I wrote recently about my struggles to stay body positive while also actively trying to lose weight. This is not an easy task for me and one that I work really hard at; I don't want my friends who are happy with their bodies to think I'm judging them simply because I am trying to lose weight. Remaining body positive, and supportive of everyone in my life, is incredibly important to me.
But beyond that, there are things I need to work on that aren't just losing weight and body positivity. I've always had an unhealthy obsession with my body size, and monitoring my body size. I recently mentioned to a group of mom friends that I can remember my exact weight at every important event of my life: my wedding day, the day I got home from Idaho after graduating, the day I got engaged, the day I had Forrest. These are numbers taking up valuable space in my brain. A small part of me had held out hope that this was normal behavior, but I knew it actually wasn't. It's not normal, or healthy, to remember your weight on exact days, especially days dedicated to your own wedding or your first child.
I cried every morning I had a doctor's appointment because I knew they would weigh me--and write that down on a little piece of paper, cruelly, without letting me defend it. I always wanted to put an asterisk on it. One that said, perhaps, I was thin once! I really was! I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted because I was so active! I work a sedentary job! I'm working on it! I wanted to argue with the computer system that classified me as a "high-risk pregnancy due to overweight status." I wanted to tell my doctor, every appointment, that I'm not, like, ok with my weight; I know I need to change.
This is also not normal behavior. The actions of the medical community notwithstanding (there are some definite changes that need to be made regarding the treatment of weight issues and non-issues), it's not normal to obsess about how much you weigh when you're pregnant.
I remember writing up a workout plan for myself postpartum. I remember anxiously imagining a time where I could restrict calories again. This is not only not super healthy, but really depressing to think about.
It's hard to know that I have so many issues relating to my body and health. As I've written before, I know I'm dealing with body dysmorphia, but that doesn't really change the fact that when I go to the doctor, I get treated like none of my issues matter because, obviously, I just need to lose weight and they'll all magically go away. (This is one of the most annoying things about my medical treatment: I can guarantee you weight loss isn't going to fix at least 75% of my issues, but ok.) I know I want to lose weight for my health and my personal happiness--but I also know that, in some ways, I won't ever really be happy because you can't be happy when you're obsessed with your body. Period. End stop.
I posted on Twitter recently about all the fitness Instagrams I follow. A lot of them are people who have lost significant amounts of weight through IIFYM (If it fits your macros), a method of measuring food that focuses on macronutrients versus calories. I love following these accounts because I feel like IIFYM gives you a more realistic ability to follow meal plans, because you worry about nutrients instead of just calories. You go for nutrient dense foods and you'll feel fuller and be healthier. However, a significant portion of people who follow IIFYM tend to start going down this very strange path where they start eating a lot of artificial foods (like that nasty Halo Top ice cream stuff or Arctic Ice) and weighing their food. Seeing a woman list that she ate 100 grams of onions, and only that much, is a whole new level of obsession.
It's very easy to go from one end of the spectrum to the other: being overweight and obsessed with your body to the point of hatred, then losing weight and becoming obsessed with staying that way. Perhaps so intensely obsessed that you start to do things like traveling with a food scale everywhere and weighing individual sandwich ingredients in a restaurant. It was six years ago that Marie Claire published this piece about healthy living bloggers--and how their meal plans are dangerous and unrealistic--and yet, we're still doing it.
We live in a culture that is obsessed with bodies and body sizes--so it's easy for us to get obsessed as well. It's a cycle that difficult to break, but I believe it is possible: I believe it is possible to lose weight and be body positive, to lose weight and not become obsessed with staying thin, to be healthy and not weigh food. I believe these things are possible--I just need to work on doing them.