The 20-year diet

A couple of years ago I realized I had been on some kind of “diet” for 2 decades. Twenty years of not liking my body, of wishing I look different, slimmer, fitter, and prettier.

Sure, there were short periods of indulgence, like vacations or the Christmas holidays. There were also periods of brief acceptance, but for the most part my eating habits had focused on weight lose/weight management for two decades.not_good_enough

I remember my first real attempt at losing weight. I was about 6 months into my first post-college job and my clothes had gotten tight. I immediately started reading Shape magazine and weight loss success stories. I also joined a gym.

One of success stories was a woman had lost a lot of weight cutting all fat and carbonated drinks from her diet. So this is what I did, expect for beer. I wasn’t giving up beer. Eventually it worked. I lost weight. So began the obsession.

The dark side of my motivation is a constant presence. It ranges from, you’re not pretty enough, thin enough or fit enough to using exercise, fitness and diet as a way to punish myself. I would go to the gym and beat myself up for hours. Eventually I started to get injured. These times terrified me. Would I lose the will to exercise? Would I gain weight? Would I lose what little control I thought I had over my body? Some of these things came true, some didn’t. I healed, I survived and got back to doing the activities I liked, but I would alway slip back into the punishing myself.

A couple of good things come out of the 20-year diet. Fitness and health are an import part of my life. I enjoy exercise and being active. I use to hate running. Now I like running. I hated swimming laps, but while training for a triathlon I eventually learned to like swimming laps.

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As I have gotten older I have found more acceptance. I don’t consume a lot of mass media, which is helpful. But it is still a struggle. Now I know I am in dangerous territory when I have the urge to punish myself by limiting food or with excessive exercise. These urges are an indication that my lack of self-worth is back and trying to gain control of my behavior. So I dial back my activities, eat what I want and try to address the underlying issues. I do non-punishing activities like walking, yoga and swimming.  I am over living my life hating myself inside and out. It has been hard to change, but it is happening slowly .

Do I want to lose these pesky five pounds I put on in January and haven’t been able to shake? Sure. There are clothes in my closet that don’t fit me right now. Maybe it isn’t going to happen, maybe it will. We get older and our bodies change. They are suppose to and that is OK.

And the 20-year diet? I have traded that in for living a healthy lifestyle. As far as I know, we only get one life and one body. I don’t want to spend one more minute hating it. My body deserves better than that. I deserve better. It is my story, my body and my life.

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