Yesterday I blogged about Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Today I'll get personal and tell a bit about my own journey...
A few years ago, for several months I followed the "ideal" meal plan, balancing all the food groups and only eating certain amounts. I was also exercising 4-5 times/week. I loved how strong I felt and enjoyed the more toned look of my body. I also appreciated the endorphins flowing through my body helping me have plenty of energy. I had wanted to lose 10 pounds to get back to my pre-marriage weight, but only lost 4 and felt discouraged. I realize I gained muscle which weighs more than fat. Etc., etc., etc. Blah, blah, blah. Yes, I got into that cycle.
But the reason I got into it was because I was waking up virtually every morning disgusted with myself for how my body looked. I would have negative thoughts frequently throughout the day. I finally decided that I was wasting a lot more time feeling bad about myself than it would take to exercise and get the above-mentioned perks.
I have lost the muscles and tone over the couple of years since I gradually stopped exercising. I'd like to get back into it just because it feels good. I haven't made time to do it again yet. I don't want to obsess about it or about food. I want to eat healthily. I want to eat well. I want to eat delicious food, and I don't want to deny myself, because that makes me crazy and petulant and pissy and reactive.
Around Christmas I took a series of photographs of myself, my belly, breasts, and face primarily. I drew a couple of images from it then, then two days ago I drew another. It is very difficult for me to look at. I chose colors that are harsh and ugly together because I was working with my feelings. I got caught up in the process of creating and forgot what I was painting (as is usually the case), but when I was done and stood back to look at it, and as I look at it now, it's painful. I don't like what I see. I've always had the lower pooch - always. But the top one is new. That's the last 8 pounds. Eight pounds of fat.
I don't know what to do about it. I hear echoes of my father's voice, "Hold your stomach in or you'll look terrible." I hear his voice another time, "Women always get fat after they have children. You will too." Am I fulfilling his prophecy? It's very uncomfortable to me.
I weigh 140 lbs and am 5'6". I am in the normal range for weight. Yet I weigh more than I ever have. I think I've always been in the very low normal range, if not a bit underweight, so having this bulge above my belly is new and uncomfortable. I have probably never had an accurate vision of my body. I probably had a very mild form of BDD vis-a-vis my stomach. I certainly have not perceived it accurately. My siblings taunted me with "Fatty, fatty, two by four, can't get through the bathroom door" when I was eight and I've, at least since then, believed that was an accurate moniker for me. When I was newly divorced, I couldn't figure out how to take care of my three young children, make enough money to support us, maintain the house AND feed myself. From strain and worry, I got down to 108 pounds. I'll always be grateful to my friend who looked at me, put her fingers around my skeletal wrist, and said, "Honey, you need to gain some weight. This has gone far enough." I'd had no idea I'd even lost weight.
It's such an odd, odd thing, this body image stuff.