The State of My Union (of body and mind)

In my last post, I wrote about how I’m not entirely sure I know myself anymore, at least not the way I am used to knowing myself. (Not in the biblical sense of “knowing myself.”) So I want to get a little bit more specific. What I’m about to talk about involves the side effects of some medications that I’ve been prescribed for type 2 diabetes that have an impact on hunger and weight. So, if you are concerned that this could be triggering, you may want to change the channel.

One way I’m different than I used to be is that I’m just not as hungry. It’s strange, I am so used to thinking of myself as a hungry person. Someone who could “always eat.” And that’s certainly a stereotype about fat people, that we are perpetually hungry and don’t care to miss many meals. But, due to a variety of things — a particular combination of medications for diabetes and depression, combined with a relatively new caffeine habit, I am just not so hungry anymore. I do get hungry, and I do eat in response to hunger, but I’ve noticed it’s generally much easier to eat in response to hunger when that sensation isn’t so overwhelming for me.

I have no problem remembering what it’s like to feel very hungry very often, it hasn’t been very long that I’ve been in my less hungry state.

About a half a year ago, I decided to stop seeing the therapist (who I’ve referred to as PhD Coachy) I had grown very attached to because I felt that in order to address food and eating and weight — I needed to do that with someone else. I felt the work we had done together was drawing to a close. I wanted to keep the warm, fuzzy, acceptance-y feeling I had for PhD Coachy — who I wanted to keep in that category of “people who accept me as I am and don’t need me to weigh any less.” And when I first started working with a different therapist, I did talk to some extent about food and weight and eating. I wanted to feel less neurotic about all of it, and to feel like when I felt hungry, I didn’t feel panicky. I did go to see this new therapist thinking, hoping, that maybe this time I would find the key that would unlock it all with regard to food and eating and weight. In other words, I wanted to lose weight.

And something changed along the way. She was really the perfect match. At the outset, she really made it clear she wasn’t going to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. I set some goals for this work, one was to not feel so panicky about eating when I felt hungry. Another was to feel less burdened by weight. And, over time, I didn’t feel panicky about eating when I felt hungry. Sometimes I felt really hungry and sometimes I didn’t feel hungry at all. I didn’t feel like I have most of my life, like I was “always hungry.” Due to changes in medication, and maybe actual growth and getting older played a role, and things changed, and I wasn’t that person who was always hungry. I didn’t feel like I could always eat. And I had to notice that even though I wasn’t that person anymore, my weight wasn’t all that much different — right back where I was before I was pregnant 7 years ago*. The medication I was taking had some side effects that weren’t so pleasant (nausea and a lack of energy), and I had a hard time being as active as I like to be. At the moment, I feel like I’m regaining some of the energy I was missing since I started the med, and have some ground to make up on the fitness front (not for vanity or even pride, but because I miss how it feels to be moving more).
This, it turns out, is me. This less-hungry-but-still-fat person. And it’s okay. And it’s great. And it’s great that I think it’s great, because that means that when I dance and somewhere in the far back of my mind is a worry about how it looks for someone as large and jiggly as me to be bouncing around on the dance floor while wearing a sleeveless dress — it’s replaced by the thought “good, I’m representing for all the large and jiggly people out there — proving that we can dance and dress however we want to and it’s all good.”

And this all coexists with the desire to eat less sugar (because it’s knocking out other stuff I want to be eating from my diet — now that I’m not as hungry, I have to choose a bit more carefully because there isn’t room for everything anymore). And this coexists with the desire to dance more, and walk more, and jog with the puppy once she’s recovered from being spayed, and hike and swim and whatever other opportunities to move my body present themselves. While taking care not to exacerbate any injuries or cause any new ones to happen. At the moment, neither of those desires seem to have to do with losing weight or becoming a different shape.

I might not always be this weight. I might weigh more, or less. I might decide that I want to take on certain eating practices for a variety of reasons, and I would be surprised, but not shocked, if I were ever to purchase a bicycle and helmet, to find that I’m one of those people who rides their bike to work. Who knows? I thought about doing the “polar bear plunge” in a local lake this year but decided against it, but if next year the temperature in the 50s (rather than the 20s) around New Years, maybe I will.

And my new therapist, well, I’m taking a break from seeing her for the month of January, and maybe longer. But she has been the perfect person to go through the dénouement of the work that PhD Coachy and I did together. My new therapist really forced me (in a good way) to try to reconcile the way she was seeing me with the old way of seeing myself — and allowing myself to let go of that old way of seeing myself. It was as if I had to say, “well, if PhD Coachy AND new therapist both think I’m terrific, and I’m coming to that conclusion, too, and I’m realizing that’s pretty much the way most of the people who I like respond to me, well, that’s sufficient proof.” Her unequivocal acceptance of me was tough to argue with. ‘Cause I adore new therapist — she’s a gem.

One more thing I’ve noticed — and I’m not exactly sure how to talk about this and I’m worried about not using the right words here — is a more integrated fat identity. By that, I mean, my fatness seems truly integral to who I am — like being a woman, or being Jewish, having type 2 diabetes, or being from California. It seems a fact of my existence, but not THE defining fact of my existence. It doesn’t make me substantially more or less human than anyone else (like being a woman, or being Jewish, having type 2 diabetes, or being from California). This feels like a place of strength to be operating from moving forward.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Always welcome**.

* My weight and size history is a whole other story, and really probably boring. But I’m also a rather open book, so if you are curious, I can (over)share with you.

**As long as these questions, comments and suggestions don’t come from mean people.



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4 responses to “The State of My Union (of body and mind)

  1. Amanda

    I felt compelled to comment because you mentioned biking to work, and that’s probably the one thing that’s most improved my happiness and self-esteem in the past two years, so I enthusiastically encourage you to try it if you can!

    My commute is long-ish (13 miles each way by bike), so I don’t commute much in the winter because I’m still a bit uncomfortable in the dark, but during the summer I bike to work two or three times a week, and find that every day I drive, I wish I were biking! Biking reduces my stress level instead of adding to it and gives me a feeling of being much more connected to the neighborhoods I pass through on my way.

    Sorry if this is coming across as too much evangelizing, I just love to share the joy of my favorite new hobby 🙂 Plus, I love subverting the “skinny biker” stereotype and proudly flaunting my spandex (don’t worry, totally not required if you don’t want to wear it!) and smile every time I see someone else who’s fat out there pedalling!

    Either way, I wish you well in continuing to find and follow your own bliss!

    • I am seriously thinking about getting a bike this spring. My little girl is getting a new one for her birthday (shhhh!) so family biking sounds like fun! No worries about “evangelizing” — I think being an enthusiastic voice for a favorite pursuit is part of being in a healthy community.

  2. cindy

    This all sounds so awesome. I would love to be at peace with…I don’t know what to call it–“the eating.” I can’t even make sense of it in my head, and so far have been looking away from it instead of confronting it. Anyway, I don’t think I’m making sense, but in any case, your name, AccceptanceWoman, meshes completely with this post.

    Also, and I’m sorry if I’m derailing, but I’ve loved the picture at the top of your blog for so long – it’s like a warrior woman coming from the water, strong, calm, from the depths of the ocean. Kind of like Xena but in the water and with no camp involved. I feel powerful everytime I look at it.

    • Thank you, Cindy. I certainly have been not at peace with “the eating” most of my life — and I may not always be.
      And I’m flattered you like the picture. It was taken in Maui, and in the warm ocean water I definitely felt Xena-like. I’m so not a “warrior princess” in many ways, but if I played any sort of role-playing game, warrior princess is what I would want to be.

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