At some point in my life I started to challenge my fundamental belief that my self-worth is tied to how much I weigh. I believed that if I lost weight I was good. If I gained it I was bad. That might sound ridiculous, but I share this belief with millions of people. Ask a friend if she can relate to this, my bet is she can. We are sent thousands of messages each day confirming this idea. I sit in a room full of FABULOUSLY BRILLIANT women 9 hours every week talking about removing this core belief from the shelves of our souls and chucking it into the ethereal compost bin. I can’t get the Peter Gabriel song Shaking the Tree out of my mind. That’s what we are doing, shaking the tree of disorder and throwing away the rotten fruit. This core value, core belief is not fair, it is not true, and it is deadly.
Our culture praises weight loss and thinness and loathes fat. Imagine someone saying, “Your ass looks so much bigger in those jeans than it did last week.” How do you think that would go over? But for some reason the opposite statement is ok. We justify it by talking about the health impacts of weight, makes us feel all “doctor like” as we criticize someone else’s food choices and weight gain. If I lose weight, it doesn’t mean I am healthy, it could mean I have cancer! But ultimately, it is my body, my business.
I don’t know a thing about how healthy you are based on what size you wear. I don’t know your blood sugar, A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol levels or when you had your last period just by looking at you. Are there negative consequences to being overweight? Yes and there are medical professionals available to help you. I don’t happen to be one. It can also be dangerous to be underweight which is why there are health professionals for that too. Call one. Please. Quickly.
A couple of years ago when my blood sugar levels were getting dangerously close to pre diabetic, my doctor advised me to lose weight. She told me it was easy, I just needed to keep the carbs out of the house. In that moment I almost lost. I was dejected, I knew I had an eating disorder but I had already “dealt” with it. My doctor, my trusted advisor had invalidated my struggle. It was so simple, why couldn’t I just do it? I kept going up and down and up and down with weight loss and gain. I am fortunate she saw my despair and put me in touch with mental health professionals for eating disorders.
With that I ask you to remember that giving weight loss and dieting tips to someone with disordered eating is like giving an open case of beer to an alcoholic. Just don’t.
Resources and Links:
- Ascend CHC offers the Midwest’s most comprehensive behavioral health treatment.
- Insight Behavioral Health Centers provide specialized treatment for eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders and obesity at five Chicago, Illinois treatment centers.
- Dr. Lisa Oldson “…an Obesity Medicine physician coming from a Primary Care background, I understand the impact of obesity on health as well as on self-esteem, employment, relationships, mood and productivity.”
I shared the blog a few days ago with a colleague. She was so down and out about life and weight and her doctor….I remembered myself from a few years ago. Scared to go to the doctor, scared to not diet. I know the statistics, I read about them every day in the mainstream media. Next to the gulf oil spill, the fat epidemic is the hottest news story out there. “HOW BIG IS YOUR FAT?” “HOW THICK IS YOUR NECK” “FAT PEOPLE ARE SUPER SUPER UNHEALTHY”
I’ll not spend too much time talking about this issue. Anyone who knows me or comes here to read knows that I am over the fat frenzy. The diet talk and calorie counting makes me sleep. But I understand, there are those out there who have yet to read about the benefits of Health at Every Size. For that reason, I repost. Here are some links. There are tons out there. Just look around for it. Here are the links:
Remember the mantra……………………………….
And remember the mantra:
I am not what I eat…I’m what I do and what I say.
I am not how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained or how much I’ve lost.
Changing my shape and size isn’t going to make me happy, however, may make me poor, as I will have to buy new clothes.
Having happy thoughts about me, you and the world will make me a better person.
I respectfully decline to discuss your size, my size, her size or his size in any way…unless it makes you or me laugh and isn’t hurtful to anyone.
I will eat what I want, and move on—slowly or quickly depends on what I ate.
Being healthy doesn’t mean being thin. Being fat doesn’t mean unhealthy.
This has been an unbelievable experience. I can’t tell you how great it is to know I am not in this game of self blah-ness alone. Check this out, first, I am getting tons of feedback from athletes of all sizes who are interested in getting workout clothes. I keep forwarding our news onto the owner of Run Chicago. When he tells me the clothes are there, let’s plan to storm the store.
Second, I had a conversation with my girlfriends this weekend about this whole idea of self acceptance. One is the same girl I mention in an earlier post. A point I was pursuing is this….this ever unreachable goal thing. Saying, if I could only lose weight, I’ll be happier. (you know what I am talking about) I asked them flat out if they knew of anyone who made a change like losing weight and actually said they felt better about themselves. Nope, not one. The changes that make us feel better are the changes we make about the way we feel about ourselves today. I am on the path, but I at least can see it this time, like the Brady kids in the Hawaiian cave, I can see the path. Self acceptance is exactly that. We have to do it ourselves. I have started a little internal battle that I believe the side of the light is going to win.
Here it is….”SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” That’s right, “SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Every time a negative thought enters my brain about myself (others are still fair game, I need to continue to be snide) I tell myself to shut up. I have been working on this all week. It isn’t easy, but I seem to be saying it a little less frequently than I was last week at this time. Give it a try, you might be surprised how often you knock yourself down.