Saturday, 3 December 2011

Wherein I tell the history of matters most weighty

This past week has been full of (very enjoyable) potential pitfalls, such as lunch with friends and my flatmate cooking me dinner, but I either circumvented them more adeptly than I thought or else massively overcompensated, because the scales this morning told me I'd lost 3 pounds. Who am I to argue? (In actual fact, I got on and off the scales several times, because I didn't quite believe it.)

So I'm now officially more than two stones down since September. Somewhat in a daze, I went for my run this morning, and the sky was completely clear and blue and it was lovely and cold (yes, I'm odd, I love running in the cold), and I saw a heron, two pheasants, three rabbits, a squirrel, and a robin, and everything was just so peaceful and calm. The world is beautiful, sometimes. And it always takes me by surprise.

So Tempest was lovely enough to leave a comment on my last post about my positive attitude. This really touched me, since it brought home just how positive my attitude has actually been since I've been losing. And actually, being so positive is pretty damn unusual for me.

I've been overweight for as long as I remember. Up until I was about 12, I never thought I could change it, 'fat' was just part of what I was. But with teenage-ery came, as you might expect, experiments in dieting, along with a fair dosage of angst-taken-to-extremes. The time between when I was 13 and 16 was mostly made up of yo-yo weight loss and gain between around 180-210 lb, self-injury (although this stopped shortly before I turned 15), rock-bottom self-esteem, and a lack of interest in caring for myself that I would do things like go over a week without showering, not brush my teeth in months, and miscellaneous other seemingly-random ways I subconsciously found to sabotage my own health and happiness.

When I lost weight back then, it was because I restricted as much as I could force myself to. I didn't count calories actually, though. Never really been sure why. But anyway, when I was severely restricting, I ate maybe half a cheese or tuna sandwich and a couple of pieces of fruit in a day. Now, with my newly-acquired and increasingly-encyclopedic calorie counting knowledge, I guess I must have been eating about 300 cals. So it's no wonder I lost weight. And it's no bloody wonder I could never keep it up for very long! But when I was motivated, I was pretty darn motivated (well, you have to be), but my motivation was overwhelmingly negative. When I was hungry, I'd tell myself: "You deserve this. You deserve for it to hurt." and "You don't need to eat. Look at all the fat on you!". And when I ate, I'd tell myself: "You're pathetic. You're weak. You can't even control what you shove into your face." and "You're a failure." And when the weight began to creep back on again, I'd tell myself: "You're always going to be fat. Fat and ugly. You'd better get used to it." and "You were an idiot for thinking you could change."

Working against those kinds of thoughts is an up-hill struggle, and I doubt that I'll ever quite reach the top of the hill. Or maybe I will. I can hope. I'm certainly a lot higher up the slope than ever before. I've heard it said often than losing weight doesn't solve your emotional issues, and, no, it doesn't. I still have those thoughts, and I still have moments that make me feel like I haven't progressed at all from the girl I was six years ago.

But I'm learning to tell those thoughts to fuck right off. Because hating yourself isn't fun, and it's cast such a pall over what could have been even more amazing years of my life, and it's seriously screwed up the way I think and the way I approach other people, and it's made me miss so many opportunities.

So when I decided I was going to sort my life out, following a number of happenstances this past year that I might write about at some point but now is not the time, I actually sat down and swore to myself that if, at any point, for any reason, or in any way, attempting to lose weight began to negatively impact my physical, mental, or emotional health, I would stop, or at least alter what I was doing. Because I want to be healthy here and I want to be happy, and, furthermore, I'm trying to study for a degree- which I'm not going to be able to do with any measure of success if I'm exhausted, run-down, ill, irritable, unable to concentrate, self-harmful or depressed.

So I've practically built it into a contract with myself that I'm going to have a positive attitude. And actually, it's been working! I mean, most of the time, at least! And obviously it's helped by the fact that I've been pretty successful at losing weight: almost 30 pounds since the end of September isn't bad, after all! And it's helped by me keeping busy and making myself be more social and outgoing. And it's helped by just eating more healthily, actually keeping hydrated, and trying to get outside to exercise every day.

But the really central thing to it, I know, is just this: whenever my negative attitudes rear their ugly heads, I beat them with metaphorical sticks.

I have hope.

I can change my life, and I can change my appearance, and one day I will look at myself in the mirror and smile, not only because I like the way I look, but because I will be just damn happy to be me.

And in the words of poet, Derek Walcott:

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life,
whom you ignored for another,
who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

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