Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Diet Hobby

I have been on some kind of diet or another for my whole life, it seems. So, unsurprisingly, I have been on a number of weight loss websites with forums and chat rooms and personal blog spaces. Most recently, and even still today, I am a member at Spark People, and I have a fairly long blog history there. I have been re-posting the Recovering Grace blogs at Spark People, but today I’m going to change that up and re-post an old entry of mine from Spark to here.

This one was written in January of 2010, over two years ago, not long before my depression and ED were ramping up again to becoming totally out of control. I had read a post from a friend, and it got me thinking about why I ever bothered to diet at all. This post was my response to that...

It just hit me when I read this - I've been going at this weight loss thing like a hobby, something I can pick up and put down at will, something that I have to do "right" if I'm going to do it at all. And because I have to over-analyze absolutely everything, I have been wondering WHY I do this hobby, and what causes me to pick it up and put it down with very little to show for the time and the effort and the money and the pain.

Now, bear with me, I'm just working some things out here...

I'm a people-pleaser, like my mother before me. So at first I assumed that I kept starting diets because that was what other people wanted me to do. If it talked like a diet, walked like a diet, and ate like a diet, then I must be on a diet (never mind what I did when no one was looking) and people would like me because I was doing what they wanted me to do. Then I kept failing at the diets, but at least it gave us something to talk about and I could always start another one. Fair enough, I suppose.


I thought again, that there just wasn't something right about that. Maybe that was where I started, but what if it got even deeper and uglier than that? It's not just that I want my friends and family to like me, you see... I can't stand to think that anybody thinks badly of me. I want EVERYONE to like me. How's that for an unrealistic expectation? Lose 100 pounds in a year - sure, it ain't easy, but if you dedicate your entire existence to it, it could be done. But make yourself inoffensive to everyone on the planet? Not gonna happen.

So here I am, left with the thought that - just maybe - I have been dieting for nearly 30 years as a way of APOLOGIZING to the WORLD for being a fat cow. Not for me, not for my health, not for my future, not even for my husband or my mother. I'm dieting out of GUILT. If I can make myself miserable enough by depriving myself of food that I love and punish myself with exercise that I hate, maybe that will prove to the world that I'm sorry for being ugly. If I hate myself as much as I think everyone else does, maybe the world will hate me less.

So, I drop some weight and I'm getting the attention that I apparently need, and then it becomes old news and I don't get the buzz anymore from the ego-stroking of friends and family because the rest of the world still ignores me just like it always did, only I see it as loathing rather than indifference... and if total strangers still think I'm ugly after losing 30 or 50 or 60 pounds, then what's the point anyway, and I'll just go have a Happy Meal or something to feel better. Only I don't feel better and I haven't punished myself enough yet, so I'll jump off the wagon and say "Frak you!" to the world and gain back all of my weight plus another 20 just out of spite.

WTF? That doesn't sound like such a good idea...

Is that what I've been doing?

Am I really that shallow and needy?

So how's that working out for me?

And... I know the diet-speak pretty well by now: "I am dieting for myself this time! I just want to get healthy!"

Do I mean it this time? Do you believe me? Do *I* believe me?

Here we go....

So that was two years ago, and then some. For most of the next year, I really hung in there. I lost another 20 pounds, for a total of 50, and then.... I hit the emo wall. I had done my absolute best, I really felt good about the way I was living, the exercise I was doing, but once the depression and anxiety hit, I was helpless all over again.

I tried to get back there again, and then again, and then again. Every other week or so I would “recommit” myself to being healthy. But the emo stuff - the hate, the pain, the misuse of food - I couldn’t just decide to not do that anymore and wait for it to go away. It doesn’t just go away by itself, you have to MAKE it go away, you have to learn to care and to stand up and to fight back. You have to do the work first.

I don’t diet anymore. I’m too busy working.

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