Food is a loaded word to me.
Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to eat candy until I was around 10 years old. My mom, who has been overweight my whole life, stocked the fridge with “healthy” foods. She would supply us with small portions of un-filling, processed diet food for most meals. When I discovered candy and was allowed near a stove, I started bingeing and making myself much larger portions. I was always a fat kid, but I started gaining weight heavily around 10 – 12. I went on my first official diet at 13, taking matters into my own hands. I lost at least 60 pounds.
I think about food all the time. When is my next meal? What is it going to be? Is this going to ruin my diet for the day? Is it worth it? Most times it is. Since losing all that weight at 13, I’ve gained it back and then some. My family had urged me to lose weight before I decided to take the diet plunge once again two years ago. Weight Watchers subscriptions, gym memberships, and money incentives to lose weight were not uncommon. My doctors have suggested weight loss surgery. I’ve gone to clinics to investigate the surgery and get added help only to be disappointed at the lack of options.
Adding to my complicated relationship with food, I consider myself a fat activist. That means I reject the notion that my social currency should be based on my size. When I discovered body positivity, I spent a long time rejecting diets altogether. I tried to focus on the Health At Every Size movement and intuitive eating. For a while, I was losing weight just by listening to when I was full and not feeling guilty about everything I ate. Then I started gaining again. I was throwing up in the morning most days, and problems with my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome—a condition where obesity is a large contributing factor—were getting worse. Reluctantly, I went on Weight Watchers. I’ve lost somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds.
I’m grateful for my leaders and my success, but losing weight as a fat activist is tough. Members in the meetings carry a lot of shame. Weight Watchers has been stepping away from this recently, but there’s a lot of negative self-talk and value based solely on the number on the scale. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t prescribe to the thin ideal. The idea that I’d get a decent boyfriend or a job faster if I fit into the mold. A couple years ago, I didn’t think this way. When I started dieting, I was afraid I’d lose a piece of myself along with the weight, and honestly, I did. Now, I put much more value on the number on the scale. I find it a lot harder to maintain the self-confidence I’ve worked so hard to gain unless I’m actively losing weight. I never bought into the idea of the “good fatty”before, now I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I can’t even imagine my mindset if I’d lost a more significant amount of weight.
I stopped tracking for the most part around 6 months ago. I stopped going to meetings in the last month or two. Lately, I’ve been struggling with late night binge eating and fluctuating feelings of guilt. This is something I have to work out without obsessing about points every minute of every day. I haven’t given up on my diet completely, but I’d like to go back to intuitive eating, maybe even going on my own Weight Watchers ‘Lite’ version where I ease myself back into healthy eating habits. I don’t think diets are terrible, but I encourage others to check in with themselves often in the process. I remain hopeful that I can maintain a healthier weight, regain the confidence I’ve lost in the last year or so, and develop a healthier relationship with food.