Cross posted from La Vida Locavore
I've struggled for years with my weight and body image but it wasn't until College where I really struggled with the pounds and my relationship with food has always been an uneasy one. I eat because I have to but there are many times where I don't even want to deal with food, it brings more pain than pleasure and it represents more than just calories to me but a whole host of issues.
My shame regarding my weight has been hard to bear, it sometimes is unbearable in its own way. I just have days where I struggle with being in my body.
It's complicated of course...
I've struggled with weight from strange family pressures to abusive behavior from my step father but I carried all these things into adulthood. I've also had times where I sunk into deep pits of depression that would mean weight gain.
The last time I was at a reasonable weight was when I got married in 1998, I was at a healthy 140, even considered overweight then but I was okay with that. The only time I weighed 115 pounds is when I ate one meal a day. Just not how I want to live my life (even though it's considered a health weight for me at 5'2").
I was fairly active early in my marriage, we went to the gym often, biking, we spent our honeymoon in Costa Rica doing some kind of physical activity every single day. I thought I'd made peace with my weight.
But all the health issues I struggled with really hit me hard in 2000 and I gained more and more weight. Then in 2003 I got pregnant and the real struggle began.
I didn't gain too much weight during my pregnancy, although it was too much because of where I started with my weight, but 40lbs wasn't out there or extreme as far as pregnancy weight goes.
After a rough last couple of months of pregnancy, a very difficult birth (C-section) and a hard time with breastfeeding, it was overwhelming and too much at times. I didn't feel the warm fuzzies of having a baby, I didn't feel the way I thought I was supposed. That was difficult as well.
The issues after my daughter's birth went from post-partum depression to unexplained health problems (migraines, pain and fatigue) and the weight just continued to pile on.
I know, so what about the food? You see, I love food and hate it because of all the things it stands for and all the things it means to me. I've never been one to binge but I do indulge from time to time. I like whole wheat bread and fresh fruits and veggies but I will also eat In-N-Out when the urge hits. Moderation is my goal and I know what I should be doing but find it almost impossible to follow through with.
I go out to eat and feel self-conscious about what I put in my mouth. I can't bear to shop on my own or get take out. I worry what others may think. I see people stare sometimes or glare even and I wish to be the size of a pea. Not possible when you're tipping the scales over 200 pounds.
It's still frowned upon in our society to be obese and there is a good reason for it. It can kill you. It represents laziness and glutton. It can mean so many things but those things point to me, to being my own shortfall, and so, well, food is just more complicated than it should be.
I've done diets but hate them. I hate thinking about food that much. Measuring, etc. makes me crazy. Counting calories makes my head hurt and thinking too much makes me obsess about everything I eat. It actually becomes unnatural.
So my struggle has to do with attempting to talk about food sustainability issues and health issues if myself am an obese and ill woman. It just seems wrong. And my relationship with food is so awkward and yet a must. I mean, we all have to eat, right?
So I wanted to confess this shame and to open a discussion about how food has become more than just something that sustains us. It's cultural and personal, it's a treat and a punishment and it's killing us and keeping us alive at the same time.
I've attempted to get myself on a better path by first dealing with my ailments, from the rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia that made exercise difficult (and took 4 years to diagnose which means I had plenty of time to feel all kinds of different feelings about being a hypochondriac and a lazy fat lady, not good either) , hell it made everyday life unbearable most of the time.
This is an issue for our society not just me. If it weren't then we wouldn't have to talk about obese 4 year olds. We wouldn't have to mass produce crap to keep up with demand or have a diet industry that generates billions in revenue every year. BILLIONS.
We must have a National conversation about what is still a stigma and still hard to talk about but it can't be about tricks and gimmicks, it has to include sustainability and changing our relationship with food. Unfortunately with many other social battles we face, corporate America has a stranglehold on the conversation and our Government in their pocket (It's true, look at health care, AG and food safety).
I hope to make my battle part of a larger war against obesity. And it's not just about weight, you can be overweight and healthy and underweight and unhealthy. It comes down to exercise, exercise and exercise and understanding how our environment, our health and our ability to thrive is interconnected.
So, I'm curious if others here have struggled with food and weight. It's my confession that I can't really hide, my photo says it all, which is really something I can't hide but I can reveal how this weight has affected me, both heart and mind. It's weighed me down more than just physically and colored so much of what I do in my life.
Update - Thank you everyone who has shared their stories, give encouragement and sounded off. This is why I write and even though I may not comment back, I am reading every single comment.
UPDATE - This diary now has tons of comments with really great advice, much of which I know about. I appreciate them all though and the most important thing for anyone reading this is to know that there is no one solution for everyone and it's about finding what works for you, sticking to it and not making yourself miserable in the process. That's my goal, finding what I can live with and find some happiness in that process. Thank you for all the advice, if I don't respond it's not that I don't appreciate it and I wanted to make that point. It's amazing that YOU found what works for you and you can now share that wisdom, thank you for doing so.