Before I figured out that I needed to deal with my under-treated depression I was trying (not very hard) to lose weight. It was not working very well. Because, for some reason, I lacked motivation.
I am obese. This is the clinical term.I have a BMI of 36, which puts me in the obesity class I. I have been sickly thin before (BMI of 16), and for a brief span of years I was at a healthy weight.
I do NOT long to be skinny. Skinny on my big Scandinavian bones comes with a whole set of neurotic behaviors and loss of personality that I have no interest in revisiting. I want to be a healthy weight and I want to get there in a responsible way. While in treatment for my anorexia I realized that every number on the scale comes with a certain lifestyle for me:
At a BMI of 16 I eat as little as possible, am in pain most of the time and don't have time to spend with my friends because I am too busy complying with all the neurotic rules I make up for myself (clothing must be in ROY G. BIV order in closet, no one can touch me, clothing should come in contact with as little of my body as possible...). I am convinced that everyone thinks that I am grotesquely fat and that unless I am hospitalized for being underweight I am not doing this well enough. When I break down and eat "too much" I engage in purging behaviors. Gross.
At a BMI of 36 I don't have time to think about eating healthy-- it's too exhausting. I throw things together at the last minute. I eat in fits and spurts. Sometimes too little, sometimes too much. Often just whatever I feel like eating. Which likely is not a green salad with a light vinaigrette. I don't have much energy or enjoyment in exercise. I pay for weight watchers but I do not go to meetings because I don't want to know what a bad job I am doing. I am using food to self-medicate for mood. Including when I feel bad about how my body looks or the fact that I don't fit into my clothing. Smart, huh?
At a BMI of 22 I am working out every day on a strict schedule. I lift weights. I do yoga. I use the eliptical trainers. I am eating sweets very rarely and have a lot of energy. I am involved in many projects. I sew clothes for myself. I wear a bikini. I do not have time to work even part time and shuttle children around-- it would cut into my exercise and healthy cooking regimen. I attend weight watchers every week. I could give up working or give up children and achieve this lifestyle. Probably not realistic. I'm kind of attached to both.
At a BMI of 25 I work out about 3 times a week. I eat a moderate amount most of the time. I need to track what I am eating periodically, but I am not obsessive about it. I go to weight watchers once a month or so just for a tune-up. I like how my clothes fit on my body. I don't feel self conscious about seeing my relatives or friends who I haven't seen for a long time. I look like a healthy, big-boned, Scandinavian girl.
Right. For me the new concept of a healthy weight isn't just a weight at which I am at lower risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and joint pain. It means the weight that I am naturally when I am healthy.
So focusing on the weight loss while my mental health is in the dumps is backwards. It's like getting stitches for a cut at the doctor's office when you are having a heart attack. Sure you should maybe take care of the laceration, but maybe deal with the more urgent problem first.
Step one: get healthy. Step two: let your body figure out where it wants to be.
Quaker, teacher, parent,