Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Since when did food get emotional? (or one of the best things I've ever done in this love/hate relationshp)

Yesterday I went to see a dietician because, as wonderful as all my weight loss plans were earlier this year, I have failed dismally. What happened? Well, I went away, then I got sick, then my gym buddy bailed on me, then it was winter and I am also really good at excuses. After seeing my amazing GP, he sent me off for this appointment I had to wait a month for. So I decided I wanted to talk about it because it was an incredibly positive experience for me in an area which is usually incredibly depressing.

At my appointment, my dietician talked to me about a whole range of things. my goal weight. what I like to eat. healthy eating guidelines. My maximum calorie intake. None of these things were at all new to me, but what was new was the simple fact that none of this discussion was emotional.

I'm a really emotional person. I'm attached to things. I'm brand loyal. I am easy to guilt trip. Yesterday there was no mention of 'bad' or 'naughty' or 'sometimes' foods, just discretionary ones. And then there were guidelines around them. There was talk of veggies and protein and cereals (forget carbs, yesterday I didn't even hear that term). And I also did something scary, I promised to attend my next appointment in a month's time, even if I hadn't seen any results or stuck to my plan.

Some background about my emotional attachment, or lack thereof to food. I wasn't always like this, I never would have grouped foods as 'good' or 'bad' or even thought about carb loading. Fact is, I have had body image issues since I was a preteen, and I've carried them all the way with me until now. It would be really simple to say something like 'well, you should have been more careful about what you ate', which brings me to my next point.

The first thing I did that was my version of being healthy was stopping eating desserts towards the end of Year Nine. This didn't last forever, but coupled with being really active over summer and then being in a physical job and walking everywhere, I lost some weight. Then I put it back on. Then I got a new job and lost weight again. And so on. But I have found that when I have been thinner, I had eaten a lot of fast food, or at least food that is not great for you. This has continued all through my life, but I can't say I really thought about food like I do now until I started back at gym when I was 23.

I loved being 23 and 24 because I was thinner, happier and really active. But I was also cheating a lot. I would lie in my food diary. I would skip meals. I would eat yoghurt and six cookies every day for lunch at Pizza Hut. I once had pizza four nights in a row. But I was also in a really physical job where I didn't even sit down for my breaks most of the time, and I was also at gym at least once a day, five days a week, doing hour long classes and PT. And when I started teaching, I moved somewhere without a gym and didn't want to go walking (I hate walking), and pretty much put on all that extra weight seemingly overnight.

The great thing about losing weight is that everyone tells you how great you look all the time. You're commended for your efforts. But, at this point, I was starting to see food as either good or bad, high carb or low carb, fruit was a no no with one PT, protein shakes were a better option than actual food... whatever. The list went on. Then, when I put weight back on, the compliments stopped and the 'oh, how sad, Lisa's put weight on' comments started. Thanks a lot kids.

Do I feel unhappy or ugly or unable to find love because I'm overweight? Believe it or not, no. But to actually say to someone 'hey, I feel pretty sexy in this dress' can lead to 'well, I don't know if it really suits your size', and it's somehow not okay to think you're pretty if you're also a little bit on the cuddly side. This is, in it's lesser evil form, fat shaming, and it makes me sad. Will I feel happier if I weigh less? You know what, no, and I actually don't care.

The very first goal I came up with was at age five, when my great Nan told me that anyone who lives to be 100 will get a letter from the Queen. So, I decided that this would be my goal. Everyone wants a letter from the Queen (or probably the future King) and who wouldn't want to be 100? So. I've stopped this crappy idea about being happier and I just want to be healthy. And that's why I wrote this blog, to remind myself that sometimes it isn't about what you look like, it's about how you treat your body so you can do cool things like get letters and climb trees and roller skate and have a gazillion grandchildren.

tl;dr: go and see a dietician, it is fun.