Archive for March, 2014


The Struggle

March 30, 2014

I’m struggling with my weight. But it’s not what you think.

I’m struggling because I’m relatively happy with my body at the moment, but I’ve never known what that felt like before, so it’s making me uncomfortable. Not just uncomfortable, it’s making me paranoid, like at any moment my sense of balance and contentment could disappear, which certainly lessens the pleasure of balance and contentment.

I’m also uncomfortable because I am aware that this is as lean as I’m going to get – I can’t cut out any more food and I’m exercising as much as I care to in my busy schedule. So this is it. I arrived at The Place. As a heavy kid the idea of a body I was “done” with was a distant idea, maybe never to be reached. So what now?

But even to use the word “weight” at all makes me a bit of a hypocrite, since I believe deeply that the number on the scale is meaningless. It has nothing to do with your muscle mass, your bone mass, systemic inflammation, gut flora, fluid retention, daily fluctuation, circadian rhythm, heart function or any true barometer for health. It is an utterly useless figure.

Unfortunately, it’s a useless figure that was assigned consequential significance in my formative years. My dad once told me an old Groucho Marx joke: guy walks into a store and says, “Hey do you know where I can get a Henway?” The store owner replies, “I don’t know, what’s a Henway?” To which the guy answers, “Oh about two and a half pounds.” I remember sitting on my father’s lap, falling for the joke, and then bursting into tears, sobbing that “Daddy called me fat,” because I’d never heard the words “weigh” or “pounds” said to me in any context other than how high up the percentile chart I was. Even in homonym form, the word was a bullet.

So we won’t say weight. I’m not struggling with my weight. I’m struggling with my body. I am struggling because I like how it looks now, and I didn’t like how it looked before, and that also makes me a hypocrite. I’ve written pages and pages about self acceptance and learning to love one’s being in the moment, but no matter how hard I work to change the way the world looks at flesh, no matter how focused I am on gaining fame and influence so I might help to chip away at how bodies, but particularly female bodies, are portrayed in the media, I am still stuck in my own demented preference for leanness over thickness.

Now, you can make the argument that my current state of being is more “healthy” and that my preference lies there. And I will agree with you that as far as my overall well-being and health is concerned I am in a far better place than before I made a major nutritional shift and my body changed, but as far as my purely physical appearance is concerned, I can’t help feeling preferential over my current state, and that is problematic.

A friend of mine recently told me I reminded her, visually, of celebrity Anna Kendrick. Before I could stop the words from escaping my mouth, some beast from within overcame my better morality and exclaimed ecstatically, “She’s so thin!” Hearing the words come out of my mouth I was appalled. How can I write what I write, stand on the soap boxes on which I stand, when this toxicity lies so close to the surface?

This tug-of-war comes with a side dish of rage, and a continued need for forgiveness of myself and my culture, that I have not yet mastered. My only hope is that my willingness to write about my own hypocrisy will help alleviate it. If I make friends with the beast, invite it in for almond-flour, dairy-free brownies and paleo jerky, maybe I stand a chance of ending the struggle.