A few days ago, a friend’s blog featured a guest post on body image – specifically in relation to dieting and discipline, and the idea of a child being put on a diet by their parents, and how early exposure to a culture of dieting sticks with us throughout our lives.
This week, I hit my lowest weight since high school, excepting one transient moment when I was seeing a trainer and got a bit lower – that lasted all of two weeks, and was in no way sustainable, as I was simply counteracting all the crap I ate at the time with seven or more hours a week at the gym. The second I stopped using a personal trainer, those pounds crept back on.
This week, on the other hand, is a totally different deal. I’ve lost eight pounds in three days. EIGHT POUNDS! SINCE LAST WEEK. Noticeably shrinking waist circumference! All my skinny clothes will fit again! Which means some of my larger-sized dresses are going to be too big for me now! I can give them away to other curvy ladies in need of some plus-size fashion! This should be exciting, right? Because giving dresses away leads to BUYING NEW DRESSES. Or something.
Oh wait, except I’m sick sick sick and haven’t been out of bed in four days, my last square meal was on Wednesday last week, and I’m convinced the only thing that’s currently keeping me alive is the all-natural root beer that’s delivering sugar to my system, except that it also makes my heart pound, so today I’m switching it out for Lady Grey decaf with honey.
Also (cough hack hack cough) I think I dropped a bit of my lung over there, mind passing it back to me?
It doesn’t help that this whole “loose jeans resulting from being quite sick” is also throwing a spotlight onto how feminism plays into my own life. Can I be happy to have lost a few pounds, when it’s through illness? When I tweet that my jeans are loose and I’m not sure that I care why – and then a moment later confirm that actually, I realized I don’t care why, but I’m going to have to parse the implications of that vis a vis feminism – and a friend, normally more committed to these things than I, then follows up to my “my jeans are loose” comment with “rough life” – are she and I both playing into a mode of approach that we both struggle, on a daily basis, not to reinforce? Does the fact that we acknowledge the ickiness of the logic behind the feelings give us the ability/permission to express them, nonetheless?
Those eight pounds didn’t go anywhere because of any healthy decision I made. They got lost because I got sick. I have felt physically miserable for days. MISERABLE. (Does anyone else ever forget, so quickly, just how bad it feels to be sick? Because I swear I never think it’s as bad as all that until the disease is IN ME and I feel like THIS:
So the minute I think, well, at least this is one positive thing this stupid illness has done that’s good, I also slam into a wall of the following logic:
“Don’t feel good about this. It isn’t healthy. Feel good about healthy things. Don’t feel good about being too sick to move, waking up in a cold sweat for four days just because at the end of the rainbow there’s a pair of loose jeans. This isn’t sustainable any more than having a trainer and working out seven hours a week was sustainable. This isn’t real weight loss, it’s not going to put your body in better condition, and you better be able to keep something down today because quite frankly writing while lightheaded is not fun at all.”
I’ve been working hard to lose weight for a long time. Primarily for health reasons, and I can say that honestly because the one thing that motivated me to *actually lose weight* was a health reason. So I shouldn’t feel guilty if I have a little twinge of glee, no matter what the cause, when I get a little closer to knowing what that “healthy weight” is going to feel like when I get there.
But I do. Do I ever.
Not only because I know I didn’t lose those eight pounds under anything that could possibly be interpreted as healthy circumstances, but also because those loose jeans tapped into just how ingrained and destructive my own weight (and weight-loss) expectations are.
Falling short of your own standards is never fun. Especially not when you’re sick.