Monday, March 28, 2011

Body Stuff (TW for weight, inclucing gains/losses, ED and exercise issues)

So, yeah, trigger warning. And also, there's some TMI in here. Just so ya know.

Those of you who have known me for a while may know (or may have not noticed, which is actually awesome) that I weight cycle. I weight cycle a lot. I know that this is in part caused by the fact that my body has only very recently been allowed to just do its thing.

I developed extremely disordered eating habits at a very young age, and spent the first half of my teen years in that pattern. Then I got pregnant before my body had fully finished developing. I gained so much weight so fast that I have glanced at photos from the last months of my pregnancy and not recognised myself. I never had a visible belly-I simply ballooned all over. I gained over 90 lbs in 20 weeks. (Between finding out I was pregnant around 10 weeks, and Ronin's birth just past 30.)

Once I stopped breastfeeding, I immediately started fighting my body again. I didn't just want to be thin, I wanted to look like the thin girls at my school. You know, the ones who hadn't had babies. None of them had that little fatty deposit just below their belly buttons. When they wore halter tops with no bra, you really couldn't tell-their breasts were perky and firm. They didn't have any "extra" jiggly bits on the insides of their thighs that made their tiny little shorts ride up and look awkward and inappropriate. When their low-rise jeans slid just a tiny bit lower, you could see the curve of their hipbones; when mine did that all you could see was belly fat and a c-section scar. I spent the first half of my grade 12 year starving myself down to a size 5. By the time my 18th birthday rolled around, I had made it. But soon even that wasn't enough. By 19, I was down to a size 2. When the man I had (against pretty much everyone's better judgment) fallen horribly and irrationally in love with the summer I was 18 broke my heart, I decided that it was because I was too fat. By 20, I weighed 100 lbs.

A month before my 21st birthday, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. That was the same year I got married and divorced in rapid succession, as well as finally breaking all ties with my mother. Needless to say, 21 was a rough year for me, and all the stress and medical issues (in addition to my continued disordered eating) contributed to me going from just over 100 lbs to near 160 and back to about 115 by my 22nd birthday.

A few times in the last five years, I have realised that I had problems surrounding food and weight and tried to start eating normally and taking better care of myself. Every time, I start to gain weight, panic and start restricting food/overexercising again. It's a terrible cycle. But finally, this most recent time around, it seems to be sticking. I don't weigh myself anymore. I slipped once over Christmas holidays-the scale said 180, and I spent weeks feeling terrible about it. But other than that, I haven't stepped on a scale voluntarily in over a year, and if I have to be weighed at the doctor's office I close my eyes and ask them to not tell me the number. I'm learning to listen to my body's hunger cues-I mostly eat when I'm hungry. I try to eat what I'm actually hungry for-I've learned that when I want grilled cheese on white bread, trying to placate myself with tuna on a whole wheat pita does absolutely nothing and will result in my eating more than I want and feeling worse. I try to just eat the damn grilled cheese, because if I do that one sandwich is more likely to satisfy me. I also try to stop when I'm full, which has definitely reduced my desire to purge. I'm developing a healthy relationship with food, a little bit at a time.

Exercise has been harder. I like working out; I like feeling strong in general, and the endorphin rush that immediately follows a good workout is great. The problem is that I've found exercise to be a "slippery slope." I start by going to the gym a couple of times, and before I know it I'm spending an hour at a stretch on the treadmill and another hour with weights, six days a week. Not only that, but something about intentional exercise triggers me to start thinking about what foods I could eat or stop eating to get "better results." Then I'm back to restricting, and so on. So I have to try to make exercise an "organic" thing-walking more often, dancing, stuff like that. That's great and all, but I do still enjoy gym time. I like lifting weights. So there's this struggle for me to incorporate healthy physical activity in a way that is enjoyable.

The point of all this rambling is that my body, having been so badly abused for so many years, is suddenly out of my control, and that's scary. First, I'm worried that I may have done permanent damage to myself. But I realise that if I have, there's nothing I can do now other than just try to live as healthfully as possible and deal with any problems that arise as they come. The more immediate issue is this: I am bigger than I have ever been, and I am terrified.

That is hard for me to admit. I feel like it's a betrayal of the Fat Acceptance attitudes I've embraced in the last couple of years. And I realise that any fat people reading this could very well be offended by that statement. I also realise that I'm not really all that fat-hell, I'm probably still under 200 lbs. But here's the thing: accepting the idea of fat and loving fat bodies in general is completely different than learning the reality of living in a fat body. This is an accepted concept in FA, and something that has recently been a hot topic, what with the inbetweenie drama on Tumblr. (That link was just the beginning-there's a whole pile of other stuff related to that which I can't be arsed to track down and link to.) You can be a fat ally, you can wholeheartedly embrace the ideals of FA, but until you actually live in a fat body you don't know what it's like to be fat. Well, I'm suddenly learning that. And for me, this is scary.

For one thing, suddenly clothes are this huge issue. I can't afford to buy a whole new wardrobe, even from a thrift store, so I've basically just recently bought a couple of items so that I have something to cover myself with when I have to leave the house. But I don't have clothes that I really like, or that make me feel attractive at all. And even the stuff that more or less fits me doesn't fit me the way I'd like. And the whole leaving the house thing? It's exponentially harder than it was a year ago. Even if I can work past the anxiety that comes with going out and being around people at the best of times, I have to find something to wear, and if I've spilled coffee on the one pair of pants that more or less fit me, I literally have NOTHING. Dressing myself becomes this massive panic-inducing thing, and I have cancelled plans in recent weeks because I couldn't zip up my jeans. It's not a fun thing, and something I can't even effectively describe. If you haven't dealt with the experience of suddenly having a body you don't know how to dress, you probably don't understand.

For another thing, there is fat on parts of my body that I didn't even know could get fat. An example: my pussy is fat. The first time I realised this, I had a bit of a freakout-I was kind of like, "oh my god, what is going on with my body, how is this even a thing?" Every time I've gained weight, I've gotten a bit of a spare tire-I tend to carry a lot of weight around the middle, and having had a c-section means that the way that weight sits gives me a bit of a belly overhang situation. I'm getting used to that. But suddenly when I put on tight pants or a tight dress, there's that fat roll that is my belly, and then below that there is a whole other roll which is actually the fat on my mons pubis. And then there's the fat on my thighs, and all in all it just creates a topography that I've never seen before on my body.

I don't even know where I'm going with all this rambling. I just know that my body is changing, and it's freaking me out a bit. I feel like a character in some horrible cartoon health class video about puberty. And I feel like I need to get this out, because trying to muscle through and be all, "blah blah rad fatties everything is awesome" is not fucking working.

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