This post is going to go all over the place (why do I feel like all of my posts have this warning?
Perhaps I need to figure my shit out), but I’m using this post to process some stuff, so….yeah! Sorry in advance.
CW: Body hatred, body dysmorphia, eating disorder, internalized fatphobia, diet culture, weight loss, weight gain, working out
As you all prolly know, I deal with some pretty intense body dysmorphia due to internalized fatphobia. I have been in therapy for this for a little over six months and I’m starting to make some positive steps (even if they are just baby steps) to think of my body in more neutral ways, recognizing what it does for me and what it can accomplish instead of narrowing in on what I hate about it and what it can’t do or how it fails. I still hate how it looks and equate my self worth directly to my appearance, which I need to improve upon, but I am improving. Slowly.
I also deal with chronic back pain that might be sciatica (I’m like, 99% sure it is), but I haven’t been able to get a proper diagnosis (despite working with two doctors, two chiropractors and doing physical therapy).
All this background info is to say that, this past weekend, I was a bit triggered by two things: my Mom telling me I should lose weight and my partner expressing concern for my health, as he’s starting to get on a “health kick” after buying a new bike and really enjoying it. This is in NO WAY a dig at either of them. These are two of my favorite people in the world and I am SO excited for my partner to find a new hobby he enjoys, especially one he can do outside.
The result of this, however, was me being super depressed all weekend and feeling like a piece of shit, even though I know that wasn’t either of their intentions. And I wasn’t sure how to discuss why this was triggering for me.
On one hand, you have diet culture that would absolutely agree that a 275 pound woman is obese and unhealthy due to that number alone; that of course that “extra weight” is the cause of my back pain, ignoring the fact that I’ve had lower back pain ever since middle school (when I was 120-150 pounds).
On the other hand, there are body positive activists and coaches I’ve started to follow who are trying to break down those barriers and show that the BMI is actually a racist, outdated tool that isn’t used to measure health and your health is determined by so much more than just your weight; that you can be active AND healthy, yet still be an XL or larger, with weight above whatever fluctuating number society says it needs to be.
I see both these “camps” and they have warred in my head all weekend. My partner wants to lose weight for himself and wants to start working out together after work. A part of me is so excited about this idea, because I do want to become more active and having someone do it with me is the best chance of that actually happening. Most of my hobbies are sedentary and I work a day job, so becoming more active is something I’d love to do.
On the other hand, I am so worried that, by trying to work out regularly again, that I’m going to start falling back into diet culture and reinforcing my own internalized fatphobia even more, when instead, I want to break away from that and recognize my worth as valid, no matter what size my body is.
So, my head’s been swimming all weekend. I’m not really sure what to do (especially since the last time I tried a workout that wasn’t walking my dog, my back twinged afterwards and it took four days before I could properly move again). I think part of me is afraid to become immobile again, because of my back, while also afraid that I’m risking my mental health for physical health. Yet, physical activity always improves my mood, so perhaps it will be beneficial, despite the risk of moving backwards in my self worth journey?
But then I’m also stressed about trying to fit in a regular workout routine when I’m already so overwhelmed with two jobs, grad school, book blogging, writing my books, reading, wanting to stay in touch with people, managing my household, taking care of my pets, etc. My partner tells me that “just make time for it,” but it’s easy for him to say, as his responsibilities are his day job and…that’s it. He helps with pet caring, household chores, does the majority of our cooking, absolutely!! But his evening are always his, never a battle between choosing to spend time to try and cross that next thing off a to-do list or choosing to relax. I just have too many ambitions for my own good.
I dunno, fam. I’m just all over the place and I’m not really sure what this post is meant for, except to be an outlet. I think I’m going to try and work out with my partner, but my working out might look like doing back stretches during my lunch break or in the morning and then taking my dog for a walk, before I start doing the weights that I *want* to do. I need to build up my core strength and I recognize that. But I also don’t want to continue to fall prey to the horrible and damaging demands of diet culture that my brain is so susceptive to.
I guess…I’m just struggling to figure out how to have an active lifestyle AND love myself; how to enjoy working out and not have losing weight be my main focus, especially when those around me, who I love so much, tell me it would benefit me (thus adding pressure on); how to fit in yet another thing in such a busy life.
I just don’t know, friendos. I really don’t.