the huge shame spiral that I can’t get rid of.
Most of my friends are strong advocates of Health At Every Size and it’s something that I myself agree with, so when it comes to making such lifestyle changes with the focus on losing weight, I start feeling like I’m a traitor to the movement of fat acceptance. Like, what’s wrong with me that I can’t accept myself as I am? I have a partner who loves me and finds me attractive, why can I not love myself at my current size? A big part of what I am struggling with comes from years of emotional abuse that I faced growing up, being told that I was fat constantly, being encouraged to join my mother on whatever fad diet she was embarking on, living in a household where anything with fat in it was considered “bad” and shameful if you ate it, with a mother who only cooked with fat-free and very low-fat foods because anything else would kill you. I know I internalized a lot of messages from all of this that I’m still fighting in my body today.
The other part comes from not actually being healthy at my current size. Despite the fact that I developed type II diabetes ten years ago, most likely from one of the psychiatric medications I had been prescribed, changing the way that I am eating for less than a month has enabled me to drop my short-acting insulin regimen completely and cut my long-acting insulin almost in half. My resting heart rate, which had previously been a little elevated, has dropped down into a more comfortable, normal range which makes my anxiety disorder’s symptoms less severe. Abnormal lab tests are normalizing to the point that my doctor did a double-take last week when reviewing them, then fist-bumped me.The point is that my health at my previous size was not great and I did not feel great. And now that I’ve begun changing that, I do actually feel better and I just wish that I could make my brain shut up with the internalized messages and fears that my friends are all going to call me a traitor and hate me forever. Did I mention I have an anxiety disorder? Doesn’t help that matter.
I posted a photo on Facebook last week. I’d just bought a new pair of shorts and a t-shirt and when I put them on, I actually felt good to be wearing them. For the moment, I actually felt kind of cute, which almost never happens to me. But in that moment, I felt at peace in my skin and damn it felt good, even if it didn’t last.
(The above image is a person standing wearing a red striped shirt and blue shorts taking a picture of themself in a mirror.)