That’s it, I’m going on a diet.
I have experienced periods where I became fed up. I saw a picture or a number on the scale or a family member said something hurtful about my body. Always a sensitive human I cried, then just felt sad and angry for a few days. I never liked being a body first, and a human second. I never liked the once over I felt I got from people before listening to what I had to say. I never appreciated what I felt was other women’s hungry eyes, sizing me up.
At a certain point between the ages of 21and 25 learned I couldn’t trust myself around “real food.” This ultimately led to chaos around food. But of course it was never about the food, and it rarely is.
Periods of eating only pickles, rice crackers, turkey, apples and cottage cheese–sparingly, followed by binges of peanut butter, cereal, chocolate and cheese. I can remember being in college and wanting so badly to be thin (a trend throughout my twenties).
In college I would get so stressed out by what felt like an impossible load of work I didn’t even know how to start. Instead of starting on my paper I would go load up on chocolate peanut butter trail mix. I felt scared and rather than ask for help I ate my anxiety in the form of organic bulk items.
During college food was a comfort for me. What I was really going through was–wow this experience is not preparing me for real life, and I’m scared.
I spent a lot of time in coffee shops avoiding focused study efforts. My favorite was going to the local coffee shop and buying a latte and a vegan peanut butter chocolate cookie (vegan didn’t mean healthy). Saturday mornings included lattes and luxurious banana bread.
Rather than say, I hate college, or I’ve never thought about how I will support myself with a real job, or I have some unresolved pain I can’t name, I would just eat.
After college I went as far away from California as I could. I moved to NYC.
I went to weight watchers for about a year keeping a diary of all my food and exercise. Rather than admit I wasn’t sure what I would do with my future, or how to manage my finances, or how to get attention from guys who were interested only in the hoards of model-looking women, I obsessed over getting thin. Being thin was the key to the magic land.
I was under a spell of keep yourself thin and pretty and a man will come save you.
Getting Real With Yourself.
Today I hate the word diet. I don’t believe in deprivation. I recognize that diets don’t work. Severe deprivation brings binges and out of control eating. I believe in awareness. It’s interesting being someone who critiques society–a culture critic, but also being part of that system. I’ve learned that I will never get over the women’s issues that I write about, however being self-aware has improved my quality of life by leaps and bounds. It has helped my career, my relationship, my opportunities and my sense of freedom.
The last ten years I have gone from an insecure and anxious young woman who wanted to crawl out of her skin to a woman who can sit with her emotions, and love herself despite her flaws.
Here are my six pieces of advice around positive self-talk.
1. I don’t pretend like life is perfect all the time. It is said that often when women get fat, they are wearing a layer of anger they won’t allow themselves to feel. Part of this is because it’s socially unacceptable to be an angry woman. Because I have learned how to take care of the little girl that lives within me–who at one point felt frightened or scared, I find myself getting less angry. I can let stuff go. And we are now doing fine.
2. I’m aware of other people’s projections. I don’t force myself to do things because other people feel I should be doing them. I draw boundaries, and have learned to draw the line between what other people project on to me. I have hurt people’s feelings before but I’m not responsible for how other people feel and cannot control them.
3. I don’t call myself a fat-ass. If I hear something negative bubbling up in my brain I remind myself that not all my thoughts represent me–a lot of it is the crap in the media or other people’s issues I have absorbed.
4. I eat food that I like. If I want something cold, I find something cold. If I want something creamy, I eat something creamy. If I want chocolate, I take some. I don’t hide food from myself, and sometimes I just keep the goodies around because I feel good knowing they’re there, even if I never touch them. I make an effort to identify the flavors and textures of what I’m eating.
5. What am I really hungry for? When I open the fridge and if what I’m hungry for is nowhere to be found, I go sit with my feelings by writing them down or meditate or do another calming activity.
6. Family matters. Human beings are neurotic. I cannot emphasize boundaries enough. There are studies that show girls who have complicated relationships with their mothers are more prone to have eating disorders. The more you know yourself the better you will be able to create boundaries for yourself and your friends, family and coworkers.
How to Deal With Family and Boundaries
Regarding family, sometimes parents can project their own insecurities onto their children. It is very hard at times to keep a good relationship with parents when they make comments about your weight. If this happens and you haven’t vocalized the boundary with them I would encourage you to do so. You can take them aside and in a calm and level-headed tone tell them you don’t appreciate when they make comments about your weight. If that doesn’t work the great thing about growing up is you can create distance if you need to. During the growth/ healing process it can be very helpful to take a back seat role in your parents lives. You need to rebuild your relationship with your body-and this has to be done alone. In order to grow at times you need to isolate yourself from the people who trigger you.
It’s about the small things you do day to day that contribute to an overall better life. That includes boundaries with the people you love.
Toxic relationships with family can drag us down, but additionally we drag ourselves down with an attitude of “I’ll start my life when I’m thinner.”
Too many women live life in the waiting room.
“I’ll go for that opportunity when I lose ten pounds. I’ll call that guy I like when I finally see that one number on the scale. I’m not going to swim in the ocean until I tone up my butt or my thighs…when my belly looks as flat as the diving board.”
If you are female in America it’s likely you have at least one thing you’d like to change about your body.
When the whole world is telling you to look like Gwenyth Paltrow, and you don’t look like Gwenyth Paltrow, you can easily become a self-loather.
According to a survey 97% of women have nasty things to say about their own bodies.
And if you ask me I believe the media is a major part of the problem.
Women who are not a size zero rarely make it onto the big screens. We don’t see them on commercials, we don’t see them in store windows, we don’t see them on ecommerce websites. As far as mainstream media and advertising, women with thighs don’t exist.
If I were an alien, and I landed on planet earth and only had access to media and advertising, I would assume all women looked like June Cleaver from Leave It To Beaver. June Cleaver after she gained access to phen-phen.
What’s interesting is if you google “diet pills” you will find 42,000,000 results and a slew of advertisements for a myriad of diet pill options.
If you google “women self esteem” you hit 44,200,000 results and no advertisements. So apparently it’s not lucrative to build women’s self esteem, because 51% of the U.S. population wouldn’t benefit from feeling better about themselves…right?
You’re Telling Me Those Earthlings Created An Entire Industry Based On The Fact They Don’t Know How to Feed and Nourish Themselves?
We have created an industry that is so insane that none of us can actually see how ridiculous it is. I’m talking about the diet industry.
We have complicated the most basic of human needs. While we’re not thriving, the diet industry is. The 50 billion dollar diet industry was built on a fabricated truth that we can’t trust our own bodies. If we are given access to whole, real, food we will lose control and blimp up. So now we need to eat food that is laced with chemicals that trick our body. That’s right, we need to trick our own body.
Enough is Enough
There is a point that we, as a community of women must stop and put our glasses on so we can see clearly. It’s time to be loving and gentle with ourselves now, not when we look like Gwenyth. Jump in the ocean now, not tomorrow.
You will feel amazing once you let go because…
you don’t need it.
I would love to know your own perceptions about the diet industry, and how you feel about your own body journey. Please feel free to share in the comments section below.