I gotta be honest, I dread reading blogs this time of year. Hell, I dread reading anything this time of year. My inbox is full of Groupon deals for raw food cleanses, workout bootcamps, and fat-melting injections. My feed is full of folks avowing their weight loss resolutions, fitness goals, and strict diet plans.
And I? I am full of prickly venom, wrath, and scorn.
I am also full of a sense of irony that I am blogging about how I hate reading about dieting on other blogs.1
Time out for a bit of a backstory. If you’re short on time and attention span, feel free to skip down a few paragraphs to where all the cussing begins:
My relationship with dieting began in high school, when I decided I needed to shed the pounds I had collected during a bout of middle school misery. From there it was a long, strange trip from utter nutritional ignorance to fairly balanced wellbeing, with stops at every dietary fad, trend, and wives’ tale along the way.
Oh, I knew all the tips. Eat slowly. Drink lots of water. Exercise regularly. Use a smaller plate. No snacking between meals. Serve smaller portions. Substitute this for that. Never eat after 8 p.m. I studied. I kept a diary of my calorie intake for so long that I knew exactly how many calories were in what amount of food item just by glancing at it. I went vegetarian. I went raw. I tried Atkins. I avoided all fats. I cut carbs. I cut dairy. I cut processed foods. I juiced. I ate “negative calorie” soups, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I downed spoonfuls of fish liver oil. I swallowed weight loss pills. I got up at 5:00 in the morning to go running before work and school. I ran again at night; ashamed that I’d broken down and eaten a cupcake someone cruelly and thoughtlessly left in the break room.
I wish I was exaggerating.
The saddest thing? This epic struggle, this ferocious battle? It was all over 5-15 pounds. I never would have described myself as a chronic dieter during those years, but I was. Sure, I’d indulge here and there, on a weekend or during holidays, and occasionally I’d slip into more prolonged bouts of indulgence. But on the average I was never not dieting. I always, always thought I had more to lose.
Then, something happened. Something deep inside my psyche finally snapped.
[Note: cussing begins below! Yay!]
Somewhere approaching age 30 I decided: you know what? I’m fine with my body after all. AND I DO NOT. WANT. TO DIET. EVER AGAIN. Talk to me about a diet and I will punch you in the face. This is the latent rage I feel at having lost the last third of my life to guilt and misery. This is the blind fury I feel at the very thought of restriction and abstinence. These two giant middle fingers waving in the air? They’re for YOU, dieting. Fuck you up one side and down the fucking other. Diets ain’t shit but hoes and tricks. Food up, diets down. We poppin’ champagne like we won an anti-dieting game.
Just so we’re clear: dieting. It makes me angry. It also makes me rap.
So… what does a diet-hater do when she realizes that she kiiiinda needs to go on one?
Apparently, she writes a blog post about it, so she can spread around her discomfort about facing her fears. Here, gentle readers! Squirm with me! Don’t we all enjoy anxiety? DON’T WE?
The other day a thought hit me like a semi truck: I have spent the last two weeks feeling pissy about other people’s weight loss goals because I am perturbed at the state of my own weight. It’s not a dire situation; it’s just a little of the usual holiday padding. But since the very idea of dieting — of returning to those old restrictions — gets me so agitated that I want to claw my face off, other people’s personal goals turned into an affront. I temporarily became one of those people who can’t stand encountering someone who does things differently from them, because they feel like that difference equals direct criticism. Really. As if their choices are a scathing indictment of my own lack of resolve.
Eating is a lot like spirituality: it’s highly fucking personal. Food evangelists will try to tell you different, but there is no one right way of eating. Yes. I said it. It has been said. People’s needs are so vastly different. Some of us have specific health conditions or aversions. Some of us have ethical beliefs or religious restrictions. Some of us are “all or none” personalities and need to absolutely avoid trigger foods. Some of us have deep emotional ties to food we can hardly begin to unravel.
If someone wants to go on a juice fast for the next eight weeks, bravo. Huzzah! Go in peace, my healthful friend. I will continue to eat cheese, just… maybe not so much of it. Because that’s the kind of “diet” I need right now. Me alone. Because I may have reached a point of no return with dieting, a point where I’ve accepted the way my body is — but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally need to make adjustments to it.
I just don’t think I can call it dieting, though. That’s too much, too soon. Instead I’m going to call it something else. I’m going to refer to it as “paying interest.” That’s what I need to do. A little at a time. Because the interest on those holiday food loans I took out are coming due, and no one wants to get hit with those late fees.
What’s your take? Are you getting on or falling off the New Year’s weight loss bandwagon?
1 Not your blog! Never your blog. I love you. Let’s get married.