Cognitive Dissonance

A good number of my New Year’s Resolutions-that-aren’t-really-Resolutions-but-more-like-habits this year are centered around learning to love myself, regardless of what I weigh.  That includes eating well, taking care of myself, journaling, getting some exercise, all that kind of stuff.  If I lose weight, that’s great, and if I don’t, that’s great, too.

 But the thing is, I work as an actor.  In Los Angeles.  Where a size 8 is considered HUGE.  And I haven’t been an 8 in a very, very long time.  Like maybe before puberty.  And NOW I have a bridesmaid dress to fit into by July and it will require me to lose some weight – and that’s BEFORE I have it altered.  Part of the problem is that my chest is freakin’ HUGE, so if I get something that fits it properly, I fall out of it when I bend over.  (The dress is strapless, of course.  :P)  If I get something that fits a little tight on my chest so that I don’t have to worry so much about falling out, I can’t breathe in the midsection.  And actually that’s WEIRD because I’m way hourglass-shaped.  I usually have problems with things fitting in my chest but being HUGE in my middle.  ::::sigh:::: 

Fortunately my mom seems confident that we can alter the size (we bought 2 sizes) that sort of fits the top and sort of fits the bottom enough to where the whole thing will fit, period.  But I’d almost rather just lose 10 pounds, because we’re going to have to alter the bottom part around the boning in the bodice, which is a GINORMOUS pain in the ass.  Grrr. 

 The thing is, I know that I should just alter it and be done.  Screw the weight loss – I mean, if improving my health (mostly emotionally – I’m actually healthier than most people, physically) leads to weight loss, that shouldn’t have a positive or negative charge behind it.  I shouldn’t feel like “If I lose weight, GREAT!  And if I don’t . . .erm . . . oh, well.  That’ll be ok, too.”  Weight just shouldn’t be that important.

 And yet it is.  It’s hard in ANY part of our culture, and I know I’m having a hard time with it: between knowing that I’d get more work if I lost some weight and now having this archetypal experience of “Losing Weight for a Wedding,” it is damned hard to maintain my equilibrium. 

I think  that everyone has a set point for their weight, and maybe mine is just a little higher.  But here’s the thing (and I know I’m totally rationalizing here): I have a hard time with the idea that my set point is high, because I wasn’t a fat kid or even a fat teenager.  I didn’t gain weight until I was out of college, and I didn’t gain a LOT of weight until I was out of college for almost a year.  I’ve spent the last 10 years dealing with things I don’t want to think about, which is what led to the weight gain.  Well . . . actually it would be more accurate to say that I’ve spent the last 10 years NOT dealing with what is going on in my life, which is what led to the weight gain. 

When I’m stressed, I self-medicate with either eating too much or not eating at all, but either way I GAIN WEIGHT.  Oh, yeah, you read that right: I can gain weight on <400 calories a day, but ONLY if I’m avoiding unpleasant emotional experiences.  I can also lose weight on 2000 calories a day, but again, ONLY if I’m DEALING with my unpleasant emotional experiences and not avoiding them.  My brain is a bitch that way, bless her heart.  (Do brains have hearts?  Umm . . . . )

Aaaaaanyway.  This is all over the map today, but frankly, so am I.  On the one hand, I’m trying really hard to embrace the idea that I’m JUST FINE the way I am, thin or fat, as long as my blood pressure is good, my heart is happy, etc.  And on the other hand, I look at casting notices every day calling for, “5’6″-5’10”, blonde, beautiful, not overweight.”  (That’s verbatim off of one I looked at today.)  And now I can’t fit into a bridesmaid dress that would look fabulous if I lost 10 pounds.  AND at the same time I’m trying to learn that I’m fine the way I am. 

 My head is going to asplode. 

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2 responses to “Cognitive Dissonance

  1. So you already know what to do my dear…work on the emotions and the dress will fit! how magical, lol. But certainly not easy…even kinda scary dealing with those.
    I like how you tried the high set point excuse but then talked yourself out of it, lol. i too tried to pull that one recently after a very long plateau. i started entertaining the thought that maybe i am built to be heavier than most…but then i remembered I never was overweight till i went to college…that’s when all hell broke loose for me, so that excse kinda didn’t fly. I was stuck for emotional reasons. Once i acknowledged those and started exploring them, my weight began to drop again.

  2. Well, I don’t really know that the dress will fit; I’m guessing there. But either way I’ll feel better, and feeling better is really the point – the weight loss doesn’t have anything to do with my physical or emotional health, which is why I’m trying really hard not to make it the important thing. It just shouldn’t be that important.

    As for the set point . . . I vacillate on that, and I have to say I don’t think it’s an excuse. I know bodies change over time, and it may be that I screwed my body up with so many diets and eating disorders that my set point permanently altered. It has been documented again and again that chronic dieting will cause your set point to rise, so that may really be what I’m hitting. But again, it comes back to the fact that weight should not be the point, you know? Dealing with the emotional stuff is the point, and IF I lose weight, it’ll be a nice side benefit. But it’s hard to remember that fact in the culture we live in, where what you weigh is used as a value judgement – where it IS the point. ::::sigh::::

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