While there isn't a "thin girl" inside me struggling to get out, there isn't a fat one anymore either. I realized in light of the somewhat stressful circumstances of late that most, if not all, of my food issues are psychologically cured. All of those things which caused me to struggle with food and feel despair are gone. I don't have the impulse to stress eat. I don't compulsively eat. I don't have to fight the urge to eat foods which I know have too many calories or that will create an imbalance in my diet. Food does not "draw" me to it like a hypnotic magnet. I don't feel anxiety, deprivation, or longing for food unless I'm actually hungry. I don't eat to amuse myself or out of boredom.
I realized that this state of psychological liberation means that this blog has run its course. My body is not finished doing the slow work of consuming the extra energy that is stored on it, but my mind is trained and my habits are in place. Yes, there are still days when I am hungry all of the time, but this is absolutely due to biology (hormones) and I have the mental tools to resist my body's push on those days. Most days though, food is something I both enjoy and nourish myself with. Every day, I eat at a caloric deficit and exercise moderately, and it's all very doable and almost easy. In essence, my disease is cured, but the ravages of it will take awhile to disappear.
My body will continue to do its work at whatever pace suits it, but the important thing is that my mind no longer gets in the way of my body restoring me to the healthiest possible state. Getting to a number on the scale pales in comparison to this. I can't rush that process, nor do I have any desire to as my average loss rate of 2-2.5 lbs. per week is much healthier than rapid or extreme loss. I'm happy to give my body the time it deserves and requires. If the rate slows further as my weight continues to go down, that's okay as well.
For the record, and this is the last number I will be giving here, my weight is 235 lbs. as of today. I started altering my eating habits very slowly in mid-June 2009 and it is now mid-September 2010. I didn't know my starting weight, but guessed some time ago that it was 380 or somewhat more. That's an average loss of 9.6 lbs. per month, and considering I didn't even calorie-count at all at the start and didn't do it everyday for months, I think that is something to be quite satisfied with.
I've read a lot of blogs about weight loss and people's opinions and struggles, and the reason I'm happier with what I've done and will continue to do what I have been doing is that a lot of the problems they detail are not troubling me:
- My hair hasn't fallen out from nutritional deficiencies. I'm not pale, drawn, or fatigued. My skin looks great. Moles have even vanished from my neck and little red skin blemishes on my upper arms have gone away.
- I don't binge or go into markets or bakeries and feel crazed to have all the tasty foods or tormented that I can't have them. I don't ruminate on food all of the time.
- I don't harbor any resentment, anger or hostility that I have to eat less than thinner people in order to weigh more, nor do I feel panic or concern when I'm in food situations which are not in my absolute control. I don't resent others enjoying fatty food that I "can't" (actually, choose not to at the moment) indulge in.
- Food which is sugary, fatty, or highly caloric doesn't have to be kept out of my house. I can eat the tiniest portions of "indulgent" foods and be satisfied with a taste. I don't have any "triggers".
- My overall diet is very balanced and portion-controlled. I'm neither a paragon nor a junk food junkie. My habits are not extreme in any way. Though there is a much heavier focus on vegetables, lean protein, fruit, and whole grains than anything else, nothing is out of bounds for me as long as the portions are right for the type of food I'm eating. I do not define my value or judge others based on the trivial matter of food choices.
There's neither a fat nor thin girl inside of me. There's just me. To that end, I think it's time to spend more time working on my identity in directions which are unrelated to weight or food. It's not that I don't need to remain aware or make efforts, but I do believe that I am "cured" of all of the large problems. I've already accepted that my food intake gauge is broken and I have to count calories forever to avoid eating too much or too little. It takes but a few minutes a day to log food on FitDay anyway. I see it as no different than replacing toilet paper on an empty cylinder, putting away the clean dishes, or taking out the trash. It's a necessary task. I do it. It's done, and I give it no other thoughts.
I've come to a lot of realizations and one is that identity is something we build continuously and it is extremely important in weight loss, much more so than I ever realized when I started the process of "normalizing" my eating habits in June 2009. It's important for me to intentionally "grow" my identity in the directions I want to take it in order to continue to be more of the person I want to be. It won't happen without considerable effort mentally and emotionally.
Twice now I have purposefully revamped core elements of my personality. First I dealt with a bad temper and a tendency to react angrily and easily. Now, I've dealt with the food issues that have plagued me all of my life. The next steps will be to explore some other directions which I feel have been lacking. Those aspects relate to inner peace and calm as well as a return to a lifestyle in which I am more studious in a deep and meaningful fashion.
I wrote recently in a letter to someone that the way I change is by making an assertion about the type of person I want to be, and then slowly making more and more choices in line with making me that person. In a former post, I said that I didn't want to be the type of person who was defined by her body or food relationship. A lot of people, particularly in fat acceptance, believe that means you simply do not attend to how you eat and allow your body to be what it is. I think that's fine if you can be happy living that way. For me, I couldn't not be defined by my relationship with food or my body as long as it remained a focal point for anxiety due to my lack of control. I used to think it was about how fat I was, but I realize now that though the weight is an issue, it is a byproduct of the bigger issue and that is not being in control of a particular area of my life. Now that I have the control, I don't have to define myself in such a narrow fashion any longer.
I have said before that I didn't want to end up one of those people who loses weight or is losing weight and that becomes my entire focus in life. I wanted to come out at the end a whole and complete person with an identity which was not consumed by the issues of weight loss. This is one of the reasons why my focus is much more so on my relationship with food rather than on increasing exercise or having an aggressive focus on activity. Of course, the other reason is that I'm 46 with a congenital problem (a spinal defect) and cannot exercise vigorously even if I want to. By controlling food rather than increasing exercise, I will have the power to control my health no matter what my life circumstances end up being. I will not be at risk for gaining weight if I am put into a lifestyle situation which makes vigorous exercise difficult (or impossible).
One of the choices that I realized that I needed to make in order to become that non-weight and body-obsessed person was to step away from this blog. It has run its course for me, but it is not an easy thing to simply abandon. These things take on bigger and bigger meaning, especially when you encounter kind and like-minded people along the way who encourage you and reinforce that you have something of value to offer. While I do believe I have much of value to offer, I think that it is time to make such offerings apart from the focus on body, food, and weight. If I want to define myself otherwise, I must seek to make the choices that allow me to do that, so with some reluctance, I am "closing" this blog. It will remain if people are interested in the archives, but commenting will be disabled as I won't be coming back to reply to them or moderate them.
I know that a lot of wonderful people have followed me, and may have an interest in my life beyond this blog. Thank you to everyone who has been supportive of me, and my best wishes to all of those who wish to travel a path to becoming whole and self-actualized.
Update: As of January 1, 2011, I'm staying the course. I'm down to 215 lbs. and have an even stronger healthy relationship with food.