I often feel this way about Laurie, but this post of hers (which is garnering a lot of attention in the blogosphere) is pretty KAPOW!
The interesting thing about this for me is that she's saying a lot of things I want to be saying, as usual, except.
Oh, except, except.
This time, she's not just writing something I wish I'd written. She's writing something I wish I felt.
But I don't.
I cried and felt exposed when reading her post, but not -- as many others expressed -- because she feels the way I feel. Instead (for one of the first times) I read her and felt sad and exposed because I am 31 and on the other side of some pretty big struggles too, and I don't feel the way she does.
Am I wrong? Am I immature? Am I in desperate need of therapy? Am I hopeless? Am I stubborn and obstinate and troubled, deeply troubled, and also doomed? Am I just petty?
If you're not going to go read her, then let me summarize some of her points:
- She grew up on weight-patrol. She has lived a life of dieting and watching her figure for reasons such as wanting to be popular/be a cheerleader/fit into that dress/have X guy notice her, date her, love her, marry her (or any variation thereof).
- When her life took a dramatically unfortunate turn, she gained more weight than she'd ever put on before. And then she suffered the wrath of the overweight (i.e., much of the world ignoring you, thinking you invisible, less important, blah blah blah -- if you're overweight, you know).
- But Ah-ha! She also discovered during her "downturn" that when you don't want the world intruding, that a layer of insulation can feel kind of cozy. That feeling invisible is sometimes welcomed.
- Um, but over time, she's healed. She's gotten stronger and better and more whole and declares:
"...for the first time in maybe my whole life I'm okay. I have challenges and lots of work to do, but at a fundamental level I'm mostly happy with my new self. My life as a thirty-something divorcee with a herd of cats and some quirks.
So now being overweight isn't really giving me the payoff it once did. Or, more specifically, it's no longer good for me to be bad to myself."
- And THEN she makes her big, declarative statement which is the crux of her post and where, I believe, we all want to be. She announces she cannot -- will not -- go on another diet.
Basically, she believes she needs to eat, be, live healthy for the sake of eating, being, living healthy.
To which I say, hallelujah!
And also, let me know how that works out for you.
* * * * *
She's right. I know she's right. I just can't get on board because it does not work for me.
And that, dear invisible internet friends, is a pretty new revelation. Sad and shameful, perhaps, but there it is. After a few years of trying to convince myself of it, I must accept that "being healthy" isn't a good motivator. How can that be? How can being healthy not be a goal? I ask myself.
And you know? My honest self answers:
Because your desire to "be healthy" is nowhere near as great as your desire to "look damn hot."
Awesome! So basically after years of trials and tribulations, weight loss and weight gain, marriage, divorce, death, moving, career shifts, and myriad other life-altering experiences, I have still have the value system of a 15-year-old.
Cool. Pass the Twizzlers and Diet Coke.
But in all seriousness, I think it's time I take a new approach. By which I mean I have to stop lying to myself (ex: I don't care what I look like, I just want to be healthy!), and use what's worked for me in the past.
I have spent a lot -- a LOT -- of time thinking, believing (convincing?) myself that I'm a different person now that I'm in San Francisco and in my 30s; my "old tricks" would never work anymore.
Except at least my "old tricks" have worked before, and well. Whereas my "new tricks" -- the ones I've been trying to embrace as the new, happy and healthy me -- result in lots of blog posts and zero weight loss.
You see my inner conflict?
When I lost weight in college, I was motivated by anger. I wanted to "show them all" that I was as beautiful as any of the thinner girls I'd grown up with. I wanted to go back and see jaws drop and be taken as seriously as I always should have been. I'm smart, funny, and capable, yes, but now I'm beautiful and have a kickin' bod. Fear me, love me, envy me. That's what I wanted.
Um, and that's what I got.
When I lost weight in college, I was also motivated by what I would finally get. Sure, I'd be valued more and taken more seriously...but what would that mean? Well, I figured, that would mean better job offers, more dating opportunities, more life opportunities.
And it did.
So what happened? How did I gain it back?
The answer could be a novel in itself, but the nutshell is this: when I got what I wanted, my motivation disappeared. Then I got unhappy, and I just didn't care. Then I wanted to get my life back on track, but I could only manage so many things at one time; I needed all my strength to just figure out how to get out of bed every day, to know which way was up...I didn't have the bandwidth to also motivate myself to lose weight (because it is NOT easy and never was and never will be).
But so okay. So now here I am, today. My life is pretty much how I wanted it to be when I was a 19-year-old looking ahead at the 30-year-old me.
Which leaves me with what? If I have what I want, then where's my motivation? Being healthy? Not so far.
Thus, petty as it may be, I'm thinking it can't hurt to going back to the old ways. Meaning:
1. Focusing (again) on what I don't have right now that I could have if I were thinner. I don't mean "inner-self" wise, either. "Being healthy" is one thing, but being able to wear heels again? Maybe that's a more realistic carrot. And the really plain truth? I could come up with a real, genuine, motivational list of all sorts of these things.
And I'm gonna.
2. Owning up to what I am NOT happy about right now. For five years -- ever since I moved to San Francisco -- I have been surrounded by supportive, loving, accepting, encouraging people. Who I love. But who also have allowed me (or indulged me, or inspired me) to ignore that I do NOT like my upper arms looking like potato sacks, that ONE chin is really all I need, that my below-belly-button pouch is NOT cute like a kangaroo, that a puckered ass is NOT PREFERRED. I have spent five-plus years accepting me for who I am, not what I look like. Learning that there are many, MANY people out there who think I'm damn fine just the way I am.
But I am not one of them. I'm just not. And it's been a self-deluding game to say that I am.
I can't be okay with myself as I am and lose weight.
I want to lose weight.
I need to recognize that I'm not happy with myself. And be okay with that. (Ha!)
But really: maybe if I let myself acknowledge just how damn unhappy I am with my body as-is (and how happy I'd be with some weight-loss-related enhancements), I'll see some results.
This marks a radical shift in my approach, but I will confess -- it feels kind of good. It feels real.
I genuinely think that if I let my defenses down, and let myself think all those horrible thoughts I know lay buried, I will be motivated to exorcise them. Again.