For the past few months Kourtney and I have been talking about getting healthy, a topic that is really hard for me to engage in because of my eating disorder history and body image issues that have yet to be resolved. Health is such a loaded topic– it’s burdened with politics and stereotypes and misinformation, with body shaming and societal pressure and for me, grief and pain. So I often try to avoid the conversation because it makes me feel very small and huge at the same time. Small because I feel worthless, like I’m so worthless I don’t even exist. And huge because I am a physically big in a world made for smaller people so my size is very conspicuous. Health, weight, worth and self esteem are tangled together in my life, so it feels impossible to separate them. How do I get healthy without worrying about weight? How to I love myself as I am if I actively work to change my body? How can I separate weight from self worth if I keep seeing before and after shots of sad fat people in happy new skinny bodies?
It’s really hard to work through those issues. So I’ve been doing this thing where I say I want to be healthy, and I do some really healthy things, and then counter them with self destructive behavior that basically keeps me stuck where I am.
But now I think I’m done. I’m ready to be honest with myself about where I am right now and where I need to be. And I’m ready to ask for help. So suddenly I have all these changes I have to make in my life that I’m trying to implement in the next month to be a healthier me. One of those things is to exercise more. So I’m now starting super beginner yoga and and going to implement a new walking schedule to get me moving (I live a pretty sedentary life, working from a computer 8 hours a day, so this is a big step). Kourtney and I are also working on revamping how we eat/what we eat and trying to reduce our spending on restaurants and fast food, which is where a lot of our food money goes these days. Instead, we want to buy more groceries and have all our meals at home. This means brown bagging it for work lunches, and meal planning. No more eating takeout in bed– it’s all about the homemade meals at the dinner table. It’s totally intimidating for me, because I have a real hard time venturing out of my comfort zone and even though I’m 25 I’m a novice in the kitchen. But not only will this be a healthier choice, it will also save us money.
I’ve also had a conversation with my doctor about weight-loss surgery. Let me say, before people get all up in arms about it, that I’m not taking this decision lightly. I’ve been doing my research, and I am signed up for Kaiser’s weight loss seminar for more information. I have NOT decided to get surgery yet. And even if I had, I would still have to wait a minimum of six months before I would actually have the surgery, and those six months aren’t just a wait time, you have to take nutrition classes, have behavioral exams, and also have to lose a certain amount of weight to “prove yourself accountable”. Surgery is not a replacement for hard work, it’s not the easy way out. I still have to relearn how to feed myself and work through my issues with food. The surgery is simply a tool that would help me lose weight– IF I used that tool effectively.
I still don’t know if I want to go through with it or not. It’s not a quick fix. I would have to take a month off of work to recover, and I would have do a liquid diet immediately post-op and slowly transition to pureed and then soft foods before finally eating regular (small) meals. That means a drastic change in diet for me, totally changing what I buy and by extension what my wife buys for food. And although the mortality rate is .25%, that’s still a risk of death. Am I willing to take that risk? What if I have a leak? that increase the mortality rate to 30%. I also still have a lot of question about post-op care, like doctor’s appointments and psych appointments, support groups for bariatric surgery patients (does Kaiser offer them? Are there any available to me in my area?) and nutritional counseling (currently Kaiser only offers appointments with a dietitian if you’re diabetic or have other metabolic issues/diseases– do they offer them to bariatric patients?). I need to know that I will have support not just before surgery but after as well, with people who are focused on long-term success and a holistic approach to care.
I think that seeing a therapist and dietitian would be beneficial for me, so I’m hoping that even if Kaiser doesn’t offer those things I can find something somewhere that is affordable. Because I am done being stuck in this place. I want to be happy. I want to create a new normal for myself, where I am free of my eating disorder. A new normal where I am happy with myself and I take care of my body because I know it is worthy. A new normal where I don’t feel the need to destroy myself. This blog is focused on my spiritual health, but I need to really work on my physical and emotional health as well. So that is what I’m going to do.