Dating and Body: Confession Time

I write a lot about society’s pressures on women to look ‘good’ and young and thin and pretty, and for me, particularly when dating. Shall I mention for the zillionth time the guy who told me I’d have a nice body after a half dozen abs classes?

I get annoyed that a lot of guys seem to be looking for younger women. And it sure gets tiring trying to always look ‘date ready’. I envy my married girlfriends who’ve gone gray, never wear make-up, have gained a few pounds AND don’t care if their teeth aren’t sparkling white, their nails are a little chipped, and in strong light, they look their age.

BUT, BUT, BUT, I have to confess when I am completely honest – I’m actually not much better than the guys.

Especially with online dating where a lot of it is based on pictures. If I meet someone at a party, I have a chance to really be attracted to their personality and charm. But online, there’s no way to really gauge all that. Some profiles are clearly prohibitive and some are very inviting, but let’s face it, I AM looking at the pictures.

AND, the men I pick are physically cute to me. And what is that? Well, given my druthers, they’re taller than I am (although I have dated shorter men whom I’ve met offline), they’re not too much older (although I’ve dated much older men who I’ve met offline) and they look appealing in a very and purely physical sense.

And guess what, given my druthers and picking from pictures, they’re all pretty thin. Hmmm.

Of course, I only continue to date them (if they’re interested in me) if they are kind and interesting and good.

But all 4 guys I have dated have been pretty lean and one even borderline skinny (the guy who had zero interest in food). What does that say about me?

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When a Woman Weighs More Than Her Husband

In this space, I often write about topics AND my reactions to them that make me uncomfortable. The following encounter (and my reaction) isn’t comfortable at all, and I waited a few days to write about it. But here it is:

The other night, my friend and I had dinner at the bar of a local restaurant. Sitting next to us, was a friendly couple, and we four started to chat.

The wife, who announced she’d already had a few drinks, was particularly talkative. Her husband sat drinking soda. She mentioned that she was drinking tequila because she had a stressful job but that he her husband, really didn’t drink.

Before long, I knew all about them – how long they’d been married (26 years), how many children they had (twin boys – I saw pictures) and what each son did for a living and for fun.

Somewhere in there, she said, ‘I used to be skinny, you know’.

And there it was.

I confess, the uncomfortable stuff, that it had gone through my head that she was pretty heavy and puffy and he looked trim and healthy and young. And yes, I confess, I’d wondered how each felt about that.

She: “I used to be skinny and go to the gym for two hours a day. But after I had the twins, I didn’t have time. And now, I don’t have the discipline.”

She: “He looks exactly like he did when we got married. He can still fit into his tuxedo.”

He: “Yup. Still can.”

She: “I used to look just like Jennifer Lopez. Seriously.”

I looked over at him. If I’m not mistaken (and maybe I’m making it up), he looked a little wistful and then nodded his head (sadly?).

He: “Yeah, yeah, she did.”

Am I reading something into this that comes from my own issues? Am I wrong to worry about her being out of shape and him still looking hot?

Does he wish she’d eat and drink less and lose weight and look more like the woman he’d married? Does his eye wander — yes, yes, yes, I’m really embarrassed to write this, but it went through my head!!!

Am I so jaded by society that all I can think is that this man is completely materialistic and just cares how his wife of a quarter century looks?

Any thoughts on the topic?

How to Lose Weight Easily and Keep it Off Forever

“How to Lose Weight Easily and Keep it off Forever Without Even Trying” was basically the title of all the articles I devoured as a kid/teen/young woman. Everyone of my favorite women’s magazines boasted plenty of such fare. And I ‘ate’ up each and article, without ever losing a pound or keeping it off. In fact, I gained a lot of weight during those years, because for me, there was no easy fix; no way to cut calories, exercise more and become a natural sylph for life.

“How to Lose Weight Easily and Keep it Off Forever” is not what this post is about, because I don’t know that formula.

But I do know that somewhere inside of me that title still tempts me. And I still wonder why. Does it still tempt you? And doo you have any idea why?

It’s late and I’m tired. I’ve worked a long and busy week, I will leave my thoughts on this to a later post.

BUT, I will ponder the question – why does a 54 liberal feminist with dear friends, a good job, and a very satisfying life still perk up when she hears – lose weight weight easily and keep it off forever?

If you’re interested, ponder it too. I’d love to hear your thoughts AND I’d really love to know if the blog title peaked YOUR interest.

On another, and probably related note, I am longer dating the guy who had no interest in food. It didn’t work out – we didn’t have much in common.

He was a great guy, and I will miss many things about him. I will really miss his disinterest in all things food. I found it peaceful and intriguing and yes, was secretly hoping it would rub off on me.

And again, I wonder – why.

Strong, Not Thin

Working at the restaurant, I’m running around all the time. I almost never sit still, throughout 12 hour shifts. Sometimes, my legs hurt at the end of the night. Each week, my arms can carry more and more dishes at once. When we’re short-staffed, I do dishes, run food, bus tables, seat guests, run up and down to storage, over and over. I’m physically tired by the end of the night.

Still, I’ve gained weight since I started. I’m definitely eating more – it’s just kind of what you do when you work at a restaurant, I guess. I’d thought that all the extra steps would balance out the extra calories, but they haven’t at all.

At my old job, I only sat. All day, sometimes 12 hours a day and more. Then, I’d come home and sit some more – reading, watching TV, taking a bath, and snuggling with my cat. My entire existence was just sedentary.

However, I weighed less. I never worked up an appetite (obviously!) and wasn’t really around food. Also, at my old job, I was simply too busy to eat. There just wasn’t time. At least, now, there is down time and I can have a meal. Also, the staff tends to eat together, which is nice and civilized and family-ish.

So, with all the many pluses of my current job AND the fact that I move so much more, which has to be healthier, I will take a few of a different kind of plusses – extra pounds. 🙂

Is Body Size Indicative of Mental Health?

I saw my friend Tina the other day. She seems to have to found some peace around food and her body AND her life. Because of course, it’s not about the food. The food is used to anesthetize the pain and fear that lie beneath. Still, it’s only a band aid and the pain’s still there, so we need to face those things that lead us to overeat. Or we keep eating, drinking, smoking, gambling…)

Tina seems to be doing this. She says she’s ‘good’ with her body and the way she is eating.

And yet, she has put on a lot of weight and my once svelte friend says she has trouble breathing when she walks and her knees hurt.

Me being me, I can’t help but wonder how she’s ‘really’ doing if she is eating to that point. I’ve always assumed that if I am really in tune with hunger and with simply nourishing my body, I may not be super thin, but I won’t get to a place where movement is uncomfortable or actually hurts.

If I have to be perfectly honest, and this doesn’t sound nice, it did occur to me that Tina can’t truly be eating to a place where she is feeding her body as is wants to be fed. Does her body want to be that big? Is she truly listening to nature’s signals?

But that’s not mine to know and frankly, none of my business. Tina’s body is not mine. I don’t live it in or make choices for it. And I can not judge.

Heck, she may look at me and think I’m too thin. But somehow, I doubt that. And yet, that’s just one more presumption.

I find I can be pretty presumptuous. One more thing to work on!

Words for Tina on Compulsive Eating

I’m sitting down with Tina this week to see if I can help her – she’s really struggling. For guidance, I turned to my friend with really strong and solid 12 Step food recovery, Beth. The following are her words. If the word ‘God’ isn’t appealing or ocmfortable, use something else. One other thought from me, I rely on the intuitive feeling/thought – if something feels wrong (like, ‘maybe I’ll just have one more piece of this, even though I’m not really hungry]and warning signals are going off (like my body and mind are screaming ‘don’t’), I listen,

Here’s what Beth said:

If I’m not God guided, then I’m not free. It’s that simple.

If I’m not free then I think about the substitute for that Power/Love/Spirit/God which is food. I focus on food because I’m not present in the here and now (God conscious), so I have only my experience in the past to rely on. I don’t focus on the negative (pain) of compulsive eating; I want relief so I remember what food has done for me to give relief.

Even if I don’t physically engage, I continue to think about food because the problem centers in my mind.

No God, No Peace
No God, I feast.

Body Acceptance

A few posts ago, I wrote about my friend, Tina, who has switched from a 12 Step strict abstinent food plan to intuitive eating. Through this new process, she has steadily gained. weight. Over the past year, I’d say she’s gained 30 or so pounds.

Tina once weighed about 300 pounds and then lost at least half that weight through the 12 Steps and a ‘clean’ eating plan. To me (on the outside), she looked radiant and happy with her life and with the process.

Tina says it’s not an easy switch fo rher, but she’s focusing on loving life and loving herself, at any weight.

In her words;

“There is and has been so much judgment around weight, food, body image, and looks that becoming a more fully conscious woman is like paddling upstream every day, while at the same time fighting old, bad habits – both mentally and physically – and concepts around eating. Conversely, focusing on a physical outcome brought about by outside answers, generic food plans and monitors, in my experience delivered the physical outcome without the deepest level of healing – between me, my body and my ideal.”

I admire her great courage and sure see her point. So often, I see myself as a big woman in a smaller body. Who would I be if I let myself be bigger AND okay, no matter the judgment around weight, food, body image and looks? So often, I ask myself that question.

And yet, I am very happy with the way I eat. In my experience, when I ‘let go’ and eat more freely, I become consumed with food and block out the rest of existence. I eat healthily, I am never particularly hungry and I AM very healthy. I also really like the way my body feels right now.

For now, I’m sticking with this.

Will I ever put this chapter of my being to bed? Who knows. The questions still interest me. And I don’t have all the answers.

Onward.