Where to start?
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Where to start?
When I turned 21 I began paying dues on a legal trust cooperatively managed by my paternal family. In laymen’s terms, I partially own a non-operational two hundred-year-old Farmhouse on 600 acres of land in Massachusetts. It can be overwhelming.
I briefly worked for Lululemon, the posh yoga-clothes company, and part of their hiring mission was to encourage employees to practice goal setting. Each of us had to fill out a bracket with our one, three and five year goals for career, personal and health areas in our lives. Most of the girls filled these out, put them in cute frames with inspirational photos, and posted them in the break room. I picked it up and put it down dozens of times. I wrote it and re-wrote it. I didn’t know where to start.
That same helplessness comes over me when I try to navigate weight loss. There are plenty of analogies, stories, guides, books, infographics, charts, plans, programs and more. I’ve tried many of them. I have a good feeling about the ones that I think will work (hint: they are the ones that make me expose my horrible emotional gunk). The good ones want you to first answer the question, Why do you want to lose weight?
Well, Your Honor, I want to lose weight in order to feel energized and keep up with my toddler!
Aubrey, you don’t have a toddler.
I meant to keep up with my yoga class.
Why don’t you just take more yoga classes then?
I will. I definitely will do that. I’ll take more yoga. Thanks, Your Honor. Bye!
So why do you want to lose weight?
Well…I have some neat pants that I want to fit in again.
Why not buy new pants?
Um. It’s a hassle, Your Honor.
Surely not as much of a hassle as a regimented weight-loss program?
Okay, sure. Then…I guess I want to lose weight to be healthier?
Oh, why didn’t you say so!
What concerns does your doctor have for your health? High blood pressure?
Uh, actually I have very low blood pressure. My doctor is a little jealous, he said.
Well, then, perhaps diabetes?
No, not really. I had acanthosis nigricans as a teenager which is sort of an insulin-triggered discoloration of the skin, but when I got under 240lbs that went away and they weren’t even worried about diabetes when I was that weight. I’m 210 now, Your Honor.
I’m sorry, I didn’t quite understand what part of your health you would be addressing with weight loss?
You know. “Getting healthy”.
Even the judge isn’t buying it. I have reasons. We all do. I just don’t like to admit them. Some are intensely personal (I have a binge problem. I don’t like my relationship with food. I don’t want to feel powerless or out of control with something so integral to my identity) some are silly (I really hate shopping and those tuxedo ankle-length navy pants are so adorable I just want to fit them again!) some aren’t necessarily healthy (I hate the way my body looks right now) some are motivational (I want to be able to bike across Iowa next summer!) some are aspirational (I’d like to already be practicing good habits if I ever get pregnant or start a family—I don’t want to pass my food disorders down to my children).
Worse, there is a counterpoint. Why do I stay the weight I am, or (more recently) gain weight?
Stress eating is a factor. When the world around me seems like too much, it is nice to know that a pint of ice cream really can solve so many problems (except it hasn’t).
Entitlement/food rewards still hold sway with me. I deserve these desserts because I have worked so hard, burned so many calories, been so good.
One that I’m not sure is discussed often is fear of weight loss.
I’ve done this before. I didn’t like some of the ways I treated myself when I lost weight—jokingly called my previous self a fatty or even just calling her ‘my previous self’. I didn’t like the frantic calorie counting or how much exercise I had to constantly be doing to get the pounds off.
I put all the weight back on, which means I failed anyway. So I’ll just fail again, I tell myself.
Men began to cat call me more often on the street. At the time I was my thinnest I was also learning martial arts and I began to panic. I might really have to do this, I thought to myself while getting ready to spar. I might have to fight off an attacker. I felt safer when I was fatter and less pretty (which is baseless. Fatness did and does not prevent attacks. Prettiness does not make someone more vulnerable).
On Tuesday I will have Day 1 of the Whole30 challenge. I don’t have any allergies and I don’t plan on adopting a long-term program of removing gluten or dairy or sugar entirely from my diet. But I need the reset. I need the chance to detox from sugar and face my addictions, poor habits and excuses.
I’m afraid I’ll find out I actually cannot stop eating.
I’m afraid that a week without bread or cheese will reduce me to a whimpering mess.
I’m afraid it will just make me binge more.
I’m afraid I’ll fail four days in.
I’m afraid I’ll keep gaining weight.
I’m afraid the depression will come back and this time stay around.
Even if it works, even if everything goes to plan I’m still scared.
Will people reward me for losing weight?
Will they ask me to help them?
Will I still be able to participate in the fat community if I’m not fat? I’m barely fat enough to participate as it is.
Will I become the skinny girl I loathe? Will I forget myself?
And the answer is Maybe I will forget myself. Maybe I will become someone I don’t like or recognize. Maybe my fat friends will shun me or my opinions in the fat community will be overlooked. Maybe I’ll pretend I fixed myself and that I can fix other people.
But it doesn’t have to be that way if I don’t want it to be.
I am, in any size, shape or ability, Aubrey. I am the glorious metamorphosis of her and no one knows what those stages will look like.
While weight loss is a goal of mine it is incidental to greater goals. If I feel uncomfortable discussing weight and fatness, I can redirect conversation to accomplishments.
I cannot, even with their consent, fix another person—whatever that may mean.
Fat is not something to be fixed.
We are all about to go on a journey.