NoodlingsOf mind & body

Navel Gazing on Weight and Weight Loss

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Exercise and weight loss
Exercise (Photo credit: sanchom)

The thing is, I do eat healthy (mostly). My lunches consist of a salad, my breakfasts are usually cereal or fruit or yogurt or some combination of the three, and when my husband makes high fat dinners (as he often does) I eat small portions because generally I don’t like high fat savory foods.

But (and) I have a sweet tooth, and I don’t get nearly enough exercise. So I snack on chocolates and those Aldi strawberry licorices that are absolutely amazing, and chai tea with plenty of sugar and milk, and other high calorie goodies.

And I’m not giving those up. But moderation? Maybe.

You see, I’m an emotional eater. When I’m stressed, I nibble. And scarf. And gobble. I try to control it by buying small portions or leaving my snack foods at my office, where I’m less likely to binge, but it’s not always successful. That would be the “emotional” part of emotional eating. If I am trying to feed a rage or a fear, to calm either, sometimes it takes a LOT. And yeah, I know it’s not the healthiest response. I’m working on that.

I just bought two new pairs of jeans, one size up, because. Because I have bought four pairs of jeans in two months at my “normal” size and none of them fit. And I can’t bring myself to return them because I’ll lose the weight (or so I tell myself).

I get angry at myself for my obsession about my weight. I’m a feminist, damn it. Feminists should understand, should know, that their worth is not measured by any number on a scale. And still as that scale teeters from one number ending in a zero to the next one in that series, I find a bit of low grade panic going on in the back of my mind, exacerbated by the fact that I am now solidly middle aged and, barring a breakthrough in physics and/or biology that boggles the mind, unlikely to get or appear any younger.

But I like being fit, and I like the way I look and feel when I’m able to exercise regularly, and that’s a truth that is unalloyed and unaffected by my feminism. It is, however, affected by my many, many obligations as a therapist, writer, mother, and wife, and by my chronic pain and chronic fatigue. Too much exercise knocks me out for days, even when I enjoy it at the time, even when it is “moderate”. And I don’t always know what “too much” looks like.

As a therapist, I know I’m in the contemplation to planning stage of my health goal with regard to weight. I know I have a problem (because it bothers me) and I want to do something about it, and I’m scribbling notes about what to do about it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to develop a fitness plan in the next week. I have other things on my plate, and this one is down the list a tick or two.

And into all this comes my deepening resentment toward “inspiration porn”. Too many people who spend a great deal of their time becoming fit and healthy are condescending and judgmental toward people who are not fit, sometimes pretty passively-aggressively so. And that stubborn little rebel inside me that never goes away sets her jaw and refuses to budge because “you can’t make me”. Which isn’t exactly helpful.

Am I making excuses? Perhaps. But long experience has taught me that I have so many interests and passions and obligations, that my life is and always will be a massively complicated juggling game. So I need to find a way to put the flaming stick of “just enough exercise and dietary change to improve my health without triggering my chronic fatigue or taking away my ability to meet my obligations” into my act. Suggestions are welcome.

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  • Katrina Dalrymple

    Oh man, I’m in the same place right now. I didn’t gain a lot over the winter, but my body composition isn’t where I want it to be. The truth is, that preference is influenced heavily by media and social norms. I’d also really like to go hiking with my partner (he can do 18 miles, I’m beat after 4) and just feel stronger, but that’s not what comes to mind when my jeans are too tight. My yoga class just started a new session. In the first class of each 8-week session, we each state what yoga is about for us right now. Right now, yoga is about self-care and learning my body’s limits rather than changing my body’s limits. Fitspiration stuff seems to lean heavily on challenging, changing, or outright ignoring the body’s limits. That may have worked for me 20 years ago, but now it leads very quickly to injury and forced rest. As for small dietary changes, my secret weapon against sugar cravings is berries with heavy cream. It’s high-fat for sure, but it satisfies my sweet tooth without reinforcing it. Good luck finding your version of better!

    • fruit with cream also works for me, and yoga also works. I’m trying to figure out where in my day (and my space) to fit in a yoga routine that won’t be interrupted and will be long enough/challenging enough to matter.There is a yoga studio that is walking distance from my office and home, but unfortunately it appears to be run by fitspiration types, based on the website. I plan to check it out anyway, but cautiously.

  • Linda G.

    With possible chronic fatigue, this may not work, but I run. Not fast, but I am out there. I also regularly sign up and participate in 5K races (most of them benefit some charitable organization or another, so I can justify it that way as well). This creates (for me) a circle – I run so I can do 5Ks, I do 5Ks because I run. And yes, I am totally sympathetic with the weight thing – I had plantar faciitis and was off for almost a year and had to buy jeans a size up too.

    This Saturday, I am doing my first 5K in 18 months. I doubt I will do it in under 40 minutes, but I am out there and moving. Say this to yourself. I am doing *something.* Repeat as necessary

    • Running is right out due to ankle and knee issues, but I *love* ellipticals. Unfortunately, ellipticals are expensive and the nearest gym with one that is open in early morning when exercise works best for me is a 20 minute drive which I just can’t carve out of my day. Still working on affording one at home/fitting one in the house.

  • LongHairedWeirdo

    Chronic fatigue and seemingly normal exercise turning out to be “too much” might – *might*, I am not a doctor – be a sign of microvascular coronary disease. It seems that if you’ve got that, your body breaks down in unusual ways as well – hormones get messed up, sugar control gets messed up, etc..

    I mention this because I know someone (er, me) who tried to push through this with exercising, figuring eventually all the medical advice out there about strengthening the heart and such would come through, and things would get easier. That’s not what happened.

    • I’ve been tested. That’s not the issue. In the course of trying to figure out what is wrong, a lot of things get ruled out. I’ve been following your saga on LJ, and you have my sympathy

  • AmeliaKrause

    Right now, yoga is about self-care and learning my body’s limits rather than changing my body’s limits. Fitspiration stuff seems to lean heavily on challenging, changing, or outright ignoring the body’s limits.