Category: body image

a handful of nuts

Some days, it’s not the food but the fools that send me into a downward spiral.

Well, mostly.

As of this writing, I’ve been dieting/exercising for a little over 100 days and have lost a little over 40 pounds. The first week wasn’t too bad once I got over the initial adjustment. I’ve been down this road countless times before so I knew what to expect: hunger pangs, being more obsessed with food than usual, immediate feelings of wanting to give up as soon as a craving craned its neck in my direction. But I didn’t give in and all was well.

And then the second week happened and I hit my first wall. Yeah, that soon. You’d think the longer you do something, the easier it would get. But that’s not the case with Bran Bran. Things always seem to just get harder and more difficult the longer I’m involved in it. Either way, I pushed through and the next couple of months was pretty easy.

But over the past several days, things have gotten harder again. I’ve been craving food more than usual and I can’t seem to get satisfied when I do eat. It didn’t help that I took a 4 day vacation a couple of weeks ago. I just sat around the house and ate food. I didn’t binge but I ate more than I wanted to.

I thought I’d keep myself busy. I’ve got plenty of movies to watch and books to read and I wanted to catch up on some writing but every time I tried to invest in a cheesy slasher film on Netflix, the kitchen would come a-callin’. And most of the time, when I get it in my mind that I want to eat, I can’t concentrate on anything else until I do.

I’m also extremely stressed out. Both my jobs suck and my parents have been getting on my nerves and all the horrible things happening in the world have all gotten to me. I’m always worried about the next massive bout of destruction, whether it be man-made or from mother nature. I’m lonely and hungry and bored and lethargic. And all I want to do is forget about everything and eat. But I can’t.

My last defense mechanism is food and that’s gone so I’m just a raw nerve, constantly hurting and yearning for something that I usually pushed down with pizza.

But I can see my ribs again. So there’s that.

I’m an emotional eater. We all know that. And I’m an emotional person. Well, mostly I’m just an irritated person. So it’s easy for me to eat. It’s natural. It’s comforting. And there are days when I literally feel compelled to eat. Even when I’m not hungry. Even when my stomach hurts. Even when I’ve finished a meal or had a large snack. I want more. I always want more.

People are starting to notice the weight loss. Co-workers are saying my face looks slimmer, that my torso isn’t as rotund as it once was. And these are all nice compliments to hear. And then I had one co-worker tell me not to get too skinny. And it’s just crazy to me that people feel they can comment on my weight and dictate my size. I’m not reshaping my body for anyone but my self. Again, I like the compliments but I’m not fueled by them. And I’m not gonna stop just because someone tells me not to get too skinny.

And it’s hard to talk about food with others because no one seems to understand. It’s not about laziness or just “really liking junk food.” It’s so much deeper than a deep fried doughnut. Sometimes food feels like my last attachment to reality, the only thing that can ground me when I feel like going off the deep end. And that’s not something you can easily bring up to someone when discussing casual dieting. Someone’s just looking for a way to make kale taste good and I’m over here expounding upon my unwavering sadness and need to self-medicate with marzipan.

And because people don’t get it, they think they’re helping out by telling me I should have a cheat day. But because I’ve struggled with my weight for about 20 years now, I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I can’t just have a cheat day. You can’t give an alcoholic just one drink. I can’t just have one slice of cake.

Or people tell me to drink water before a meal or have a handful of nuts when I feel hungry. I’ve never been satisfied by a handful of anything. And I end up getting irritated with people because I’ve seen and done and heard it all. They can’t tell me anything new or effective and I know they’re just trying to help so I feel like an ass and a hypocrite. I’m sure I’ve tossed out those same tidbits to other dieters in the past.

At this point, only a handful of Xanax could probably help me now.

I’m constantly annoyed. The people I work with are honestly batshit and I have to put up with it every day. It really puts a strain on me because I’m also batshit so I can’t keep it together for me and them. It’s too exhausting. And I have many unresolved relationships that I can’t seem to sort out because I keep getting ghosted and I don’t know what’s so wrong with me to warrant that kind of exit. It hurts so much sometimes.

And food always used to soften the blow. When I got irritated at work, I stopped by McDonalds on my way home. When I felt like the last connection with a friend snap, I served myself spaghetti and it all went away. You can chart my depression by my pant size. The sadness has always been there but there have been times I’ve been able to suppress it. It’s in the moments that it becomes unbearable that I become a glutton again.

When you see me gain weight, that’s when you know I’m really suffering.

You’ve heard it before: depression comes in waves or cycles. You see people smile and laugh and tell jokes and you wonder how they could ever be depressed. It doesn’t seem like them. But that’s the tricky part about depression. It’s not always all-consuming. You can have decent days while you’re deteriorating.

Depression circles around you. Just when you think you can’t take it anymore, the symptoms alleviate themselves and you realize you can get out of bed. And you get this false sense that you can actually endure this. And that’s when it strikes again, just when you’ve become stable or complacent. It slaps you right in the face to remind you that you’re not in control, that it decides when you can be happy and face the world again. And if it wants, it can send you straight back to bed or straight into the arms of an addiction, something to numb the overarching sadness, the void that envelops you, the completion of becoming blank.

I work with a handful of nuts and I’m told to eat a handful of nuts. But food is not the solution. I know that. But what is the solution? I’ve tried different things. I’ve tried it through art and writing and meditation. Nothing has ever worked the way food does. So am I supposed to just continue to suffer or settle for a “healthier” but ineffective alternate form of therapy?

It’s hard to make a compromise when it comes to your physical health. It’s even harder when you’re mental health is also in jeopardy.

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has(brown) pipe

There’s always an instinct to eat. But it’s not predatory. It’s compensatory.

Food is my comfort, confidant, and companion. Any time things get tough, it’s the first thing I think about. And things are always tough.

I’ve gained quite a bit of weight again. Since getting this new job, I sit on my butt for 8 hours a day. And since my depression has gotten worse, all I want to do is eat to not think about how detrimental every day is. If I fill up my stomach, there won’t be any room for misery, right?

Yeaaaaah. It doesn’t work like that at all. But it doesn’t keep me from trying my darndest.

My pants are getting harder to button and the skin on the side of my stomach is irritated from consistently rubbing up against my too-tight-t-shirts. And this discomfort is directing me right to the Doritos. It’s all I can think about most days.

“Will lunch time ever get here fast enough?”

“What will I have for dinner?”

“If I go to bed early, I can have breakfast sooner.”

“Well, the next meal isn’t for about an hour or two. I can’t hold out that long! Let me have a snack.”

And I eat and while I’m eating, nothing can touch me. There is nothing wrong in the world and I am at peace. It’s that fragile, ephemeral contentment that creates the cravings, that evokes an addiction to that peace. Between feeling bad and feeling better, I’m going to choose to feel better. If I have to eat to get to that point, I will eat. And if I have to be physically uncomfortable to balance out my brain, it’s something I can accept.

Until I actually am physically uncomfortable. Then that brings me back around to feeling bad about myself again. It’s a seesaw of wanting and withdrawals, of addictions and adipose tissue.

Nothing has ever made me feel better than food. When I go out to dinner with someone, I’m more excited about the cuisine than the company. When I get fast food at the end of the week, it’s my favorite thing ever. It’s a treat for making it through another crappy week. My excitement is embarrassing. When the fast food employee hands me that brown paper bag and the scents fill my nose, I’m in heaven. I’m actually happy. And it’s just really sick that empty calories and liters of grease can make me feel something no one ever has.

There’s never been a pill or person, prayer or position that has brought me that kind of peace.

It’s an obsession. It’s a constant calorie count, a war between my stomach and my sensitivities. It’s the back and forth between food and feelings, of losing weight and gaining it right back, of feeling frustrated with the world and ultimately, with myself, because I cannot control my compulsions. I push down the guilt until it bubbles up in an overwhelming sense of self-hatred. And what better way to get rid of that hatred than to eat?

Thinking about food all the time is exhausting. And I just know if I didn’t have food taking up the entirety of my mind, I could focus on other things. My head is trapped, strapped down by the schedule of eating, planning meals and waiting to taste happiness again.

a face for contacts

branglasses2

”It’s amazing how words can do that, just shred your insides apart.”
-Lauren Oliver

I’m in need of new glasses and I’ve been asking people their opinions on different frames I’ve been considering. While most opinions were constructive, one person said I should choose frames based on my face shape, which is lumpy.

I know I’m not conventionally good-looking. My face is asymmetrical, my teeth are crooked, and I’m losing my hair. I’ve struggled with my appearance for as long as I can remember but I’ve worked to make peace with my imperfections.

But as I was talking to an aquaintance, asking for frame suggestions, this is the feedback I received.

lumpy

To get such a random, hurtful comment from someone I thought would be supportive, someone who should have known better than to say something like that, unravelled any progress I had made.

There was no hint of a joke or sarcasm. This person was serious. And although it’s been weeks since the insult, I still think about it and it still hurts. It was not a critique of my frames but of my face, an unprovoked insult intended to tear me down.

It reminds me that people are just cruel because they can be, that words are an easy way to wound. There is a distinct lack of decency in people and with so many bad feelings and bloodshed all around, we still choose to bash those close to us. We are all so blessed and yet we curse everyone we can. It doesn’t make much sense.

Maybe in this new year, let’s try to hold our tongues just a bit more. Let’s try to help instead of hamper. Let’s show appreciation, give credit and compliments, make someone laugh, preserve peace and reject negative energy.

We don’t have to turn into Ghandi but a few good words can go a very long way. The world is already hurdling toward hell. We don’t have to help fan the fire.

the indian (food) in the cupboard

Santa should have stuffed my stocking with Gas-X for X-mas.

I know a lot of people overeat during the holidays. It’s a given. But as someone who has struggled with my weight and overeating in general, it’s safe to say that I took it too far.

It all started in late September/October when all the Halloween candle started arriving on the store shelves. Again, as I fell into another depression, I turned to food. I was losing more hours at work and going through some relationship struggles and candy was there for comfort. I fell into a dark whole of dark chocolate truffles and couldn’t find a way out.

There’s the logical part of me that knows what I’m doing is terrible for me, that the temporary comfort isn’t worth the time and effort it will take to take off the pounds once again. I know how destructive this behavior is. I know how terrible it is for my body. To a small degree, I’m abusing myself. But the numbing effect is so powerful that it overrides that logical part of me. I don’t care because I can make up for it later. I can fix this. I won’t let it get out of control. And sometimes I don’t let it get out of control. But sometimes I do.

My new job has created a lot of stress and has taken up a lot of my time so I haven’t had as many opportunities to work out (lame excuse, I know!). And I’m still at my retail job on the weekend and retail during the holidays is always a nightmare. And I’ve been working 6-7 days a week and I’m tired and I’ve been having frequent headaches and it’s taken its toll on me. It’s just easier to block it all out with a block of cheese.

But this month, I stood back and realized I was taking the “normal holiday eating” to an extreme. So many cakes and cookies and greasy fried entrees. So many bowls bloated with peppermint bark. So many candy dishes stashed around the house and at the office and in my face all the time. Temptation around every corner. And I’m a weak guy.

I’m pretty ashamed of myself because I know better. Again, this isn’t normal holiday bingeing. This is a hardcore relapse of relish and cool ranch Doritos. And I really have no excuse. Life never matches up with your plans. In fact, it often feels like Life will make sure it disrupts your dreams as much as possible. But you just have to find a way to pounce over the pitfalls and persevere. I’m having a lot of trouble with that last part, especially with all the leftovers in the fridge.

I know I’ll get it together. This isn’t my first time spiraling out of control. Once the new year gets here and I get comfortable with my job and find some balance, I’ll get my eating under control. At least, I really, really hope so.

death by dextrose

I’ve got a problem, y’all.

I’ve been reminiscing about last month a lot lately. I have another blog post queued up for later on an October/Halloween subject. But right now, I want to talk about another fascinating facet of Halloween. And that’s all the candy.

I’ve said many times that I’d rather skip the entree and go straight to desert. I have a sweet tooth. I love sweets. I crave sweets all the time. And when I do have a meal, I always have to follow it up with something sweet. If I don’t, I have a mini freak out in my mind. The meal feels unfinished. It’s like getting to the end of a serial killer flick and shutting off the movie with only five minutes left, thus never finding out who the murderer in the mask is.

Since I’ve been dieting this year, I have cut back on a lot of sweets. And it paid off. I lost 50 pounds. And it hurt not to eat candy bars and brownies. Every day was a struggle. The thoughts of sugar and molasses never left my mind. But I pushed through and made it through each day without devouring a cheese danish. But when I woke up the next morning, the struggle slid back in again.

Eventually, I was able to control my cravings to the point where the madness had dulled into an uncomfortable yet controllable nagging. And things went well for a while.

And then October came along. And I was inundated with candy.

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making contact

I am always covered up. Because I’m a big guy, I prefer to wear layers. You’ll never find me without an undershirt. It acts as a substitute corset that helps smooth out lumps and bumps.

But it gets old wearing so much fabric all the time. I always feel boxed in, caged by my own clothing. It’s hot, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s constricting.

One day, I decided to sleep naked. I always sleep in a top and underwear but that night I was feeling experimental so I ditched my drawers and pulled my shirt over my head.

And then I snuggled into bed.

I found a comfortable position and as I put my hand on my bare stomach, I realized my skin was warm. I know that’s an obvious, if not odd, observation. Like, duh, right? People tend to be warm. But you have to remember I am always touching my clothes. When I rub my chest or scratch my back or cross my legs, I’m interacting with relatively cool fabric. But that night, it was skin on skin. And it was warm. And it was comforting.

And it just made me realize how out of touch I am (pun intended) with not only myself, but with other people. I’ve never touched someone else’s skin, never felt safe enough to get close to other people’s warm parts. And while my hand grazed my stomach, I realized it would probably be a nice feeling if I could. It’s something so simple, something so many people take for granted. And something I have yet to experience.

And I imagined how good it could feel and how soothing it could be, the kind of soothing that wasn’t just good to the touch but could do wonders for the soul.

if you in-cyst

Years ago, a thyroglossal duct cyst formed in my throat. After visiting several doctors to find out what it was (no one knew for a long time and it really worried me), I finally got a definitive diagnosis and eventually had it removed.

All seemed fine and good for a few years. I had a normal neck. Not having to navigate the razor blade around the cyst while shaving was a relief and not having to hold my head down to try to hide it was a bigger relief.

Now, it’s back. I noticed it a few weeks ago after I’d gotten over my pharyngitis.

I’m really bummed about it.

rolling a meatball up a hill

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.

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the chub stands alone

My kitchen is in ruins.

My mother decided she wanted to redo our entire kitchen so last week, she had a business come and take out the cabinets, counters, sink, and dishwasher. We still have our fridge and stove but that’s it. Never one to be without coffee, Mom set up the coffee maker and microwave in the dining room. Every time I go for a cup, I feel like I’m in a hotel room. And I feel like I’m camping when plating my food on foam plates and eating with plastic utensils.

Mom estimated it will be like this for another week or so since the company is still building the replacement cabinets and need to put down new floor covering. Mom’s also started painting the kitchen so it smells like plastic and fumes.

All the cutlery and other dishes are stacked in the living room, which makes it hard to move around in there. Things are piled on the dining room table and in the corners. It makes the room a little bit smaller. It feels like my world is closing in.

We’ve been eating out a lot. It’s just easier. The problem is I was going to start dieting around this time. I told myself I would get back on track once I went back to the retail job and stayed there for about a month to get back into the swing of things.

I gained a lot of weight, all the weight I lost in 2012 specifically, while I was at the finance job. I was stressed and food soothes me. But I knew once I went up two pant sizes I needed to get myself under control.

But I don’t even want to.

I enjoy greasy fast food. I know it’s horrible for me and the calorie count is absurd but I don’t care. I’m still stressed because the retail job is slowly tanking. Our hours continue to get cut more each week and we are in the midst of a serious shoplifting problem. With the hours being scaled back, we are understaffed. There are entire departments that are not covered, which allows shoplifters to literally go in, take what they want, and leave completely undetected.

I honestly felt okay about the job when I went back. It was never my intention to stay there forever but I was okay with not trying to find a new job right away. I thought I’d work there while I focused on publishing my book and then once that was done, I could focus on a job search. But at this point, I should probably be looking now. I just hate looking. It’s so discouraging to go through all the classifieds and online job postings and not find anything interesting or attainable.

I feel like a smoker who knows the habit is bad but enjoys smoking and doesn’t want to quit. Every time I bite into a double cheeseburger, I know it’s going to make it harder to button up my pants but I’m all about that instant gratification and future consequences be damned.

I’m stressed about work and I’m stressed about my book and I’m stressed about not fitting into my clothes anymore and I don’t have the money to buy new ones and I’ve also been struggling with other stuff like being lonely and disconnected from society. It’s a lot to try to deal with so I eat to help me not deal with it.

I hope to one day get myself together again. I just don’t know what that will take. I’ve been on this journey so many times before and it’s both exhausting and exuberant. But each time, there’s a little less joy and a little bit more concern, wondering when I’ll slip again. Because I always do. Even when I bounce back, I always do.

ab(stained)

Y’all, I’m so behind on my writing. This happened a few months ago and I jotted some notes down but I’m just now getting around to posting this…I mean, I have a book to write but I’ll never get to it if I can’t get all this other mental clutter out first.

ANYway.

A few months ago, I met a high school acquaintance for dinner. We spoke fairly regularly for a few years and then she got married and we drifted apart. I never thought her marriage would last and sure enough, when we started catching up with each other over enchiladas, she told me she had been divorced for about two years.

Ironically, the divorce was the best thing going on in her life. Shortly after she and her husband split, she realized she never loved him the way she should have and wasted nine years of her life with him. But she did get a free house, car, and dog out of the deal so it wasn’t a total bust. But other than that, she felt inadequate and turned to alcohol and random sex partners to ease the hurt of being alive.

The more we talked, the more I realized we were basically the same person, Siamese twins conjoined at our crippling insecurities. I felt bad for her and felt even worse when I had no advice to offer up. Usually I can dole out a few words of wisdom and guidance that soothes whatever aches the person I talk to but with her, I had nothing because I’m going through the same problems.

She doesn’t have a job and lies in bed all day and drinks. She said she stays, at a minimum, buzzed, and at maximum, blacked out drunk. She has one night stands. She has no purpose, no guidance, no one to love her. She thinks she’s disgusting, which she’s not. She’s a very pretty girl but all she can see is the “big girl she used to be.” I also understood that. No matter how much weight I’ve lost or will lose, I’ll always feel like the fat guy.

I wanted to both hug and throttle her but couldn’t because 1) I don’t like touching people and 2) I know I wouldn’t have gotten through to her. I think she’s just going to have to go through whatever she’s going through and either become numb to the whole thing or finally snap out of it somehow. I didn’t think there was a cure for what ailed her. There was only control. She can control her symptoms. She can minimize the hurt but if she’s anything like me, and I believe she is, the pain will never go away.

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