Friday, November 14, 2008

More on anger and recovery

I hadn't weighed myself for a couple of weeks after deciding to Not-Diet. It had given me the weird effect of not quite knowing where I stood, which suggests that I was relying much too much on the scale as a validation. It also gave me the weird sensation of feeling thinner, fatter, fatter, thinner, the same, depending on my mood. I finally weighed myself yesterday, fully clothed after breakfast, to see where I stood. Of course I had to then get a "real" weight this morning before breakfast. I've stayed right about the same, despite sharing the house with a ridiculous amount of Halloween candy and some testing of myself to see if I'm really "allowed" to have what I want. I think that once I stop testing and start really living the way I want to, I will have less need to eat half a stack of crackers just to prove I can. That is when I would expect to see myself settle in at whatever weight is really normal for me. It's hard to trust the process but I'm working on it.

This month's Yoga Journal has an article about "Uncovering Your True Self." The article opens with a parable about a sculptor who carves beautiful elephants out of marble. To do this, he tells an admirer, he lives with the raw stone for a while, then starts to see the living elephant in the rock. "How he yearns to be out! How he wants to live! It seems so clear now, for I know the thing I must do: With an utter singleness of purpose, I must chip away every last bit of stone that is not elephant. What then remains will be, must be, elephant." Author Eknath Easwaran suggested that we can do the same thing with our true self, that by really seeing the person we want to become, we can start to chip away the things that aren't compatible with that vision.

In a recent podcast, Jillian Michaels answered an email from a mother who was frustrated and worried about her son, who was overweight and seemed to be eating constantly. She had tried bargaining with him, yelling at him, showing him TLC specials about people who were too obese to leave their homes. She was at her wit's end and didn't know what to do. Jillian could understand her frustration but also was obviously feeling pain and empathy for the boy. All of this was only sending the boy the message, Jillian said, that his mother didn't love him for who he was. Jillian asked the mother to stop trying to scare her child and start focusing on the positive. The mother needed to stop harassing her son and focus on giving him positive role models, starting with setting the example herself. She should also find out what her son really wanted to do: Play an instrument, play sports, whatever. Instead of focusing on what she didn't want him to become, she could help him be the person he wanted to be.

Though the idea is simple, none of this is easy. One thing that's the hardest to do is to let go of the grudges and grievances and things that I've been blaming for not only the excess weight, but my neuroses and assorted character flaws. There's a difference between looking for the hidden reasons we do things and clinging to them as some sort of badge of honor and excuse. As Easwaran said in the Yoga Journal article, "Can you imagine a sculptor scurrying to pick up the slivers that fall from his chisel, hoarding them, trasuring them, ignoring the statue altogether?" I've heard that negative comments have five times the impact of positive ones. Everyone my life, no matter how wonderful, is going to say something once in a while that hurts me. I can hoard up those slights or I can take an adult role and start moving toward my true self, and remember that I've also been the one who inadvertently (or even some terrible times, on purpose) hurt someone I cared about. The goal shouldn't be to keep score in some kind of dramatic no-holds-barred cage match, but to work on becoming the person I want to be and letting the unwanted chips fall.


  1. You are just so awesome. Not perfect, mind you :) but awesome - this is hard stuff but I think you are uncovering really valuable insights for your own life. As always, this helps me, too :)

  2. p.s. - you definitely sound like Happy Normal Person and not Angry Fat Girl.

  3. Negative comments may have five times the impact of positive ones, but what about the negative comments made by you - to you? Most people would never say to her friend "my God, you are so fat!" but would easily say it to herself. Many people have negative comments or feelings that they turn inward. How can we expect our bodies to be healthy or slender if we keep insulting them? When we insult ourselves, we make ourselves feel bad, then eat to feel safe again. Isn't it time that we made ourselves feel safe by saying/thinking kind and generous things instead of mean and nasty things?


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07