Weighty Issues

I dislike my Google Reader on Mondays.

Mondays are the day everyone weighs in, literally, regarding their diets – especially the dozen or so bloggers I subscribe to who participate in a meme called “McFatty Mondays”. Now, I know the name is in jest and will not be writing an angry ranty post about something that’s not meant to hurt anyone. The people who participate are doing so willingly and no offense is meant. I also know the point of the meme is women encouraging other women on their weight loss journeys (and support IS very important when you’re making a life change like weight loss) but seeing McFatty McFatty McFatty over and over bothers me. But it’s not just that meme, it’s a lot of women recapping their weekends. “Oh I was so BAD! I cheated! I’m terrible! I’ll never fit in my jeans again!” It’s like a cacophony of everything a woman as ever said across the table to her girlfriend as she orders the cheesecake.

It’s taken me a long time to order the cheesecake. I like the cheesecake. The cheesecake and I, we are friends.

——————————————-

When I was 19, to hide from the cheesecake, I tried to disappear. Literally. I gave up most food and existed on diet shakes, diet pills and Diet Coke. I slept a lot, because when you are sleeping you cannot eat. I volunteered to ride the ice cream bicycle all day at work so I could squeeze in 2 or 3 extra hours of exercise. There’s nothing that says “Maybe you have issues with food” more than spending all summer riding a bike around a campground in blazing hot weather selling ice cream out of a cooler and never once having so much as a freeze pop because those 90 calories might mean the difference between losing 1 pound and 2 pounds this week. I was addicted to watching the numbers go down, the same way a drug user is addicted. I would do anything to lose weight.

I would like to fill in this part of my story with lots of reasons. I was in a really unhealthy relationship that mainly consisted of who could be the most screwed up and one of our daily dysfunctional rituals was fighting over who could eat less. My college had an unusually high proportion of gorgeous, tan, size 2 girls and comparing myself to every single one of them was my favorite hobby. I was on my own for the first time in my life and the way I chose to maintain control was through food. Maybe I read too many issues of Cosmopolitan and it brainwashed me.

But it doesn’t really matter. The point is I spent my sophomore and junior years of college very thin and very miserable. One of my most distinct memories is watching an MTV True Life episode about people who hated their bodies and thinking “Wow these people are straight up crazypants crazy” Until the girl on the show said she weighed 115 pounds and I cried because I weighed more. I used to daydream I passed out from not eating during work so maybe someone would finally say “You might need help” instead of “Wow, you look GREAT!”

Maybe I did look great. I don’t really know. There are very few pictures of me from those years because I was convinced I looked fat and wouldn’t let anyone take them.

————————————————

So now, when I say cheesecake and I are friends, maybe you can understand why that’s a big deal for me. I don’t want anything to trigger those old thoughts and behaviors. I’m afraid if I start counting a few calories I’ll end up counting them ALL (I already had to delete a food tracker app from my phone because I freaked out about eating anything that wasn’t specifically listed). Losing 20 pounds is never enough. It has to be 30, 50, 80 pounds and it has to be now! Yesterday! I need to get my body back! (Because apparently my baby took it somewhere. Maybe I should just ask her.) Swimsuit season is coming! And then I am miserable again.

To be honest, all my pregnancy weight from baby #2 is already gone. Being sick so often was a really effective diet and fevers burn a lot of calories. Maybe this time breastfeeding is sucking out all my fat or chasing a toddler really was all the exercise I needed. (Wow, I’m practically a celebrity mom! Alert US Weekly!) My body is back to the weight it likes to maintain when I’m not trying to diet, a weight I’m not particularly happy with but one that isn’t going to hurt me. I have clothes that fit and can smile into a camera instead of running away.

That’s not to say I’m not trying to be healthier. I’m back at Stroller Strides and feel good to be working out again. I had a yogurt for breakfast and am proud of making a wise choice. There is broccoli in my fridge and I have plans to actually eat it.

But I also plan to eat the cheesecake.

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30 Responses to “Weighty Issues”

  1. Ally says:

    I hate hearing women talk about how “bad” they are when it comes to diets. What you eat or don’t eat is not a virtue; a fat person is not bad and a thin person is not good! Eat for your health and your happiness (easier said than done of course). My MIL is especially guilty of this, to the point of it being kind of annoying to go out to dinner with her. She’s always on a diet, yet in the 6 years I’ve known her I’ve never seen her weight change (up or down) but I have seen her both depriving herself and guilty scarfing down a plate of food in seconds… not healthy habits, regardless of what the scale says. Kudos to you on your healthy attitude, it can take a lot of work to get there. That’s about where I’m at right now too (even with 15 lbs of “baby weight” left) and I am thankful.

  2. Mama Fisch says:

    Kudos to you and for this post! I am with you. I am one of those people too… I am naturally athletic, naturally fit and went back to my pre-pregnancy wait with ease! But here is the thing, I also eat poorly sometimes. And, then I remedy it with eating better the next day. Food, diet, weight, and outlook (for the most part) is a choice. It is about setting expectations, meeting them and knowing what you need to do. It is about doing what your body wants and needs. Taking care of you and knowing what makes you happy. Some days, you just need some cheesecake!

  3. Swistle says:

    <3

    I really, really, really dislike it when people equate food choices with their own inherent goodness and badness.

  4. Other Erin says:

    You did look great (I have the pictures) but I think you are right when you say looking great can’t be the only metric. If you were miserable and unhealthy, it clearly wasn’t the right way of life for you.

    Sadly, I think struggling with body image is just par for the course when you are a young woman. I know I did. I did some equally crazy things to try and lose weight but thankfully settled on a diet where I try really hard to focus on being healthy and not skinny. It helps that I’ve found an exercise that I love doing. I’ve had some pretty good success although I’ve been known to stuff my face with cookies or finish off the majority of a pizza on my own every once in awhile. But by focusing and being healthy *most* of the time, I saw results that not only included weight loss but having more energy and just feeling better which only encouraged me to stick with it.

    It sounds like you are in the same type of place and I’m sure you’ll reach your goal – whatever it is. And for what it’s worth, I have always (and still do) think you are gorgeous.

    (Also, I have to say, I love some of your tags for this post).

  5. MKP says:

    Augh – I hate hearing “But you looked great!” when I actually venture out into sharing my eating/body issues history with someone. The times I’ve been unemployed during the last two years, I was so anxious I couldn’t eat and my hair started falling out but my mom was full of praise for how I’d slimmed down.

    I don’t apologize for eating a whole donut (or three) instead of finding some equally insecure woman in the office to split it with, for ordering dessert after having had an appetizer and dinner or for ignoring calorie counts. I have friends in OA who really benefit from the structure of their food plans, but for me thinking about food beyond “What do I feel like eating?” is totally unhelpful and leads me directly back to disordered eating.

  6. Joanna says:

    I love you :). It’s hard for me sometimes too because I can become so obsessed with the scale that I have serious anxiety over gaining weight while pregnancy. People think it’s nuts that I don’t look at the scale at the doctor’s office, but they know why. If I get caught up with 3 lbs in one week or something else I’m afraid it will trigger awful things and I don’t want it to trigger those awful things, I want to grow a healthy baby.

  7. Holly says:

    Thanks for sharing this. You have such a good outlook on this, and I think the biggest thing is just to remain happy and healthy. And of course to maintain that special relationship with cheesecake. Now come to Brooklyn and we will go to Juniors and have the best damn cheesecake the world can offer.

  8. andrea says:

    I think very few women can say they haven’t struggled with their body image at one point or another. It doesn’t matter if you are a size 2 or a size 12. I find it very difficult to talk about my struggles (also during college) because ‘how dare you complain about that if you have always been on the thin side?! you don’t even KNOW what struggling with weight loss is!!’
    It is really not about what size you are, but what’s going on inside your head. I also refuse to go back to that place so I try to make my weight a non-issue. I am friends with the cheesecake too, but I’m also bff with veggies & other healthy snacks. It’s all about finding a good balance (for me, at least). xxo

  9. Joni says:

    I also like cheesecake. And it likes me, well mostly my butt, but you know. I wrote a whole things about cheesecake once and I was writing a post like this last night too after I got the umpteenth email from someone referring back to a post I did about victoria’s secret and body image. I was the thinnest and fittest I’d ever been right before I got pregnant… for the fourth time (and after 10 years). It’s all for naught now because I’m 10 pounds from the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m also not 25 anymore and the baby weight is absolutely not falling off and the baby is almost 5 months old. I just CANNOT hate myself. I can’t. I want to. And sometimes I do but it’s so self defeating. I’m trying to stop beating myself up.

    I love this post. I love it when bloggers are honest about the fact that they struggle too.

  10. Robyn says:

    good for you! enjoy the cheesecake! it’s all about moderation, and eating a variety of foods. and for you for figuring this out early for that your baby girl can learn good eating habits and grow up with a better perspective. that’s the main reason why i don’t ever force Rory to eat anything or try and talk her into eating when she says she’s full. i want her to grow up listening to what her body tells her, instead of having the food issues i have.

  11. TMae says:

    I love cheesecake, too. And beer, and wings, and sour cream, and nachos, etc.

    I’ve never dieted. I hate the idea of stressing about food. I weigh more than I would like. But I don’t really know what I would like to weigh. Because I know when I weighed less, I STILL wasn’t comfortable in a bathing suit. Because I have boobs, and I hate them.

    And I hate the universe for teaching women that it’s good to dislike their bodies.

  12. Thank you for writing this. I also hate Mondays for the same reason. (Ack! We sound like Cathy. Ack!) I hate the good/bad association eating. I hate when my brain screams unhealthy choices. I hate when I watch people losing weight on programs that don’t teach them how to eat.

    I am also fat. I am sure they think I am just jealous.

  13. Meg says:

    You have to live life. So eat your cheesecake when you feel like it, and balance it with healthy meals and exercise.

    I eat a Hershey’s dark chocolate bar every day. It has 180 calories. I count them in my daily intake (and 180 for dessert is not bad, really). I get my chocolate fix. I break a section off at a time and let it slowly melt in my mouth. It’s one of the best parts of my day.

    I also work out 5-6 days a week. I eat healthy meals. I have balance and good health.

    So you eat your cheesecake and love your body. That body is strong enough and healthy enough to have baked and birthed two beautiful, healthy children in the last three years, so celebrate it!

  14. molly says:

    Boo. This post makes me super sad. I have never really had to deal with dieting ::ducks head:: but I just hate it when my friends feel like less of a person because they aren’t a certain size.

    I think you’re pretty awesome just the way you are, Suzanne. You’re a beautiful mama to two beautiful kiddos. That changes your body and it’s OKAY. You just had a baby like 5 minutes ago. Please take a breather from all that pressure you put on yourself. Concentrate on being happy. Not being skinny. Mkay?

    Cuz happy is better than unhappy any day!

  15. Cheri says:

    I once had a VERY HOT male nurse roll his eyes at me for rolling my eyes at him to weigh me at the doctors. He said ‘I dont understand why this number matters when this (holding a thermometer) tells you exacty how hot you are.’ I blushed, and as he weighed me he said ‘perfect’ Which was not nessicarily true, but it was a time when I was the most out going, and had the most fun on a regular basis. He was right….It is when I stopped freaking out over EVERsinlge thing that went into my mouth. I think you look great, I also think that the apperance on the outside is determned by how one feels on the inside.

  16. Audrey says:

    I hear you. Fatty Fat Fat was something I used to have as a screen saver on my laptop in college and after. I thought it would motivate me to see what everyone was thinking when they looked at me. It turns out..I lose weight when I’m happy and gain weight when I’m miserable. Shocker. I’ve been miserable most of my life so I gained a lot of weight. I started losing weight when I became satisfied with who I was and how I looked. And lo I met my husband and he loved me even though. I’m not particularly happy with how I look when I see photographs of myself. I feel okay in my body until I see a photo, then I hate myself. But I live a fairly healthy lifestyle, it’s only lacking in exercise that doesn’t involve chasing a 2 year old right now. I make healthy food choices sprinkled with carb love affairs and I’m okay with that.

  17. bellegourmande says:

    AMEN. Thanks for this post. I also have a history with eating disorders and I simply cannot think in a “dieting” sort of way about food and or it will really mess with me. I also discovered, finally, after almost 14 years of messed-up eating and beating myself up about losing weight, that if I just let my body do what it wants and actually listen to my hunger cues, etc., that I end up naturally maintaining what for me is a healthy, very acceptable size. It was so liberating to finally be free from the constant negative thoughts and behaviors. So yeah, eat the cheesecake. It’s not “bad” to do so. It’s all part of the balance of life.

    Now let’s hope we can pass on our wisdom about body image and nutrition to our daughters (when I have one)! I worry about that and hope to save my hypothetical daughter from a lof of the unnecessary pain I endured.

  18. Bonnie says:

    Reading this rings so true to me. I was very similar to you from age 17-19. I wanted to look like all my thin and gorgeous friends, even though my body type will never be a size two. Even when eating very little and working out with a trainer, I still had thighs and a tummy. Even though I was thinner than I am now, I HATED myself.

    I gained back all the weight I had lost during those years, and am slowly learning to accept my body at age 21. It’s hard to think that I’ll never be a size two, or look hot in a bikini, or be able to wear a tight, sexy shift dress. However, I’m happier eating normally and exercising sensibly than I was pretending to be a vegan just so I could starve myself. It’s also really hard for me to start counting calories because I slip back into being obsessive about it. However, I still have hate days when I cry and want to cover up my mirror and seriously start thinking about throwing up after eating french fries.

    Sorry for the long comment, but I’m so glad you posted it and that someone out there is going through and went through the same things that I did.

  19. Natalie says:

    I love food. Good food and bad food. I try to space out the bad food with lots of good food, but weight is something I have struggled with my whole life. I finally decided the exercise was something I had to do, to be a better person (physically and mentally). I’m really trying to let go of the idea of getting to a certain size, and just being healthy, but living in a society where being slightly heavier is equated with laziness, drives me BATTY, and it is a constant struggle.

    I appreciate you writing this, because ultimately I want to let it go. I want my weekly exercise updates to focus more on how strong I feel, and not the weight. I want to be happy in my own body. I want to be healthy and happy in my own, AMAZING body, that has carried two healthy, happy, awesome children. I try to own that.

    I also love you and am glad that you smile for the camera because you are adorable and I love your face. :)

  20. Laura says:

    Can I marry you? It took guts to write that post and I so admire you for it and for your attitude. I think it’s up to us as the new generation of mothers to raise our children with healthier body images than most of us have had (easier said than done, I know). Just reading through all the comments here makes me realize just how out of control popular culture is with appearance (not that I didn’t know that already). Here’s to healthy body images and loving ourselves for who we are.

  21. Brigid Keely says:

    Haha! I wrote something similar at my other blog– http://www.brigidkeely.com/wordpress . I need to start logging what I eat because something/things I’m eating are making me ill here and there, but I’m pretty sure logging what I eat will launch me into a whole buttload of obsessive compulsive behavior regarding what goes into my mouth and in what quantities.

  22. kim davis says:

    oh girl. that summer of your sounds like a solid 4 year chunk of my life. years i wish i could take back…or at least tell myself “you are beautiful and you are HIS creation” but I can’t…and I’m not sure I would at that opportunity. i worry worry worry about weight gain when i get pregnant. i disgust myself that i would perhaps be more concerned with some extra poundage than bringing a beautiful baby into the world. thanks for your transparency. i’ve found freedom & when i start slipping, i hear of someone else finding freedom, and i am even more encouraged to stay that way. healthy. free. not consumed with food sins.

    thank you.

  23. Ali says:

    It’s crazy how familiar this post is for me. Not now, but when I was in 8th grade I did this. I slept a ton. Because like you said, you cant eat when you’re sleeping. Hits a little close to home.

  24. I’m sad that there was a time in life that you and Cheesecake were not pals. Me & cheesecake are BFF’s. Oreo cheescake and pumpkin cheescake are my faves!!!!!!!!!

    I’m happy you saw the light, beautiful Mama.

  25. Anna says:

    Really interested reading this post and the comments. Also stunned by how many people have commented saying they went through the same thing or worse still feel that way today. What’s even more sad is that most of them are mums. I really hope we can get to a stage in society where it is ok to eat the god damn cheesecake and not feel like we have to justify it. Food is there to be enjoyed not as something that we need to hold ourselves prisoner too just because women in magazines all weigh next to nothing. I worked in the fashion industry for a while and trust me when I say that all the models live on freakin diet coke and that’s about it. I once watched a girl spend nearly an hour peeling an apple and then she ate the peel not the apple. That is INSANE! Do you think she was happy?Eat, exercise if you want. We are all beautiful, doesn’t matter if you weigh 100 pounds or 300 pounds. It is just society that is judging. What matters is being healthy and happy and not passing on crappy stereotypes for our kids.
    You are a gorgeous woman.

  26. Suzanne says:

    Thanks so much for this. I hate McFatty Monday too, for the same reason. Thanks for bringing something different to the blogospere. It is why I keep coming back! :-)

  27. Betsy says:

    Love this post. I agree with you 1000%! I exercise and eat in moderation. I enjoy my sweets, and I don’t apologize for it. I may not be at my “ideal” weight (whatever that is), but I’m a happy momma to a beautiful 7-month-old girl, and I have a husband that loves me no matter what.

  28. Grace says:

    You say what needs to be said and it is awesome.

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