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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Januarage

I had big ideas about what it was going to be like in January 2019.  I prepared myself - I knew the deluge was coming.  Diet posts, whole 30 posts, boot camp, exercise, eating "right," pictures of salads, and more salads, and on and on and on.

This would be the year that I pushed back.  I would banish the #whole30 #cleaneating #moralvaluesassignedtofood #loveyourselfdon'tyouloveyourselfwhyarentyoujoiningagym #DIDYOUFORGETYOURETOOFAT posts, I would block liberally and un-follow often.  I would reclaim this first month of the year and remind the world that loving yourself and your life is not about pounds and inches.

And still... it's halfway through January now, and here I am.  I don't feel energetic, or enlightened, or above it.  I feel...  somewhere between unprepared, sad, angry, and... tired.  I'm so tired.

I'm tired of being told by society that I am dirty and bad because I am not trying to lose weight.

When I read about "clean" eating, it's kind of impossible for my brain not to realize that means you think the way anyone who doesn't eat that way is UN-clean.  Which is inherently negative.

When you talk about treating your body "right" or "with respect" by dieting, you're implying that if I don't do those things, I am wrong and don't respect my body.

I realize that it may feel to some people like I'm exaggerating here, but I'm not.  I'm telling you what it feels like to be surrounded by diet culture, especially when it's not something you buy into.  Diet culture applies MORALS to food, which, let's be honest, is where a lot of eating disorders get started.

I'm tired of being singled out because I'm fat even though no one has any way to know how healthy I am, and even if I am unhealthy it's not anybody's business.  It is just as likely that the person sitting next to me who can fit into a pair of size 6 jeans has bigger health problems than I do.  But because of the way I look, I am assumed not only to be unhealthy, but responsible for my lack of health.

I'm tired of people acting like if I just worked harder to lose weight, I could get it off and keep it off.  That if I just had a little bit more resolve in my resolution, a little more oomph and commitment, it would solve all my problems!  Okay, to be honest, there's a fine line between being tired of these things and just being steam-coming-out-the-ears rage-grimace angry.

My friend Jillian has been posting what she's coined JanuaRant every day this month.  She is the type of friend and advocate we all need, and she's dismantling and highlighting the problems with diet culture and the entire shit-show that is January/Resolutions/Weight Loss/Diet Culture/Fat Unacceptance.  I have shared a few of them on my Facebook page, and the other day she posted about weight loss.  Let's take a look, because it hit me like a ton of bricks and activated my super-special-gooey-anger-center.
JanuaRant™: Is it possible to lose weight intentionally, through behavioral changes? You can do the research yourself; I'm limited by a lack of scientific background and a lack of access to some of these papers. But the reviews seem to indicate success rates around 5%. 
And how do they define "success" in these studies, anyway? Sometimes it's a pretty low bar. It varies from study to study, but it might be something like losing 10% of your body weight and keeping it off for a year. 
So if a person who weighs 300 lbs gets down to 270 and stays there for a year, that's success. But where are they in two years? Five years? Forty years? The studies don't usually watch past a year or two. 
(Ten years down the line, that unusually "successful" 270 lb person walks into a new doctor's office. Is that person treated like an "after" picture, a success story? Or is that person badgered about their weight just as much as they were at 300 lbs?) It's not impossible to lose weight intentionally. It's very unlikely, but it's not impossible.
Shit.

You guys.  There are SO many factors at play in people's weights.  Environment, genetics, nature, nurture, psychology, food intake, exercise, hormones, medical conditions, and who knows what else.

When I think about the amount of time I have spent in my life feeling shitty about myself and my inability to be a smaller human, it is maddening.

The amount of time, effort, money, heartache, shame, despair, and bigotry I have spent and experienced in my life about trying to lose weight when the likelihood of success was less than 5%... I'm not sure whether I want to cry or scream.  It's awful, and painful, and insane.  And it makes me so sad for all the people who hate themselves the way that they are.  It makes me so, so angry for all the girls (and boys) who will grow up into this, and never even realize that it ISN'T THEM, that the culture and the expectation is one of the biggest lies they'll ever be told.

Of the small number of people who manage to lose weight intentionally and keep it off, half gain it back.  For your body, that means weight cycling, which has negative health effects.  I've lost and gained 25-50 pounds several times and now, here I sit.  At the same weight for years.  Like... maybe this is just how I am?  What negative effects on my body could have been prevented if I hadn't yo-yo'd?  There's no way to know.

I'm tired of being told to lose weight. 

I had an eye doctor appointment at the end of December.  I had already postponed it once because it's SO tiresome, going in and getting checked for a condition that's completely in remission and being told to lose weight.  I didn't really want to go, but I did anyway.  And sure enough, he checks my eyes, which look great, nothing to see here, folks.  But then he says it.

"How are you doing with fitness and losing weight?"

AGAIN WITH THIS.

This time, though, I spoke.

"You know, it's not really a priority for me.  I lost weight when I was severely symptomatic and it didn't affect the condition."

I didn't look him in the eyes when I said it, but... baby steps right?

He talked some more about how even a 5% weight loss can really help people.  Like, even though I'd suprised him with a different answer than he expected, he couldn't stop himself from making sure that I WAS AWARE THAT WEIGHT LOSS IS THE PRIMARY TREATMENT!!!!  AND WE DON'T WANT IT TO COME BACK!!

Yeah... okay, man.  The thing is, the condition is called idiopathic intracranial hypertension for a reason.  Idiopathic means they have no idea why it happens or how to stop it.  There's no cure.  So, why exactly is weight loss the primary treatment?  Because in some percentage of people, a 5% weight loss helps, and that's the only thing they can grasp at other than diuretics and shunts and other band aids.

They think the condition might be hormone related, but my hormones are wack, and have been for a long time.  That's likely the reason that I'm fat in the first place.  So, thanks for asking me how it's going to just change the way my body naturally works, man.  That's super helpful.

So.  I wanted to feel strong this month, to remember that I have days when the amount of love I feel for myself surpasses any of this fatigue or anger or madness.  I wanted to be an advocate for shiny happy things like loving yourself and happiness in all months instead of the revolving resolution escalator.

It turns out, I'm not ready yet.  I'm not done being mad.  So, here's to a new year, and all the Januarage I can muster.

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