Monday, October 04, 2010

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bum

I'm going to take a moment out of my holiday posting to talk about something I've been struggling with. And when I say been, I mean pretty much since I hit puberty.

Body-image and I have an entangled relationship. I've spoken to you guys before about my history of eating disorders and self-harm, both of which are big red flags - gigantic red flags - that I am a person with 1) mental issues and 2) a bad body image.

Whilst I have still not self-harmed since the last time I posted about it (despite temptations), I am feeling more and more like I have to do something about my relationship with food and exercise. I don't mean dieting. I mean...

Well, an example. Whilst I'm not really a runner or a 'proper' sports player, I do like to do something energetic outside now and again. A friend of mine posted on Facebook about how she was looking for someone to accompany her on walks round Arthur's Seat twice a week. I didn't take her up on it, as I can't schedule my hours at work in advance, but I thought "What a good idea! I might start up a routine like that myself!"

So I started making elaborate mental plans about how I'd set it up, and how often I'd go, and so on... and then I didn't. Because there is a part of my brain that seems to assume that if I can't do the whole ridiculously strict plan, then I'm a failure, and there's no point even doing it once a week.


Balls to that, say I.
So I did a wee walk down the path by the side of Arthur's Seat on Thursday, and Matt and I went for a walk/scramble up it on Sunday. Not because we 'should', but because it's fun. And pretty. And getting exercise makes me feel better. It doesn't matter if it's sporadic, or if it's not as challenging as what I'd planned. Because rather than failing to stick to an entirely random, nebulously conceived routine, I am going out and doing these things, and it's all good.

I'm noticing things like that - stupid, counter-intuitive things - more often these days, when my brain spits them out.

My relationship with food is, and has been for the last 16 years or so, exponentially more effed-up than my relationship with exercise, even though it stems from the same place.
Thankfully, I am now able to deal (most of the time) with urges to purge or restrict. However, the nagging thoughts are a lot more of a challenge to deal with. And I don't think these are unusual thoughts. Quite the contrary, actually - they're the ones that are highlighting every flaw when I look in the mirror, and which make me depressed when I don't fit into something I'm trying on. I think they're unnervingly common, especially amongst women, and I think they are harmful.

So I am trying to 'de-programme' myself. And finding out some things in the process. My discovery of HAES (Health At Every Size) has really helped me start coming to terms with it over the last few years.

Maybe it's just that I'm nearing 30, and having some realisations about my life, but I don't want to spend the next ten years hating myself as I have the last ten. It's just so much energy and so much time wasted on physically, emotionally and mentally beating myself up for the way I look, for the fact that I eat, or that I don't have a regular workout regime. I'm quitting those thoughts.

In doing so, I've discovered some cool things.

It's ok for me to eat a big salad, if I want. It's also ok for me to eat a big pizza, if I want. Because (and unfortunately I can't remember from whom I stole this phrase) eating is morally neutral.

It's ok for me to (as on Sunday) go for a walk/climb for an hour and a half, then come home and spend the next hour playing Wii tennis. It's also ok for me to spend a Sunday baking, reading and napping.

I feel better if I buy clothes that fit, no matter what the label says. And I discovered something that I never thought I would. I tried on some item of clothing that turned out to be too small. And instead of mentally berating myself for being 'too fat' and, ergo, a disappointment, I just thought "Aww, that's a shame. It's too small." And that was it. No depression, no self-hatred, just the thought that it was the clothing that didn't fit my body, not vice versa.

And that was a huge fuckin' breakthrough.

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At 8:23 pm, Blogger Shawna said...

Hooray! *bighugs* I'm so happy for you! :-)

At 11:08 pm, Blogger Nettie said...

Wow, that's a huge step hun and I'm glad you have achieved it.
Every now and then I get all realistic and come to the same conclusions but at the end of the day, I don't really believe them. It all makes sense but in the long term my self doubt and low confidence and self hating all fight to the top and overwhelm all the positive thoughts. So a big congrats to you for having such a positive mental turnaround.

And just for the record, you're gorgeous and I love ya ;-)

At 6:15 am, Blogger Hieronymous Anonymous said...

Aww, thanks guys. *hugs*

I'm not 100% there yet, and I don't know that I'll ever be, but it's so good to come to a decision that ISN'T all about mental self-flagellation, y'know?
Of course I still have moments - lots of them, actually - when I am not down with how I look. But it's not constant any more, and I feel so much better for it.

And Nettie, you are gorgeous, whether you believe it or not.

At 3:57 pm, OpenID painprime said...

I think you SHOULD be proud. What you've crossed is a MAJOR step! Having been heavy/fat my entire life, it took me slightly longer than 30 to reach the same conclusion. Would i LIKE to be skinnier, yes. Am i going to in all probability, no. (At least not the Atlas-type skinny I am in my dreamscape.)

It's good to just put on a shirt, have it fir, and NOT call myself silent names because of what the label says. I heard enough of those from others in my childhood.

(Captcha---- gonave) :)


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