I am so not there yet

I’ve been living in a pretty safe, diet-free environment lately.  I don’t live with my mother anymore or hang out with girls very often so I don’t hear women talking bad about themselves or about the latest diet advice.  We don’t have any full length mirrors in the house, just the one in the bathroom at shoulder level.  And I am mainly with my husband who seems to love me regardless of what I look like and who hates it if I even hint at the word “diet.”  Not to keep me from doing what I want necessarily, but because he knows I can take dieting to a “dark place” and he knows I am trying to move forward without constantly monitoring my eating habits.  Puna, my grandmother, signed me up for a subscription to First for Women magazine which seems to be filled primarily with advertisements and articles centered around weight-loss.  It was a wedding gift and very sweet but Matt makes a point of tossing them out before I even see them because they can be triggering to me.  Sometimes I find them and I get a little sad when he takes them away (But but… look at how many pounds I can lose by juicing!) however, in the end, I know he’s right and I really do appreciate his support more than I can say.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes. The point is my environment allows me to feel very comfortable. I mean, I still am making small changes. For the last month I’ve averaged 7,000 steps per day, I am starting week 5 of my 5K training which I have been diligent about and I’ve been eating a salad everyday fairly consistently recently. I haven’t used my home life as an excuse not to improve my health. But I have finally allowed myself to change slowly instead of tackling everything at once. And lately I’ve been feeling that while I’m moving in a good direction, I might actually be ok as I am. Maybe my self-esteem isn’t so bad after all and I really am close to self acceptance already…

Nope. And I’ll tell you how I found out.

On Saturday Matt and I met my Aunt Tanya and other family for lunch at the Mall of America. I know I’ve mentioned my aunt in a previous post but just to reiterate, she is someone I have looked up to my entire life. She’s beautiful and thin and kind. Her make up is always done (but never ever heavy), she always does something with her hair and her accessories always match her outfit. Basically, what I have always wanted to be.

Now, I got her text late on Saturday because I was out for a run and so we only had 30 minutes to get ready. My main priority at this point was cooling down and looking somewhat presentable. Make up wasn’t an option, and I wasn’t going to drop 60 lbs and receive a new wardrobe in that time anyway, so I went as I am determined to just enjoy time with family.

And it was fine! Until we went into a designer clothing store… with floor to ceiling mirrors. And within an instant I knew, I just knew, if I saw myself in those mirrors I was going to cry. My rational brain couldn’t quite understand it. What was there to cry about? But I knew if I saw my reflection in those mirrors, surrounded by these clothes with Aunt Tanya right there, I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I sat down on a bench facing a wall and admired shoes while she finished. I already knew the differences between Tanya and me, but I couldn’t face them reflected back at me so blatantly.

This is not OK!

This isn’t anywhere close to where I want to be! I’m glad I feel safe at home but the downside is I may be too sheltered. It’s easy to think these feelings of shame and self-loathing are gone when I never have to face them. But they are still there when I walk out the door, and they may even be getting stronger as a result of this willful ignorance. And as much as he may want to, Matt can’t protect me from them.

I don’t want this. I don’t want to hide in my house and avoid buying new clothes because I am ashamed. Next time I think these feelings are gone I want them to truly be gone! I want to shop with Aunt Tanya while being comfortable in my own skin regardless of my size at the time. I want the freedom to go where I want and do what I want without being held back by my own mind. But this, right now, is definitely not OK! I am not the Ugly Duckling anymore!

At least I don’t want to think I am anymore.   I guess it hurt to suddenly see how far I had to go.  I’m just… so not there yet.

My Aunt Tanya and I at my wedding

My Aunt Tanya and I at my wedding

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What’s this all about (again)?

WordPress allows me to see what pages are viewed and when (though not who… darn) and I noticed that I was getting visitors at an “About” page that I hadn’t really known existed.  Well, I finally found it and wrote in something other than “This is the WordPress about page.  Here you can…” blah blah and it got me think about what I am trying to do here.

I called what I am doing here a journey which seems fitting and I at least know what direction I am going in but… if I am honest I am not sure what the end result is supposed to look like.  What does “true self-acceptance” even mean?  What is it like?  I imagine it feels good, right?  Something better then self-loathing and the constant desire to be different?

Perhaps I will know I have arrived when I can notice my silouette in a window and not cringe or analyze my legs to see if they are really as fat as I think they are.  Maybe I will stop putting my hands on my waist to check if I’ve gotten any smaller or to make sure I can still feel my ribs.  Stop wearing jeans when it is sweltering, and stop hating summer for that matter… stop feeling conscious of my stretch marks at the pool… stop looking at skinny women with envy and wishing I looked as thin and care free in a small white t-shirt…

But I think what I am really looking forward to is an overall blissful feeling of peace.  Yes, happiness, that’s it.  I want to be happy.  Just as I am.  Totally happy and free of the chains that weighed me down for such a long time.  I want the energy I never knew I had because it was tied up in diet planning and self-criticizing.  I want to actually know who I am rather than fixate on this idea of who I am supposed to be.  Happy… yeah, I think I’d like to give that a shot.  That’s what this is really about.

It’s not as common as weight-loss gurus but I have found some inspiration and ideas of what I am heading for:

Well, of course there is Geneen Roth who first introduced me to the whole “no dieting, ever” concept for which I will be forever grateful.

Then there is Sarah Becan at Sauceome.com who worked through her issues with a comic.  A friend of mine recommended this site to me shortly after I started this blog and I am so glad she did.  At first the comic seems to focus a bit on weight-loss but it grows way beyond that until she comes to a point where she realizes being thin is not that important.  Plus!  She isn’t afraid to love food!  Truly awesome.

And then there is Ragen Chastain at danceswithfat.wordpress.com who probably has the strongest voice of the bunch as she is a fat activist who believes people who are overweight shouldn’t be stigmatized.  What a concept, right?  Below her blog title says “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness are not size dependent.”  What more is there to say?  Unfortunately lots as Ragen will be the first to tell you.

And finally, thisisnotadiet-itsmylife.com is my newest resource of feel-good-about-my-body-ness.  I recently joined a yahoo group for Inside Out Weight Loss (I know, I just said weight loss wasn’t the focus but this is another great resource and I’ll explain later) when I was introduced to this and I immediately liked the author on Facebook.  Now my newsfeed gets peppered with her messages and thank you Kate for sharing the link.

So there you have it.  I am not alone which is nice.  It’s good to know I have tools and wisdom to use as I move forward.  And I am also hoping to raise my voice right alongside theirs one day.  You know, once I have it “all figured out.”  The end is still fuzzy but I have a better idea of what I am aiming for now.

And I know it is going to be wonderful.