Posted on March 1, 2016
The Body Image Carousel
Even though National Eating Disorder Awareness Week was last week, this is pretty much always applicable to some of us. I know this is a “fun site”, but sometime I have to share some insight, instead. Also, I did the below last week, unknowingly during that week, which is kind of kismet.
Oprah is now doing Weight Watchers (and also owns stock in the company). Recently I did that one week Nutrisystem package again. Are these two things related? No, but yeah, in a way-both of us are in a constant fight with our own bodies.
For me, it started with puberty. Well, no, it started before that. I remember what must have been third grade. That was the first time that someone called me fat. That was the first time that I started over analyzing my body, not just my clothes (which had always been in a fun way, prior).
There was a local store, now long since closed that my mom would sometimes take me to and buy me a special dress. We would take as long as I needed to find the perfect one. It would usually end up being worn often-for school photos, assemblies, etc.
The first time I was called fat was in such a dress. It was the very early 90s, the body was a cotton/lycra blend of midnight blue with white and blue polka dot shoulders and a skirt in the same design. A rose punctuated the upper front, where I now have boobs, but then I didn’t because I was about 8. Our class had done something noteworthy and fun, so my teacher took photos of all of us against the wall. Then we glued them to paper stars and taped them in the hallway. I don’t remember what the achievement was. I just remember that one day a kid looked at it and then to me. Then he said “you’re fat”. And I have been, ever since, IN MY HEAD.
My weight has fluctuated, of course, but even at my thinnest I knew it wouldn’t last and that my body was bad and wrong, just in a different way. At that point, I did get a lot of compliments, but also insults-stick, skin and bones, etc. I lost my boobs, a whole cup size. I still didn’t have a waist, to paraphrase Beyonce, I can make my body smaller, but it’s not gonna change the general shape.
Once, midway through 2014’s weight loss, I was told that I had bat wings, I did not, but it drove me crazy. Weights were added to my already strenuous, mostly cardio based workouts. I was a Beach Body coach and I hated my body. It wasn’t a bad experience. I learned about my optimal heart rates, for different times, which has helped when I’ve been ill since.
But, I’m an extremist. I’ll always suffer from disordered eating. I gained back a lot of weight in 2015. I had no time or energy to workout much when I had been working at Disney, prior to that, but I also walked a lot. My pedometer clocked over 20 miles per day, just during my daily life of work and playing in the parks. Even the delicious, Disney buffets that I eventually started dining at couldn’t outdo my metabolism, at that point.
2015 was very different though. On and off, I’d try to be healthy, but then everything was happening. I was finishing my degree, tackling multiple internships, then jobs and love. I did graduate as Salutatorian, I ruined my perfect 4.00 during my last semester while finishing my second internship and getting a full time job. That was incredibly difficult, so my grades suffered slightly. That’s another part of my problem. I may seem like a free spirit and in many ways I am, but in other ways I’m a type A, Monica Gellar personality, who wants everything perfect, a 3.89 isn’t perfect. It’s still very good though. That’s what I need to realize about life, I guess.
I went from my internship/job that was physically oriented, but also, sometimes provided free, cheap processed food to a completely sedentary desk job. Like, you gotta use your break to use the restroom type of deal. Yeah, so while the first definitely wasn’t aiding in my weight loss, the second has basically suffocated it.
I then moved in with my boyfriend. That’s another huge change. I was exhausted. I was not working out like I NEED TO BE, and I started eating a lot of what I want more often. It’s not like I never exercise and have no self control, but I can also walk to a pizza place and be home before the pizza starts to cool. This is another extreme, this binge stage. I would like to have a happy medium, but it’s kind of impossible for me.
A few years ago, I picked up Alicia Silverstone’s cookbook (Amazon referral link). I became vegan. It’s something that I had always wanted to try. I attacked it as a hardcore hobby. I learned a lot, like there are a lot of yummy beans out there. I felt healthier, my skin looked better, but as per usual, it wasn’t just a hobby, it was bordering on becoming an eating disorder itself. It’s a VERY restrictive form of eating. And, just an FYI, I lost a minimal amount of weight.
These are not new, these are patterns for me.
When I was in high school, I was bullied, A LOT, about everything,-name, hair WEIGHT. I couldn’t change my name or my hair (though I did try). I could do something about my weight though, I thought. I dieted a lot. I had the same thing every at day at school for lunch. A meager salad from the school’s salad trough, without dressing. If I felt that I deserved it, for some reason, on a particular day, I’d get an apple as a treat. I exercised, but I also had academic courses, which often amounted to 3-4 hours of homework a night. So, at that point, I was actually exercising at what is considered a healthy amount. However, that’s not enough for my family’s genes. We are not meant to be small people. I was always only losing and then regaining 5 lbs. It was BS.
One day something inside of me snapped. I didn’t exercise and ate junk for about a year. I mainly wore black and wouldn’t allow photos to be taken of me. I usually take a lot of photos, in case you don’t know me well. Sometimes when I talk about this time, which was my heaviest, people think I’m lying because they don’t remember. They were living their own lives. And due to the photo issue, there are only about 3 photos of me at the point.
Eventually, I was spurred to lose weight. My classes were now spread out all over the four story, two building campus. I literally had to run between them (BTW-5 minutes was not a fair amount of time to get between those classes, even for a healthy individual).
After much overexercising, exercise bulimia BTW, and dieting, I got back down to what I still consider to be “my good weight”. The problem was that even at that point, that I couldn’t stop. I restricted more and more.
Then, when I started partying in my early 20s, I found out that binge drinking isn’t all bad as vomiting counteracts any food, I’d actually, finally at the end of the night, allow myself to eat, after a half gallon of vodka. Plus exercising for four hours earlier in the day was really keeping those pounds at bay.
It’s shameful. Once, I was job searching, but getting nowhere. So, I still had free time for these types of workouts, which amount to the time spent at a part time job, basically. I remember a then friend asking what I did all day, while he was working. I still felt fat, even thought I wasn’t, but I also wasn’t skinny. So, I joked that I masturbated a lot, because that’s my dirty sense of humor. I knew it would make him uncomfortable and stop questioning me. It worked.
I feel like this will never stop. I know this, I love clothes, though, so you’ve seen me at many weights, if you’ve viewed my Style File (OOTD) blogs in the past, even if those weights are only slightly different.
I also grew up with an amazing mom, but who has her own body image issues. She still has them, in her 70s. So, yeah. That didn’t/doesn’t help.
I’ve written so much, but I’m at a loss for a good wrap up, because my life is not over, so neither is my struggle.
For more on the NEDA, who has a lot of info on their site about EDs, click here.
NEDA Week: Types of Eating Disorders & Disordered Eating
NEDA Week: Personal Stories of Exercise Bulimia
NEDA Week: On Marilyn Vos Savant or why the word’s smartest woman isn’t that smart
Fuck, Fuck, Fuck the Inbetweeners
Recipe: Mary’s 5 Bean Vegan Chili-delicious and from my Vegan period