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Every Step Counts

Someone said to me yesterday "if I were as small as you, I'd love clothes shopping."

It took every ounce of effort I had not to ask her to repeat what she had said. Did she say small? SMALL??

I heard her, she said small.

I do not feel small lately and 50% of the time I'm proud of the strength I'm gaining (both mentally and physically) and 50% of the time I feel very big and uncomfortable.

I am definitely not fitting into the size 2 dress pants I bought a couple years ago and it's time to kiss my size 4's goodbye. It's OK to let them go and I know by letting them go I'm symbolically letting go of that stage in my life as well but I wish I was replacing them with new pants that were maybe one or two sizes bigger...

Yesterday I went to Kohl's because I had Kohl's cash I had to spend and I almost cried in the dressing room, and definitely not the same tears I cried in Target. No, no. These were angry tears.

Everything looked terrible.

In a moment of weakness I blamed myself which is disappointing because I've come so far and I don't want to start doing that again! Yes, I have gained weight. Yes, my body has changed. However, I could fit into some of the clothes I tried on. In fact, some of them were too big. It isn't my changing body or the weight gain that made the clothes ugly, it was the fact that the clothes were ugly. I realized this after I talked myself off the ledge and I did so by looking in the mirror and telling myself I was gonna be OK. I told myself I'd take off this weight gain and I'd do it with Weight Watchers because I had done it once, I'd do it again.

I'm not sure why I'm constantly having to remind myself that I do not have to diet ever again but lately I've needed constant reassurance. Rationally I can recognize that it would be my choice to diet, no one can MAKE me but for some reason I feel like someone is going to come along and force me to do something I don't want to do.

I think part of the fear and anxiety I've been experiencing lately is due to the significance of today. Today is May 6, 2018 and exactly 365 days ago I had my last binge. I have been a binge eater all my life but Weight Watchers really helped me get a handle on it. Though Weight Watchers is not a replacement for therapy or an eating plan designed for recovery it helped me stop seeing things as "good" or "bad" or "on plan" or "off plan". Because everything is designated a points value I am empowered to spend my points on the things I want. That doesn't mean I didn't sometimes say "screw the points, it's free" and binge, I just felt like I needed to say "screw it" less because nothing was off limits. For years I would binge sporadically but when I decided to diet the binging episodes increased drastically. 

I justified this behavior because I wasn't binging on sugar, grains, dairy, gluten or any of the other forbidden foods so therefore it was OK. Of course the program I was following did not tell me to binge, I can't blame the diet or the people who created it for my reaction to it and I'm not trying to. On the diet I was following I was only allowed to eat 3 times a day so I'd binge 3 times a day. I know that preventative eating doesn't work but the fear of not being able to eat again was too powerful and I couldn't fight the urge.

The more I allow myself to talk about my experience lately, the more I'm remembering it. The details are more vivid, the reality is more painful. I guess this is healing and sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. I can only hope that by documenting this I'll have a reference to come back to if I decide to diet again. I also hope that if by chance someone comes along and reads this blog they will consider the consequences of dieting. I'm not saying the entire world should join WW but I do think we need to educate ourselves and allow ourselves to hear the opinions of others who've tried before.

Many voices out there on the internet told me not to diet. Many voices out there on the internet promoted the diet I chose. The voice I wish I had listened to but didn't was my own. 

I'm actually very smart. I have fantastic life experience and great advice to share with those who'll listen, I just didn't want to listen. I'm not sure if I was trying to sabotage myself...I'm pretty familiar with self sabotage and I really don't feel like that's what this was. I think I just got addicted to losing. I think I got scared that I was going to get to goal with WW and there would be no where for me to go. I also think I was realizing what has been said all along "goal changes nothing." I didn't feel validated, I didn't feel good enough, I didn't feel small enough or strong enough or ENOUGH enough...I panicked! If I was so close to goal and I didn't feel ENOUGH, then I wouldn't feel enough with goal and I jumped ship looking for something else to fill the emptiness that I thought WW couldn't.

What I realize now is that I needed to be the one to fill that emptiness. WW couldn't do that because that wasn't WW's job. That was MY job. I used a diet and for a short time the newness and excitement of the diet did fill that void in me. And then it didn't and when I realized that I felt emptier and hungrier than I ever had felt in my life and I watched as everything I had worked so hard for slipped through my fingers.

I didn't see things working out this way, but I know that everything works out the way it's meant to and lingering in the past and regretting the choices I made won't change it. Nor will standing in the mirror in the dressing room at Kohl's tearing my body apart. Nor will dieting.

So I won't do any of that. I'm taking a new road and I'm finding myself all over again. Last time I began my journey I was barely convinced I deserved it. It took me a long time to like myself, let alone love myself. I worked hard day in and day out hoping that someday I'd get to the top of the mountain and I'd know that all of the trudging blindly was worth it. I got to the top of the mountain but because I took shortcuts I didn't stay very long. It was glorious and it was fleeting and while I want to get there again, I want to stay this time.

This time I do not have blind faith pushing me forward but I do have experience and more importantly I'm fueled by love. I love myself enough to keep pushing despite setback after setback.

I love myself enough to get up and work out; I allow exercise to be an appreciation for what my body is capable of instead of a punishment. I eat food that I enjoy but not in such huge quantities that I hurt. Nothing is "free" and everything is tracked. I love myself enough to be honest with myself and own the decisions I'm making because each and every step I take on this journey is totally and completely within my control. If I choose to eat ice cream, I can. If I choose to run, I will. I am not doing anything because I'm being told that I have to, I'm doing everything because I choose to. Because even though I've gained weight I've also gained recovery and a stronger sense of myself. I pushed myself to my breaking point and I survived. If I can survive that, I can survive anything.

I'm focused, I'm driven, I'm confident and I'm capable.

Today I returned to Kohl's desperate to spend my Kohl's cash and also desperately needing to purchase a dress for my sisters grad school graduation in 2 weeks. I repeated the process of putting a hundred dresses in my cart and once I got into the dressing room I hated every one. I was at a different Kohl's with different dresses but it felt a lot like groundhogs day. I was discouraged but asked myself to be kind. I got changed and decided to forfeit the Kohl's cash if I couldn't find something to waste it on but I saw one more dress I hadn't tried and figured I'd give it a shot.

It's definitely out of my comfort zone, it's very clingy and form fitting but it's pretty. As someone who has lost a pretty significant amount of weight I have a pretty significant amount of loose skin that I call my apron. I hate the way it hangs, it's so uncomfortable and it can make wearing clothes challenging but when I think about having plastic surgery I become strangely defensive. I don't want to cut a piece of me off! It's part of who I am, it's been with me for 31 years. Sometimes it's fuller and sometimes it's flatter. It's always annoying and I never think its very pretty but it's mine. It's proof of what my body is capable and I'm kind of proud of it...

The dress I found is pretty forgiving despite the fact that it's so fitted; it has a sweeping front that nicely camouflages my midsection but it doesn't hide my apron. I contemplated Spanx for a few minutes and tried to justify spending $60 on shape wear. I used to love Spanx, back before I loved myself. I wore Spanx under EVERYTHING. I thought they were amazing and I hardly ever left my house without them on. But then I put on a bikini and let it all hang out and I had a hard time trying to tuck it all back in. I hemmed and hawed and decided to just try the dress on with Spanx underneath it. I put them on and the dress slid easily and smoothly over them but when I looked in the mirror there was no difference. My apron did not look any smaller, it did not magically disappear, I did not feel any more confident with my body encased in nylon like a human sausage. I took them off and put the dress in my shopping cart. I looked at my mom (whoI was shopping with) and declared "I've lost a lot of weight. I have skin. If anyone doesn't like how that looks, they don't have to look!"

I don't know where that came from and I definitely don't feel as confident as I did in my bikini but it's a step in the right direction and if I've learned anything after all of these years it's that every step counts.



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