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!

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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.

Paring Down?

I am a pack rat, and there’s no getting around it. I have at least 10 of everything I deem important. Most of those things, apparently, are pens and lipsticks.

I just emptied my purse. Well – if you know me, you know I basically carry luggage. There’s pretty much at least one of everything in there. ANd I do mean everything. I could go on Let’s Make a Deal and take that show for all it’s worth.

After just dumping my purse, I looked at it’s contents and wondered why on earth I thought I needed all this? Is there a safety net in carrying two books (one hardcover!) and three magazines? Yes, when I lived in NYC and took the subway everywhere, it was nice to have some reading material. But now, I drive everywhere! No time to read…

Why 15 lipsticks?!!!!!! Yes, 15. Thirty pens!!!! And on and on.

I suppose it’s that old disease of More. I want more of anything and everything – food, booze, clothes, attention, affection, and yes, lipstick. More of anything and everything on the outside to make me feel better on the inside.

Perhaps the purse thing is just an old habit. I’m feeling pretty good these days. Maybe I can scale back on lip liner and know I’ll be fine.

So, I made the decision to be normal, to cut back. I bought a smaller (but not small at all) purse and started to fill it with about a fourth of what I usually carry. The poor bag is stuffed to the gills and I can hardly zip it.

Perhaps on this one, I’ll have to concede. Now, where’s my handy Samsonite?

Getting Out of Self

I have been pretty stuck in self lately – relationship, career, money. Am I pretty enough? too old? too lazy? not detailed? not in shape? spending too much? blah, blah, blah.

How many times can a woman ask herself if the guy still likes her? How many times can she worry that she doesn’t know enough when what she should be doing is learning what she doesn’t know?! How often can she contemplate purchases without sticking to her budget?

Blah, blah, blah. All this stuff busies my mind when the healthiest option would be to stop thinking about myself and start serving others!

As I was fretting over my make-up this morning (I really AM looking older. The guy I’m dating is younger…), I got a phone call from my dentist, canceling my cleaning.

Because the hygienist’s 19 year old daughter, Enza, was killed in a car accident early this morning.

I can’t imagine what Lisa, the hyienist, is going through. I can’t and I never will as I don’t have children.

I can only think of how many times I sat in her chair, hearing about Enza’s accomplishments. Enza was lovely and smart and talented, planning on studying ballet and social work. Lisa loved her only child with all the love a single mother can give – they had a wonderful, healthy and fun relationship.

That’s the real stuff. Who can I help?

Running on Fumes and Food

Tuesday night, for whatever reason, I could not sleep – not even a minute, if I remember correctly. Then off I went to a 12 hour day at the restaurant – a very busy, long and late day.

I was utterly exhausted all day and night.

Often, when so beat, my body confuses tired with hungry. If I’m tired all day, my body incorrectly tells me I need food, when what I really need, of course, is rest.

Usually when so tired, I clamp the reigns down tighter and follow a stricter food plan, so i don’t get confused. But for some reason yesterday, I just let go.

So, if my head said “hungry, need food”, I’d have a small snack. I nibbled throughout the day – typically NOT a good way for me to eat, but I left myself alone.

In the past, I would have freaked out that I was out of control and feared desperately that I’d never get back to my usual, happy way of eating. I also might have eaten A LOT, thinking this was the last time EVER to eat so freely.

But none of that happened yesterday. I now know that 1.) I’m fine no matter what and 2.) I’d be fine the next day, today. So, while I did snack way more than usual and I did eat some foods I regularly don’t – I was fine.

The best news – last night I slept a solid NINE hours (the definition of utter bliss!!!) I didn’t even get up to pee (nothing short of a miracle, right sis?)

I can’t remember the last time I have felt this rested and fabulous. And, of course, right back on track with easy, happy eating 🙂

I kept wondering yesterday – if I could eat like I did yesterday – easy, breezy, snacky throughout the day, with no consequences – weight gain or food obsession, would I prefer it?

I actually don’t know the answer and, frankly, I don’t really care. After all, it’s just food.

The Plus and the Minus of Sizing and Bodies

The Good American is a denim brand co-founded by Kloe Kardashian with the radical idea of having Standard AND plus-size jeans offered on the same racks. Nordstrom’s was the first store to pilot this new approach and when it debuted, Good American was the most successful denim launch in history, earning $1 million the very first day.

Good for you Kloe Kardashian.

However, this is the very same woman who, on the tv show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, ‘complimented’ her sister Kim by telling her she was so skinny she looked anorexic and that she had never looked better. Kim thanked her profusely.

Crazy thinking? Yup. Dangerous thinking? Yes, it truly is. Still buried deep down in me somewhere,sometimes. Yup

The other day at the restaurant, a woman said to me enviously, “you look like you never eat here? You can’t be eating this food. Wish I looked like you.”

Some tiny little part of me tingled. Success! I don’t look like I eat a lot.

Of course, my healthy self bristled at the tiny tingle and told her she was dead wrong. I do eat. Everyone needs to eat. Everyone needs to look like she eats, including me and Kim Kardashian!

I’m surprised that tiny voice is still inside of me. Time for more work to make sure she finds peace – and is able to rest in peace!

And kudos to Good American. I hated being banished to plus size sections and/or stores. It felt like I was different, weird, ‘other’, wrong and somehow bad.

A change in thinking is always good.