Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Working through body shame

Thank you for the kind comments on my post about body shame.  It does help to reach out and be heard.

I have been re-listening to my audio versions of I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power and When Food Is Food and Love Is Love: A Step-by-Step Spiritual Program to Break Free from Emotional Eating when I'm driving and that also helps. One "aha moment" was hearing again BrenĂ© Brown's "shame web" -- competing, conflicting expectations. I'm going to be honest: I thought I was constantly being triggered in my body shame just because my body was wrong.  But even if I did manage to fix my body, I would get caught in another part of that same web.  We can't manage to satisfy all of the different expectations to "be beautiful," "be ourselves," "be carefree and fun," "be confident," etc., all at the same time.

I spent some time yesterday with a friend who was telling me about a water fast she was thinking of trying while we were having a buffet lunch at an Indian restaurant. If I hadn't been primed with the shame web stuff, I would think she was a little goofy, but I think she is caught up in conflicting expectations too.  I did finally say, in case she was hinting that I should try the fast, that since I had trouble following Weight Watchers, I had no reason to expect that I could successfully fast. I really should have remembered that I wouldn't want to anyway.  I think fasting for religious or spiritual reasons can be fine, but fasting for weight loss doesn't really make sense since you can't fast forever.  All I could think about was Geneen Roth's description of trying to become a "Breatharian."

One tool I would have never expected to be useful when dealing with body shame, but that actually is, is my body fat scale.  I have an app for my iPhone called "Fat Watch" (terrible name, but good app) where I can record my weight and body fat data, and it helps to see that if my weight is up a couple of pounds one day (say, the day after having lunch at an Indian buffet), that doesn't necessarily mean that my body fat has actually gone up.  It calculates the actual body fat weight from the numbers, helping me to see that the numbers I see on the scale more often reflect body water fluctuations than real changes in body fat.

By the way, have you ever noticed that Indian food (or at least the kind that people like me get in restaurants) seems to double in size after you eat it, making your belly feel like a lead weight for the rest of the day?  I kept having to look in mirrors to remind myself that I had not, in fact, suddenly grown to the size of a small automobile.

1 comment:

  1. Geneen Roth also talks about tackling one thing at a time...if I remember correctly. As much as us Type A personalities want it all right now, that's just not how it works :)

    ReplyDelete

"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