Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone is having a great day getting back into the swing of things after a long weekend. It is my last full day in New Mexico and I must admit that I am not ready to head back to NYC (except to see that boy that I kinda like ;) ). Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC. It’s an awesome city and I know I am very fortunate to have the chance to live there. However, I am a West coast girl through and through. I am happiest when I am outdoors, in the sun, and being active. To me, no where satisfies my love for those things like the West does. Whether it be the Rocky Mountains or the Pacific Ocean, the West is where my heart lies :)
I did have a fabulous long bike ride with both my parents at lunch. Although, I was very sad that it was my last ride.
After the ride, which was hot and filled with hills, I was craving a cold salad. I threw a bunch of greens in a bowl and topped them with avocado, dried cherries, almonds, broccoli, and a drizzle of Meyer lemon olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar. I also drank about a million glasses of iced herbal peppermint tea. So refreshing and exactly what I was craving.
Today I want to talk about something that I have struggled with a lot the last 5 years, and something I am sure a lot of women (and men) struggle with as well. Fat talk. What is fat talk? To me, fat talk is telling myself that I am not good enough, can never be happy enough, will never be beautiful enough, will never be popular enough, et cetera, until I get to a certain size. I know, so messed up. But I think fat talk can encompass any negative self talk, since any negative self talk is toxic and destructive, whether it’s about your physical appearance or your perceived intelligence. In this context, though, fat talk is physical appearance. The weird thing about fat talk, though, is what exactly happens when you get to that size you have deemed as making you worthy as a person? Really, the number on the scale is just some arbitrary number, and yet we tell ourselves that once we hit said number, we will miraculously give ourselves permission to love and respect ourselves. Now, don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that there are people who are very dangerously above a healthy weight and must get to a healthier weight. That is completely different and not at all what fat talk is. Fat talk is the person who is always trying to get to a certain weight, because, once she (or he) hits that weight, she will suddenly be happy. Suddenly feel self-worth. Suddenly feel beautiful. This way of thinking is so unfair and never really allows one to reach her full potential.
During the last 5 years I would belittle myself so much that I would not want to go out with friends, and I especially had a hard time going out with Jamie and his friends because I (very unnecessarily) felt like I had to impress them. However, I would usually end up going out anyway because I really liked being with all of them, and I like to be around people. Plus, Jamie was always fabulous and encouraged me and reminded me that his friends liked me and had fun with me and didn’t care what I looked like, which I am very grateful for. Still, though, I always felt like people would feel sorry for Jamie and his “fat girlfriend.” In reality, though, most people are so hung up on their own insecurities that they don’t take much notice in other people’s physical flaws.
Another huge problem for me during my years of disordered eating was looking at myself in the mirror, thinking I looked HUGE, and getting so upset and so anxious that I started eating to avoid the guilt, shame, and hurt I felt looking in the mirror. Of course I knew this was NOT the answer and would obviously only perpetuate the problem, but I was out of control and felt like I could never stop. I was so terrified this would just be my life.
I don’t think anyone is immune from fat talk, but I do think that we can all take measures to decrease it and learn to value ourselves for more than a number on a scale. In fact, I challenge all of you, my fabulous readers, to stop your own fat talk. Whether your fat talk is that have a tendency to tell yourself that you are not smart enough, not skinny enough, not tall enough, not outgoing enough, or any other way we tend to put ourselves down, I want you all to make an effort to stop putting yourself down. So, however you tend to look at yourself negatively, turn those thoughts into something positive. “I’m not smart enough to get into med school” should turn into “I work very hard for my grades, studied hard for the MCAT, and believe that I CAN get into med school.” Telling yourself you aren’t skinny enough? Try picking a body part to be thankful for, and focusing on that. “I am thankful for my strong legs because they get me through tough runs any time I want them to.” Or focus on how good you feel when you make a healthier choice. It takes hard work, and a conscious effort. Believe me, I know. But we are all so talented, hard working, and gifted, and we all have so much to offer this world, but in order to fully give our best, we must first believe in ourselves.
Right now, I am not at my *happy weight.* My happy weight is the weight at which my body does it’s thing with very little conscious effort from me. At my happy weight I engage in some type of fun, physical activity most days (usually 6) of the week, and enjoy doing it. At my happy weight I eat clean, healthy foods 80% of the time and feel like when I want a beer or a piece of pie, I don’t have to turn it down. At my happy weight, I can indulge a lot one day (think Thanksgiving), and the next day I am naturally a little less hungry, and crave veggies (yes, crave) a little bit more, without trying. At my happy weight, I am just living, not fretting about how big my legs look or the way my stomach sticks out more than I want it to. Obviously, even when I do get to my happy weight I will still have days where I feel less than perfect about my physical appearance, but I expect it will be much like before all of this disordered eating and thinking, when those days were few and far between and could be attributed to hormones, lack of sleep, illness, et cetera rather than incessant fat talk.
I am telling you that I am not at my happy weight so that you can understand that I have days where I am not happy with how I look, but that I am taking measures every day to reverse those negative thoughts. I am telling you because I do not believe that anyone ever has to let fat talk take over their daily thoughts, actions, and self-worth. Ever since my *epiphany* I do not let these negative thoughts persist. Nor do I let them dictate my self worth. This, my friends is how I know I am truly on the road to recovery.
Last Thursday when I was at Spin class, I had a moment of fat talk. The spin studio here has mirror covered walls. So there I am in my tight cycling shorts (which really aren’t very flattering on anyone), surrounded by mirrors, and the fat talk kicked in. “Oh my God! My legs are HUGE! My hips are SO wide! Two months ’til Hawaii, I better start eating less and working out more.” And you know what I did? I immediately put a stop to it. I told myself: “Laura, it has not even been a month since you stopped binge eating, of course you are not at a size you are happy about. It took years of weight fluctuations to get to this size, it’s going to take a while to get to my happy size. Your legs are working so hard for you right now, even after years of abusing body.” Then I thanked my legs for still working so hard for me after I mistreated them for so long. I also quickly reminded myself that restricting my calories significantly below how many I need for my activity level WILL lead to a binge. Simple as that. My body will get so hungry physiologically that no amount of will power will ever work and I will binge, feel guilty, and likely continue to binge. But the immediate conscious change in thought process? It worked!
I know that I have a long road ahead of me, probably a good year, where I am going to have to constantly remind myself that I do not want a quick fix to lose a bunch of weight quickly. If I were to do that, I would not be able to maintain that low calorie diet and high activity lifestyle. What I am doing right now is setting myself up for a lifestyle that will keep me happy and healthy the rest of my life.
Shortly after I changed my thinking last Thursday at spin, I realized that, yeah, I probably won’t be as *skinny* as I want in Hawaii. But you know what? That’s okay. Because I am beating this. Finally. And that makes me so excited. Just thinking about never again feeling like I need to quickly lose a bunch of weight, never again trying to force myself to eat less than my body needs to lose X pounds by X date, and never again having to suffer through the inevitable “fail” after depriving myself when I lose of control over my eating. Now, I am on a path that is just focused on living, much like I have this week in New Mexico, and this path is one I want to be on for the rest of my life.
Caitlin has a truly amazing movement going to help women with poor body image. Please check out her Operational Beautiful movement. It is really inspiring and powerful. She has been a huge inspiration, and now that I feel like I have a control over my own “fat talk” I am going to make an effort each and every day, not only to stop my own fat talk, but to help others around me lessen their fat talk.
I just finished an hour of power yoga with my mom and am now onto this before dinner.
I love this life of balance :) Post yoga beer? Ok! ;)
Question of the day: What’s your favorite body part?
I like my green eyes. I also like my legs. My legs are big, but they are strong and never fail me, even when I don’t appreciate them. They got me through thousands of miles of swimming, get me around every day, and they allow me to run and bike far, even when they aren’t used to it.