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Tiny Revolutions №35: A Lot's Gonna Change
you're gonna be just fine 🥦🍎🥑
Hi, I’m Sara, and this is Tiny Revolutions, a weekly dispatch of personal writing and links about the art of becoming who you are. Reply anytime, I love to hear from you.
I’ve gained some weight over the past few years. Typical woman-entering-middle-age stuff, my doctors have said, not that that’s the slightest bit comforting.
I have a long history of disordered eating. I started starving myself in junior high (ask me about the Atomic Fireball diet sometime!), and then went through many waves of dieting, not dieting, binging, purging, etc. Thankfully it never got really bad — just your typical neurotic perfectionism and control issues and all the self-loathing that went along with them.
Sometime in my early 30s I got sick of the ups and downs and decided that for the sake of my sanity, I simply had to stop focusing on my eating, because every time I did, it quickly escalated to me becoming completely obsessed and unable to think about anything else. And then sooner or later I’d be neck deep in a box of cereal and the whole endeavor would go down in flames.
Instead I made a habit of focusing on exercising and just trying to be mindful about what I ate. Which worked great for a good long while—the vast majority of my 30s! And then, you know, I turned 40 and my metabolism crapped out seemingly overnight.
After a recent doctor visit, I decided that as badly as focusing on my food intake has messed me up in the past, I had to give it another try. So with extreme trepidation, I got back on the calorie counting train. CICO, as the Redditors call it. With it came a flood of memories from my 20s and all the little notebooks I’d use to record my meals. And then of course all the little tricks and cheats you develop to keep your calorie usage as low as possible.
My pattern was that I’d go strong for a few days and then inevitably I’d have a major slip up—pizza after a night out, say—and then I’d be completely discouraged and disgusted with myself and unable to get back on the program. I’d beat myself up for being weak and a failure and incapable of living with even a modicum of restraint. So in order to avoid more failure, I’d go back to eating like “normal,” whatever that was, and forget about dieting, and then eventually I’d see an unflattering picture of myself and the cycle would begin again.
When I started counting calories again a couple of weeks ago, I pretty much expected this to be the case, but I was prepared to tough it out for at least a few cycles. I set a higher daily calorie limit than I would have in the past and told myself I didn’t need to be perfect. Perhaps most importantly, I made a rule that I can’t go more than 3-4 hours without eating something as a way to preempt any hanger incidents or panicked overeating.
And it’s going…strangely well? I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that I’m not as insane about it as I have been in the past. I’m trying to focus on building myself up instead of ripping myself down. Making it about being healthy instead of being thin. And doing my best to eat well but forgiving myself when I’m not perfect. You don’t have to be perfect, I tell myself. You just have to be kind. It helps.
“When I get stuck in painful emotions, it brings me to a repeating realization, an insight that has profoundly changed my life: I have to love myself into healing. The only path that can carry me home is the path of self-compassion.”
I’m really enjoying Tara Brach’s new book, Radical Compassion, and highly recommend it to anyone who goes a little too hard on themselves. (Does anyone not do this?)
As though starting a new diet and being in the middle of a career transition were not enough, I also moved out of the one bedroom apartment I’ve lived in for the last six years to join some roommates in a shared house. It’s been a while since I’ve lived with other people, and I’m excited and nervous, but mostly the latter. 2020 really is something.
One of my moving anthems is “A Lot’s Gonna Change” by Weyes Blood. The singer’s voice reminds me of a cross between Karen Carpenter and Linda Ronstadt, and the message couldn’t be more relevant.
My other moving favorite is “Throw It Away,” a post punk romp by Preoccupations.
I haven’t given you a poem in a while, and this one by Catherine Pierce seems to fit the moment.
A Tiny Assignment
Is there something you’ve been wanting to try again but have been putting off because you’re afraid of failure? Approach it again with curiosity and see what happens.
Thanks for reading, as always. Take care out there.
p.s. Share this with someone who needs to hear it.
p.p.s. Meme of the week right here. Sound on!!