Ah, Weight - My Least Favorite Subject... / by Michelle Cowan

The company I work for kicked off a new weight loss program/competition today. What I heard from those who attended the kick-off meeting sounds mostly positive. This program appears to promote a healthy lifestyle rather than a flash-in-the-pan diet. Unfortunately, I still sense a clear focus on good vs. bad foods and a pressure to exercise that can turn unhealthy. Plus, the whole idea of competing to lose weight unnerves me. Such pressure, along with unknown, intangible standards of success!

Every body is different. Some people will be larger than others. Any time a program involves setting goal weights, etc., I get a bit leery. Yes, I understand that goals help us work toward achieving what we desire, but how does one determine his or her ideal weight other than by simply eating when hungry/stopping when full for an extended period of time? Sure, you can probably come up with a sensible 25 pound range or something, but… Ugh, the whole thing makes me nauseous.

I haven’t weighed myself in almost four years, and I have never missed it. Sure, it makes coming up with my current weight tough when I’m asked for it on driver’s license or other identification forms, but I usually just guess at something that seems right. I wouldn’t trade my peace of mind for anything. I refuse to measure myself according to a number like that.

When I last weighed myself (a few months after embarking on a new kind of recovery plan), I was much larger than I am now. Because of a doctor’s slip-up a couple of years ago, I do have some idea of where I stand weight-wise although I cannot remember the exact number she told me. Of course, as I bring that up, I have to tell the entire tale of that slip-up:

The doctor noticed that I had lost some weight over the year prior and wanted to congratulate me. I specifically noted my history of eating disorders on my paperwork, but apparently, she chose to ignore that. I’m grateful for the sentiment, I guess, but I didn’t really need to lose weight in the first place. The slight weight loss was simply due to consistently not bingeing and riding my bike a bit more. My question is: Why did no one congratulate me for gaining weight at times when that was necessary?

Anyway, the focus on weight and the notion that there is a “right” one concerns me. I long to stand up in my workplace and yell, “I hate diets!” I do. But yet, I am never sure how much to expose in the workplace. I still struggle some with food and exercise, and that has always held me back in terms of forthright participation in ED activism. Ultimately, though, who says I have to have “perfect” recovery before I can speak out? Me. I’m the only one.

I’m afraid that I will relapse and look like a fool if I am too open about my passion for eating disorder recovery. I’m afraid people will say, “It seems like she still has an eating disorder.” Right now, I want to ditch that fear. No one can take away the progress I have made. I will always have farther to go. I will always want to do better. But I can accept where I am right now and acknowledge how far I’ve come with a hardy pat on the back.

For anyone out there, you’ve come so far! Don’t hide it. Speak out. We’ll see if I’m able to in coming weeks. I have no idea how this workplace competition will affect me, but already, it makes me want to speak out and tell the story of body image from my perspective. More will be revealed…