Friday, April 1, 2022

Fat Friday: Finding Balance


Balance is one of those things that I struggle with. I tend to have an all-or-nothing approach to pretty much, well, everything. It is deeply ingrained for me to criticize myself harshly regarding my imbalanced nature. I need to stop and remind myself that I am just now learning certain things that I should have learned a long time ago.

I am going to discuss physical exercise, which is a bone of contention for many of us because we have been scolded for not working out well enough, hard enough, long enough, or for not having achieved significant weight loss through exercise. While you are welcome to share your own experiences, I will not tolerate pro-weight loss commentary or body shaming. 

It is fine to mention that your parents, gym coach, personal trainer, or such body-shamed you and this led to an obsession with weight. It is not okay to say "yes, but if you just adhere to the Nuts and Bolts Lemonade Cleanse Cabbage Soup Diet while working out for six hours a day, you too could lose your unsightly fat!" Fuck right off with that shit. Also, saying things like, "well, it's fine as long as you're not THAT fat. If you weigh X pounds, that's okay. But if you weigh more than X pounds, that's unhealthy, teh obeeeeesiteee, blah blah blah," yeah yeah yeah, heard it all before. Fuck off with that shit too.

All the above shit does is sabotage any desire to exercise or engage in eating a nutritious, balanced diet. When I say "diet," I don't mean dieting for weight loss, I simply mean the food one eats. There is only one diet that I endorse, and that's the Fuck It Diet. I'll put a link at the end of the post.

I'm actually fairly careful with my diet because I'm diabetic. I'm not able to be as careful as I'd like to be because most of my food comes from the food bank. I would prefer to eat more vegetables, but I'm working with what I have. I am not better than someone who isn't in a place where they're able to eat a balanced diet or someone who is struggling with an eating disorder. I am not a lesser person than someone who can eat a perfectly satiating plant-based diet. I'd probably have to hire a chef to make that happen, and if I'm having to get my food from the food bank, hiring a chef isn't high on my list of things to do right now.

I have difficulty coming to grips with exercise. It isn't that I don't like to exercise, but I'm no longer able to do many of the things that I used to do. I also have that shitty voice in my head that tells me if I'm not able to run like a racehorse for miles while interspersing jumping jacks and other high-octane maneuvers and then lifting weights for an hour, well, what the fuck am I even doing? 

This kind of all-or-nothing thinking is toxic and leads people to stop exercising.

Diet culture fucking sucks. One of my missions in this life is to keep pointing that out until people finally start getting it. 

Eating "too much junk food" does NOT cause a person to develop diabetes. Being "too fat" does not cause a person to develop diabetes. The only thing that causes diabetes is having a genetic vulnerability to diabetes. It is likely that I would have developed diabetes eventually even if I ate the perfect diet and was the so-called "perfect" weight for my height. The rest of my endocrine system is a trash fire, so it was coming. However, I might have been able to stave it off for a few more years if I hadn't been in a constant state of food insecurity, because of poverty and self-inflicted food shortage, aka dieting. 

Dieting changes a person's body but not in the ways that the multi-billion dollar diet industry tells us. It fucks our metabolism. Eventually, the chronic dieter can no longer lose weight even when they adhere to an extremely restrictive plan.

I have my abusive life partner ED (Eating Disorder) under wraps most of the time, so we're not going to discuss him right now. Instead, I'm going to concentrate on discussing my struggles with exercise. 

In the early 90s following a difficult pregnancy and emergency c-section, while at the same time having severe food poisoning (campylobacter,) my body was torn up, and I was physically weak. I was ashamed of the way I looked and ashamed that I couldn't even push the pedals on the exercise bike hard enough to keep the display screen on. I enrolled at 24 Hour Fitness. 

Instead of suggesting that I concentrate on rebuilding my strength and endurance and advising me not to worry about the number on the scale, the focus was all on getting me back to my pre-pregnancy body. 

Stepping back in time for a moment, when I was taken to the OR to undergo an emergency c-section, the technician or nurse comforted me with the knowledge that I would be able to wear a bikini again because I would receive a horizontal incision. Even as obsessed with my appearance as I was at 25, I found this ludicrous. I couldn't have given a fuck less about being able to wear a bikini again. My child and I were going to die if he wasn't born, stat. 

Even in that horrible moment, the sexist attitudes that make prioritizing the idea of being able to wear a fucking bikini again during an obstetric emergency even a remote possibility enraged me. Above all else, women are to be pleasing to the male gaze. Is any woman who doesn't measure up to the Photoshopped and pornified standards of men's magazines even a woman?

Forward to today. I am struggling with the extremist attitudes that have been ingrained in my brain regarding exercise. Once I am finally able to make myself do a little workout, it's so psychologically taxing that I avoid it until I can psych or shame myself into doing it again. 

I know that it is important for people with ADHD to develop a schedule, so I "should" just schedule a certain time of day when I work out, right? Why not right after I get up and take my meds?

Not so fast, Sunshine. It's not quite that easy. I can't eat for a minimum of a half-hour after taking my thyroid medicine. 

Well, couldn't I just work out on an empty stomach?

Not if I don't want to risk tanking my blood sugar. I don't enjoy having to re-regulate things when my blood sugar is too high or in the toilet. The last time my blood sugar crashed I literally thought that I was on my way out and I was too drained to give a fuck. I forced myself to eat the world's most uninspiring sandwich and a packet of Bel-Vita breakfast biscuits and I didn't even inject any insulin. When I got home, I measured my blood sugar, and it was only 134. That's how depleted I'd been. So no, exercising on an empty stomach isn't an option.

Well, why not exercise right after breakfast?

Because I need to let the food digest a bit. Have you ever exercised right after a meal? Blergh. 

Okay, well, wait an hour and then exercise.

This is a good idea. The problem is, I'm usually into a project by then and don't want to lose my hot streak. Plus, I'm fighting the voice in my head that tells me if I can't be EXTREME, then what is even the sense?

I have to start low and slow. I have to give myself permission to realize that even five minutes is a triumph. Yes, I used to spend five hours a day at the gym on days that I didn't have to work. I'm not exaggerating. That's called orthorexia, and it isn't a good thing. I missed chunks of my son's early childhood because of it, and people still considered me "too fat." 

Body dysmorphia and all-or-nothing attitudes are something that I will have to combat for the rest of my life. I have mostly accepted the reality that I will always be heavy unless I become terminally ill the way my great-grandmother did. Since I still have plenty of damage to do, I'd prefer that not happen anytime soon, so the size-shamers can just kiss my fat ass. There's work to be done. 

Spirit of the Universe, please help me keep fighting my negative programming and society's hateful attitudes towards larger people. Please help me remember that my worth is not tied to a number on a scale and that good health, while desirable, is not a measure of personal value. Please help me to encourage those who may be fighting a similar battle. Amen.

~Ornery Owl Has Spoken~

The only diet books you will ever need.

The Fuck It Diet

Health At Every Size

Free Use Image from Open Clipart Vectors
Fat and Ornery

Free Use Image from Pixabay
Hangry says "fuck dieting."

The Icky, Sticky, Nit-Picky Legalese If You Please (Or Don't Please)

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1 comment:

  1. I take my thyroid medication on one of my loo runs in the small hours which does away with the no eating/drinking for half an hour problem.
    But yes, I hear you. I am not a minimalist anything.
    Good luck. And try (very hard) to be kind to you.


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