I’ve been “percolating” a lot lately. By that I mean that I’ve had some things filtering down through the various levels of my brain, adding bits here, thinking of other extenuating circumstances there, remembering reasons why I agree or disagree with the original premise of my thought here, etc. I’ve never been good at on-the-spot, snap decisions: when I make those decisions, it’s almost always self-sabotage in action.
So over the last 6 weeks (or so), I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a lot of things that have been sort of hovering in the back of my mind, waiting for their chance to percolate. I’ve been thinking about losing weight and whether or not I can do it while remaining mentally healthy. I’ve been thinking, REALLY thinking, about what it would take to lose weight without losing my mind. I’ve been thinking about my blood sugar, and whether or not I should be worried (and per the last post, I SHOULD be worried). I’ve been thinking about old patterns (both internal/thought-related and external/behavior-related) and what it would take to break them, and whether or not I’m willing to put that kind of work in. I’ve been thinking about food and exercise and what I’ve done before, and what I did before that, and trying to tease out the healthy from the unhealthy: trying to distill the final thoughts and emotions from the percolating material.
And then I heard something about someone I know in passing who has lost a LOT of weight – over 100 pounds, though I’m not sure how much more. And I heard that she decided to do it, NO MATTER WHAT. That she knew she was an emotional eater and that she wouldn’t want to change and that she would be uncomfortable trying new thoughts/emotions/coping mechanisms/behaviors, but that she was going to do it NO MATTER WHAT. And lo and behold, she did it. And she said that a lot of the journey SUCKED because she had to learn new, uncomfortable things, and she didn’t want to. The high of fitting into the “skinny” jeans didn’t compare to the low of dealing with her emotional shit. She had to deal with things she had literally been burying inside her for YEARS – for the better part of her adult life, in fact. And she kept telling herself, “NO MATTER WHAT.” And she dealt with them.
It sort of gave me a different take on the same issue for myself. I talk to people who say that the hardest thing to learn was the getting up early to exercise or the not eating junk food or the food journaling. And I always nod my head because that’s hard for me, too. But for ME, it doesn’t address the real cause: the emotional stuff. Because that’s the root of my physical “hard stuff.” I don’t think in terms of “NO MATTER HOW HARD THE FEELINGS ARE TO DEAL WITH.” I think in terms of “NO MATTER HOW TIRED I AM.” But then, I DON’T get up and go to the gym, and it SEEMS like I’m tired, so I beat myself up later, but the tiredness is really just a symptom of the emotional stuff: the tiredness occurs because I stayed up too late the night before, and in a totally unconscious way, I DID IT ON PURPOSE. I did it so I could keep hiding. THAT is emotional at its core. It’s not really a physical, “tired” issue. It’s a HIDING issue. So I’ve been percolating a lot on “NO MATTER WHAT.”
Here’s the thing: for the first 10 years of my life I thought I was fat, but really I was a “normal” kid: sometimes heavy, sometimes thin (depending on whether or not I was growing), reasonably active, though not a sports nut (to say the LEAST). I took a lot of dance classes, and ran around the streets with my friends playing the games we made up (and spent a lot of time reading on the couch, too). For the second 10 years of my life, I danced. I danced a LOT. And I still thought I was fat. I took a lot of ballet classes, and next to the 100-pound waifs I WAS fat. I wasn’t fat for ME, but I compared myself to people whose build I would never have. I was fit, though not healthy: I lived on red licorice and tootsie pops and diet coke. But I wasn’t FAT: you can’t have a defined stomach if you’re fat, and HOO-BOY did I have a defined stomach. But I still thought I was fat.
And during that second 10 years, I learned to hide. I used the dancing and the food to keep from thinking about the things that made me uncomfortable. I learned that I could self-medicate with behaviors and substances. At the end of that 10-year period, the dancing left my life, and so I just used food. So for the LAST 10 years, I’ve thought I was fat. And this time I was right. No judgement, just honesty. I gained a LOT of weight right at the beginning (after I stopped dancing), lost about 20 pounds of it, and have lost and regained an additional 20 pounds a couple of times (usually because I was sick, not dieting).
I’ve spent the last 10 years hiding from everything. Everything I didn’t want to deal with, everything I didn’t want to think about, if it was uncomfortable, I just didn’t deal with it. But I can’t keep doing that. I’ve had 10 years to hide, but now I think it’s time to stop hiding. And I’m so glad that the “fitosphere” (as TA calls it) found me. Because Lord knows I didn’t go looking for IT. But the powers that be have a way of sending us where we need to be, even when it’s not what we’re looking for. So I’m really grateful for that.
I keep thinking about that statement, though: NO MATTER WHAT. And last week, I went to my Tae Kwon Do class, and was totally embarrassed. And I’ll go back tonight, anyway (mostly because of all the helpful support when I posted about it). And that class – really the whole situation – has already brought my attention to something uncomfortable, something I thought I had dealt with, something I was really hiding from, while assuring myself I was FINE, just FINE. And really, I don’t want to deal with it. I want to skip TKD class tonight, open a bottle of wine and drink until I stop thinking about it. But I won’t. Because I have to go to class. Because I had my 10 years of hiding, and they served their purpose, and if I had to do it all over again, with all the same neuroses, I really wouldn’t change a SINGLE coping mechanism. Destructive though they may have been, those mechanisms got me through the last 10 years. But I don’t think I want to spend the next 10 years that way.
So I have to figure out how to change. No matter what.