Waiting To Be Thin

Thursday, September 09, 2010

[Originally published at my balanced living blog, Kitchen Courage. This is a photo-heavy post, so I encourage you to click through for the full story.]

I've been a lot of things. A teacher, a seller of video games, a barista, a stable hand, a camp counselor, an animal sanctuary employee -- I've worn many hats in my nearly thirty (yikes!) years. My body has been a lot of things, too. I've been too big and too small.

Now I'm somewhere in the middle. Perhaps on the higher end of "middle," but in the middle nonetheless. And my wrestling with weight, health, body image, self esteem, and food continues, to my intense frustration. I just want to be done with all this, but of course it isn't that easy. But I'm hoping that I'm beginning to catch hold of a thread that will help pull me out of my present place.

Ever since I began my descent into eating disorder territory nearly four years ago, I've followed an arbitrary self-imposed rule -- that I need to wait to be (or, more accurately, feel) thin before I can do anything. These can be smaller things, like going to a yoga class, or the larger challenge of teaching a yoga class. If I felt fat, or if I had binged or over-eaten, I took myself out of the world until I felt that the problem had been "fixed." Back in the day that meant passing on substitute teaching jobs, canceling on friends, and just generally being a recluse. I often even didn't exercise on these days of withdrawal, even though that doesn't make much sense. But then, the whole thing doesn't make much sense to be begin with.

And now, I'm doing it again. I don't see the few friends we have, my job is home-based (sadly, the housekeeping job did not work out), and the times I do leave the house it's for a solitary hike with the pups. This way of living worked for a little while earlier this summer, but all of this seclusion is starting to finally wear on me in a bad way.

Unfortunately, according to my "wait to feel thin" rule, I'm not "allowed" to do anything outside of the house until I've lost weight, until I'm thin enough to feel acceptable. I think I do this because I'm afraid of what other people will think, that people I know will see me and notice I've put on weight. I don't even think I'm worried about them shunning me due to my weight fluctuation. Instead, I just don't want them to know. So I hide.

But hiding isn't working anymore. I'm overweight and, even though I'm working on my physical and mental health, I'm not going to "feel thin enough" by the time some not-too-distant-future events become present reality. I have one of my free retrains for my YogaFit teacher certification up next weekend, and at the end of the month I'm heading to the redwoods of California for Hoopcamp. I am so excited for both -- but I'm also terrified. I've considered canceling on Hoopcamp too many times to count. Why? Because I don't "feel thin enough."

I know it's silly. And what's even more ridiculous is that, even at my lowest (and most dangerous) weight, I never "felt thin enough." Ever. If I hadn't found my way to my therapist's office (and I literally cannot remember how that came about, other than God was orchestrating it), I probably would have died of starvation. Today I came across this photo (taken in October 2008), and the small size of my legs surprised me. I don't ever remember my legs feeling as thin as they were:
So, when all evidence points to the fact that I will never "feel thin enough," why do I still hold myself to this standard? I wish I knew. Maybe I'll always want to live according to this standard. But just because the disordered part of me wants to doesn't mean that I have to.

Right now that means not bailing on Hoopcamp, even though I'll be spending three days moving my lumpy body next to svelte hoopers with chiseled abs. That means showing up for my YogaFit retrain in spite of the fact that it's very likely that I'll be the largest person there, and that I'll see people who remember me as being thinner. It'll be hard . . . but I think I'll regret it far more if I don't do these things than if I do.

But Hoopcamp and yoga teacher training are big things. I need to practice not-hiding on a day-to-day level, too. That's a little harder, because it's so easy to become entrenched in habits that slowly wear down into ruts that are difficult to veer away from. But, while scrolling through my Flickr archives this morning, I was reminded of how I tried to flex my creative muscles of not just writing but also visual art. I attempted several photography projects. I used to crochet things. I even tried my hand at drawing. In other words, life was about more than food and my body.

I want to go back to that -- except I don't want to go back. I want to move forward, using that as part of my compass. And there isn't even a question of if I can do it, because I know it's possible. The real question is how. I don't know, but I going to try. Blogging about it is part of the trying, because now I feel more accountable for going (or not going) to Hoopcamp and the yoga retrain. I know I've said it before, but thank you for reading, and for helping me stick to my guns.

What inspires you and helps you live a balanced life?

[Find the original post, with photos and links, here:
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Here's a Sparker you might check out -- KARVY09 . She is an inspiration to just get out and do it, no matter what your weight is.

    Here's a good blog of hers --

    Hope you check it out and find some inspiration in it.

    2815 days ago
    My life isn't always in balance, but I try...For inspiration, I look to my family. I had my daughter later in life. I want nothing more than to be fit and healthy so that I fully enjoy the time I spend with her!
    2815 days ago
    I can completely empathize -- I feel like this most of the time. I WANT to be active, and be a part of my own life, but a huge part of me prefers to stay isolated where it's comfortable for me -- with my closely knit family and my boyfriend. I recently got back to college to work towards my Bachelor's (and I'm going to be 25 in November) and I battle with anxiety everyday. A lot of it is related to the "can they tell how old I am? do they look at me and think I'm fat?" kind of feelings, which suck.

    First of all, for you to have overcome your eating disorder is AWESOME. You have a LOT of strength in you, so always keep that in mind.

    Second of all, you can't postpone living your life until a certain set of ideal conditions are met. (I've tried. It just wastes time.) I think it's important for you to start doing things that you love, and obviously excel at! Everything you posted, from the drawing and painting, crochetwork, and photography, is AWESOME! Get back to it, cuz you're obviously a natural!!

    When it comes down to it, as far as being out and about in a social arena (such as your Hoopcamp or yoga training), being comfortable may take time. Just try not to dwell on how uncomfortable it is, because that tends to make it harder. But the main thing is getting back out there, one step at a time. Just take everything a moment at a time, from getting dressed to go work out, or to bringing out your crochet hook and yarn.

    2815 days ago
    Oh Beth, I had no idea your struggle had been so dramatic. I can't even begin to imagine how you must have felt. I am proud of you for sharing this, and for reaching out. Making yourself accountable to others is a big deal, and I hope it works, and that you have a blast at Hoopcamp and your YogaFit retrain. I have a feeling that you'll be top of the class at both events.

    Balance is key, and something that I think too many of us struggle with. Your approach is a good one, and I think it'll take you far. Rely on Christ, on your friends, and your inner strength, and you CAN do this. I know you can.

    2816 days ago
    Blogging to be accountable sounds good. I think cognitive therapy, if you're not already talking to a psychologist, would go a long way toward breaking out of this thing about waiting to be thin.

    Something that occurs to me, though, is defining thin. I realize this goes against the Spark philosophy, but I'm here for the nutrition tracker, not the philosophy. I realize waiting longer to do things may not be good for you.

    But I decided it was good for me. I am sort of "waiting to be thin" to swim laps again. I got up from 145 to 215 and was having back trouble, lung trouble, and based on conflicting test results, possible coronary artery trouble. I never had the cardiac cath to confirm or deny it, but the medical advice I got was, you probably don't have coronary artery blockage, and if you do it's minor, so there is nothing keeping you from moderate exercise. But still, I was unreasoanbly out of breath from going up a flight or two of stairs, or a tiny hike, so I decided - I'm going to wait until I'm thin before I really exercise. It was just walking from 215 to 200. Just the Wii Fit from 200 to 190. I decided 185, my previous official fat weight where I had to buy new jeans, was thin enough to exercise. So in another 5 pounds, I'm in the pool.

    Might not be for you, but that's my thought.

    I have not felt very inspired or lived a very balanced life these past few years. So I'll leave that question to others.
    2816 days ago
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