Finding the Sweet Spot

When I was at my thinnest, I took pride in refusing second helpings, dinners out, and even cake on my birthday.

food police

I wanted my refusal to say, “look how strong I am. I am built on will-power alone. I have no needs at all. I don’t believe in frivolity or even having something special to celebrate with on my birthday. Look at me, look at me, look at me. How dare you have fun while I’m stuck with a lowly carrot stick?” I secretly resented anyone who had the courage desire to indulge, even if it meant gaining a little weight that day. I simply wouldn’t have it. I was as self-righteous about food and fitness as you could possibly be. I knew it all and I wanted the world to know it, too. I despised anyone who tried to tempt me with foods I didn’t allow myself to have: white bread, fried chicken, movie theater popcorn. I was above it all, even when I longed for these items and was jealous of anyone who had the brevity of allowing themselves such things. I wasn’t about to give up my Amazing Weight Loss Success for something as trivial as a date night with my ex-husband. Or family dinner when everyone could be in town. Having total control over myself, my weight, and food was this… to simply refuse anything that might cause me pleasure. I shunned the idea of anything that might take my Success away from me.

During that time, no one liked being around me. No one wanted to hear about the endless woes of eating sugar (even on special occasions), of how many calories there happened to be in that lasagna, of how long it’d take to burn off that cupcake. I was such a bummer to be around. All high and mighty and on my self-punishing weight loss kick, I had success but did it all with the wrong mindset. I couldn’t allow myself balance. I couldn’t seem weak or inferior to those around me. I had to rise about it and them all. I was at my thinnest, but I definitely, definitely, wasn’t happy. I was living in a slow-burning paranoia all the time. I couldn’t relax with people, and I sure as hell couldn’t relax about something as necessary, as pleasurable as food. Forget it. My sole priority was to finally be The Thin One. That’s all that mattered.

Now, being on the opposite side, it’s as though I’m trying to rebuild relationships, to get out more. To be with friends. To try new things. And to allow myself a treat now and again. I still haven’t found that Balance I desperately need. I still have trouble letting go of the enormous amounts of guilt and self-hatred that follows “giving in” to having a treat. Sometimes the guilt is so bad that I coerce myself into digging myself deeper with a binge. Other times, I have Michael on my side, shaking some sense into me (in the most loving of ways), and I can let it go. I want so bad to get to a point where I can actually enjoy food. What a concept, right, to be satisfied?

These days, I feel like I’m making up for those years of intense restriction by, at times, indulging too much. I somehow want these times to say, “hey, I know how to let loose and have some fun. I can have cheesecake on an ordinary Tuesday and not fret about the grams of sugar. I can be one of the guys. I can be part of the crowd. I don’t believe in cutting these things out my life. Hey, pass me another slice, won’t you?” Later on, as I’m kicking myself, and kicking my own ass in the gym or working out several times at home, I don’t feel like The Fun One. I feel miserable. I’m so busy, spreading silent messages about who I am and what I’m all about, that I lose myself in the process. I eat more when I’m already stuffed, or I’ll go without even my stomach has been grumbling for hours. It’s like I can’t trust myself or my own body when it comes to Enough. Someone Else has to tell me what’s best for myself.

Whatever side I’m currently on, it’s exhausting.

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