Monday, September 22, 2014

Making "peace" with XXL

Ok, so I thought I'd accepted myself a long time ago.  I'd accepted that I'd never be a size 2, or 6, or even a size 10 again.  But recently I've been trying to come to grips with the idea that I may NEVER AGAIN buy my clothes in the regular sizes of a department store; that there are plenty of brands that don't even make clothes in sizes I could ever wear.  To someone who's interested in more than decency, but who actually cares about fashion, well it's a hard blow to take.

You see, I've known I had a weight problem for a while, but I always thought it was something I could fix if I just found the key, if I ate less, exercised more.  Everyone kept telling me, it's just a matter of calories in/calories out.  And that may actually be the case, but calories out isn't as simple as all that.  Ten years of an undiagnosed under-active thyroid should have taught me that, but somehow it didn't, and as I've been tracking what I eat lately I'm beginning to recognize that I just don't burn as many calories as everyone seems to think I should.  Even with the most sedentary lifestyle every online calculator says I should be burning about 2400 calories a day, so why is it that with a diet of 1300-1500 I still weigh 192-194?

YES!  I'm giving numbers!

Not that I've always eaten as healthy as I do.  I certainly didn't count calories in college, and with an all-you-can-eat cafeteria it was no wonder I gained the freshman 15 three years running.  And even years after that I depended on the convenience of fast food for lunches and never hesitated to order that milkshake when I was out with friends.  But then my knees started to hurt, and I starded to realize that they just couldn't handle what I was making them carry, so I started to cut back to 1000, 900, eventually even 800 calories a day.  I had doctors telling me that I must be eating more than that, that I wasn't recording accurately, that I was lying to them.  Then my under-active thyroid was diagnosed, and I thought that was the key to everything.  And to some extent it was.  I certainly weigh less now than I did when we first started medicating my thyroid.  I've lost all the "baby" weight.  And I held out hope that if I just watched things close enough for long enough that I could make it back down to a 12, that magic number that would allow me to go into almost any store, find something cute, and not have to worry about whether they make it in my size.

But I'm coming to realize that just isn't so.  After months of tracking my food, eating POUNDS of cabbage, maintaining my caloric intake at a level where I should be losing at least a pound a week, I'm making no progress.  I'll get to the end of a week where I just KNOW I'll have lost weight only to find I've gained half a pound.  Oh, life's not all salad and water.  After all, what's life without the occasional Oreo, but I'm not sitting down and eating a whole package of them, and I AM counting what I eat!  1600 calories is a big day for me, 1800 is a huge splurge (not to be indulged in more than once a month or so).

To make matters worse, I MOVE.  Oh, I know I lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle.  I sit at a computer for work, and for fun.  I'm sitting at one now after all.  But I also take walks with my two-year-old, who likes to be carried everywhere, especially up our steep driveway.  I chase her around the house.  I take her swimming and to the park.  And I DON'T count exercise as a concession to allow myself to eat more.  Most days I drink nothing but water and coffee (with milk, no sugar, and I count the milk against my calories).  On the rare occasions I have juice I cut it with about 2/3 water.  I don't drink soda, not even diet.  And still I'm stalled.

I remember what I was like when I was eating 800 calories a day, and I really don't want to go there again.  I was a bitch.  I was miserable and irritable, and I said things to people that I really shouldn't have.  My husband was worried about me and I don't want to be that again.  I need to have a healthy relationship with food.  I can't go back to that compulsive relationship with food, especially if I want to teach that healthy eating to my daughter.  I don't want to be that mom that won't share a bite of her daughter's ice cream, that won't relax and enjoy the family funnel cake on the rare occasions one is available.

That's not to say that I can just let it all go and eat everything I want.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life either wired or in a sugar coma.  But I need to find a way to make peace with the idea that I will never be thin.  Not just not thin.  That I will be fat.  For the rest of my life.

This is hard.

Fat is not something I feel, though my knees tell me I am, especially when I'm going up stairs.  Fat.  It's a hard word to accept.  But it's something I need to do.  I need to make peace with fat so that I can move on to other things.

It's so easy to say, "I'm not going to work on other things in my life because right now I'm working on losing weight."  "I'm not going to buy new clothes till I reach size ..." "I'm not going to go to that audition because no one wants to see a fat person on stage."  "I'm not going to work on my bad habits, I'll work on them when I lose 50 lbs."  And yes, dispite the fact that I've lost over 50 lbs already, I do still need to loose another 50 lbs.  But I can't put life on hold until I do.

I need to be healthy.  All of me.  Not just my weight, but my sanity.  I need to work on my personality, to get out and have friends, and to accept that it's quite possible that how I am now, is how I'm going to continue to be.  That's not to say that I'm giving up, certainly I'm going to keep eating plenty of salad.  Eating breakfast.  Avoiding all-you-can-eat anything (even salad bars).  I'm going to keep trying to fix my metabolism, and keeping on the doctors to make sure my medicine is not just adequate, but optimal.  But I need to learn to be accepting of myself to.  If I don't then I hate myself, and that's not a good place to be.  I know, I've been there often enough.

But how do I learn to love who I am, not just despite my flab?  How do I learn to LOVE MY FAT?  I don't have the answer.  I'm asking.