I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

But I Wasn't Trying to Lose Weight!

I love my doctor, I really do, but he said something to me Friday that really ticks me off-"You've lost weight. Good for you-that's hard to do with the medication you're on!" But, my inner self protested, "Good?! But I wasn't trying to lose weight AND I just told your assistant that I was having trouble eating, because of my anxiety!"


Now I am happy to report that my anxiety has gone way down from where it was Wednesday and Thursday and I am having no problems in eating anymore. I would also be lying if I did not say that I am a little happy that I have lost some weight. It's hard not to be-our society tells us that is the proper response to losing weight. But really and truly, it was not my goal. I believe I lost weight for two reasons: one, I have started exercising by practicing yoga two times a week and two, I have been more anxious lately, which makes me less hungry.

When my doctor said that to me, it made me feel like he was dismissing my anxiety, as if my pain did not matter, as long as I lost weight. There are more important things in life than losing weight, people! Success is not measured by how many pounds we lose and I think it is a measure of my recovery that I finally realize this truth. This is a way I can now measure success: when noticing that my anxiety was increasing, I called my doctor, my therapist, and my sponsor. I was honest with people about how I was feeling, I forced myself to eat, and I tried to be easy with myself. I did not get back on the scale until I got to the doctor's office. I did not try to measure my worth by the number of pounds I weigh.

I also want to clarify my position on the exercise I have been doing lately. Yes, a part of me does want to lose weight, but that is no longer the main reason why I exercise. I practice yoga, because I can. It's sort of funny, but before I got fibromyalgia, I was not very conscious of exercise. Well, I was when in the throes of my eating disorder, but even then, the exercise I was doing was pretty mindless. I may have been conscious of how many calories I was burning, but I was not conscious of my body and how my body felt. Fibromyalgia changed all that. On bad days when I walk I am conscious of my ankles, legs, knees, and back screaming with pain. I used to have free rein over my body and once I did not, I was on a mission-to find som e way that I can exercise without pain, but with enjoyment. Previously, the one way I enjoyed exercise was hiking and fibromyalgia has taken that away from me. To find some other type of movement that I can do and enjoy feels like me embracing life. It feels like me kicking fibromyalgia and all my other disabilities and saying, "You will not take away all my pleasure!" By exercising, I am reclaiming my life.

I wish I felt comfortable telling my doctor all this, but my confidence level isn't quite up that high yet. I want people to know that there are other reasons to exercise than to lose weight and that losing weight will not solve all problems. I want my health professionals to address the whole me, not just the number on the scale. If I am so stressed that I am having trouble eating, do not praise my ability to lose weight in an effort to make me feel better, because it doesn't. Instead, praise the fact that I made a timely appointment and let's talk about ways to make me feel better-ways that do not involve losing weight.

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