I carry full responsibility for not following through with this site.
I broke one of the cardinal rules of blogging: I did not do what I said I would do. Yet.
I have fallen behind in my writing about Fat is a Feminist Issue. I have no excuse and many excuses. It is much harder for me to write about what I am reading than I imagined it would be. The book simply hits way “too close to home.” This is not my first time reading it, but it is my first time reading it at this point in my life. At this age. In the reflective light of all the life experiences that I carry with me at all times.
But that, of course, is the point, isn’t it?
One of my high school music teachers went on to become a licensed marriage, family and child counselor (MFCC) and offered classes on weight management. She used a system called “Think and Be Thin.” Participants were challenged to categorize food as “pleasers” or “teasers.” The former are foods that satisfy you fully, while the latter are just like they sound: Tantalizing but lacking the substance or quality to cure hunger. Instead, they just lead you to eat more. An example is potato chips. They are not satisfying; rather, for most people, they lead to continued eating, frequently resulting in a full-fledged binge. The other main concept was this: Using a numerical rating system, class members were supposed to keep a journal and make a note of whether they were totally hungry each and every time they consumed food. In other words, you should not eat if you are not at “0” or “empty.” And we were supposed to train ourselves to stop eating when we were comfortably full, not at “10” or feeling completely stuffed.
It all makes perfect sense, of course, especially to anyone who has never struggled with weight issues. But it is harder to live than it sounds and, after a few months, I reverted to my old eating patterns.
The thing that I took away from the class, however, and have never forgotten is what my teacher/counselor told the group numerous times: “Every extra pound you carry represents an emotion you have not dealt with.” Her theory was that if those emotions are not confronted head-on and worked through, the compulsive eater will continue forcing them down through the misuse of food (sometimes referred to as “eating the emotions” or “swallowing the feelings”) until they are finally, effectively explored. In other words, they will surface again and again throughout one’s life. When they do, you can choose to face and get past them once and for all, or stuff them down again until the next time that they bob to the surface.
As Happytiler wrote today:
I carry guilt, abuse, anger, and illness
Layered in pound after pound upon my body
That counselor was, of course, absolutely right. And Fat is a Feminist Issue largely deals with those emotions with a specific focus on how women have developed unhealthy coping mechanisms in response to their socioeconomic circumstances.
So it is difficult to read and even more difficult to write about because to do so effectively requires an exploration of the emotions and life events that have, quite literally, shaped me, and that I carry every day in the form of extra pounds. Much of what Orbach writes about leaves me feeling raw, naked, and highly vulnerable. Therein lies the value of her work.
I carry not just the comments made to me over the years by my mother, but also many other people. I carry the nonverbal reactions from many people that have left me wondering if they really saw and heard me. I carry the weight — again, literally — of the choices I have made over the years, fueled in varying degrees by my physical status and appearance, as well as the real or imagined limits I perceived upon those choices as I weighed them through the lenses I have imposed upon myself.
An individual who has never struggled with his/her weight simply cannot understand the degree to which one’s weight permeates and impacts each and every aspect of one’s daily living and decision-making, from the simplest to most complex and life-altering circumstances and situations. That’s the process I seek to understand through my work with Orbach’s book, as well as other resources.
The good news is that I saw my doctor on November 6, 2007. I do not weigh regularly, as I have explained here previously. So I stand on the doctor’s scale backwards and ask them to merely “do the math,” telling me the number of pounds by which my weight has changed since my most recent visit. In this instance, an additional weight loss of 20 pounds was noted. That means that since I began this concentrated effort to achieve maximum health and fitness, I have lost 75 pounds.
I was actually quite surprised because I was on a plateau for at least a couple of months, during which I did not feel like I was losing any weight at all. But then one morning I noticed that a skirt was looser and began noticing the same thing with several other items of clothing. My visit with the doctor confirmed that, so I can conclusively state that I have moved off that plateau which was causing me to feel frustrated, disappointed and uninspired to continue writing here.
Ultimately, though, I carry a responsibility to myself to keep writing on this site because it memorializes my journey and stands as a testament to the goals I have set for myself, my progress toward attaining those goals, and helps motivate me during those times when I become discouraged. And if my writing here about the weight — literal and metaphorical — that I carry each day helps or encourages one other person who is struggling with the same issues, I will have provided a service and can feel happy about that.