I’m about to get real here. It’s personal but something that should be discussed since weight stigma is so prevalent in our society.
I used to be so concerned with weight especially in high school, so much so that I would restrict (and ultimately binge because that’s just what happens). My weight yo-yo’d and my eating was nowhere near healthy. Then in college I tried a new strategy of very structured meals. I would always have peanut butter oatmeal for breakfast (thus began my obsession), a salad for lunch, and whatever well rounded meal I could find for dinner. I snacked on an apple and maybe some nuts. If I wanted dessert I’d have a portion of chocolate. I even went out of my way to portion chocolate into snack bags. But I ended up losing 10 pounds in combination with 50 minutes of exercise five days a week. I was proud of my success.
I wasn’t happy, though. I spent many nights alone in my room feeling insecure. Fast forward to grad school where I never had time to exercise or prepare meals and yet my weight didn’t fluctuate much. Then I started a new job and the stress of moving multiple times, making friends in a new city, and being in the real world took a toll on me.
I’m now at the same weight I was in high school. The weight I was always running from and upset with. The only time I was heavier was when I lived in Spain (I ate all the tortilla española and croquetas). And while the number gets under my skin a little bit and occasionally I feel the old insecurities and discomfort creep back, I like to think things are different now.
For one, restriction gives me anxiety. I try my best to plan well-balanced meals, but it’s not always the case. I also eat out a few times each week because it’s fun and social and I enjoy it. I find myself eating dessert midweek and no, it’s not just portioned out chocolate. Last night my roommate brought me a frosted sugar cookie just for dealing with Comcast all afternoon. So sweet.
I also don’t say no to events just because there may be alcohol or food involved (yes, I used to do that). If I want to indulge then I do. If not then I don’t. But usually I do. Food is not just a calorie. Food is social, it brings people together. Food is cultural. Food can be exciting and something to look forward to. If it was just a calorie imagine what life would be, or rather what life would lack.
Yes I’m back at the old “dreaded” weight, but I feel more secure. I’m more confident despite still having my moments. I work out consistently and look forward to how I feel after. It’s no longer something I have to force myself to do. I eat my CSA veggies but I also have bagels in my freezer and put maple syrup in my oatmeal now. I’m not using food as a way to cope with stress or difficult emotions but rather I’m looking forward to cooking or eating adventures (aka going out to eat) because it’s part of what makes me me. So yeah the scale may say something but my attitude, confidence, and way of living are so much healthier. That’s a victory.