Approval

Last night I watched a film called ‘To the bone’. It was about young people struggling with anorexia. Firstly the film reminded me to go easy on myself, and secondly, I started wondering when food became a contention for me.

Growing up my Mum always cooked our meals. We almost never had anything resembling take out and going out for dinner was a massive treat. My brother had been deemed hyperactive, so my Mum scratch cooked everything to avoid additives. We ate well. My packed lunch for school was pretty much a cheese sandwich and a chocolate bar every day (with the occasional satsuma that I would take for an outing outside the house before bringing it home again, slightly more squidgy than before). I was always a thin child but ate goodly amounts. I rode my bike, swam and danced regularly, so I guess that helped to keep me toned, but then around aged twenty-two, I started to get bigger.

Maybe it was because I left home, or because I became lactose intolerant, or was low, or didn’t exercise as much. There are so many contributing factors that establishing a singular cause is pretty much impossible. I know from going through phases of reduced eating as an adult has been directly linked to my level of stress. Even now I occasionally fantasise about doing this again, as I know that it is utterly the quickest way to lose weight (but it is muscle weight.. and this I am keen to hang on to!), but I also know that it is no longer an option. I want my daughter to have a healthy relationship with food, and watching a parent pick at meals or not eat them at all is the quickest way to encourage problems. If a parent doesn’t think that they are worth feeding, worth being taken care of, then why should the child think any differently? So although I wouldn’t use this route again, I do find it frustrating that I can’t seem to achieve any consistency with my weight.

I have never engaged with any particular dietary plan. I don’t calorie count, portion control or weigh (or shake) anything. To me, this feels laborious and is treating the symptom, never the cause. It also makes food for me, feel boring. I understand what a good diet is, understand how food breaks down (recent revelation, I now view the white and tasty carbs as sugar). I also know that exercise should be consistent and that good health has very little to do with weight. So from here I have two distinct questions, firstly, why am I so transfixed by the idea of being thin and two, why is putting into practice what I know so incredibly hard?

The irony of this, is I am actually entirely good with how I look but feel the social weight of ‘thin’. And with regards to my motivation, for some things (like blogging) I have incredible resilience and grit. So I think that for me, weight is to do more with how I think I should look compared to how I actually want to look, and health is something that I need to aspire to.

Map Point. Where in my life am I looking for the approval of others?

 

New horizon

Last night I made a decision. My sugar intake is much too high and I am going to reduce it, which sounds simple enough. I am too heavy, so I need a reduction too. I am also not exercising which is clearly a problem and I sometimes smoke. I am clearly not someone who is ‘at the top of their game’ when it comes to health.

Exercise is the easy one. I like to exercise, feel much better for it, but have got out of the habit. So as of next week, I will start to re-energise myself. It is obvious, the more you do, the better you feel. Unless of course you do too much and put your knee out requiring a few days laying in bed saying ‘ow, ow’. But exercise is straightforward. Unless it isn’t, in a round about sort of way. It is highly dependent on my motivation being good. Getting started with any new activity, or even re-engaging an old one takes almost as much energy as it does to complete the activity itself. And then, if you as far as the actual activity, you feel doubly spent. So for my first week in my attempt for ‘getting my exercise on’ I will commit to one run. Doesn’t have to be long, uphill or even totally run. I just have to be present.

Smoking. Urg. See the issue with this is that I seem to really enjoy doing it. But it is an incredibly filthy habit, so have rationalised to myself that on the few times that I go out in the space of a year, if I want to smoke, then that is okay. But the rest of the time is now a definite no. I like breathing. I find it entirely life sustaining and anything that hinders that is gone. Goodbye death enhancing friend.

Sugar. If I thought that daring to put my trainers back on and going for a run was hard, I then had the challenge of not becoming fixated on smoky past times. But both of these things times a sizably huge number would describe my relationship with sugar. I like white bread, pancakes, chocolate milk, cake and the holy grail, biscuits. It almost doesn’t matter what the biscuit is and I will consume it. If it dips in tea then that is a win, but I do not judge the biscuits that don’t dip, there is room in my stomach for them all. I can often sit with a full packet of dippable biscuits and after five to ten biscuits I look down at my cup of tea and wonder where it has gone. I am always surprised. And it doesn’t have to be tea, biscuits will dip into almost any hot beverage. Coffee, hot chocolate, herbal teas and paracetamol based hot lemon drinks are all suitable liquids in which a biscuit can be readily dunked. Whilst I was at university I made a website called ‘There’s a Scarab in the Biscuits’ which I only have on a zip drive somewhere. It featured a video clip of how long a person can hold a dipped biscuit out of a hot beverage, before they have to get it to their mouth, prior to catastrophic failure. In short. I love biscuits. But I also love my teeth, not having diet-related diabetes and in truth, I was starting to get concerned about the judgement of the folks in my local supermarket. There was a distinct ‘Oreo’ phase. But knowing that I have such a limited grasp of control when it comes to biscuity goodness, they have to go. At least for the next week.

I think that resolutions like this are incredibly easy to make from a day where I have done very little to promote future wellness. And it is incredibly easy to justify slip ups with all sorts of incredible reasons. I also don’t want to give myself a situation where failure is inevitable, and my self-worth disappears over the horizon line like boats do for people who believe the earth is flat. So am simply setting myself good health tasks for a week. This is something that I can achieve.

Map Point. What can I change this week?

 

My boxed best friend

Today my apathy turned to anger. I found myself walking through my local supermarket, boiling with unrequited rage. One question burned within me. How have I let my diet get so utterly terrible?

I have the possible excuse of having been poorly over the past few weeks. My skin is not looking happy, my clothes are not feeling happy, I am low on energy and am nowhere near as sharp as I usually am (which is usually pretty sharp!). Prior to all of this, my diet was mostly awesome (with occasional takeaways). Most days I would easily get through a goodly weight of the green and colourful stuff but over the last few weeks, my sugar intake is bordering on something that would likely make my dentist cry (or really happy with the amount of work I would generate). And this, in short, is not good.

Even before I got poorly, my diet was taking something of a tumble (there might even be a link here..). And over the past few days, I have identified precisely what motivated the tumble. I am utterly bored with the food that I am consuming. Although the meals were good, I am eating the same things over and over. So rather than trying the new and exciting and being creative, the cereal box and me are now best friends.

I used to experiment more with food, particularly savoury dishes. I would scratch cook all sorts of things and looked for inspiration from cookery books and restaurant menus. I enjoyed cooking. I have been trying to work out when my culinary expertise became a predictable endeavour and I don’t think that I can, but I think I know what prompted the realisation.

For a long time, I think I have just accepted this as my normal. Sometime in my life things just become so ordinary that I no longer took notice of them. And then when one thing changes, everything else starts to change too. This year has been about the new. I spent a long time writing a proposal for an MA that I have now been accepted onto (so much happy!). I have not done anything particularly academically challenging for a really long time, and to finally know that this is about to change, feels completely beautiful. So now, the diet needs to be just as shiny too!

Map Point. What would I like to make extraordinary in my life?