I just want to state my biases up front. I believe that dieting is an incredible waste of time, even if it leads to weight-loss. I think that sitting around obsessing about calories and fat grams and so on is ridiculous and a way of getting women to accept a useless, but time-consuming task with the promise of happiness at the end in order to keep us distracted and busy while fun stuff happens elsewhere.
I have no use for it.
I do believe that, if you eat good food, you will feel good, and believe me, I am all about feeling good. If I had to choose between a quarter pounder and a home-made tamale, I’m picking the tamale every time. And I would eat that spinich and peanut sauce Thai dish whose name I don’t know all the time if I could.
And I think moving around is great.
But, in general, I don’t give a shit if you eat well or not, if you move around or not. Maybe it’s coming from a long line of fat people and people with various mobility issues, but I just could not give a shit less about what kind of shape other people are in. I mean, I love you, ladies, but Christ Jesus, the amount of time and self-worth you put in to being thinner just boggles my mind. Perfectly beautiful people that folks already want to spend time with right now who are going to be happier ten, twenty, fifty pounds from now. I just don’t want to hear it.
And I myself have believed that I am only thirty pounds away from true happiness. The Shill and I were flipping through old photographs of me and even at my thinnest, I believed I was fat. Even in college, when I look now at photos and see a perfectly ordinary sized person, I thought I was fat.
So, to recap–I believe people have a right to feel good, right now, as they are. I don’t give a shit if you lay in bed all day eating bon bons if that makes you feel good; in fact, scooch over, I’m coming in.
But of course, I live in a society in which a woman’s worth is based a great deal on how thin she is (though, as I’m sure thin people will point out, you don’t want to be too thin or that’s a problem, so it’s lose/lose, which is just how it works).
So, I come in to work today and everyone has decided that I’ve lost weight and look great. This is particularly funny to me because I spent all yesterday feeling like I might, just for fun, bleed to death or barf or both. In other words, there’s just no objective way I could “look great” because I feel like shit.
And yet, apparently, losing weight is enough.
And again, girls, I love you, but no, I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight or, if so, how much. And I don’t like talking about it like I’m achieving some victory for woman-kind. I don’t own a scale. I try to get on them facing the other way at the doctor so that I don’t have to have a number in my head that defines (or not) myself to me. I don’t scrutinize myself in the mirror, so, no, I don’t know if I’ve lost weight.
And if I have, women in my office building, you know it’s because I’ve been sick. Which I know you know because you’re making jokes about how you wish you’d get diagnosed with some disease so that the doctor would give you a pill that made you lose weight.
I don’t know how to respond to that. Really? Being thinner is so much better than being fatter that you’d take an illness to get that way? I find that baffling.
On the other hand, though, I want to acknowledge that the whole PCOS treatment has changed my body in ways I’m kind of still making heads or tails of. For one, I do feel like I have different energy than I used to, not more, exactly, but kind of long-term sustainable energy. I feel like my appetite is a lot different, that, depending on what I’m eating, I lose interest in what I’m eating long before I finish it. Or I’ll order something because I love it–like chicken fried steak–and it doesn’t please me to eat it.
I don’t know how else to describe this change. But I used to take great pleasure in, say, running over to the other building where there is a candy machine and getting some M&Ms in the middle of the afternoon and it doesn’t even cross my mind to do it now.
I don’t feel better after eating them. I don’t crave them.
I’m going to have to think about this some when I have more time, but the thing that strikes me most is that all my life I’ve believed my weight was a moral failing. Even when I could completely change my diet and my activity level and see no real weight loss, I still believed it was because I wasn’t trying hard enough, just didn’t want it bad enough. And now that I’m sitting here with a system full of metformin, what I keep wondering, the thought I can’t let go of, is this–Is this how “normal” people feel in their bodies?
And it really upsets me and kind of makes me mad, because this is not how I’ve felt at any point in my entire life. I mean, two months ago, if I’d had three quarters of a hamburger and half a large fry at lunch, I would have been dying by two or three in the afternoon. I would be so hungry and tired and I’d have been running to the candy machine for something to get me through until dinner for fear I’d be sick otherwise.
Yesterday, I ate my burger until I lost interest and ate my fries until I lost interest and I had a quarter of the burger left and half of the fries. It’s not like that all the time. I gladly ate at McDonalds like it was going out of style with the Shill. But I’m just saying, yesterday, I ate some of my lunch and I wasn’t hungry until supper and even then, I wasn’t starving, but just hungry.
And I want to be clear that I know that every fat person is not like me, but I literally am finding this experience just pisses me off. I mean, sure, if this is what you feel like all the time, having a salad for lunch seems like a swimming idea. Skipping sugary snacks? No bigging. Exercising more? Okay, yeah, I have energy I didn’t know I had and I’m finding it weirdly pleasurable to move around in it in ways I’ve never experienced before. I mean, holy shit, okay, yeah, now I get what folks are saying.
But I had to completely alter the chemistry of my body.
I mean, just call me Tireseus or something, folks, because I’m here to tell you that it’s different and not in a way you can know if you haven’t lived in both ways.
And I don’t like “both” either, because I just mean that, in my case, there are two ways (at least).
But what I mean is that all the lecturing and hectoring and diet modification in the world did me no good and only made me miserably unhappy. And it was a stupid waste of time.
And I’m grossed out by the idea that I’m supposed to be happy about being thinner, as if I lucked out by responding to that medicine in this way, when the fact that I need that medicine in the first place isn’t… I mean, it doesn’t suck or anything, but it’s not like I wake up every morning and am like “Woo hoo, I used to take no medicine and now I take this stuff in the morning and this stuff with dinner and wear this mask and…” I don’t know. I am glad to have stuff that makes me feel better, but I am having a hard time resolving myself to the idea that my own body and what it does on its own isn’t enough for me.
And, too, it’s not like I lost 20 pounds over the weekend. I think I look exactly the same as I did.
So… Yeah… I don’t know. The whole thing’s weird. And I want to be graceous about it, but I can’t quite figure out how to do that.
I may have told you this story before, but a few years ago when I was sick with an ulcer and could not eat for several weeks (even a bite of food caused unbearable pain), I lost about 15 pounds. Down to 113. At 5’8′, that’s pretty skinny. Lots of female acquaintances said, “Oh my God, you look great!” Every man I knew said, “What’s wrong with you??? Eat something!”
I don’t think being thin is as important to men as it is to women. Why don’t most of us know that?
I was on a medication for a while that completely killed my interest in food. I wasn’t hungry, it didn’t look good to me, nothing. I had to schedule meals and force myself to eat. I dropped weight as a side effect of the medication. I get what you’re saying here, and it was weird.
Is this how “normal” people feel in their bodies?
I think that that’s how optimally healthy people feel in their own bodies. There are lots of health problems besides sleep trouble and hormonal imbalances that keep a person from being able to have that confidence of feeling right. But over the course of human history, and especially before modern medicine, it’s probably been pretty rare. It’s a shame (and I mean that it’s shameful) that we conflate that set of issues with what our bodies look like.
I don’t think being thin is as important to men as it is to women. Why don’t most of us know that?
What hetero men are conditioned to think when they see a woman: “Would I hit that?”
What hetero women are conditioned to think when they see a woman: “Would I want to be her?”
And since part of the conditioning is bombardment with airbrushed images that look kind of like women, there’s naturally a disconnect between the range of women that hetero men want to “hit” and the range of “women” that women are supposed to aim for.
And why don’t we know that? Because conditioning is hard to undo.
But I’m tipsy, so no one listen to me. : )
Oh, Aunt B, I hear you — and saraclark and lesley, too. People consistently confuse thinness with health. I commend you for at least wanting to be nice about it, Aunt B. That’s more than I could muster.
Six years ago I had a stillborn son and after the delivery I lost a pound a day for thirty-six straight days–a combination of grief, stress, meds and weird hormones. I’m short so this was a lot of weight, relatively speaking. Obviously, this was *not* a healthy rate or amount of weight loss.
But even people who knew how devastated I was and knew that I could hardly eat would tell me, “Wow, you look great!” When I’d tell them it was due to depression, they didn’t get it. My hair was falling out, I had hour-long crying jags and couldn’t sleep without drugs, but by golly, I could wear my pre-pregnancy jeans! Whee!
I did manage to have a healthy son and reupholster my ass a couple of years later. I now belly dance and having that extra body mass makes a big, positive difference. I’m not thin, but I’m healthier than I’ve ever been and I’m comfortable with myself.
Good luck with your PCOS treatment. And don’t let the weight weirdos get you down.