Upon viewing some of my past skinny pictures, someone recently commented, "Seeing how amazing you look at 118 pounds, what keeps you from going on an extreme diet to recapture that?" I have an answer.
Ignoring the wrongs of "extreme dieting" outright, I will say that the times in my life where I’ve been my thinnest, looking my best, I was, in fact, at my worst. I smiled pretty for the camera, but inside I weighed more than I ever had; I was heavy with anxiety, self-doubt, and felt the pangs of rejection. I was miserable, but damn did I look good. And you know what? I don’t want that back, not even for a second.
Aside from hate-dieting my way to thin, there were times when I thought thin was the answer. We all have been victims of the "someday" mentality, believing that someday when (X) happens, all our "Y" eldest dreams will come true. But it doesn’t work that way, and I can honestly say, I’m happy with where I am right now. Could I stand to lose 15 lbs., absolutely. But I’m at a normal weight, and I feel extraordinary. Do I like having a double chin? No. But do I want to work my ass off, keeping a food journal, and watching those around me feast while I abstain? No.
I have no desire to sustain the unsustainable weights of my past, a life lived in single servings of fat-free yogurt with grilled chicken dinners without carbs or dessert. A weight attainable only if I ate at home where I knew the exact measure of olive oil, the precise cut of the butter, or the seconds with the non-stick spray to the pan. I don’t want a life of occasional indulgences. I want it to be filled with everything I love as often as possible without sacrificing my health. I want every last thing I can get away with. Life is too short to deny myself shortening, and I believe, above all else, life should be lived with gusto. Not excess, but gusto.
At my thinnest moments, I didn’t even feel like a person. It felt like a lie. It’s not that I aligned myself with a fat girl identity and believed the thin me wasn’t real. I wasn’t sabotaging myself because thin didn’t feel familiar. I felt empty, soulless, ghost-walking through my life. I wasn’t nurturing my spirit or my body. I was anxiety in a size 4. It didn’t feel real because I wasn’t eating or living real. I was exercising too often, and eating too little. What I did eat wasn’t real; it was processed, unwholesome. Chemicals. Substitutes. Never mind healthy, it was all empty.
Whereas the calories that people have come to consider "empty calories," sustenance from your mother’s chocolate chip cookies, for example, were a comforting, calming, indulgence. This might just draw one to argue, "Aha! You use food as comfort, and that’s your problem!" I can only respond, it’s not my problem. I have no qualms about food anymore. I don’t feel guilt or fear or panic when it comes to fueling my body. Sometimes I eat too much, sometimes not enough. But at least I feel whole.
In the photos where I’m thin, I smiled. In my behavior, I was more forward, less inhibited, eager to meet up with people from my past. But in the quiet moments, alone in bed, I didn’t like myself. I wasn’t really a person, just a thin container. I loved fitting into fashion-forward clothing, that men seemed to be uncritically fond of me, but really a part of me was missing. The heart of me.
So now I eat the heart out of everything, and I’m happy.