Friday, November 06, 2009

Heavy stuff

I've been overweight most of my life. I say most instead of all, because there are some childhood photos of me looking like a normal child. But anyway, after a certain point the weight started piling on. A variety of factors I am sure contributed to it and although I've analyzed a million billion times, I don't have a conclusive answer. And even if I did, what of it? How does it help?

The weight gain certainly didn't help. I've lived most of my life feeling like a lesser person; feeling depressed, feeling unattractive, feeling unworthy of love, feeling like because I couldn't successfully lose weight I couldn't possibly be good at anything.... Believing the stereotypes of 'fat' (dirty, lazy, slothful, stupid).

The only thing that kept me going sometimes was the distant hope that someday I'd somehow lose all that weight and then I'd show everybody who I really was. Or some such thing. All my childhood diaries teem with this fantasy. Particularly when I was terribly enamored with some boy or the other in my class but did not dare reveal my crush to him because I was so sure I was unworthy of his attention. I actually did muster the courage to talk about it after I went to college but the results were always bad. And I expected no less. I looked down on myself and was confident that others looked down on me too.

Somewhere along the time I met my husband I'd developed a better self-image. I was happier with myself and wasn't desperately trying to attract a guy to improve my self-esteem. And so I guess things worked out between us. Paradoxically the improved self-image attitude was because of another guy... but that's a different story.

And yet the improved self-image thing somehow got lost, as I gained even more weight upon getting married and moving and all that stuff.

There have been times when I have lost some weight, significant amounts even. And then gained it all back. Terrible, terrible, terrible! Every unit of weight gained was a unit of self esteem lost. And here I am at 32, weighing close to the most I've ever weighed and starting (yet another) diet. Feeling almost as bad as my teenaged self, though she was agonizing over far less weight than I am right now.

And somehow I came across a website called 'Shapely Prose' about weight issues. Good prose. I couldn't stop reading. And one of their core premises is that you can be healthy at every size. That link leads to a news article about a research project. And what was the study? Two different groups of women - one group on a diet and the other being counseled on self-acceptance and being healthy. The diet group lost weight the first year and gained it all back after that. The 2nd group lost nothing but became much more fit (cholesterol levels, etc.) compared to the first group. And they were more physically active too...Surprising eh?
What does this mean to me personally? Am I going to stop my diet? No, I can't stop now. I am not quite there yet. I still am under the spell of 'the fantasy of being thin.' I've held this one for too many years now to give it up in a couple of nights of reading.

But perhaps I can start the journey of self-acceptance as opposed to constant self-flagellation (metaphorically speaking of course). And perhaps my goal should be becoming healthier even if not necessarily slimmer(!)


Ganesh Jeyaraman said...

hi Jeevita, .. I see that you are an alumnus of Vikaasa... which vikaasa is this? the school at Madurai and Ambas in Tamil Nadu?

Jeevita said...