Status Update #16…Sort Of

My last check-in was actually a couple of weeks ago now. I’ve been meaning to sit down and write the usual blog update about it, but instead, I’ve been lax in doing so. Now, where to start.

Firstly, my weight is, according to my doctor’s scale, a little over 190 pounds again. According to my scale at home, it’s still a couple of pounds under. I tend to feel that my at-home weigh-ins are more accurate, as they are done without the weight added by breakfast and clothing, but the metrics from my surgeon’s office scale are what I’ve been reporting in all of these status updates.

With regards to the last couple of weeks…

I used to wish for a nervous breakdown. It seemed like it would be a cathartic release rather than a quagmire of emotion with no definitive beginning and an even more poorly defined termination point. Now that I’ve actually had one…I think I could really have done without.

No, this isn’t a recent thing. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, actually, and realized that the point at which I was in October, right before I started my anti-anxiety medication, probably qualifies as a bona fide nervous breakdown. I couldn’t sleep. I was doing a lot of stress eating. I couldn’t think about housework or my own music without wanting to run and hide in a corner and just cry and cry and cry. Social interactions frazzled me. Being alone left me feeling anxious and depressed. I was a raw nerve, and effectively useless. I have no idea how I managed to finish out the end of my band’s tour, to be honest.

So…yeah. That happened.

By contrast, I’m much better now. I still feel like I have a long way to go, but at least I’m not as bad as I was.

I’ve started therapy. I’ve had only a handful of sessions thus far, so my therapist and I are still getting to know each other a bit. But I’m hoping it will help.

Otherwise, I invite you to read these two articles to get a glimpse of the muck that’s swirling around in my head right now. I find it difficult to be even half this elegant about my own experiences, but these articles are pretty close to some of what I’ve been going through.

11 Habits of People With Concealed Depression

9 things I wish people understood about anxiety


Why the Pain?

I asked, a very long time ago, Why do I find food so emotionally comforting?. I have yet to really come up with an answer.

But in retrospect, that might not have been the right question to ask.

The ‘Warm Embrace’ of Addiction“, written by Gabor Maté and published on October 21st of last year, details that, “The first question–always–is not ‘Why the addiction?’ but ‘Why the pain?'”

I can absolutely see the logic in this. My eating disorder is a symptom, not a cause. As for what is a/the cause…I’m not going to speculate. At least, not right now. I think that question is too large for me right this moment. But if I ever do make it in to speak with a counselor, then at least I have a record of it here. And I can certainly ponder it on my own, though it honestly feels so large that I would dearly love to have a guide to help me navigate its terrain.

But I wanted to share this article here. Certainly I’m not the only one involved with this blog who’s been asking this type of question. Maybe, like me, you haven’t been asking the right question?

Subtle Shaming

As I’ve discussed previously, I am a big advocate of being body-positive. A friend recently shared “10 Ways We Body Shame Without Realizing It”, which I thought would be good to further disseminate here.

Whether you’ve experienced any of this and couldn’t put your finger on why it made you uncomfortable, or you were raised in an environment wherein which this type of discourse was considered normal, all of these points are good things to be aware of.

Anyone out there have anything they might want to add to this list?

Some Things Worth Reading

First of all comes this bit of awesome that will restore some of your faith in humanity. Major kudos to this dude for sticking up for a total stranger. There need to be more people like him in the world.

Secondly, in case you didn’t already know, that fad weight loss stuff is complete and utter bullshit*. There really, really, really is no substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. About the only “get thin quick” thing I can think of is bariatric surgery, and that’s definitely not nearly as easy as various companies would have you believe their bogus products are. If you want to lose the weight and keep it off, you have to make thorough lifestyle changes and take care of yourself. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it, too. It’s not worth the calories anyway.

*Yes, I know is a comedy website. But really and truly, fad weight loss gimmicks do. Not. Work. At least not in the long run. Treat the problem, not the symptom, and the symptoms will go away.

Some Inspiration for Thursday

Before I had bariatric surgery, I despaired of ever losing weight. I was all but resigned to the fact that I would never truly feel attractive again, and never be below 200 pounds again. This was not without trying to lose weight. I joined Curves—twice—went to see a dietitian for nutritional advice, tried portion control…I basically did everything except the really drastic things (like having batriatric surgery)…

…and the right things.

I was flummoxed and despondent. I couldn’t figure out why my efforts weren’t working, when it seemed like they really ought to be. Now I know that, for all it felt like I was putting forth a lot of effort to lose weight in the past, that I still wasn’t doing it right. So today I’m not at all surprised that I wasn’t able to lose weight. This is because of all of the lifestyle changes I’ve had to embrace following surgery. I’ve learned a lot more about good nutrition, and become much more confident that things like healthy eating and portion control actually work. But I’m a bariatric patient. I have a cheat code installed in my guts. What about people who haven’t gone under the knife to lose weight?

A friend of mine shared this today, and I wanted to pass it along as an example of the fact that yes, it is possible to lose weight without taking the cheat code route. To quote the article, “I realized when you’re not dieting but instead changing your entire lifestyle, nothing is really off limits and eating isn’t something to be ashamed of.”.

There really is a right way to go about weight loss (and while that may be different for each individual, there are some basic things like eating healthy, properly portioned meals that are pretty standard). And fad diets and the like are not it. Speaking from experience, it takes real, genuine lifestyle changes—and no, it’s not necessarily easy. But yes, it is totally worth it.

Also, you fucking rock.

Being Body-Positive

The idea of body-positivity has been on my mind a lot lately. Being that this is a weight loss blog, I think this is an important thing to discuss from time to time. If you’re not familiar with the term “body-positive”, it simply refers to the idea of accepting all body types as valid. Or, put another way, there is no “correct” body type. I would like to mention that I tend to think of body-positivity in terms of health—meaning I find it important for one to be healthy at the same time as one is loving one’s body, whether that body is thin, fat, or anywhere in between.

As I said in the first post on this blog, I am not pro-skinny, and I am not pro-fat. I’m actually a very big proponent of the idea of being body-positive, which means that I’ve come to really hate those “real women have curves”-type graphics you see floating around on Facebook and such. On the surface, it’s a nice sentiment, but at the same time as it’s offering encouragement to “curvy” women, it’s also telling women who are lacking in that regard that there’s something wrong with them. Hint: If you wouldn’t be ok with a thin person (or any type of person) telling a fat person that their fatness makes them disgusting, then you shouldn’t be ok with a fat person (or any type of person) telling a thin person that their thinness makes them disgusting. Neither train of thought is helpful to either group of people. As Wil Wheaton would say, don’t be a dick. That’s really what it boils down to.

So this image, which I’ve also seen floating around on Facebook, is much more to my liking.

I also wanted to share an article a friend of mine shared on—where else?—Facebook, “The Shame of Fat-Shaming“, by Sayantani Dasgupta. Ms. Dasgupta writes,

The resource-hogging ‘obese patient’ has become the new version of the welfare queen in our popular imaginations. Such stereotypes about any community – that they are infantile, monstrous, unthinking, lazy, whiney and resource-wasting – isn’t only emotionally damaging but potentially physically harmful. As the blogger at Shakesville asserts: ‘fat hatred kills.’

Physicians cannot use concerns over health to legitimize bias. Medicine is not a moralizing stick with which we can beat our patients into submission.

I thought she made a lot of interesting points in this article.

Body-shaming does not do anyone any good. I would probably not have spent the majority of my adult life feeling like some sort of morally bankrupt monster just because I was fat if our culture were more body-positive. I have thankfully, at least not to my recollection, never felt as though a health care professional was fat-shaming me. I can’t even begin to imagine how greatly that would not have helped matters.

So regardless of if you are a health care professional (but especially if you are a health care professional), I would ask some things of you:

  1. Encourage those you love to love themselves
  2. Or, failing that—I had tons of positive reinforcement from my loved ones, but I hated how much I weighed, and by extension, myself—encourage them instead to do what they feel is necessary so that they may come to love themselves (within reason, of course—absolutely draw the line at encouraging self-harm). This goes doubly for anyone with friends who are trying to be healthy and lose weight. You might be afraid of that change for whatever reason. That does not matter. Only your friend’s health and happiness matter, and they need your support.
  3. Do not body-shame others in an effort to encourage your loved ones who might not love themselves—that really is counter-productive

Support body-positivity, and discourage body-shaming. It’s important for your health and well-being, and for that of the people around you. Diversity is, as they say, the spice of life—and you may not like certain flavors, but someone somewhere is loving them. So let there be love.

Only Love Today

I was going to make this part of my last status update, but instead I decided to give it its own entry. The lesson that’s involved is important enough that it should stand alone.

This came to me via yet another friend on Facebook—isn’t social media great?—and is wisdom that I, too, find difficult to follow very often. I am a scheduler—I like to plan things, and I like it when the things I’ve planned happen the way I plan them. While I do not have any children, I think I will begin keeping a look out for that certain expression in my husband’s eyes…and it would not hurt for me to learn how to be gentler with myself.

In her recent blog post, “The Bully Too Close to Home“, Rachel Macy Stafford writes,

I desperately wanted things to be different too. It was time to stop being so hard on my child; it was time to stop being so hard on myself. I prayed I could stand up to the inner bully. I knew I needed an easy first step. I decided to use one simple word: STOP.

Within the hour, I had a chance to try it. The first critical thought that popped into my head arose as I was preparing to leave the house. I looked at my reflection and thought, “You look fat. You can’t go out looking like that.”

“Stop!” I assertively thought to myself, shutting down any further criticisms. Then I quickly turned away from the mirror and recited these words: “Only love today. Only love today.”

If you haven’t yet, go read the full post. It’s some pretty moving stuff.

The reason I wanted to discuss this piece is because I know.

I know that inner critic who follows you everywhere, degrading you and robbing you of your personhood, turning you into some kind of monster. Even seventy pounds later, I still have one of my own—though it is much quieter now, and I have that number I can use as a shield. Even so, I know.

Maybe Stafford’s method won’t work for you…but then again, it just might. It’s worth trying. As I have said, you have to find a way to love yourself. No one else can give you a reason—or the ability—to love yourself, and the world is a much happier place when you feel that love. So maybe try getting your inner critic to shut up for a minute—and be warned, if you don’t already know, it will roar louder the more you try to ignore it, but know this now, you are stronger than it is—try getting your inner critic to shut up for a minute, and see if that works. See if you can still hear the sweet melody that is you behind the diatribe of lies your inner critic tells you. If you can hear it, you can make it get louder.

Either way, at least ask yourself this: What kind of wonderful person might you discover you are if you allow yourself to love yourself?