My weight is still going up. I am so afraid to be out of control of my body because I thought I was in control for the first time in my life. I thought I was now a sculptor. I have never before been a conscious, conscientious, patient, intelligent sculptor of my body. I thought I was making something beautiful, molding it out of lumpy, flabby clay. I wanted to make something strong and shapely and youthful and skinny.
But I’m faced once again with my own powerlessness, my imperfect knowledge of the workings of this imperfect, yet resilient, soft machinery. And it is very soft, like a waterbed. It’s soggy and dumpy instead of the hard, yet curvy stone that I wanted.
The idea that I should be able to control my body, steer it like a car or carve it like a block of wood is so ingrained in me I can feel the desire in my bones. And yet, I never had the skill to do anything about it because, whether I was taught or not, I couldn’t stick to a routine that would get me there, and for most of my life, I didn’t know what or how much to eat. I was totally out of control of this thing I’d been told I was master of, this thing I should whip into shape.
There’s a lot of levels here. What is control? An illusion. We don’t control things. And control my weight? Homeostasis is fixing that for me. My body is in control of my weight. And it will keep me as big as possible because that’s the kind of body I have. My body will slow my already slow metabolism to keep me from “starving”. My body is efficient in its energy use, clever in its tricks to get me to eat, increasing my appetite, throwing cravings at me, lazily encouraging compensatory behaviors so that I skip the stairs and take the elevator or watch TV today because I worked out yesterday. I am not really in control, and I have to accept that.
I also have to accept that my extraordinary beauty doesn’t fit the mold of ‘model’. I am not currently a size 2, 4, or 6, and probably only an occasional 8 due to vanity sizing. I have always wanted to fit in a mold. I wanted to be Barbie. I wanted blonde hair. I thought I’d wear heels because that was the shape of Barbie’s feet.
I’m sad and disappointed when I look at the scale. But I have to accept that I’m not in control. I have to focus on the ‘lead measures’ like they say in the Four Disciplines of Execution. My lead measures are eating unprocessed foods in the right proportions, avoiding allergens, managing my stress, and exercising every day. Exercising every day. If I can follow these, then I will be doing my part, and I can feel good about what I’m doing. If I’m not doing my part, how can I expect to get better?
But weight isn’t even a measure of getting better. I thought I was going to lose weight when my blood sugar stabilized. But guess what? My blood sugar is stabilized. My nutritionist says that my last A1C was 4.8. I don’t really know what that means, but she says it’s really good. I wanted stable blood sugar, and now I have had it, at least once, the same as I had a pair of size 4 jeans that fit. The challenge now, just like with the jeans, is keeping it.
These things that I thought were so inextricably connected–weight and health–have little to do with one another. Skinny is not something to worship, but a false badge of success. I have to give up control that I don’t have anyway. I have to accept my beautiful body that doesn’t fit the mold of size 4 jeans anymore. And for me, I have to have faith.
I have to have faith in the process, faith in my doctors, faith that God made me this way, gave me this sloth-like metabolism and plunked me down here in the Land of Plenty with a sweet tooth for a reason. I have faith that the reason I’m here now with these challenges, or more likely those reasons, are worth finding out. There are reasons like understanding my grandmother and what her life was like growing up during the Depression with just enough maybe, understanding my mother, and what her life was like as a single mother, and how stress made it difficult to care for her health. There are echoes of this in my life even now.
There are reasons like understanding that liars and thieves and tempters are not just in fairy tales or the history books as snake oil salesmen and Taminy Hall reps and those first men of industry who treated people like cogs. Liars told me I shouldn’t eat fat and sold me junk and called it food. Thieves stole my health and youth, as easily as a fae might have charmed me and left me an old woman. And I am tempted every day by the junk that is so ubiquitous that it causes even me to forget that it’s not really food. To me, food nourishes, has vitamins and minerals, while junk just pretends with colors and chemicals.
I didn’t know where to look for the snake oil salesmen of my generation because they didn’t come to my door peddling, and they sold me something I wanted to believe in–the junk and its “convenience”. But now I know, I guess. I’ve been sucking the poison out of my life ever since. I thought the weight would go with it, but maybe not. And I guess that’s ok.