I have had to learn many lessons in life, about many different types of issues. Being gay. Being a parent. Being a counselor. Facing challenges of addiction in the family. Love. Death of loved ones. But one area that has been a struggle for me most of my forty something years of life I see whenever I look in the mirror. My weight.
I am not a person that obsesses over my appearance due to some misperception of how I look. Well, in part it might be that. But it is rooted in the fact that since I was eight years old, I have been overweight, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. I currently am about ten pounds more than I should weigh for my height, but I have been as much as eighty pounds overweight in the past.
When I was a kid, I was teased, got called names, and not just once in a while: ALL THE TIME. Every day in grade and middle school, less in high school, but by then, the damage had been done. I tried to feel good about myself, but it was difficult when I had been teased so often. For so long. It really sucked.
I did every diet and diet plan there was. I counted calories. I did the cabbage soup diet, I did Slim Fast, I did pill supplements, I joined TOPPS (Taking off pounds sensibly); there, you weighed in weekly, and got on the scale backwards, and then, they announced your loss or gain in front of the entire group. Public humiliation. I was 13.
I never had to fight the battle alone. My whole family battled with weight, mostly being overweight, although my younger sister fought anorexia. Both were eating disorders; food was a friend, a consoling means, a boredom fighter, food became more than nourishment.
Over the last few years, since I gave birth to my daughter ten years ago, I have lost probably seventy pounds, slowly but surely. Maintained for periods of time, then gained a few, then got back on track. Weight Watchers seems to work the best, as far as an eating plan. That is where the journal comes in. I do much better when I write stuff down. Each meal, each measure, to keep a general idea of my intake and what I am actually eating. It may sound funny, but I need to be aware of my eating to keep it in control. I have to be a conscious eater.
This task, my journal, my eating journal, that is, is the easy part to me. With the right level of motivation, I can stick to any eating plan. The hard part is the other reason I want to resume using an eating journal. I cannot wake up in the morning and look in the bathroom mirror without doing an assessment of my body. Does my waist look thicker than yesterday? Are my thighs touching today? Are my hands swollen? Do my thighs spread out more when I sit on the toilet than they did yesterday? On the days that I think I overindulged the day before, I will purposely not look at myself naked in the mirror, because of how horrified I will be at the sight of an extra bulge or two. May sound strange, but ask any person who has struggled with weight for years, I bet these are some of the same types of behaviors they engage in. But what I realized this morning, is that my mirror perception is as large of a part of this issue that I need to address as what I eat, and how much exercise I get. I don’t even know if my perception in the mirror is accurate, but I gauge my day on it.
So today, I made two commitments to myself. First, I am going to buy an actual journal to keep track of my eating, and my thoughts about my body and my weight. I need to kick this monkey the hell off of my back. Next, I promised myself on this very day, that every time I look in the mirror, which I will intentionally do every morning, I will say/think something positive and actively loving about what I see. I need to embrace all of me, and I have done so much for the inside, I need to love the outside, too.