It is that time again: the time where I try to lose some weight.
This is always a fraught process for me, because I have never had terribly good self-esteem. So any time I even enter the vicinity of body-image stuff I am walking on rocky terrain, especially when I am already feeling unsure of myself on other fronts. But perhaps I ought to take a couple of steps back…
So, it appears that this is going to be one of those rare confessional posts, the sort where I actual reveal a bit of humanity. I am generally loathe admitting my human side even exists, or at least that I have an inner life. Yes, I write of my angst, but that all just seems to be a part of my surface; if you’ve ever met me you can tell that I wear that sort of thing on my sleeve. But, here we go…
One of the frequent side effects of having a chronic illness is fluctuations in weight, either up or down. In my case, when I go through a prolonged rough patch I end up in bed much of the time taking extra medication, and that medication often demands eating more to cushion my digestive system. Hence, I gain weight. And when I am back on track health-wise I then have to deal with it, and that, as I said before, can be tricky.
The thing is that I lose weight exceedingly well, too well. It is not that the weight just slips away, but that I am remarkably good at simply depriving myself. The regimentation of self-depredation feels welcome, reassuring. Each day I find myself wanting to pare away a few more calories, to wait a little longer before eating again. That process offers a sort of control, an order.
It is a challenge to not set my target too low, to avoid using the BMI calculator to justify pushing a bit harder by running right up to that borderline of underweight. It is always hard to silence that little (or not so little) voice in my head that tells me everything will be better if I am just a bit thinner, that things will fall back into place again.
Now that I’ve left Andover and no longer have a fabric deal I perpetually feel that underlying anxiety, the questions over whether I made the right choice in leaving and the doubt as to whether I’ll ever get another chance. And that lingering anxiety is just the perfect element to mix in with body-image issues. There is nothing like self-doubt to fuel the belief that somehow being better will make everything else better, and that dangerous assumption that being thinner equates to being better is hard to kick. Like almost everyone else I grew up with that paradigm; it is the basis of the western media complex.
Hell, I keep find myself resisting the urge to call my editor at F+W and ask to submit a new author photo now that I’ve lost a bit over a stone (I’ve always loved the archaic British measurement system). Surely that will help the book sell better, right? Even as I know that is absurd, it still nags at me. Not the desire for the new photo, but the nagging insistence of the idea, the very thought of doing it.
So, I’m here now, publicly setting my goal: two stone. From what I weighed when I arrived here in the UK I will lose two stone and no more. I will not push further. If you see my using a BMI calculator and even thinking of going further you have to punch me. I will ignore those inner demons who equate starvation with order, with control. Perhaps I will never accept that there are things I cannot control (it seems unlikely), but I will channel my neuroses elsewhere. I will stop at healthy, because beyond that lies the realm of perpetual redefinition, the slippery slope that is all too comfortable.