When I was in my early 20’s, I had just become accustomed to my new body and my new, healthy lifestyle. I was around 50 pounds thinner, active, with a positive outlook on my future.
I remember walking past the candy aisle in the grocery store and telling myself, with confidence, “I have no desire to eat any of this. And I can’t imagine I ever will.”
I often think back to that moment. What happened to change my mind and my resolve?
Well, a lot of things.
A few years later, I gained all the weight back. And then I lost it all again. And then I gained it all back again.
When I think back to that moment in the grocery store, there is a numbness, an inability to face the fact that I damaged my body and my spirit over and over again. Nearly 10 years later and I’m still struggling with the same issues. And the same side effects that are so embarrassingly visible.
For a few fleeting moments, I wonder what it would have been like to have simply kept the weight off. Instead of being miserable and uncomfortable in clothes and out of them, I could be fine with my body today. I could have finally stopped fixating on what was going to fit and how many calories were going to be in my next meal. Without the distractions, I could have focused on my art and put my mind to better use. But the sugar has deteriorated my mind. The depression and the endless stacks of pizzas have deteriorated my metabolism and my ability to care about my decline.
After that day in the candy aisle, I wasted the rest of my twenties by falling into an endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain, of depression and determination. Of failure slapping me in the face over and over again. Of feeling helpless and confident and hopeless and salvageable. Of dying. Of living. Of being in between.
I am not a happy person. I never have been. My everyday existence is filled with anxiety and fear. But I do not deal. I ignore what scares and angers me until it is no longer at the forefront of my frustrations. They never go away fully but they are gently prodded to the recesses of my mind while other trivial trials take over. And I ignore by eating. Instead of tackling my fears, I feed them.
I shovel food into my mouth and as long as I can button up my pants the next day, I feel I’ve gotten away with something. It gives me license to do it again. And again. And the self-hatred growls louder than my stomach.
I don’t feel equipped to be a proper adult, to filter out the priorities, to handle the tough stuff. And so I just don’t. I ignore it and have another slice of cake or buy another book I won’t read or purchase another video game that will collect dust before I reach level 4.
The reason I keep putting the weight back on is because I don’t deal with my problems. I lost the weight because I ignored them but in a healthier manner. I focused on calorie counting instead of croissants. I kept tabs on my workouts instead of my actual well-being. It added up to weight loss and a bit of a confidence boost but the loneliness and the reminder of being a failure always came back to me.
Any time I slacked on my diet, as soon as I allowed myself a cheat meal, the foul feelings came funneling back in. And that cheat meal felt so good and kept all the bad stuff at bay. I had to cheat again, had to outrun the cascading numbness before it fell on my shoulders once again.
I was like a recovering alcoholic telling myself I was ready for just one drink. But I wasn’t ready. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.
And suddenly, the healthy lifestyle makes room for slovenliness and more eating. And I catch myself reverting to my old ways but instead of snapping out of it, I languish in it. And that’s how I begin to ignore my problems in an unhealthy manner. And the cycle starts again.
One of the most frustrating things about losing and gaining weight is the exhaustion that comes with it. I’ve lost weight before and I know I can do it again. But just knowing I have to do it again makes me tired. And it makes me angry. I shouldn’t have to go through this again. How could I have let myself get to this point again? How could I have felt so confident that I would not venture into an unhealthy lifestyle again and yet do it twice more?
Is the pull of darkness inside me stronger than my desire to be happy? It seems like the more I try to feel good about myself, to do good for myself, the more I fail and the easier it is to sink into the arms of addiction one more time.
As people come and go (more going than coming), it becomes more clear and more evident food never disappoints. It’s always there for me. It doesn’t drop me after a few months of fun.
It’s hard to turn your back on the one true thing in your life. Even if it’s killing you.
I’m an abused boyfriend. I crave both the love and the punishment. I am a masochist of mastication.
I’ve started dieting and exercising again. I’m using apps on my phone to keep track of my food intake and workouts. I plan on doing a lot of walking and swimming. And I have to push everything aside to focus on losing this weight again, wasting more time only to achieve a most likely temporary goal. But I’m bad at multi-tasking so this gets all of my concentration. It’s not like I have a lot going on in my life anyway.
I’ve already lost 10 pounds since the beginning of January. I am not starving myself. I do not feel deprived of good-tasting food. I have not been overdoing my workouts. It’s been fairly easy, at least physically. But even as I type this, I’m craving something sweet. I’m sad and emotional and want to reach out to the one thing that has always helped ease the pain. I would love a slice of cake, a batch of soft, warm cookies. I’m not even hungry. I’m just another kind of insatiable.
I let out a breath and control the urge. This is what it will be like for the majority of this year. It’s going to suck.
Here I am, a veteran of weight loss, ready to dive back into calorie control and calisthenics. But the spark I had during my previous bouts of weight loss is now gone. The passion has dissipated from the fear of when this motivation will end. It always does.
It’s like putting on a ratty pair of shoes. They’re well-worn and comfortable. They’re molded to you. It’s familiar and safe and satisfying. But they are fraying. Little cracks and holes are starting to show. And ultimately, they just can’t serve your needs anymore. I’m comfortable in my diet and exercise routine right now. But when will I start to show little cracks? When will I notice the holes inside of me? And when will I make the decision to fill them up with food instead of friends or family? And the biggest question is why will I do that? I know better. But for some intangible reason, I just can’t do better.
Losing weight isn’t too hard. But losing the shame and despair isn’t as easy to ditch.