There was a time in my adult life I weighed 174 lbs and by all accounts looked amazing. I worked out on a daily basis and had the butt, the legs, waistline and shoulders to show for it. (I also had a lot of stinky, dirty laundry!)
People made comments about how great I looked and I loved it. I was finally doing it right!
I could make any recipe low sugar and as fat free as humanly possible and knew exactly how many calories, fiber, and fat grams were in anything I cooked or ate. Every single calorie was accounted for and I ate just what I “should”.
And I was hungry often, but it was important to fit into those smaller jeans. And I did. My size 14s were too big if I wore them without putting them in the dryer first. I was almost back in my size 12s I hung onto after college!
Looking back, I was lost. My friends were settling down, getting married, having babies or were TOO wild for my liking. My job was out of control work and I think I was looking for something to control in my life. I also hated myself for reasons I still don’t fully understand, but I suspect are tied to the fact that more often than not chubby kids are made to feel less than than their peers. Chubby/fat teen girls are made to feel worse.
I could be nice, smart, or funny as could be (and I tried) but I didn’t ever feel like I was good enough. My grades weren’t good enough, I wasn’t funny enough etc. I often felt like I never measured up and what’s maybe worse, I wouldn’t ever.
I’d been battling my weight largely since I was about 9 or 10 years old. Being fat meant (in my head) I wasn’t worthy and damn it I wanted to be good enough. Carrying that feeling with me for 18 years took it’s toll on me.
Back to butter.
One day I was at a party and hungry. I hadn’t expected to go to this one so I hadn’t prepared anything I “could” eat…instead I had some bbq off the grill and a little macaroni salad (this was pre-gf days). I reasoned with myself I could just run and swim the next day instead of just doing one.
But then they brought out clams and corn with real butter melted for both. And cocktails, and desserts.
That night, I danced the night away under the stars with my friends and friends of friends. It was the first time I really laughed in a long long time.
I was too hung over to work out the next day, but the day after I returned to the gym and sighed as I got on the treadmill. I really didn’t like the damn thing but forced myself to get on it. While I was there, I asked myself why the hell I was torturing myself doing something I disliked so much. But I kept running.
A couple of weeks later found me back at another bbq under the stars, eating, drinking, and dancing the night away – happy.
I went home the next morning and threw away all the no fat/low fat stuff from my fridge and went grocery shopping again. I started cooking with real butter, worked on not punishing myself for eating the “wrong” food (something I still struggle with 10+ years later) and remembered how much I enjoyed food.
These days I eat full fat dairy because it keeps me fuller longer, try to be mindful of sugar and salt consumption, and move more because it makes me feel good not because I want to fit in a particular pair of jeans. I cook with butter and damn it, it tastes good. I enjoy food again.
When I started to let myself enjoy food, I started to enjoy other parts of life again. I laughed more, really smiled, had energy, and didn’t stress out about how many calories, fat grams, and fiber I was eating.
Life got better for me.
I’m still a work in progress because a lot of things are deeply ingrained in my thick skull, but I try to remember it’s all about balance. If I don’t manage what I should at one meal? There’s another to work it out.
(I should note that the perceptions and feelings from my youth aren’t necessarily what people intended. While there were people who said and did mean things to me because I was chubby by their standards, I also knew wonderful people who never intended to harm me. I also own that I could be a little snot sometimes and not always as kind as I could be. Pre-teen and teen age years were rough man.)