Friday, September 25, 2009

self-imposed famine

I am recalling, as I contemplate the reading on my scale this morning, a comment Kim made fairly recently to a post on this blog. A fellow writer, and a darn good one, Kim has a way of being direct while at the same time saying something in a way you've never heard it said before. Normally, I find this very enjoyable. This time, it caught me off guard.

Bad news, she writes, none of the experts have come up with a better way to lose weight than a self-imposed famine. I chuckled as I read it, but deep inside, there was something about it that was decidedly not funny. Not Kim, mind you, but the deeper implications of this particular comment. I stored it away, along with some notes I scribbled as I processed my emotional response.

The thoughts have returned this morning, ready for me to explore them further. Despite two weeks of working out hard and reigning myself in, I have not only not lost weight, I have gained two pounds. While I am confounded, I am not surprised. I could feel it. I knew it in my body. But knowing it and understanding why it's happening are two entirely different things.

I know enough to know that I obviously am eating more calories than I am burning, so I need to re-evaluate my intake. But I also know enough to know that I was NOT eating so much that I should have gained weight. Maintained, perhaps. But not gained. This is what drives me to despair. I am trying not to go there, today. But the urge is strong.

I return to my notes from Kim's comment. I already deprive myself. I already say no to ice cream with the kids, to a third or fouth peice of pizza, to cookies in the break room, to french fries or garlic bread or pastries at Panera. I already reign myself in. Why must I do it more?

I already work hard. I already do some form of exercise, which I still, for the record, don't LOVE, four to six days a week. I walk, I cross-train, I strength-train, I interval-train. I already push myself beyond what is comfortable. Why must I do it more?

This is the struggle. I get that I have to watch what I eat and work out, and will need to do that forever. What I don't get is why I work out harder than my husband and don't eat half the stuff he does yet weigh 30 lbs more. What I don't get is why we can eat the same foods in the same portions and I gain weight and he does not. And what I don't get is why on earth God thinks this is a good idea.

Self-imposed famine. How much? How long? And to what end? Can I do it, knowing my body may or may not respond? Do I want to? (No.) But do I want my clothes to fit again? (YES.) So, what choice do I have? (None.)

Self-imposed famine. Restrict. Deny. Reign in. Work out. Burn.

And pray that the God of body fat has mercy on my soul.

So today looks like boycotting the gym (though I have a sinus infection on which I can lay blame), and eating whatever the heck I want, because I'm done. Tomorrow looks like paying better attention to my caloric intake and getting serious about getting this weight off. Because I'm done.

And so, at least for a season, self-imposed famine it is. Not to an extreme, mind you, but to a greater degree than what has obviously not been working. We'll see if my body plays by the rules this time...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The scale reads the same as it did two weeks ago. This would be great, were I trying to maintain my weight. But I'm not. I've been trying for over six months to lose the weight I gained over my Winter From Hell, so as to be able to actually WEAR the clothes in my closet. (How vain and self-absorbed of me.) I gained ten more pounds in the process. I dieted, lost seven pounds. Gained it back. Dieted. Lost six pounds. Went off the diet because I couldn't stand it any more. Ate clean, ate reasonably, worked out like a sane person. I felt good. Until this morning. I'm not losing weight.

If I were a glass-half-full person, I would celebrate that I was able to maintain my weight even through a camping trip and the first week of school. But I wasn't trying to maintain. I was trying to lose. I was consciously reigning myself in. I was consciously choosing healthy, low-fat, clean foods. I was making myself exercise when I wanted to sit on my butt. Why is there no fruit on this God-forsaken tree? Even Jesus cursed the tree that bore no fruit. So where does that leave me and my God-forsaken body?

It leaves me in despair, curing my body and shaking my fist at the God who gave it to me. I'm angry. I'm hurt. I'm confused. Why does my body not respond like other peoples' bodies? Why must this be a lifelong struggle? Why must I police every bite of food I put in my mouth? Why do I work out like the buff girls at the gym but LOOK like my friends who only exercise occasionally? Or worse, why do they look more fit than me?

Acceptance, many will preach to me. Accept your body. Make friends with it. I would not ever be friends with a person this fickle and unreliable. Ever. I don't want to befriend 154 pounds. I want to return to my normal level of overweightness and be able to wear the clothes in my closet. I don't think that's unreasonable or unhealthy. It is a reasonable desire. Unless, of course, you live in my body.

I pray, in my ridiculous rubbing-the-genie-bottle way, every time I step on that stupid contraption. (And don't bother to tell me to stop weighing myself—I won't. I only do it every couple of weeks, to find out if what I'm doing is working. Typically, it's not. I'm sick to death of disapproving glances and comments every time I check the numbers to see if they add up with what I'm trying to accomplish. So there. How's that for snarky?) I close my eyes and I take a deep breath and I intone Please God, let it go down. Please. Please make it go down.
Then I step on the scale and it whirs and clicks and I hold my breath and I wait to either be reassured or to have my heart drop. Most days, the number is of the heart-dropping variety.

Obviously I'm eating more calories than I think I am. Obviously I'm not exercising as much as I need to. Obviously something must be wrong, right? But what? Starving myself is not right, either. Obsessive exercise that wears me out and makes me want to cry is not right. And even when I do what's not right, hoping it will be right, it is still wrong. What. The. Heck.

I am so tired. Tired of feeling deprived. Tired of exercising when I want to write or be with people instead. Tired of eating fruit while my family eats ice cream. Tired of feeling week and weary and sick to my stomach when I work out. Tired of feeling frustrated, weary, hopeless. I'm tired. But I'm also tired of wearing the same six outfits. So which is worse to endure?

My body is not my friend. My body is the mean-spirited class princess who smiles sweetly to your face then spreads devastating lies about you behind your back. It cannot be trusted, yet I am suckered in every time. And as for the God who made that body? Some days, to be quite honest, I question if he can be trusted, either.