I became first aware of my body thanks to a Kellogs Special K cereal ad, showcasing a woman who just couldn’t pinch an inch on herself. Standing in my Glass Tiger costume (bathing suit over tights and my dad’s squash headbands on waist and forehead), I could pinch an inch. Or two.
I was 8 years old.
28 years later and food was, up until a few weeks ago, the thing that used up the most of my brainspace.
I spotted a photo of myself from a few years ago, the summer of triathlons and working out 5x a week and counting every single calorie. I can vividly remember how focused I was on wanting to lose more weight, on bettering my yoga practice, on eliminating my belly flab, on racing faster and better. On the outside, I was getting all the shiny pennies, but on the inside, all I wanted was more.
I tarnished my own efforts by finding the flaws in my accomplishments and it spread far beyond food and body: the run wasn’t fast enough, the store wasn’t busy enough, the blog didn’t look cool enough, my apartment wasn’t nice enough, I don’t look polished enough, my sewing isn’t precise enough. I just wasn’t good enough for myself.
It started with my second Whole30 challenge, after this past holiday overload. I had completed one before, which I had found to be transformative (something I had felt with the Montignac diet eons ago). This time around though, it left me stuffed with dates and extremely angry. I was angry that I needed to waste so much energy on what I looked like on the outside. Why did it matter? Why did our entire culture value being thin over being happy? Why couldn’t I just eat all the bread I want not give a shit? I struggled for weeks, being ”good” by exercising and not eating carbs and then being ”bad” by drinking wine and eating baguette. I ran half heartedly, always hearing the fire hydrant of doubt: you’re not running fast enough, your posture is totally wrong, you should be able to run much farther….
Standing on top of that mountain, on the morning that I broke my arm, I thought I had it all figured out. My brain was aflutter with thoughts of a new writing career, making leaps and bounds in my running, I was ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN, guys I was weeping of joy up there. I was going to start food logging again and FINALLY rid myself of those last 20 pounds that I keep losing + gaining + losing + gaining. All I needed to do was run down the mountain and get home to attack the 15 things I had on my sparkly to-do list.
Not quite what I had expected.
For years there had been food journals, myfitnesspal logins, cleanses, binge eating, severe diets and all of it just fed the constant inner food dialog of what I *should* eat, what I *shouldn’t have* eaten what I *wanted* to eat and so on. And so I made a decision after I broke my arm: I ordered bread from my baker neighbour and I ate a lot of it. Like a loaf a day for at least a week. And while it tasted delicious, it didn’t fill me with the comfort I was expecting. IT WAS NOT ENOUGH. And with that, I decided that I was D.O.N.E, maybe Gennene Roth was right, food was not the answer and I was asking all the wrong questions.
I’m on my 10th day of my morning routine and I feel like a real person again. My food dialogue is almost silent, the fire hydrant of doubt is quieter and and all it took was a broken arm.
Here’s to the next 28 years.