Eating Less

So, I started this blog last year when I gained 10 pounds out of the blue, at 52. I wasn’t eating differently – not more, nor less – but suddenly, here were ten new pounds.

I won’t lie – I wasn’t thrilled. I’ve spent an awful lot of decades trying to find a place where my body could rest comfortably. For about the past 13 years, it’s been in one place, give or take a few lbs. I loved that. I had an easy, free way of eating and an easy and free (and happy)approach to food, my body and the weight it carried.

Then, suddenly, age and menopause and whatever else approached and that easy, breeziness kind of took a hit. Where did these (I admit it) unwanted ten come from? What should I do?

I decided to let it go, let it roll and see what happened naturally. Without any changes, the ten took hold and made themselves at home on my boobs, stomach, hips and thighs.

Again, I decided to let it go and live with it and accept the new me. That was fine.

Then, the seasons changed one more time and my clothes didn’t fit. I didn’t really have the money to buy new ones. AND, to be perfectly honest, I was much more comfortable in my old body. Physically. (I particularly HATED the new huger boobs that popped out of all my bras. Bras, by the way, that were leaving big red gashes on my shoulders.)

So, I decided to see what would happen if I cut back on food. Would I be hungry? Resentful? or ?

Turns out, none of that happened. I can easily eat fewer calories AND get the nutrients I need. I’m not any hungrier, have the same energy and feel really good.

I don’t resent that, now at 53, less food fills me, particularly as I prefer to eat to hunger and to stop when satisfied. I just had to get used to it, which took a minute and then became a habit. As I never want food to take on some exciting value other than nourishment, this new approach works just fine.

My body does feel better. I haven’t weighed myself, but can tell that I”m lighter. My clothes are fitting more easily AND the hideous boob pop is lessening.

Best of all, in this holiday season, I can spend money on gifts for other people and not on new clothes for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What is Plus Size?

In the fashion industry, “plus size” is a term for models who are size 8 and up. But in the real world, most people would never think of a size 8 as plus size — most plus-size clothing doesn’t even start until a size 16. Not so long ago plus-size models were around size 10-12, but that number has recently shrunk to an 8.

The average American woman is a size 14, and yet the dominant sizes in the industry are 0, 2, and 4. At size 8, plus-size models are considerably smaller than the average American women!

There’s actually a bit of a controversy between ‘plus size’ models about the term. Some, hate it. Supermodel Ashley Graham (she of the Sports Illustrated cover) wears a standard size 14. Graham feels that as she is, in fact, the size of the average woman, she shouldn’t be categorized as ‘plus size’. She has made it clear that she prefers the terms ‘curvy’ or ‘curve’. To Graham, plus-size makes it sound like there are ‘normal’ women and then women who, because of their bodies, are ‘other’.

On the other side, Size 22 star Tess Holliday welcomes the term. She blasts curvy models who have denounced the term ‘plus-size’ saying, ‘they think they’re too good for it’. Holliday tressed that she has no interest in replacing plus-size with any ‘cutesy’ terms.’How can you build your career from taking money from plus-size women and then turn around and say the term’s not good enough for you?’ she asked

Holliday added that she’d like to see more ‘true’ plus-sized models, like herself. She is 5’5 and weighs about 280. Ashley Graham stands 5’9 and carries about 170 pounds.

Any thoughts on the term plus-size? Or the controversy?

Not Commenting on Weight

My best friend’s sister has lost a fair amount of weight since I saw her last year. I can NOT believe how hard and how often I kept biting my tongue not to ‘compliment’ her on her weight loss.

I have to admit – I was curious. Why did she lose weight? How did she do it? Would she keep it off? Blah, blah, blah. I am weigh (correct spelling here!) too interested in weight.

Here’s my new vow – I am not going to acknowledge someone’s weight loss (even though I thought I was already doing this, apparently I’m not!)

First of all, as I mentioned in my last post, my sponsee is actually deeply hurt that everyone is fawning over her much smaller body. She’s horrified and thinks no one liked her before. She terrified that if she gains back some weight, everyone will think she looks awful.

Second, who really knows why someone lost weight? Perhaps they’re very ill? Or terribly stressed? Or anorexic? Bulimic? Or…?

Third, why is weight loss always considered good? Or at least in my book?! Why do I think anyone wants my opinion anyway?

I know, I know – I’ve covered this territory before. Obviously, not well enough for ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ugly and Undesirable – Fat Equals Bad

My sponsee who lost 90 pounds went to Thanksgiving family dinner on Thursday. She was fine with the food. It was her family’s reaction to her weight loss that troubled and actually terrified her.

They fawned all over her, showering compliments endlessly through the day and night. On and on and on.

“Melissa,” she asked me miserably, “was I hideous before?”

Her experience troubles me on many levels. First, I remember when I lost a ton of weight. The praise heaped on me was so excessive, you seriously could have thought I’d cured cancer once and for all.

What is soooo fabulous about weight loss? Why is it so exciting and amazing and the only thing worth mentioning all night? Sure, it’s great if someone’s health has improved, as my sponsee’s has tremendously. But no one at Thanksgiving dinner asked about her blood pressure or cholesterol.

Second, now my sponsee’s self-worth gets connected to her weight loss. Is that her value – being thin? And what if she gains some weight or even all the weight back? Is she less than? Is she less worthy? Is she hideous?

I worry that all this attention will lead anyone who’s lost weight down a dangerous path. When I lost all my weight and the world applauded vigorously (and enviously), I became terrified of gaining weight back. Clearly, I was NOTHING when fat.

And so, I did ANYTHING to keep the weight off, starting with starvation and diuretics in junior high school and moving onto laxatives and vomiting in college. I began drinking heavily, hoping that would stop me from eating and developed a drinking problem.

I lived in a vicious circle/cycle – drink, binge, puke, starve, drink, binge… AND I WAS MISERABLE. I can’t describe it in words.

When someone offered me crack, I had no idea what it was, but I tried it, because I would try ANYTHING that might give me relief. And so it did. And off I went.

So, I worry about women (and men) getting that message that weight loss is…………everything.

Another problem with that particular message – Fat equals bad; thin equals good -really embeds itself.

Let’s say i’m out with some girlfriends tonight and all the guys are hitting on them, not me. A voice goes through my head, “Melissa, you forgot, you are fat and ugly and undesirable.” Doesn’t matter that some nights I get the attention and my friends don’t. No, clearly it’s my body that’s the problem.

Let’s say I’m dating a guy and he loses interest, “Remember Melissa, you are fat and ugly and undesireable.” (It doesn’t matter that the guy happens to have some issues. He’s NEVER been in a long term relationship. He’s terrified of commitment and he even admits it. NO, no, no the problem is clearly that I am too fat and, therefore, ugly and undesirable.)

Now mind you, I haven’t been overweight in decades, but facts lose their meaning here. It got drilled in there somehow – fat, fat, fat, ugly, ugly, ugly. No one will ever want you.

I am going to pause and picture a world where weight doesn’t matter at all. What the heck, it’s my dream so let’s get rid of racism, all prejudice, cruelty and war.

Ahhhh, I feel much better.

How Did Thanksgiving Go?

I wonder how today went for those of us afflicted with the disease of More? Those of us who want more of anything on the outside – food, alcohol, drugs, sex, money, clothes…- to make us feel better on the inside, tend to have rougher days on the holidays which revere More.

Thanksgiving always felt like an addiction buffet – the food, the alcohol, the coffee, cigarette breaks to get away…And I’d consume WAY too much of all.

I still don’t quite understand why people love this holiday, but okay – I respect your right to be normal.

If anyone who struggles or struggled in the past would be willing to tell me how it went, I’d love to hear.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who found this day…excruciating.

On David Cassidy, Fat Shaming and Gratitude

Sad loss of David Cassidy. I can truly understand addiction AND the horrors it brings with it. Doesn’t seem like he had much serenity in this life. May he rest in peace.

I had such a crush on him in his Partridge Family days. And I sure wished I were a part of THAT family. It looked ideal.

Mostly, I wanted to BE Laurie Partridge. She looked perfect and pretty and popular AND, best of all so thin. Fat Me was sure that if I looked like Laurie Partridge, my life would be perfect.

Of course, years later we learned that the actress who played Laurie, Susan Dey, suffered severely from anorexia. And beautiful David Cassidy battled hard alcoholism for most of his life.

Appearances aren’t what they seem. It’s impossible to honestly compare my insides to someone else’s outsides.

Speaking of appearances, I have a sponsee who recently lost 90 pounds, and she feels fantastic. The other day, she wore form fitting jeans to a party. Now, she’s not skinny, but who cares? Apparently, some people. My sponsee overheard someone saying of her, “why would she wear such tight jeans? Doesn’t she know they make her look fat?”

I don’t even know what to say about this. I’ll try, but I am pretty clueless here. You guys are going to have to fill in all the blanks. But I will say, my sponsee’s husband thinks she looks hot. And so do I! Screw haters. Enough said.

Finally, I have been grumpy and cranky lately. And yes, I’m not in a loving relationship. And yes, my car is going to cost me my entire bonus that was earmarked for other stuff. And yes, I was in a fender bender with my mechanics BMW today…

BUT, it’s a very cold and windy night and I’m home with my beloved kitty. We’re both warm and safe. That’s a luxury for many. I have dear friends. My health. I have plenty.

I have a job and I GET a bonus, which will cover my car. No one was hurt in the fender bender, and my mechanic was nice about it.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I’m filled with gratitude for all the many blessings bestowed upon me.

Hormones

Once again, my period kicks my ass. What’s worse, with perimenopause, I never know when it’s coming.

Saturday and Sunday I was MISERABLE, but had no idea why. I sat around, sad and depressed and feeling incredibly lonely and sorry for myself.

As happens each month, I decided I needed therapy and started researching counselors who accept my health insurance.

Today, I actually got my period. No longer depressed, I am a raging lunatic who HATES the world. I don’t need a therapist; I need to be quarantined.

One tiny piece of good news – I will feel better on Thursday……

What do I do if not Eating Compulsively?

Here is a re-print of one my favorite stories from the great writer, Anne Lamott. I think about it A LOT.

When I was 38, my best friend Pammy died, and we went shopping about two weeks before she died, and she was in a wig and a wheelchair. I was buying a dress for this boyfriend I was trying to impress, and I bought a tighter, shorter dress than I was used to. And I said to her, ‘do you think this makes my hips look big?’ and she said to me, so calmly, ‘Anne, you don’t have that kind of time.’

Amen.

That got me thinking about time. Sure, life is short and we really don’t have time to waste obsessed with weight and food.

BUT what if thinking about food and my weight IS how I spend all my time? What then? If I put down the food, what on earth will I do with ALL that time? AND, how will I cope with ALL my problems.

The latter question first – for those of us with addictions, we don’t think that food and alcohol and drugs are our problems. To us, these are our solutions!!! Initially, they really work. They anesthetize all our pain and keep us from having to deal with life.

For normal people, too much food and alcohol are just problems. Many people who eat or drink too much, cut back and they’re fine. Take my mom, she loved to eat and picked up unwatned pounds over the years. My mom even ate emotionally – when she was angry or tired. She didn’t like the extra weight but didn’t do much about it for a long time.

Then, my mom got divorced. She met a man – a younger man. Off mom went to Weight Watchers and off came all that weight. Problem solved. Occasionally, maybe around the holidays, she’d gain a few back . Out would come that Weight Watchers scale and those pounds would fall right off. Once again – problem solved.

But not for me – the real compulsive eater. Not for me the bulimic and anorexic. When I put down the food, the problems come up. For the first four decades of my life, I used constant food to mask and soothe my problems and pain, but of course, THEY’RE ALL STILL THERE.

What i need to do; What i MUST do is face my problems. Get to them, get through them and be rid of them.

That’s what happens through the 12 Step process, and I find my way to freedom. I learn I don’t need food to ease my pain. I can deal!

Back to my first question – what am I going to do with all the time I spent binging and purging and starving and weighing myself an obsessing about food and weight?

That’s what I need to discover. I need to learn how to live life, NOT just pass time in my mental obsession. Frankly, I need to learn how to have a live. Bingeing is NOT a life.

And, I need to realize that I can deal with whatever comes up. I can be bored. I can be uncomfortable. Neither of those two is going to kill me!

No matter what, I can. And will. Be fine.

The Bitter Morass of Self-Pity

My car is in the shop and will cost a lot of money. Once again.

My relationship didn’t work out. I’m 53 and going it alone.

My career stands pretty much nowhere.

But I can’t and don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m so incredibly blessed and lucky. I have a place to live, enough money to live, dear friends, great family, options, my health (maybe not all my teeth, but there truly are consequences of bulimia and cocaine!)

This good attitude is not natural to me. This is not the way I lived the first four decades of my life – not in the least. I believed myself the complete victim. POOR and ME were about the only two words I uttered.

My self-pity lead me to a life of severe eating disorders, alcohol and drugs. That was my problem really; self-pity. If you’d had my life, you’d drink too!!! Right? Wrong.

Food, drugs and alcohol weren’t my problems. They were the solutions I tried to use to fix my problems. But they didn’t work BECAUSE I WAS MY PROBLEM.

The Twelve Steps helped fix the problem – ME.

Food and the Holidays – by Ms. Scrooge

Yesterday, a newer friend was telling me she loves the upcoming holidays – decorating, gifting, family, friends, traditions and of course, cooking and baking!!! She can’t wait – she’s even buying new pots and serving platters and trying exciting new recipes this year.

Then she asked me about my holidays and traditions and plans.

I took a deep breathe. I don’t want to horrify nice normal people but I don’t like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I used to dread them. Now, I just ignore them, as best I can.

Food, food, food, food, food. Cooking and baking and eating and leftovers. Never fun for me.

I don’t have any fond memories of the big food Holidays. My memories exclusively involve starving all day, bingeing all evening, and puking through the night. Lots and lots of self-hatred and misery.

I could not ever ever stay present with conversation or loved ones. My sole focus stayed on the food. I prayed for the day to be over.

These days, I don’t mind wherever I happen to find myself. If I’m with friends, I eat what works for me. I am present and able to enjoy the company. And of course, I truly appreciate that others love this time AND that they include me in their joy.

BUT I don’t in the least look forward to it and like I said, I certainly have no nice memories of Christmas past.

I do like birthdays tho, mine and other people’s – I’m not a complete curmudgeon!!!!