Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"What does anyone else have to do with it?"

I got that comment on my blog yesterday after posting a sort of rant that probably didn't make sense to anyone but me. I edited my post to delete the confusing material, and while I was at it, hid the comments too. My feelings of being misunderstood were probably all out of proportion with the intent of the comment. I appreciate all comments, because it's nice to know that someone is reading and reacting. 

I was trying (unsuccesfully, I think) to work out in my head some of the emotional reasons behind my struggles with weight. Jillian Michaels talks about this all the time on her podcast and in her books, and I was listening to Unlimited, which focuses a lot on both fear of failure -- other people will think you are a loser -- and fear of success -- other people might think you are stuck-up or self-centered. Geneen Roth wrote whole books on the Food-Love connection.  So I don't think it's ranging too far afield to think that there might be something emotional holding me back.

A couple of things come to mind. Most of my family members are overweight, not surprising because of the way we seem to eat when we're together. One of my sharpest memories from growing up are the moments when I "learned" that all my family members weren't just perfect the way they are (Grandma was perfectly Grandma to me, until I was absentmindedly stroking her chin and she told me to stop because the loose skin there was ugly) but were in fact, too fat, or too old, or too something.  Adults would talk about being on diets, mostly some variation of Atkins. They would lament about how they couldn't eat bread, because bread was fattening, but that bread looked good, oh, maybe just one piece... It seemed clear that family status and weight were closely linked, but you also had to eat what was offered or risk upsetting everyone. The fact that I used to be a very picky eater seemed to be part of the reason I always felt a little outside.

In my marriage, my weight struggles -- and more recently, my husband's -- have also had way more significance than they should, becoming emblematic of all that was wrong with my life and, mostly, me.  I remember that when I got to goal, one of my frustrations was that I still felt like my marriage and other relationships still weren't what I wanted to be, and the only thing I knew how to "fix" was my weight.  Instead, I just felt a free-floating anxiety.

I have done a lot of work, with my husband and on my own, around these issues emotionally and I really feel like I am learning to deal with them.  At this point, it may be more about the mechanics of meal planning and exercise, but I needed to get to the point where food was food, and love was love, before I could make the other parts work. I have tried, so many times and for so long, to make the mechanics work without working on anything else and, well, the fact that I have been blogging here for 7 years and am still not close to goal tells you everything you need to know about how well that works.

Maybe it's different for other people, but for me, relationships and weight and food all got tangled together in a way that made it necessary to work on all of it at the same time. Otherwise, it was like trying to untangle a knotted string by just pulling on one end.


  1. Everything that you wrote about in this post makes such perfect sense to me. Your story could in large part (no pun intended) be my story. The third paragraph from the bottom says it all.

    Separating the different areas of our lives (love, food, etc.) is an important task in this process. I have had a similar post floating around in my head for a while now.

    In a comment on another blogger's site, I wrote that when I first started blogging, I seemed to use my blog as a way of dealing with some of my emotional baggage. After a while, I became unsure if other bloggers really wanted to read about my emotional issues of the past and present, as well as my current process that was struggling, so I pulled back in favor of more day-to-day fare. In reality, I caved, and I believe that I cut my process short. I guess I have to decide with the purpose of my blog is for me.

    I love your blog because it's so honest and well-written. It's also yours to write about what you choose.

  2. I agree. It's your blog and you should write about what you want to write about. I hope you'll keep up the reviews and the Lose It stuff :) I also enjoyed reading your Biggest Loser recaps! What's next now that the season is over?

    1. Good question! Any suggestions?

    2. Hmm. Now that most shows are more than halfway finished I'm not sure. I'm really loving The Following (only 5 episodes left though). Oh! How about that new show starting next week- Ready for Love (I think that's what it's called)- seems like a knockoff of The Bachelor maybe.

    3. I don't watch much reality TV except for Loser. I am in the edge of my seat for "Mad Men," but I'm not sure I want to blog about that... Maybe I'll watch some if the weight/food documentaries on Netflix.

    4. I'll be waiting to see which one you choose!

  3. Yesterday I thought you were saying your weight loss process was/is dependent on other people. That was my confusion.

    1. Okay, I just didn't understand what you were asking.

  4. GREAT post, Jen. You are doing a lot of solid inner work. Jillian is such a source of inspiration & clarity for you.

    Food, weight, self-acceptance--family gets tangled up in all of those. The inner work you are doing will help free you from those tangles. It's hard to shed a lifetime of family comments & attitudes.

    My mom & grandma are very negative about their looks (about lots of things, actually). It is difficult to be around now, since I don't like that negative energy in my life. When I was a kid, I heard over & over similar things that you did--I shouldn't eat this, I'm already so fat, but oh well, I'll eat it anyway. My mom constantly dieted but rarely lost weight. She is still very unhappy with herself.

    My weight loss is a thorn in her side--compliments from her of "wow you look skinny" are usually followed by a snarky, insecure comment from her, then another "no, really, you look great." I brush them off now. I didn't the first time I got to goal in 2008. They bothered me a lot.

    I didn't fit in as a kid either. Hated the country, I was smart & educated and most of my family wasn't, and I was a very picky eater. Being overweight and invested in food was what my family did. When I started losing weight and running, I didn't fit that mold any more, and I felt even more like an outsider.

    Now, I don't care. I am an outsider, and it doesn't matter b/c it's just who I am. It has taken a long time to get to that point. Even with friends who are overweight, it's been hard. I want to make people happy and want everyone to like me. If they don't like me because I'm thinner than them, well, that was a problem for a while. But it's THEIR problem, not mine. It's not a big deal anymore, I think, because I've accepted myself as who I am and it doesn't matter if others don't.

    One of the reasons I'm thankful to be in my 40s is that I've had enough time to work through all this. I just wasn't "there" in my 20s or 30s.


"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