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I should probably explain that I am seriously conflicted about the alternating feelings I have between wanting to scream to the world “OMG, I LOST 10 LBS!” (hey, see what I did there?) and understanding that the urge to do that is mired in patriarchal and fat shaming baggage.

I think I need to go back and read this essay without my snark-goggles.

I suppose the fact that I haven’t been writing over here is a good sign, in that I’m feeling less conflicted about food and my body and my ability to build a healthy lifestyle that is not obsessed with absolutely under no circumstances baking a cake if I really really want cake. (I really wanted cake Monday. So I baked one. It’s yummy and almost half of it is still in the pan on the kitchen counter. But I digress.)

I am trying to develop a love affair with exercise – as I’ve mentioned before, I do feel so much better and more relaxed and I’m sure I am more pleasant to be around when I get up in the morning and even spend 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer. The catch is getting my ass out of be early enough to make it happen.

So, I’ve started making my default for my alarm 5:30 instead of 6:30. Not getting up to exercise is now the conscious exception, rather than affirmatively setting the alarm back an hour. Getting up with time to do this for myself is my new rule. It’s not perfect. The other night when I got caught up in a book and read until after midnight finishing it (Heir to Sevenwaters, I love Juliet Marrillier), I figured I needed at least a little more than 5 hours of sleep.

For the most part it works. And I feel better, and my clothes fit better, and I feel more toned and stronger. I am a nicer person. Really. Seriously. Why don’t you believe me? I am completely serious though – even though I’m operating on less sleep, I am less snappy and more able to just roll with things, just ask my kid. And I’m trying not to let the fact that I’ve also lost some “extra” lbs be too much of an incentive, but it does get me down below a particular psychological barrier as well.

And therein lies some conflict, because philosophically, I still find myself watching the scale and still looking at clothes in my closet and thinking if I could just lose 2515 lbs, I could maybe fit into these things again. And then I think, you know, if just upping a couple of days of exercise is enough to take off some of this weight and stored fat, then maybe there’s a different point besides just size acceptance here – I’m not dieting. I’m barely trying to eat healthier – although I have been eating a lot more organic and less processed food, including more fruits and veggies.

So maybe it all makes a difference together and maybe the only thing that is really important is that I am happy. To the extent that I feel better, it is not because I suddenly discovered that I’d “lost weight”- I felt better before that because I was taking better care of myself. And I like myself. I liked myself three weeks ago and I like myself now and I will like myself whether I keep exercising or not.

The scale does not define me, but neither does avoiding it. I have to find my own way.

Since my posts here at at I’m Just Not Impressed last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what not-dieting and not feeling guilty really means.

First, I feel like I need to acknowledge that I am coming at this from a position of relative privilege.  I am not obese.  Truly, I am barely overweight.  Realistically, most people are not going to look at me and say “OMG, that woman is fat.”  I suspect that fully dressed in my work clothes and heels, very few people would even look at me and think that I need to loose a few pounds.  Part of how I see myself is body image dysphoria and I know that – and part of that dysphoria – and this is also where some of the privilege comes in – is that I tend to think of myself as a thin person, so I see myself in pictures  or naked in a mirror and think, do I really look like that?  To the extent that there is any validity to BMI or weight charts, I fall into the overweight category, but by 10-20 lbs. 

I am likewise privileged in that I know, in the recesses of my mind, that if I did deny myself that cookie or that scoop of mashed potatoes and ate mostly salad for a while and exercised 40 minutes a day five days a week, the pounds would drop off and I’d be that skinny person I see in the mirror.  And hell, when I put it like that, it sounds almost easy, doesn’t it?  I was almost 20 lbs lighter two years ago (which was still 10 lbs more than what I thought of as my ideal weight at the time).  Then I went on medication that packed those 20 lbs on.

I do need to exercise more.  I just do.  It’s not a matter of losing weight, it’s a matter of feeling less pain in my shoulders and joints and feeling stronger and more capable and being able to swing my son over my shoulders and run around and play with him like a maniac.  And hell, being able to actually touch my toes with locked knees for the first time in my entire life, even when I was 21 and weighed 128 lbs. 

I also need to eat better – not in a self denial way, but in a less saturated fat more fruits and veggies because my cholesterol is on the edge of being too high and I eat like crap.  Food I don’t even really like, like McDonald’s kind of crap because I am busy and don’t feel like cooking.  And again, I feel better when I eat better food.  Garbage in, garbage out, ya know?

Not giving into the guilt though – it’s amazing how that works.  Because if I have a cookie or a piece of chocolate or a mocha latte, I’m not “being bad” anymore.  So I can eat just one, because whatever it is that I would have beaten myself up over just a month ago is no big hairy deal.  I haven’t ruined my diet.  None of this in for a penny, in for a pound crap.  I can eat just one Hershey’s kiss and not feel like I need to eat the whole wee bag that theoretically is in the car as an after-school treat for the kidlet (who also needs to eat less McDonald’s and more fruit).  I don’t need to binge and overindulge, because there is no baggage associated with putting this stuff in my mouth anymore.

But, you might say, doesn’t the fact that you keep nattering on about this suggest that perhaps you are not as comfortable with the idea as you say you are?  And I will totally grant that it is constant work.  It is, in a way, diet vigilance of a different type, this idea of not judging myself (and, not-so- incidentally, other women[1]) for what I put on my plate and in my mouth.  It is a sad commentary on the state of the world that it feels almost radical to suggest that “being good” has nothing to do with self denial and that food is not a reward or punishment.  (How many times have any of us said when picking at bowl of lettuce, “well, I was really bad yesterday”?)   I still think about what I eat – nutritious meals and a balanced diet don’t mysteriously appear three times a day anymore now than they did a few weeks ago.  But I find myself approaching things differently.  I find myself listening more to my body about the food it needs than my mind about the comfort it desires. 

[1] I want to say, for the record, that this absolutely includes those of you who I know are committed to weight loss through a variety of means.

I mentioned in my last post – in which I was tracking yesterday’s food – that I don’t like doing it.

I don’t like doing it because I’m sick to death of the “guilt” that women especially, but to some degree most people I know, experience around food.  I find eating extremely pleasurable.  I love eating really good food.  Hell, I love eating crap food most of the time.  I love those wee high calorie cheeseburgers from McDonalds and I love my dad’s mashed potatoes and I love my own baking and I love my husband’s spaghetti and I love Taco Bell almost any hour of the day.  I’m big on “comfort food”.  I’m not so in love with salad.

I’m tracking for a few weeks (I hope) in part because I want to look at what I’m eating to help myself make better choices – in the sense of getting more fruits and veggies, more whole grains.  But I do not want to deny myself the pleasures of food.  Eating is not a bad thing.  There is nothing shameful about enjoying a cheeseburger and onion rings or a brownie or a scoop of ice cream or a beer.

I want to make sure I remember that, because the worse I feel about the food I eat, the more I eat.  I can train myself to see the veggies in the forest of carbs, but I cannot train myself not to enjoy decadence.  I can just control how often I do so and how much I indulge.

So, a list of things to remember:
1. There is nothing bad/naughty/disgusting about enjoying food.
2. I feel better when I eat better and do not over indulge.
3. I enjoy food more when I take charge of choosing and creating it.
4. I feel better physically when I exercisee regularly.
5. Exercise does not have to be a chore.
6. Food /=guilt.

This is a blog for accountability.

This is a blog for acceptance.

Like approximately, oh, 95% of the population, I want to lose weight.  Well, actually, not so much.  I want to lose inches.  I want to be in better shape.  I want to not feel run down constantly and consumed by food, rather than a consumer of food.  I want to pull on my pants without wincing at the tightness of the fit.  I want to run around with my son without feeling like I’m dying of exhaustion.

If all those things happen and the number on the scale happens to move, great.  And if I’m honest with myself, I want that number to move.  Oh how much do I.  But I also know that the number is not the important thing.  Feeling fitter and more in touch with my body and my health – those are.