“Um, don’t take this the wrong way but I always see you guys killing yourselves for like 20 minutes but then you just…” her voice trailed off.
“…Sit here and do this?” Gym Buddy Allison waved at us sitting and “stretching” (read: talking with one leg haphazardly extended).
“Yeah! What’s up with that?!” Our new friend Erika at the gym asked as people slogged away on ellipticals all around us.
“Oh that used to be us too, about 4 years ago,” I started.
“But not anymore!” Allison chimed in. “We’ve learned a lot.”
“So what changed?” Erika (who may soon become a Gym Buddy as I think I talked her into trying our workouts with us!) asked.
I paused, considering the roller coaster of the past few years of diets, exercise addiction, freak-of-the-week TV spots, 2 books and another baby. “Everything,” I said. “Absolutely everything.”
Last year, for my 32nd birthday I gave myself a special gift: I quit blogging. Jelly Bean was 7 months old and I found myself at the end of my rope with my eating and exercise. I was desperate to lose the baby weight and I could feel the crazy voices circling like vultures. But this time I was determined to not fall into old habits. I had a daughter now, one who would watch my every action and learn to love or hate herself as I loved or hated myself. Lest you think I’m giving myself too much credit, I found a panty liner in Jelly Bean’s diaper the other day. That girl watches me like a hawk, even when I don’t realize she’s there (like, um, in the bathroom – note to self: shut the door!). I have no doubt that if she saw me weighing myself, she’d be shoving me off the scale and planting her own pudgy toddler feet on it – the mere thought of which makes me shudder – before I could say “eating disorders run in our family”. I needed time to figure myself out and so I gave myself time.
Desperation and my daughter led me to try something I’d never considered before, something I was completely terrified of, something I was sure could never work for broken me. Intuitive Eating, Geneen Roth style, came into my life and that first month was intense. It was like learning to eat all over again but when I emerged – and started blogging again (turns out I just needed a month, who knew?)- I knew it had been worth it. That was one year ago. If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be able to eat basically anything and not gain weight, I would not have believed you. If you would have told me two years ago that I could go without weighing myself and not gain weight, I would have laughed in your face. If you would have told me three years ago that I could maintain my weight without doing hours of cardio every day, I would not have listened, would not have even been able to hear you, even. If you would have told me four years ago that I could lose my pregnancy weight and maintain that loss without food journaling and calorie counting, I would have sobbed and told you a hundred reasons why that wasn’t true for me.
And yet here I am. No weighing, no counting, no excessive exercise, and I’m fine. Today I weighed myself – don’t freak out, I don’t plan on continuing but I wanted to know how my Intuitive Eating Experiment had worked over the course of a year – and I weigh one pound more than this day one year ago. I consider this a coup of the grandest level. I am happy, I’m healthy and I’m sane. Well, sane-ish. I trusted my body to tell me what it needed and it did. I’m amazed. I’m grateful. I’m humbled.
I’m not perfect, however. I still have a long way to go – I have more “fat days” than I care to recount, I still compare myself to other women, I still have my favorite pair of “skinny jeans” that don’t fit and will never fit as long as I’m at a healthy weight – but look how far I’ve come, baby! Happy Birthday, indeed!
And to celebrate this momentous year, my sister and best friend Laura threw me a “Great Fitness Experiment Birthday Party” – best birthday party I’ve ever had! It was epic:
What was your favorite birthday? I got a jar of beets as a gift (from Laura, of course, she knows how I feel about pooping bloody entrails!) – what’s the strangest gift you’ve gotten?