Saturday, August 25, 2007

a stone or two

There's an old friend of mine who I recently spent time with, and I have to telll you, being with her is hard. We truly grew up together, best friends from the fourth grade on. We when through puberty together and through our rocky teens. We spent years obsessing over our bodies, our weight, and every single thing we put in our mouths. I was always the thin one. She was more of an average sized kid. At some point we stopped talking about our issues with food. Rather than growing out of it, I would say it was mostly that we grew out of talking about it. I know I never really got over it.

Over the past ten years, she's gotten thinner and thinner and I have most definately gotten bigger. We rarely see each other, So when we are together lately I am always shocked at her size. She doesn't eat a whole lot and I know her so well that I can see how controlled she is and I always end up leaving feeling like I weigh 300 pounds and that I lack self-control. I feel terrible about myself.

'You can do better than this', I tell myself. 'You'll be so much happier if you do.'

The last time we were together we were reminiscing about high school and she talked about this one girl she saw for the first time in years, who's put on weight. People who don't have discipline disgust her. I know this not because she admits it, but becasue it oozes from her with every word. She joked about how this girl looked like a 'big bag'a potato chips', an observation that was both mean and unfortunately astute. She really does kind of look like that; puffy in the middle and lumpy on the surface.

For days I couldn't stop thinking about it; the big bag of potato chips. And it occurred to me that perhaps I look like that to her. I sure as hell felt like it.

So I was torn. I don't want to be motivated by the same adolescent neuroses that ruled my teens, but at the same time I think I let myself get this way solely to reject those years. To make a point.

And I realized something else; a strange phenomenon. The people around me don't want me to lose weight.

"You look fine", they say. I tell them I may look fine, but if I lost 20 or 30 I'd look great.

"You don't have that kind of weight to lose", they say.

But the numbers don't lie. I think people are somehow threatened that I might look better than fine. They like me as their supporting actor. They like me in the periphery. And I guess I do too, to some extent. Something has kept me here for all of this time. Maybe it's the safety in never fully putting myself out there and therefore never running the risk of being left out in the cold. That feeling has always been a major limiting factor in my life.

I could have taken control back a long time ago rather than facing this now, in my thirties. I went from not eating in my teens to letting myself go, just a little. Just enough. While I'm not really overweight, in the last 15 years I've chosen to err on the side of average.

So lately, approaching my 33rd birthday, I've been running every day, playing tennis, eating less and I feel physically great. Even just a couple of pounds is enough to make a noticeable difference, but I'm working toward 20 for now; a birthday present to myself.


Laura said...

You know I can relate to this post!

I hate the subject but having just taken control of it for the first time in my life (most of which I could eat whatever I wanted and not worry about it) it feels good.

For me. No one else.

Also, people are weird about weight. So, I deflect all conversations on the subject. The detractors have their own issues. And some do all the can to sabotage your efforts. I don't get that one at all!!!

Karen Beth said...

I'm new to your blog so I don't know a lot of your history and such but I can relate to this post.

I'm 31 and since becoming 31, it seems that I just LOOK like I've let myself go. It seemed to have happened the very day that I turned 31. I feel like I've gained and, although I can't really see it on myself, I can see it in the pant sizes that have gone up.

I have to do better too. I long to have more discipline than I do and this post really drives down the fact that I need to get some.

Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

i am so fucking tired of this. i’ve honestly had it. once again, the subject of our bodies not living up to someone’s (theirs? ours?) expectations, rears its ugly head. what’s even more disappointing than you turning 33 and letting yourself go a little, is you turning 33 and still being concerned that you might have let yourself go a little. and you are not alone. the world does it to us, we do it to ourselves: treat our bodies as objects separate from ourselves, somehow expected to look a certain way, somehow capable of always letting us down, as though aesthetics have any bearing on anything in the big scheme of things. when will everyone finally accept the fact that all you need to worry about is treating your body well, and paying it a little respect for this lifelong job it has been given. why is it so hard to focus on being good to ourselves and realizing that in turn our bodies will be good to us? how you look is secondary (and really a non-issue…but that’s another issue) to recognizing what your body needs to last a lifetime. everyone please turn off the tv, stop reading entertainment websites and magazines, put good things in your body, exercise it (gently), love it and it will love you back… in the form of a nice figure, since everyone’s so bent on aesthetics. of course i am too. i have not escaped the brainwashing and have a long way to go to reverse the process. but listening to yet another person struggle with this non-issue is enough motivation to give myself a good talking to.

Lx said...

here's how it went down for me:
i never "let myself go."
in fact, in the last 15 yrs. i've eaten better and exercised more than ever in my life.
but something happened there,
you know, something that has something to do with metabolism,
a sedentary job (news writer in news room), other unknown DNA factors, etc.
i packed on 30 lbs. in the last 7 yrs.
have lost 25 of them recently
in spite of copious amounts of wine/gin/scotch ingested daily.
the interesting thing about body image: i feel the societal pressures too, although as a male they're a bit more lax--and i DON'T watch TV or thumb through magazines at all.
however, the only time i feel "at home" or at least at ease about weight and image is when i travel to the city of New Orleans.
no one there seems to give a rat's ass what anyone else looks like.
in fact, at 6'3" and now 205 lbs. i am considered somewhat emaciated.
true, perhaps NO is not the healthiest city (ok, far from it),
but at least one is not made to feel self-conscious about ridiculous issues such as body type or body weight.
perhaps a permanent move to New Orleans is warranted.

Rachel said...

Ok, so if all else fails, I'm moving to New Orleans...or eating green apples for lunch as my friend lx does.

I'm sure part of it is society pulling one over on us, but I feel better when I'm fit. I don't even know where to begin to reverse the brain washing, but when I was 10 pounds heavier and smoked, my resting heartrate was in the low 90's. Now it is in the 50s or 60s. When I'm fatter I feel restricted in my movements. When I feel those things, I just don't feel as good about myself.

PS Thanks KB! Nice to hear from you.