Since I discovered that I’m diabetic (though not officially because I got my glucose levels under control before going to the Dr. for an A1C panel) I have changed a lot of things. I try not to eat simple carbs (most of the time I’m successful but I’m also human), I exercise a lot more consistently than I used to, and I’ve become a lot more conscious of how my body responds to food. Specifically, I notice if I feel energetic or lethargic after eating or working out as well patterns in headaches and joint pains relating to my diet and exercise routine. In short, I’m much more in tune with my body.
One other thing that has changed is my weight. I’ve lost and kept off about 25 lbs. For a while I was averaging about a pound a week but that has stalled a bit, mostly due to those instances of humanity I alluded to earlier. Let me be clear, weight loss was NOT my goal. If it had been it never would have happened. I’ve struggled with food and disordered eating for most of my adult life and I know for a fact that the more I try to control my weight the more out of control my eating gets. I don’t diet. Period. But when faced with a life threatening illness things have to change. I still don’t diet but I do eat consciously. As I said, I’m more in tune with my body and I know what makes me feel good, what keeps my blood sugar normal, and I also know what does not. Not so surprisingly, the foods that make me feel good also help me lose weight.
For a while I was struggling with this, not because losing weight is bad but how I FELT about losing weight seemed bad. I had moved on, I’d seen therapists, been to support groups, read blogs and books, and joined online communities all in the effort to feel good about myself regardless of my weight and to throw off the patriarchal notions of what beauty is. My self-worth isn’t tied to the scale, dammit! So, why then was I relishing this weight loss so much? And was I setting myself up to fall back into disordered eating habits? How could I take care of my body’s dietary needs and my emotional/psychological food issues at the same time? All of these questions are another reason my weight loss stalled- I was scared and my fear did drive some disordered eating habits to emerge. Nothing completely out of control, but enough to stall my weight loss and, more significantly, to cause my blood sugars to creep up.
The funny thing is, the fear wasn’t just mine. I had friends who’d noticed the weight loss and were unsure if it was okay to comment. They were afraid that complimenting weight loss (especially when they know of my struggles with food) might be taboo or inappropriate. Yet for those who see me everyday it was becoming a more obvious change and it also felt awkward for some not to mention it. I had mixed feelings about accepting their comments at first. It felt like a betrayal to my former self to feel good about losing weight. It felt as if I might be saying that my former self wasn’t good enough and if I gained the weight back then my future self wouldn’t be either. But, honestly, those ideas are a bit ridiculous. Imagine if we applied the same rules to our hair. When a friend gets a great new cut we don’t hesitate to let her know that we love it. We don’t worry that she’ll assume she looked horrible before the cut or that she’ll worry if she grows her hair long again she won’t be beautiful anymore. We put so much emphasis on weight that even when we try to avoid this emphasis it is somehow more significant than everything else.
Ultimately I’ve decided that, for me at least, it’s okay to be happy about the weight loss as long as I don’t let it become my driving force. I eat when I’m hungry and as much as I need to feel satiety. I choose foods that are both healthy and delicious. I find ways to indulge my cravings while still managing my glucose. I weigh myself but it’s because I’m curious, not because I’ll make food related decisions based on what the scale reads. It’s a tricky balance but really, what part of life isn’t?