Feeding fear and frustration
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Today I spent a lot of time thinking about why I'm trying to lose weight - what my motivations are and how to stay motivated in the face of temptation. One thing I know that motivates me is fear - but I am not sure that's the best motivator. I've been trying to overcome my fears in some ways by trying things that are new and make me uncomfortable, like going to hip-hop class last night for the first time in over 12 years, and starting a five-week boot camp this morning. During hip-hop class, I felt uncomfortable and wanted to bolt -- not because I couldn't get through the workout, but because I could see myself in the mirror and it made me sick. I made it through the whole class, but I was miserable the entire time.
When I got home I started thinking about what made me so upset. I see myself in the mirror every day - why was that mirror different? Usually that sick feeling I had, coupled with wanting to escape, is what I feel when I'm anxious or afraid. What was there to be scared of, I wondered - it's just a silly dance class.
Then this morning, I got up early to be at the first session of the "Ban the Muffin Top" boot camp for which I signed up. I was so nervous that I forgot to eat something before I left. It was really challenging, and I was keeping up pretty well (about the middle of the pack), but I still felt anxious and started thinking, "What if I can't finish the hour? Will I lose weight this week? What if I hurt myself pushing myself too hard? What if I do all this and I'm still fat?"
As I was considering these thoughts after I got home, I remembered something out of nowhere - it was a memory of me sitting on the floor of my closet, trying to find something to wear to a party that didn't make me look fat. But here's the kicker - that happened when I was a size 4, after I'd lost 20 pounds for my wedding and maintained most of the loss for more than two years. I sat on that floor and just sobbed my heart out, because I just knew anything I would put on would make me look like a whale - which I now know was ridiculous in light of the size I was then.
Why did I remember that 10 years later when I'm a size 12? I've been pondering it all day, and I think it's because no matter what size I am, I feel fat. I'm fat in my head, and I've been fat in my head since I have had conscious memory. No matter how big or small I have been, I feel (and have always felt) like my body just isn't right. My breasts are too big. My stomach is never flat. I take up too much space.
Something else happened this afternoon that really brought this home for me. I posted on Facebook about my boot camp experience this morning, and a friend I've known since the 9th grade started chatting with me. She wrote, "You know, I just thought about the fact that you've been trying to lose weight ever since I met you, when you were 13. Isn't that interesting?" She frequently "notices" things about me (and others - she's very observant) and today, I just wasn't having it. I wrote back, "Don't start, Lori!" and she wrote back, "Don't take things personally, Jennifer." But I did - it felt like such an indictment of the past 24 years of my life. I've been sitting here steaming about it, but the truth is - I'm furious with myself, because I've never allowed myself to love my body in any way. I've hated it forever, even when I was a cheerleader, rower, swimmer, and all-around athlete in the best shape of my life. Now I'm 37 and I don't want to feel this way any more.
Usually when I start having these intense feelings of fear, anxiety, frustration or sadness, I go in the kitchen and find something to eat - it temporarily helped to fill that bottomless pit I could feel in my stomach. Today, I've been practicing just sitting with my feelings and thinking about them, wondering what I would say to someone who shared those feelings about themselves with me. Would I suggest they eat something to help fix it? Of course not - I would offer comforting words and ask how I could help. If anyone has any comforting words, I'd sure love to hear them because I am really feeling afraid.
So what am I really afraid of? I think I'm afraid that I'll get to my goal weight and I'll still feel fat, as if my body isn't acceptable. That terrifies me - to think that I'll put in all this work and effort, and still hate myself.
Thinking practically, I realize I can't control what I'm going to think or feel in 12-18 months when I get to my goal weight. I can only work on what's happening TODAY. So, for today, I didn't feed my fear and frustration with food. That's the best I can do for right now. I've made a plan to get up tomorrow morning and meet my trainer for a workout. And on Thursday, even though I'm scared to death to fail, I'm going back to boot camp. The rest will just have to come when it comes.