Trusting my body

This is quickly becoming one of those weeks, where I wish I could press the rewind button and start it all over. However as we all know life doesn’t quite work like that, so all we can do is carry on and do the best that we can to maintain sanity in the midst of madness. Part of me maintaining my sanity is making time for me, oddly enough that includes taking time every day to write whether it is in my journal or in this humble little space. Today I am in this space.

While the list of things I could bitch about is ever growing, I realized a few days ago that actually there is a bright spot. Earlier this year, I gave up my relationship with Weight Watchers; don’t get me wrong Weight Watchers didn’t do me wrong in anyway. Hell, I actually took off almost 50 pounds with WW and maintained that loss for several years until I got sloppy by their standards and eventually I gained back almost 20 of the 50 pounds.

I had planned to get back together with Weight Watchers this year but found myself resistant; the truth is I wanted to learn to trust my body to make right choices without concern about points or that dreaded weekly meeting. It’s been a journey this year as I embraced the idea of intuitive eating and trusting that my body will make the right choices.

Well after months of feeling stalled and wondering if my body didn’t know how to trust itself, all of sudden it seems my body has gotten the memo that she is a capable being who can choose what and when to eat and doesn’t need the weekly meeting or those points. I don’t know exactly when this all started to happen, but I know that I am no longer freebasing desserts daily, a simple dark chocolate square is often all I want when I feel the need for something sweet.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I baked exactly one pie, and in the end I had one slice of that pie and ended up throwing away almost half a pie. Oddly enough I didn’t feel any which way about that either. I find my body craving more fruits and veggies than ever before as evidenced by the fact that I was way more enthusiastic about the vegetarian café that opened up near my job, than I ever would have thought it possible.

I don’t step on the scale often, but I do know that all of a sudden my bigger clothes, the ones I reluctantly bought this fall now have room in them. After realizing that all my large clothes have room, I did break down and step on the scale and was pleasantly surprised. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, last year I read several of Geneen Roth’s books and learned about intuitive eating and knew that initially it would be an adjustment, one that might even cause the numbers to rise but that eventually my body would find its sweet space…guess we are heading to the sweet spot.

In the end who knows what all this means, but I admit I am digging my veggies, yoga and walking, now if I could get my seven year old to join me in the veggie love. Then again maybe I need to trust that her body will guide her and that eventually she will want to eat good healthy foods and lose her love for all things meaty and swine. Trusting my own body might actually be easier than trusting my child’s body, but that is a post for another day.

Fabulously fit for 40 and beyond…a journey in progress

Once upon a time in a life far away, I used to care a lot about both my looks and my weight. Then life smacked me upside the head and there was little time to care about such things. I eventually gained weight, took it off, kept it off and gained some of it back. Pretty much that shitty struggle many of us have. For the past several months I have been on the fence about actively doing anything about the weight, instead committing to just finding balance in my life with regards to what I eat and how I move my ass.

Yet as I slowly edge closer to 40 (less than 6 months away now) I have been in serious talks with myself about how I want to treat this temple known as my body. Frankly it depresses me to think about ever returning to Weight Watchers or any diet program. While the idea of just living a life compatible with the health at every size ideology resonates with me, after a few months of playing around with it, I must confess it simply isn’t working.

I figured this out recently when after a few months of not limiting myself in what I ate but also realizing my clothes aren’t fitting and that I feel like shit physically. Turns out carbs hate me and my daily carb fest is packing on the pounds. Also when left to my own devices and not being intentional I hate exercising, then again I was the kid who managed to fail gym in high school multiple times. I love yoga but yoga is a mental thing for me and while I am flexible as hell these days and can do all sorts of silly party tricks with my body, my body is like move me lady!

At first all this body shit was coming from a place of vanity but now it’s about living well and living long. My gene pool to be frank sucks ass. On both my mom and dad’s sides of the family, people don’t live long and it’s not just a few people. Neither of my dad’s parents lived to a ripe old age, my mom’s dad checked out at 54, and then my own mom kicked the bucket 4 days after turning 50.  None of which is exactly a winning endorsement for any expectation of a long life for me.

One common thread in my family is that none of my relatives took care of themselves. Most were overweight and affected with ailments such as diabetes and hypertension and problems that eventually morphed and claimed their lives. Looking at all the women in my family with the exception of my mom, we all share a certain build, one that predisposes us to carrying weight smack in the middle. Apparently carrying extra weight around the middle is bad.

I am going to be honest I had been mulling all this over and making some baby steps which have me seeing some results but a call last night has me now fully committed to changing my lifestyle. My aunt, my mom’s remaining sister (another sister died at 34, collapsed and died) is barely in her 50’s and suffering from congestive heart failure and it’s not looking too good. My aunt much like my mom and many other relatives who are gone now, enjoyed life, ate, drank, smoked and got merry. Now like her 2 sisters before her and a brother she is facing a premature death.

Maintaining optimal health for me is unfortunately tied to my weight, and I admit that is a hard pill to swallow. But I don’t want to end up swallowing pills on a daily basis to stay alive like most of my family so the alternative is a shift in mindset, so as I wrap up my 30’s, I am kicking off my personal quest to be fabulously fit at 40 and beyond because I want to make sure my 40’s aren’t my last full decade of life. I want to do everything possible to ensure that my kids don’t know the pain of losing me when I am still relatively young. I want to live to see my kids grow up (okay I am technically halfway there with the 20 year old) and I want to see grandbabies. I want to be the fabulous Grammy in her 70’s and beyond. So while I am not quite ready to run back to Weight Watchers or anything like that I am getting serious about this maintaining health thing.

To keep myself honest I will periodically share my journey in this space which I expect will have its ups and downs but that’s the thing about a journey. It’s a process and while in my case the end goal is important, so are the lessons I learn along the way.

For readers 40 and beyond, I would love to know if you made any lifestyle changes as you got older that you never would have considered when you were younger?

Foot in mouth…my thoughts on fat acceptance movement

This is one of those posts where I suspect I won’t be able to do the subject justice and will come across all wrong and inevitably piss someone off though that is not my intent.It was brought to my attention that I may have conflated the Fat Acceptance Movement with the Health at Every Size movement, I will admit that despite the fact that the Fat Acceptance Movement has existed for many years, it’s only in the past year did I become familiar with it. So I am stating upfront that if I misspoke something, please understand it is not intentional.

Since my late 20’s after what was a lifetime of never worrying about my weight, I entered a phase that is still with me where my weight and I have a love-hate relationship, though I am working hard to love it. After a year hiatus from Weight Watchers I recently went back since the 16.1 extra pounds I am carrying around just won’t go away…damn pesky pounds and I realized that despite my ambivalence, Weight Watchers works for me, I need that extra bit of accountability though it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Bodies and weight are a sensitive topic. In a world obsessed with thin bodies when you don’t have a thin body it’s easy to feel invisible or judged, trust me I know. Almost a year after my daughter’s birth, a picture my husband took of me,  that photo had me asking who is the fat chick? Turns out I was the fat chick! I was caught up in the glow of a new baby and frankly didn’t have time to nurture my body and ended up heavier than I had been during my pregnancy…damn breast-feeding advocates lied to me! They said if I breastfed, I would lose weight; I suspect they didn’t mean I could have that Dorito and coke habit I had at the time. I have shared on this blog before, how I ended up joining Weight Watchers and over a several year period shed damn near 50 pounds. I did a great job of keeping it off until a pesky abdominal surgery had me laid up for weeks and I fell back into some old habits, once again involving carbonated beverages and chips. I admit, chips are my weakness, fuck that, they are my kryptonite.

Last year after some hemming and hawing, I decided to get serious about taking the weight off and a month later, said fuck it, I just didn’t want to deal with it. So I have spent the past year living in the 160’s which I suspect is my body’s natural weight range if left alone. As I recently told a friend for the most part, with my walking and yoga, I can eat what I want and neither gain nor lose weight. All in all, not a bad place, yes I am overweight, but I am active however a recent conversation with one of my oldest friends made me take another look at the situation.

My friend B who recently turned 44 and has always carried an extra 20-40 lbs. was diagnosed with some serious health issues that are directly tied to years of carrying extra weight. He’s a big man, always has been but as he told me, taking a shitload of drugs is not his idea of fun and so he is actively trying to get the weight off and bring his body back to where it needs to be so he can live sans the drugs.

Reason I am sharing this, is because in the past year the Fat Acceptance Movement has grown thanks to the internet. I have seen more than one blog post advocating that all bodies are beautiful and that fat judgment, bias and shaming need to go. I agree, the standards of beauty are indeed limited, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes just as wellness can come in all shapes and sizes. However I think some who claim to be part of the Fat Acceptance Movement have it all wrong when they say campaigns such as Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign are nothing more than a bullying campaign.

There are real consequences to carrying too much extra weight on our bodies, trust me I can feel the difference. While I like to say it was the less than flattering picture that made me lose weight, the real wake-up call was that walks started leaving me winded, that truly got my attention. Barring respiratory issues, there was no reason for me, a thirty something year old woman to get winded while walking my kid and I knew I needed to change it.

In thinking of writing this piece, I did some poking around and there are clearly some in the Fat Acceptance Movement such as Kate Harding who make sense, Harding gave up the up and down life of diets and now is a healthy size 16. The problem is there are some in the Fat Acceptance Movement who confuse the message of beauty and wellness at all sizes to mean do nothing. I have had the pleasure of knowing in my offline life a few folks who are huge advocates of the Fat Acceptance Movement who state they are happy being overweight yet admit they have limitations due to their weight. If your weight limits you in a negative way, it seems to me that acceptance of that weight and doing nothing to at least shed a few pounds is not a healthy choice. Accepting who we are is always good; don’t run from reality but at the same time, we do have choices.

Dieting sucks because frankly it’s a short term fix, instead a lifestyle overhaul is far more effective. Look, I like chips and while I know I can’t eat them every day, I know that by adding movement daily and really ramping up my intake of fruits and veggies will allow me to enjoy a bag at least once a week.

In many ways unhealthy weight in the US is a health crisis, Americans on average are a lot heavier than we used to be, there are a lot of ideas about why this is the case. Excess weight over the years can take a toll on the body and that is a sad fact. I think the reason we are seeing people like Michelle Obama talking about this is because much like smoking years ago, we are dealing with a public health crisis. For every one overweight person who isn’t facing diabetes, hypertension, joint issues, etc., my guess is there are two or more who are. No amount of downplaying it makes it any less true. This is where the Fat Acceptance Movement in my opinion needs to do a better job of explaining that what they are really about is wellness, health and beauty regardless of size.

Bodies are not all the same, some of us no matter what we do are always going to be thick, but there is a fine line between acknowledging beauty at any size and saying it’s okay to be heavy enough that you face the chances of your life being shortened. Right now the movement seems to lack a unified message; instead some are using Fat Acceptance as a way to skirt personal responsibility. No one deserves to be shamed or mistreated because of their body size but let’s not kid ourselves, in some cases that extra weight can truly be harmful as my friend B learned the hard way.

Personally while I make light of the reasons why I am trying to lose weight the fact is at 39, I am already pass the age my mother was when she was diagnosed with hypertension. Mind you my mother never weighed more than 130 lbs. in her 50 years on this planet, but my family history on both side’s is one that the older I get, I know the extra weight is not a good thing. Most people in my family don’t live past 60 and frankly I want to break that streak, so for me, it’s about wanting to do a little better than other family members.