What Is More Important Than Weight Loss?
F*ck you and your “Wellness Committee.”
Yesterday I got an email from some lady at our sister office. I’ve never met her, or anyone else mentioned in the block of text contained within.
I was one of many on a group contact list that got the same message, and now that I think about it I’m surprised this hasn’t been a “Thing” prior to now.
Apparently some of the women working in that office have gathered together and started the dreaded office cliche’ of “Wellness Committee.”
And guess what their first email was about? Go ahead, guess.
Bingo. Weight loss.
The email stressed how important it is to shed those pounds, as well as detailing some ways to do so and encouraging others to email back submitting their own tips, tricks, and success stories. Cue an onslaught of “reply all” responses containing preachy anecdotes full of flowery diet chatter.
Even worse, there is now talk of a weight loss “challenge” among the offices, gearing up to be launched.
While I understand that most adults in an office setting struggle with their weight, I just don’t see the point in publicizing these struggles with an entire branch of the work place. If you have friends in the office that you want to discuss this particular subject with, that’s cool. But turning it into a “work place initiative” is wildly unnecessary and, lets face it, childish.
Its like suddenly being back in high school, surrounded by “tips and tricks” and claims that anorexia is a desirable condition because it translates to “easy weight loss.” (Sure, Jan.)
Getting an email like this is akin to being thrust back into a world of pro-ana teenie boppers with too much time on their hands.
Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, especially because my own disorder has been so difficult to fight and my feeble attempts at eating normally are still being drowned out by bulimic behaviors, as well as regret over feeding my body calories despite those behaviors. But I’m trying, truly. I’m eating breakfast again, and have been for 3 days now. I also plan on eating lunch today.
As I read over this, I actually did just finish eating lunch. Pumpkin muffins are bomb, but oh my god the sugar content. Someone kill me. Or hug me. I don’t care which.
Seemingly minor feats, true. But the avalanche of chaotic emotion that any amount of food in my body triggers is enough to shatter the already flimsy sense of control I feel. The same sense of control that I bank on to get through the day, now fragmented and rendered nonexistent.
Receiving an email such as the one that graced my inbox yesterday from the Wellness Committee just makes fighting the disordered voice that much harder. It already feels like I’m doing the wrong thing — when the whole world is screaming that putting on pounds is bad, why would I let myself act upon the instinct to eat when I know for a fact it will lead to the very thing society deems unforgivable?
In the specific instance of my own recovery, putting on weight is inevitable. By medical standards I’m in the “red zone” in terms of underweight BMI, whatever the fuck that means. Not that a low BMI is what determines the severity of an eating disorder, but it does mean that no matter what I eat, my body is going to hold on to those calories for dear life.
So in just eating breakfast for a few days, I’ll gain weight. If I choose to add to that, pursue more normal meals and the caloric intake of an average adult woman, my body will inevitably get bigger. Something deemed wholly inappropriate and flat out disgusting by society everywhere.
I know rationally that all of it is complete nonsense. There is nothing wrong about pursuing health or recovery, and I need to work on accepting the fact that I can’t control how others perceive me or who may judge my changing body, should I continue fighting the way I am.
Weight gain is not a sin. The sin is society’s implication that we are all static — living in the same kind of body that should fit a certain mold, all striving toward that aesthetic through diets and wellness committees and a culture of making ourselves smaller. Weight loss for health is one thing, but preaching the same as necessary for all is truly ignorant and not something I should let influence the choices I make. Not on this day, not on any day.
So in combating those negative voices, I’m making a list of things worth gaining weight for/things that are more important than weight loss. This list is for me, but its also for anyone else navigating their eating disorder recovery. Whether you are underweight, a healthy weight, or overweight, sometimes recovery comes with added poundage. And even if it doesn’t, I do believe the things on this list are more important than any sort of cookie cutter image of “health” that media wants to perpetuate.
In making this list, here is a quote that comes to mind:
In honor of that concept, here is a list of Things More Important than Weight Loss/ Things Worth Gaining Weight For:
- A steady, fulfilling social life. Its not a secret that a lot of social scenes include food — dates, movie nights, brunches, even just getting coffee with a relative. If you’re constantly avoiding food, or jonesing for your next bulimic fix, you become isolated almost immediately.
- The possibility of someday having a family of my own.
- Developing an identity that is unrelated to this eating disorder. I have never not had this issue in my life and I truly have no idea who I’d be without it. That is a terrifying concept, one that is strong enough to put me off the whole recovery effort. But I’m trying to lean into it by telling myself something better is waiting around the corner.
- Developing ways to fill up the hours that would normally be monopolized by destructive behaviors. This is a long, tedious process, but will hopefully become easier with time and practice.
- Further financial independence — bulimia is fucking expensive.
- A better life for my loved ones, because I wont be such a god damn burden both financially and emotionally.
- An actual, full time job that I can work steadily and that can pay my bills.
- Enjoying food, rather than just interacting with it.
- Better writing — a nourished brain means a stronger voice.
- More ability and opportunity to help others through their struggles.
- Working through the real issues, rather than focusing entirely on the eating disorder and all its symptoms.
- Not being so fucking preoccupied with food all the time. This will take time, because a malnourished body hyper-focuses on everything food related for quite a while into the recovery process. This is a fact whether you’re underweight or not. Its just human nature and the survival instinct running rampant over your brain, and it will pass. I promise.
- More energy, which is a terrifying concept to me right now. In my brain, more energy translates to “fat.” Which isn’t true, and I need to get over this particular hang up.
- Life in general — The way I live, and have been living, is inhumane. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I deserve better.
The list could go on endlessly. And if anyone who reads this has anything to add, please comment about it! I’m always looking to make it longer, stronger, and more detailed.
I don’t know if society as a whole will ever learn to separate health from weight loss. Part of that is because its media-driven — diet culture is a big fat money maker and that means it’ll never actually go away. There will always be that ignoramus who preaches weight loss as a cure-all for every issue, health related or otherwise.
Its my goal to learn how to ignore that voice and focus my energies entirely on what I know, deep down, is the actual truth.
The truth being that health comes in all sizes. Recovery is different for everyone, we all have our own goals and priorities and are unique in what makes our bodies function at an optimal level.
A Wellness Committee should focus on nutrition, stress management, mental health, and any other topic that benefits both mind and body. Simplifying the entire concept of “healthy” to weight loss alone is a tragic waste of educational platform.
Educate yourselves, folks. We can do better. We deserve better.