Day 84–100 Days 100 Ways To A Healthy Relationship With Food
The happiest periods in my life have been when I’ve not been overweight. It’s happened a few times:
- When I was 19, in a band and drumming for hours every day
- When I was 22 and lived in Australia for 9 months (I ran long distances for weeks before I left the UK to get in shape)
- In my last year of university (aged 23) when I trained for a triathlon with two great friends
- In my first few months of married life (aged 30) while the results of my by-any-means-necessary pre-wedding weight loss gradually wore off
- In our last year living in London (aged 39) when I cycled to work most days
The rest of the time, my weight was on my mind, to some extent, churning away in the background, reminding me I was a failure and that I didn’t like myself.
It’s awful to say it, but it’s true. I’m just being honest.
Why do I care SO MUCH about my weight? Am I incredibly vain and superficial? Do I care about what others think of me too much? Am I STILL affected by being bullied for being fat as an 11 year old? Have I fallen for the world’s lie that thin = succesful and fat people are lazy and only have themselves to blame?
They are probably all true to some extent.
I’ve joked before with friends that if they want to know how I’m doing (how I’m really doing, not the “I’m fine” lie we mostly use to fob off anyone that asks), all they need to do is look at me. If I’m looking bigger, I’m unhappy and struggling with something. If I’m in shape, I’m flying high.
I’m deeply ashamed of all this because it is not what I believe or what I stand for. I know people should not be judged on their size (or any other part of their appearance for that matter). I don’t like vanity. I don’t think it’s a good idea to pay much attention (if any) to what others think of you, and I am deeply cynical about what “the world” says about anything!
So, why am I like this? Why can I only be happy when I’m at a healthy weight?
I want to look at two articles. This article, by Melissa at wildlycharmed.com is a response to this article by Joni Edelman at ravishly.com. Joni argues she is happier being fat, Melissa argues she is happier being thin.
Here’s something that hit me from Joni’s article:
“[Being thin] did not make me happy. This isn’t to say that thin people aren’t happy (duh), but this is to say that being thin is not: A. A cure for sadness or B. A guarantee of happiness. It is to say this: Happiness does not require thinness. Fatness does not presume sadness.” — Joni Edelman, ‘Being Thin Didn’t Make Me Happy, But Being “Fat” Does’
And here’s something that hit me from Melissa’s article:
“Self-love is another huge key to happiness, too. I am happy being thin, and that’s the way that *I* best love myself. Joni, on the other hand, loves herself the most when she doesn’t have to riddle her brain with counting calories and working out, and if that’s what’s working for her, then all the more power to her. That’s what makes us all different and human, and beautiful in different ways.” — Melissa, ‘Being “Fat” Didn’t Make Me Happy, But Being Thin Does’
I loved both of the articles and I equally respect both points of view, and, indeed, agree with them.
What I take, from reading them both, and reflecting on my own situation, is this:
We need to work out what makes us happy. And we need to check in with ourselves that it’s for the right reasons. If you only want to lose weight because you think that’s what “the world” wants, it’s the wrong move. If you say you’re happy thin and you’re not really, change. If you say you’re happy fat and you’re not really, change. It comes down to being honest with yourself. So here are four important questions:
- What do you want?
- Is it really what you want?
- Have you checked in with your reasons?
- Is it what you want, or what “the world” wants?
Let’s try it myself…
What do I want? I want to have a healthy relationship with food and live, forever, at a healthy weight (which I define as somewhere, anywhere, in the BMI healthy weight range for my age, gender and height)
Am I really sure it’s what I want? Yes. I don’t think I would still be going on this project if I didn’t. The expression and honesty and effort have hardened my viewpoint over the last 84 days — this is what I want.
Have I checked in with my reasons? I’m in the process of doing so, in this article and in this project as a whole
Is it what I want or what “the world” wants? Hard to answer. In all honesty there could be some of “the world” creeping in. My past has a big impact on me, I do care (too much) what others think, but I’m working on it. I am vain, to an extent. I think we all are. But overall, this is what I want.
Here’s the key, vital, crucial point to make…
It’s OK for us all to have different answers to those 4 questions. There is no right or wrong way. There is just our own way.
For me, being a healthy weight, with a healthy relationship with food will make me happy. It’s my keystone issue, the one I need to address first and foremost in my life. It always has been.
I’m making progress, and I can feel myself getting happier as I go. I’ve lost a lot of the shame and guilt around food. I’ve lost (so far) the “screw it” attitude that tripped me up countless times. I’m enjoying food. I’ve found a way of eating that works for me. I’m moving slowly toward a healthy weight (I think). I’ve come a long way, but I’m not done yet.
On track. We had a socially distanced garden meet-up with another family today. I enjoyed a beer, a glass of wine and piece of cake. No guilt, no “screw it”. I also enjoyed a lovely hour long walk along the river this morning. I could feel myself wanting to somehow tie these two things together (I did the walk, I can have cake and beer) but I managed to uncouple myself from those thoughts and enjoy both of them for the independent events that they were.
80/84/100 (Number of days goals met/ number of days into project/ 100)
Be responsible about food and weight management. Research a healthy weight, and healthy methods of weight management for you physically and mentally. Remember, you are not defined by what you weigh. I am not a nutritionist.