Wellness Wednesday #11: Fear and Control

buttonI mentioned last week that this No Number November thing is going to be extremely difficult and scary for me. I also mentioned that I haven’t been scaleless in sixteen years. I depend on that scale. I mark my progress with it. I judge my failure/success from it. (This latter part is a huge reason why I’m putting the scale away.)

The thing is, I need to learn to trust my body again. My body is incredibly intuitive about its health. It regulates intake well, if I let it, and if I can separate out the emotional components. Example: When I was 17, I quit swimming competitively. For five years, I’d trained for 10-20 hours per week, and ate 7-8 times a day. My weight was stable around 125 lbs. When I quit, my appetite stayed high for three weeks, and I gained 15 lbs. This surprised me, but I honestly didn’t think too much about it. After three weeks, my appetite dropped off, my body regulated itself, and I stopped needing to eat so often or so much. The extra weight dropped off without me doing anything intentional. I just kept eating according to my hunger, and my weight stayed stable.

So why the fear? Because after my freshman year of college, I had dental surgery that led to eleven years of illness. Eating according to my body’s intuition no longer helped. I had ups and downs completely beyond my control, not tied to the amount I was eating. It was in this period that I began monitoring-by-scale.

Those infections were cleared out in 2009, however, and much of the weight loss that followed was grounded in intuitive eating. I outgrew the fear – until insomnia in 2011 added an unknown element in my loss, making it more difficult. Over the next fear years, I relied less on my body and more on data (numbers!), and eventually that spilled over into emotional, disordered eating. And of course, this grew worse when I got on Zoloft in February, and started gaining 1-2 lbs per week, no matter how well I ate. I could no longer rely on my body – I was always hungry! – or on data – because the medication interfered.

But here’s the thing. I’ve been medication-free for almost two months. I know how to eat healthy, and how to eat in moderation. I’m learning to handle the emotional component. I know what I need to do, and what my body is capable of. I need to stop letting fear push me back into disordered eating patterns.

True Confessions
When I was a senior in high school, my choir took a multi-day trip to Houston for a competition. Our hotel had a pool, and one day, I went down to the pool with some other students. I had my bikini on under my clothes, and I pulled my t-shirt and shorts off by the side of the pool. One of the girls, I don’t remember her name, said, “Holy hell, Amanda! Where’d you pull off that body?” Immediately, I was self-conscious, and wondered what was so wrong with me that she’d have to point out my body specifically. I don’t remember what I said, if I said anything, and I don’t think I stayed at the pool long, or enjoyed myself.

IMG_2737

Only years later would I realize that it was meant to be a compliment, and that because I always hid my body under gigantic, shapeless clothes, and no one (except fellow swimmers) actually knew what I looked like. Furthermore, I was so self-conscious of my body that I literally have one photo in a bikini as a teenager, and I hated it because I thought it showed just how fat I was. The funny thing is, because I was a swimmer for so long, I’m not at all self-conscious in a swimsuit (I’m far more self-conscious in a skirt!), but I still hated photos. I saw them as “proof” that I should keep piling on the baggy, oversized shirts. The above two photos were taken within weeks of each other.

*****
Dear younger Manda,

Stop hiding your body. Just stop it. Your body rocks. Don’t let anyone – not family, not peers, not even yourself – shame it.

Love, modern-day Manda

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About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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5 Responses to Wellness Wednesday #11: Fear and Control

  1. Cheering you on! *executes complicated back handspring…. virtually*

    Like

  2. Kristen M. says:

    I wish I could go back in time and dump the baggy clothes. I think they disguised the weight I started gaining in college and made me less aware of what I actually looked like.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Wellness Wednesday #14: Epic Battle | The Zen Leaf

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