Stop Her Before She Diets Again! ” Shapely Prose

Shapelings, A Sarah needs your help. She just left the comment below in another thread, and I thought it deserved its own post. 

I’ve said many times that the journey to body acceptance is not short, straightforward, or without switchbacks. Intellectually grasping the wisdom of giving up dieting often comes loooong before you’re emotionally ready to give up the fantasy of being thin. And that means that sometimes you might fall into that trap of thinking, “It’s fine for other people to be this fat, and no one should judge them for it, but I just can’t be happy until I lose weight!” 

That’s where A Sarah seems to be now. Here’s her comment.

Um, help? I’m feeling tempted to diet! I’m at the high range of what I’d always thought to be my basic 20-pound range, which wouldn’t ordinarily make me feel ugly and SHOULDN’T, anyway, make me feel ugly… but it’s wrapped up with my feelings about my post-two-kids body that I’m having a hard time with, seeing some pictures of myself from six or seven years ago when I was at the “low” end, feeling like the emotional connection in my marriage has cooled, and the fact that I’ve been more active than usual lately (not for weight loss) and was surprised when I didn’t start feeling leaner.

I guess I’ve still got a ways to go on my FA journey. So I thought I’d send up a “need assistance” flare here at SP. I did a search for a thread that was marginally relevant so I didn’t hijack the more current threads. [Heh. Thanks. -Kate] Hope that’s okay.

I’m throwing this out to the readership because honestly, I don’t have a good answer. When I used to feel like that, my answer was usually, um, to diet. Until one day, I crossed a threshold where that was just truly no longer an option in my mind. I still have my moments of wishing I were thinner, mind you — that was my default mental state for so fucking long, I can revert to it pretty easily if I let my guard down. But the good news is, they really are just moments now, gone as quickly as they arrived, usually because I think something like, “Well, what are you going to do, diet? Fuck that.” Even if I did still consider dieting an option, I’ve come far enough now that I couldn’t sustain the shame and self-hatred necessary to stay on a starvation plan long enough to lose weight — maybe not long enough to cook a meal, at this point. That, my friends, is progress.

But it took a long fucking time to get here.

[ETA: I totally skimmed the part about how you’ve been more active than usual lately, AS, so you can disregard the following advice, but I leave it up for other Shapelings who might be in the same position and find it useful.] A Sarah, my only piece of concrete advice is this: if you have the time and inclination (and aren’t already doing it enough that an increase would take you to crazy levels), exercise. Nothing restores my body image faster when it’s flagging. Moving my body reminds me of what it can do, which stops me from obsessing solely about how it looks. The endorphins are fun, and they certainly take the edge off of hating yourself. And I swear, after I exercise, when I look in the mirror, I think I look better — even though clearly, my body composition did not change in 45 minutes, or however long I just spent doing something. If you like to swim (and can handle wearing a bathing suit), getting in the water can also have a nice little baptismal effect to reset your thinking — I always feel sort of purified after I swim or do water aerobics (perhaps because I’ve literally been bleached). But really, any movement helps (me, anyway), and it doesn’t even have to be hard exercise. A session of gentle yoga or a walk around the neighborhood can do the trick, which is getting me out of my head and into my damn body.

Shapelings, do you still struggle with wanting to diet? How do you stop yourself? (Or do you?) Tell A Sarah what you do in comments.

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