The Life You Save May Be Your Own

DID, knitting, sci-fi, and strong opinions

What constitutes a “weight problem”? April 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 1:25 am
Tags: , , ,

Lately I’ve seen several posts in my little corner of the blogosphere that attempt to define “weight problems.”  Rather than leave insanely long comments on several people’s points, I thought I’d just write my own post.  I have two major bones to pick.


1. Just because someone isn’t greatly over- or underweight, that doesn’t mean they can’t be distressed about their weight.  It frustrates me to no end when I see very overweight people who say normal or slightly overweight people shouldn’t complain about not being able to fit in their favorite pants and so forth.  It also frustrates me to no end to hear very underweight people say that normal to slightly underweight people shouldn’t complain about the effects of being underweight.  A person’s distress cannot be measured in pounds.


2. Fat does not necessarily equal unhealthy.  Just because someone is overweight does not necessarily mean that they live off junk food and live a sedentary lifestyle, either.  I’ve ranted about this before, but it comes up so often that it bears repeating.  There are a number of studies that show that diabetes, high cholesterol, and other such risk factors can lead to premature death–but those health problems show up in people of all sizes and weights.  Being fat, in and of itself, has not been conclusively linked to premature death–but dieting has.  Oh, and there are dozens of studies showing that most dieters regain the weight they lost.


I’ve been normal weight, underweight, and overweight.  I almost died from anorexia and bulimia.  I’ve also had doctors tell me that losing weight would cure everything from my back pain (um, no, it’s caused by a bone spur) to my depression (um, no, caused by a genetic disorder).


When I was underweight, I harbored no illusions that what I was doing was healthy, but now that I’m overweight, I’ve been trying to convince myself that the same sort of calorie restriction is suddenly healthy because I’m overweight now.  On some level, I know that’s bullshit, but on another level, I want to buy into the lie that being thin will fix all my problems.


I eat a healthy diet.  I’ve been vegetarian for 10 years, and I recently became a vegan, due to some digestive issues and a possible link with my MTHFR polymorphism.  Most of my grocery cart is full of produce, and I cut out my Diet Coke addiction and other sources of caffeine because they worsen my anxiety.  Sure, sometimes I eat junk food and snack too much.  I love Trader Joe’s sesame honey almonds, and Soy Delicious makes some amazing soy ice cream.  But before I was either eating disordered or fat, I snacked sometimes too.


I’ve generally kept an active lifestyle.  From elementary school through the first half of high school, I was a competitive gymnast.  (And for the record, gymnastics didn’t cause my ED; my coach was the first to pick up on it and the first to urge me to get help.)  In college, I started learning US Yoshukai Karate and started competing at tournaments around the Southeast.  I did have to take a five-year break from most physical activity due to back pain so bad I could hardly stand for more than 30 minutes per day, but that has been successfully treated.  Now I walk almost everywhere I go–appointments, pharmacy, grocery shopping, knitting group–and take a kung fu class three times a week.


I’m still fat.


I don’t know if it’s that I ruined my metabolism with years of eating disorders, or if it’s that I’ve messed up my system by being on psych meds for most of my life, or something else altogether.  In the end, I don’t think it matters that much why I’m fat and not losing weight.


What matters is that I’m happy.  What matters is that I’m working toward making peace with my body.  What matters is that I feel healthy and alive.  Those are things I want to be more important to me than my size and my weight.


3 Responses to “What constitutes a “weight problem”?”

  1. twirlinggirl Says:

    Wait a minute. Are you me? This is actually freakily the same as my experience.

    I’ve been underweight, “normal” weight, and overweight (none super extreme, but noticeable).
    I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12, before, during, and through my ED and the recovery process.
    I have always eaten pretty healthy, before, during, and through. I restricted but still ate candy and dessert. I binged on healthy food. The only change is portion size and binging frequency.
    I have always been active (dance, yoga, gym-going, and living in NYC), before, during, and through.
    I have dreamed of being able to eat the measly portion sizes I used to and to exercise the amount I used to in order to get back from “over” to “under” or really just “normal,” but I can’t anymore. That’s probably good.

    Frankly, think that in order to enter the recovery process, you have to completely let your emotions step away from your weight. You can’t think “I want to weigh this” or “I wish I looked like that,” you have to just take a step back and say “I want to allow my body to change” and “I wish to forgive and embrace myself for that.”

    I’ve been depressed at every damn size. It doesn’t fucking matter as long as I can go to sleep hopeful for the next day.

    Thank you for writing this. I think we’ve been reading the same things and it’s good to hear some reassurance of where I’m at. Cheers.


    • weordmyndum Says:

      While I’m fairly certain that I’m not you, I can’t guarantee it. So much of the time, I’m not myself.

      Seriously, though, I think it’s a fairly common scenario for people who have/had eating disorders. I know so many other people who have experienced similar things.

      I think the idea of severing weight/body/size from emotions is a nice ideal, but it’s not one of those things you can do entirely. At least, I can’t. But, like so many things, it’s a process that you can work at. Even little things help. For instance, having recently started taking a martial arts class again after a five year hiatus, I found I could no longer comfortably fit into my gi. For a while, I went a little crazy with restriction to try and fit into my old gi, but once I passed out after a workout, I realized how completely stupid and self-defeating that was. The answer was a lot simpler and kinder than destroying myself to try to fit who I used to be: I bought new pants. It seems so self-evident now that I’ve done it, but when you’ve dealt with an ED for so many years, forcing yourself to shrink is the more obvious answer. It’s a work in progress, not accepting the “easy” answers of the ED, but as long as I’m moving, then it’s okay with me.

  2. Generally speaking, society has some reeeeally messed up ideas about health and weight. Some may say I’m not one to speak considering I have an eating disorder, but the funny thing is that I seem to have more knowledge and education about health and weight than the general non-ED population (I just struggle to allow myself to attain health). Sounds like you have a lot of awareness about it too… keep trusting in what you know, because you’re 100% right – health isn’t a number nor is a healthy weight health – though I think most people like to believe so because everyone feels so horrible about themselves, it’s just easier to point their fingers at everyone else and judge.

    Great post. Well said!!

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