Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Deep Thoughts

My family has been visited by humanity's ever-present but mostly unseen companion: death.

We've lost an older, sick relative who had a good life and a not so great end, but at the very least we can say that he didn't suffer long (always a blessing).

In the midst of consoling family, running around to arrange for a funeral, getting my own hair fixed up and finding a suitable black skirt/shirt/shoes, I've had several deep thoughts about foods, diets, and fitting into bathing suits.

1) It sucks to get old. And it doubly sucks to get old if you are heavy. The strain, the toll on the body... it's terrifying. I saw first hand for myself recently during a visit to an elderly relative. Not someone who is obese, but definitely overweight. Those extra pounds sink you when you are older, especially those who are frail. I agree with various medical studies that say 10 extra pounds in old age helps stave off infections and illnesses (plenty of fuel for the body -- I saw how it worked for my own nana). But if you go over 10lbs, watch out. As hard as it is to be young and really heavy, it's a nightmare when you are old.

I am so grateful that I have been able to shed some serious weight. I have a long way to go. But even if I never lose another pound, just keeping off these 70lbs will make a tremendous difference to the rest of my life.

2) Stress is hard to handle -- but my good habits are sticking around, thank god. Several times over the past few days, as my routine has gone to pieces and I've found myself ricocheting around the city, struggling and running and trying to give comfort to others, I have walked past a bakery/pizzeria/bodega/bar and thought "I could just grab some...." (fill in blank). And almost before that impulse can even register (and then become a craving) another reaction reaches up and swats it away. A voice in my head says, "Yeah, you could do that. But it's not going to make you feel any better."

And I heed that voice, because I know from bitter experience that I can eat whatever I want whenever I want, but it won't really make me feel any better, or change whatever reality I'm currently in. And so I walk on.

I am not perfect. More often it's boredom/depression that trip me up and bring about an "episode." But that's a step forward from a year ago, when anything -- and I mean A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G -- could be twisted into an excuse to eat. But I am grateful now that I have some tools to help me "answer back" to those sabotaging impulses and thoughts. I may still struggle with eating out of boredom, but I have gotten a handle on the stress trigger, I think.

3) How do we beat ourselves up? Let me count the ways.

This post is partly inspired by a fellow blogger, the always entertaining A Weigh to Go, currently dealing with pre-vacation clothing angst.

It's so challenging to feel good about yourself when you don't like how you look -- or how parts of you look. And it's so easy to let that negative image take over. I let it ruin one of my trips to Brazil.

One day, on a trip out to a beautiful island with glorious beaches off the Brazilian coast, I was so embarrassed by how I looked that I went up a hill and hid from everyone, trying to figure out how I could get down to the water and take a swim in the incredibly gorgeous water without anyone seeing me. The boyfriend was traveling with me, and the whole scene was sublime. Except for how I felt about myself.

Even though there were only about 8 people on the beach -- other tourists and guides -- and I would never see them again in my life, I couldn't bring myself to drop my clothes and be in my bathing suit in front of them. After pretending to explore the scrubby little island for a while, I crept down a back path to the beach, and sat on a rock. My boyfriend swam up and eventually cajoled me into the water. Only partially hidden by some rocks could I finally slip into the blue sea and splash with him. But even that experience was marred by fears over how I would get out without people seeing me. Although I laughed and splashed in the water, I was drowning in my own shame.

What a waste of time. I wish I had possessed the confidence to say, screw it! But I didn't. Because I really hated how I looked. I don't know whether those people would even have noticed me -- what I really couldn't stand was how I felt about myself back then.

Life is too short to hate yourself. I'm glad -- so, so, so glad -- I finally paid attention to the part of me that was begging for action. I wanted to live my life, explore my opportunities and stop hiding in the bushes. And that required me to own up to my problems with food. It means I have to find time to work out.

But it's worth it. It's worth it to feel alive -- even if I am not physically perfect.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear that you lost someone. My sympathies to you and your family.

    I'm glad your bf was on your side in Brazil - I would be hiding from mine too when I was at my biggest. I'm not looking forward to the whole swimsuit debacle this year either but I DO NOT WANT it to spoil my holiday. Then I have to come back and work out how to stop it spoiling future holidays.

    Suspect you're right about being older and weight. Which is a bummer as I was planning on eating what I wanted at that age and not caring. Ah well.