I learned a new term today.
According to Ragen Chastain on Dances with Fat, behavior centered health is a concept in which healthy choices and behaviors are the goal, not a particular size, weight, or shape. I have officially been riding the diet yo-yo since the first time I begged my parents into letting me sign up for Weight Watchers as a sophomore in high school. At 5′ 6”, I weighed 150 pounds and wore a size 10. My ass was admittedly not the issue.
Big fucking problem.
I’ve dealt with an eating disorder and a negative body image. I’ve binged and exercised. I’ve lost and gained the same 50 pounds only to gain and lose them again. So why did Ragen’s blog strike a chord with me?
Because every diet I have ever been on, every workout I have ever done, and every goal I have ever set for myself (until recently) has been focused only on the scale and the size on the clothing tag. Maybe that’s why every time I hit a snag on the Path to a Smaller Ass (like pregnancy and the resulting body aftermath) I just plain gave up.
My bottom line kind of read like this: Why bother trying if I wasn’t going to get where I wanted to be? Why put in the effort for something I could never see happening?
Yeah…I know. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Every time I ended up giving up on myself. And if I wasn’t trying, I was hell-bent on making it worse. If I can’t lose the weight I might as well have that Twinkie, right? Hello Ben & Jerry. Secret late night binges followed by even more secret late night cry-fests followed by The Hiding of the Evidence at the bottom of the trash can lest The Husband have actual proof of what I had been up to when I was supposed to have been sleeping peacefully next to him.
It would take months (and sometime years) to drag myself back out of the pity party and back to the Land of the Living. Eventually I would wake up ready and willing to Give it My All and Try Again. And everything would be hunky-dory until another snag would knock me back on my ass and into the nearest pint of Cookie Dough ice-cream.
Not very productive, if you ask me.
Then, one day? My head fixed itself (sort of). I’m not sure what happened. Maybe it was the year I spent trying to lose more weight so I could have material for a book only to realize the journey was the destination and not the other way around. Maybe it was my daughter looking at me with the truth that can only be found in the eyes of a child and telling me that I am beautiful. Or maybe it was realization that the scale didn’t fucking matter; how I feel when I eat right and take care of myself does.
So even though I am still in it for health and still strive to reach a lower number on the scale for that single reason, the number on said scale is no longer my only reason for living. Instead, I focus on how I feel. I’m going to keep working out because my body needs it. I’m going to eat clean because my body needs it. I’m going to smile in spite of the scale.
And telling myself that I’m pretty. Because that’s always a plus.