Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Light Like a Feather

Joy at What I Weigh Today has a timely (for me) post about what actually happens to your mind and body when you eat three square meals:

It has taken me eons to realize that I’d rather weigh 150 pounds and have my full energy, intellect, creativity, and concentration at my disposal than be a 125 pound version of myself so clouded by chronic imperceptible hunger that I don’t even notice how dull my mind has become.

I'm beginning those eons now. I mean, I've been trying to "come to peace" with my body all my life, no matter if I was overweight or not. But I've always framed it in solely in terms of body image, of approval and acceptance of what I look like. Trying to hold onto those brief moments when I'd catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and like what I'd see; trying to dispel the distaste and shame that fills me when I cross my arms over my belly. At best, I'd frame my body in terms of its function: I can run several miles without stopping; I'm muscular; as a result I have an athletic heart rate and overall good health.

It has never occurred to me to think of bodily acceptance in terms of what I can gain by not being thin. It has always, always been a question of being at peace with what I thought I would lose by not being so.

I've been thin once in my adult life. I wasn't underweight, but I had the kind of body that salespeople felt free to comment on, for being "able to wear anything." (It was a very weird awakening, to find that people felt more free to comment on the body of a thin person than of an average or slightly above-average one.) I'd look in the mirror and see these little hips, these hips that weren't mine; I was constantly touching my hipbone because I'd never felt it so sharp before. I got attention from a certain kind of man I hadn't before. I liked being "able to wear anything"; I spent a lot of money on cute little dresses.

And. I was hungry. I smoked a lot and drank a lot of coffee. I went to bed hungry. I spent meals, say, ripping away any bread that wasn't necessary to hold together the sandwich. I knew I wasn't anywhere near fat, but the number of "fat days" I had decreased by maybe 10%. The "certain kind of man" I was meeting at that time was more often than not also sort of a jerk, so I was a faintheaded wreck, anxious over my love life and too hungry to have both feet on the ground. I was feeling great about running, but would come back after 3.5 miles so exhausted that I'd nearly pass out in the shower (what was I doing to my muscles?).

Okay, enough life-while-thin horror stories. The point is: It came with perks, but not one of those perks is worth its cost. I was hungry all the time. I was more motivated to "do something" with myself during that time than I'd ever been, before or since. I took writing classes; I joined writing groups. And it was impossible to concentrate during those: the anxiety, the lightheadedness, the hunger robbed that precious motivation of its rightful place in my life. It robbed me.

Fuck that shit. I'm going to have 1.5 ounces of hard cheese. NOW.

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