Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I remember when it started, this love-hate relationship with food

I remember the very first time I woke up in the middle of the night feeling hungry. I was fourteen years old and wanted to lose fifteen pounds.

It was the summer of 1970, and my mother had planned a three-week vacation for the two of us to fly from Fairbanks to New York to Kansas City to Sacramento to Missoula to Seattle and back home to Fairbanks. We visited relatives in every city, some of whom I'd never met in my entire life.

I wanted to be skinny for the trip in August. At the beginning of the summer I was 140 pounds (5' 6"). I wanted to weigh 125 pounds. I thought I was hideously fat at 140. All my girlfriends weighed under 120 pounds. I was obese in comparison.

Back then I didn't know about cardio and strength training. I did things like sit-ups, leg lifts, donkey kicks, jumping jacks. This was pre-internet . I think I read about the exercises in some magazines. I didn't exercise very much or very often.

I also didn't know much about nutrition back then, and the importance of a balanced diet. Instead I crash dieted cutting my calories down to 800 calories a day. In two months I lost 10 pounds and was down to 130 pounds. I wanted desperately to get down to 125. The night before the trip I woke up at 1 a.m. I was starving. I remember not allowing myself to eat. I was so hungry that I couldn't sleep. Finally, after tossing for over an hour I got up and ate a tomato, and went back to bed.

I weighed that morning before getting ready for our flight. I was 129 pounds. I was so mad at myself for not getting down to 125 pounds. I thought I was fat.

I've looked at pictures of myself from that trip. I was so skinny. I actually looked malnourished. I didn't look healthy. I was pale and thin. Yet I still felt fat.

That was my first big diet, forty years ago. I'm still trying to lose weight, but now my goal is 135-140. Funny how things change, but stay the same. I'm still waking up in the middle of the night, wanting to eat because I'm hungry and trying not to eat. because I don't want to gain weight. Sometimes I win at this and sometimes I lose.

Tonight I didn't win. I ate, but it was controlled eating, about 400 calories, or 8 Points. It wasn't planned eating, but I have the Points available, so I ate. I am not beating myself up about it. Even though I know I'll probably see a slight gain tomorrow, it's all okay.

I will always have this love-hate relationship with food. I love it for the  obvious reasons. It makes me feel good, it gives me energy, it tastes good, and I get a lot of pleasure from eating. I hate it because I think about it too much, and thoughts of it often consume me. It makes me fat if I eat too much of it. 

You would think after all these years I'd have this figured out. I'm closer to understanding it than when I was a girl of 14. I've learned to accept my body with all it's flaws and to appreciate it's strength. I'm still working on my food issues, trying to accept that it's okay to eat if I'm hungry. If I can come to peace with the food, I just might be okay. Maybe someday.

8 comments:

Roxie said...

It's a struggle, isn't it? Very insightful post.

Have a great week, Diana.

Helen said...

Thinking back on my 14 year old self and body, I wish I had appreciated it more. I think had I learned that all the way back then I wouldn't be going through what I'm going through now.

Splurgie said...

My first wacky eating experience happened when I was 14 too. Must be a dangerous age!

Anonymous said...

So strange...I've spoken with many women who started dieting when they were still thin adolescents or teens who then became obsessed with food/eating during the dieting process. It's sad. I fear our culture is producing more obese people and disordered eaters (women, especially) by pushing images and ideals (through programming and advertising) that are not realistic for most of us.

At 15, I remember thinking I was fat because I didn't have a 24" waist! I weighed 118 and was 5'7". I don't even recall where I got the silly idea that I had to measure 24" around my middle. If I could go back in time and talk to the young woman who was me, I would tell her to focus on other things, like feeling strong and healthy. That's what I did with my own daughter, and it seems to have made all the difference.

M Pax said...

My first diet was in hs, too. I was 15-ish and thin as a rail. I thought I was fat up until senior year and starting college. Levis were all the rage then. Sitting behind a gal who I thought of as thin and gorgeous, I saw her waist size was bigger than mine. I never weighed over 110 in hs. Yet, I thought I was pudgy.

Jenny S said...

It's so sad how we all thought we were "fat" when we were young teens. I look back at my photos from when I was young and I look wonderful, but at the time I too, thought I was fat. I hope that I can teach my daughter differently.

Kyle Gershman said...

Near as I can tell, you've come a long way since you have begun.

I do know that I expect things to be a daily struggle...not a hardship, but that each choice will have to come with careful consideration and that I have to remove emotions like guilt/remorse from decisions to eat a "treat" and the desire to be a hero or martyr just because I eat normally.

Bringing Pretty Back said...

My battle didn't start til after I got married and I just struggle every day. Ypur before and after pictures are such a great inspiration, thank you.

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