They say that the hardest part of it is admitting to having a problem in the first place.
I didn’t think this was accurate, but then again, I don’t have a problem telling people things – this blog is a testament to that. Even if you say you have a problem, there is always a lot of hard work you have to put in to make yourself better. It’s the habits you have to reinvent, the relationships you have to reforge, the sense of self that you need to find. How is admitting to a problem harder than all of that?
I didn’t realise it until recently, how hard it is to make a genuine admission. Or how often you would have to make it.
I’m just going to put this out here: for a period of my life, I was not my best self.
The reasons for that are many and varied – I will never try to pin it down on one person, one happening, or one diet, (even if at points I did just that, in my head). A chronic overachiever with low self-esteem and a terrible penchant for people-pleasing doesn’t enjoy the most stress-free existence even without throwing a load of dieting and food rules into the mix. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder what would it have been like if I had been a different sort of person.
Someone more resilient.
Someone who did not rely so much on the opinions of imaginary others.
Someone who did not need to control everything.
Diet culture is pervasive and sneaky. Even after it’s had a wellness makeover, it holds the same values at its core – demonisation of one food group over others, an insistence it is the only right way, and that, should you not adhere to its rules, you will suffer eternal damnation… err, I mean, you’ll get fat. Or “unhealthy”, or whatever it is they’re calling it today.
People far better informed than I have written about the way we’ve shifted from “diets” to “wellness”; how, far from a simple alteration of language, we are now looking at a veritable cult to kale and organic food and living free from everything bad for us… even if nobody can tell for sure what that is.
Even more people have written about the fact that there is no such thing as a one-size-fit-all approach to dieting and sport. I won’t tell you how it’s all about trial and error and being kind to yourself and figuring out what works and what doesn’t and that there isn’t one food that is completely bad or good (unless you have an autoimmune disease or an allergy) because it’s all been said before.
I’m not a doctor. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.
But when I tried to live by someone else’s directive, when I was constantly beating on myself for showing weakness and watching all my meals as carefully as I could, I did not become the best version of myself.
I was neurotic.
I was self-punishing.
I both looked down on my nose on everybody who didn’t eat like me, and I was jealous.
I wanted to make new friends and “spread the good word” and instead I got weird looks from my friends and colleagues.
I isolated myself. I started to punish myself for transgressions with exercise.
I wasn’t happy. I was training hard, and I was making myself sick.
Recently I went on an event where I met so many people I hadn’t seen in years. They could not recognise me. I could not recognise me to be honest. My body shape is still the same, and yet, despite all the suffering I lug around, I feel somehow lighter. More at ease.
I still have a lot to figure out. I still have to try and negotiate my eating and exercise. I’m lucky. I have good friends.
But I wish I never fell down this particular rabbit hole. I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time being miserable when I could have just enjoyed movement and what my body can do.