I originally started this blog to talk about my struggle with food and weight, and then from my writing my realisation that drinking was the real problem emerged. It was a real shock. I was originally focused on quitting drinking as a means to weight loss: in the space of 18 months I’d gone from an emaciated underweight person to a healthier looking shape, but one whose weight came from the increased booze intake, not necessarily a better relationship with food.
My relationship with food now is probably the healthiest its ever been- I don’t restrict myself too much and don’t have huge guilt over eating sweet things or not existing off vegetables alone. But the reality is, I feel fat.
I’m marathon training at the moment, and completed a race last weekend where some photos went up of me online. I look really heavy. I nearly cried when I saw them. I’m used to looking thin and elegant and in my running clothes I looked squat and a bit dumpy.
But my body is stronger and fitter than its ever been, it’s more nourished than its been in years and mentally, my relationship with food is better. I’m really struggling to reconcile these two opposing things- on the one hand feeling stronger and healthier and on the other hand feeling really fat and unattractive.
I’m not quite sure what to do. I don’t want to launch myself into a diet plan, because quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to get caught up in thoughts of restriction and rules. I’m running huge amounts, but I’ve learnt that for me, my body no longer responds to running because it’s so used to that kind of exercise. I’ve been running for 8 years and at first, weight dropped off but now it never does.
The most obvious solution to make a change to my body is to eat clean, nourishing food and to employ the “listen to my body” strategy, fueling it as needed, but I don’t yet trust myself to do that. If I did that, I think I’d just want to eat all the time. I can’t yet distinguish between hunger, emotional hunger and just wanting a sweet treat.
I don’t actually need to lose very much weight at all to look slim, so it’s not something I should be thinking so much about, but I haven’t lost anything at all since stopping drinking and definitely gained over Christmas when I was drinking again. I feel completely powerless over my weight, which isn’t necessarily true, but I don’t feel I can change it without some dramatic regime I’m not willing to do right now. This probably isn’t true, and some small daily changes could start to make a difference over time, but the idea of doing anything at all feels exhausting.
I know I have to be patient and put sobriety first and not get too hungry (being hungry really makes me crave alcohol) but I’m finding it really hard to look at myself in the mirror every day. Sometimes I feel like I literally shift shape before my very eyes as I look at my reflection.
I hate the self-absorption of worrying about weight, but the truth is, I see my shape now as a symbol of my alcoholism and shame. If I hadn’t started drinking, I probably would still be very thin, and my body just feels like a product of my binges. But at the same time, it’s strong and toned, just carrying a little more fat than I’d like.
Why do we focus on our bodies so much? I’m the strongest I’ve ever been emotionally, and yet I dwell on this external manifestation of self.
I’m going to try this week to make small steps, just focusing on each food choice as a nourishing one, a bit of a “day at a time” approach to food, not starving myself, just trying to make the best possible choice available. We’ll see how that goes.