(broad)ject self #21: Self-Care When...You Feel Fat

*A quick disclaimer to anyone for whom talking about weight and body issues takes you to a bad place. Please instead check out the (broad)ject self archives to see if you’ve missed any past issues and accept this cat video with my love.*

I am not thin. I have never really been thin. The one time I lost a significant amount of weight all anyone did was tell me how terrible I looked. But I have a reasonable amount of confidence in the body I have, both in what it looks like and what it is capable of. It helps that as I’ve gotten older I’ve found physical activity that makes me feel grounded and at ease (running, walking, yoga, and NTC workouts) and I’ve learned to dress my body, long-torsoed hourglass shape and all.

I started working with a nutritionist because the specter of diabetes in my family looms large and I wanted to fight back against it. Weight loss wasn’t the goal. But a funny thing happened when I generally stopped eating sugar: I lost weight. And I suddenly went from being a person who generally ate what she wanted and felt pretty ok about her body as long as her pants fit to a person who anxiously awaited looking at the scale every week. Mental conversations about food went from, “do you really need to eat that cookie? How about some fruit instead?” to “Maybe you’d lose even more weight if you skipped the snack altogether?”

At the same time, I found myself trying on fancy dresses at Rent Frock Repeat for some upcoming events. Designer dress sizing is brutal when you’re used to the inflated vanity sizing that most mass produced clothing companies have adopted. So where I’m maybe an 8 or a 10 in life, dresses in those sizes wouldn’t fit and the required size was creeping upward to a 12, a size that many of the dresses didn’t come in. Here I am, four months into starting to work on changing my diet to improve my health and my life, I’ve actually lost five pounds, I’m feeling physically better than ever and yet…I’m feeling worse about myself than ever. What the hell?

Needless to say, I’ve been dropping in and out of a fuck it cycle as I try to work through my feelings about food, my body, and the way I want to feel. My nutritionist asked last week how things were going and my reply was that they were amazing in the macro but terrible in the micro. Her excellent advice was to remind me that I’m reworking my relationship with food for life and not to beat myself up about the little stuff.

As you all know by now, my number one priority is to feel at ease. I’ve discovered over the last few months that sugar, hangovers, and overeating make me feel super anxious, which I think we can all agree is the opposite of feeling at ease. And so suddenly, it all falls into place. By taking the supplements, by changing my diet, by keeping my blood sugar steady, by walking and practicing yoga, doing all that makes me feel at ease.

Of course, feeling at ease isn’t always easy. I love cupcakeschampagne, and ahuge bowl of pasta like nobody’s business. I occasionally have to overindulge and feel badly to remind myself how much I like feeling good. In the long run though, this is truly figuring out what is self-care and what is self-indulgence. It’s a slippery slope from enjoying a well-deserved and considered treat once a week to convincing yourself you deserve a treat every day because you’re sleepy and hangry and got splashed by a bus and that lady on the subway looked at you funny.
Really, the title of this issue could simply read “Self-Care When…You Feel Badly About Yourself” and in that vein this week’s homework is to ask yourself once again, “how do I want to feel?” Once you know how you want to feel, you can figure out what the (potentially hard or scary) self-care stuff you need to do to feel that way. As I said above, for me that’s saying no to some much loved foods because although they bring me short term joy, they don’t bring me long term ease.

Wanna share your feels? You know where to find me.

Self-caringly yours,