I’ve always had a tumultuous relationship with food. Growing up I was the super-lanky, super-active child with sun-bleached hair. Then, seemingly overnight, I ballooned out to an unnatural size. The other kids gave me unfortunate nicknames. I had no friends. The usual. Eventually – through diet or exercise or simply hormones – I lost most of it in high school and was, if not thin, at least of a reasonable weight.
That ballooning, that sudden weight gain – that’s what has colored a lot of my life since then. Partially because I don’t know what caused it, and not knowing makes it hard to pinpoint potential triggers now and to come, which in turn makes me paranoid about everything. I was awfully depressed during that time, but was I simply depressed because I was the fat kid or was I overeating because I was depressed? And then, on the flip side, I’m not sure how I lost weight. My depression ebbed around that time, but I had also become a vegetarian and frequently went on a severely calorie-restricted diet. Plus, I can’t discount the very real hormonal and physical changes that happen at that age.
So I don’t know how it happened or how I got out of it, which has made me terrified of somehow doing it again. Even now, years and years later, when I’m at the healthiest I’ve ever been. I think, maybe if I stop counting calories I’ll slowly start eating more and be back to obese before I know it. I think, maybe if I skip out on crossfit once this week it’ll turn into a weekly think and I’ll lose all of my muscle immediately. I think, if I don’t get back into running I’ll gain weight. I think, if I sit down all day for my job, I’m going to die early.
I started a new job this week, one that is rife with potential and actually something I enjoy doing. It’s my first full-time gainful employment since December. I should be happy, and I am But on my first day I wasn’t thinking about how lucky I was to finally have a job or how awesome income would be. No, I was looking around at all my coworkers, assessing their physical fitness, and becoming increasingly distressed: from that evidence alone, this job would make me unfit and overweight.
Obviously, that conclusion is ridiculous. Superficially, I know this. But subconsciously, that paranoia is still there and it ramped up considerably. I’m suddenly counting my calories again. I’m going for long walks on my breaks and lunch. I’m taking the stairs, all nine flights of them. I also exercise and eat well, which should be enough. It is enough. And yet – and yet it’s not. And it won’t ever be.
How do I combat this feeling? How do I become secure and comfortable in what I know I’m doing right? How do I let go of that fear that all of a sudden, because I’m sitting a few more hours a day and I’m surrounded by people who appear unhealthy (again, they very well may not be), I’m going to go straight back to being fat?
I don’t know. I haven’t seen other people talk about this kind of ongoing fear. It always seems to magically slough away along with the weight. Then it’s all confidence, stars and happiness. Maybe it’s just me, but if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that someone else always shares your experience.