Hours of exercise and crash diets

September 30, 2008 at 8:11 am 2 comments

Yet again there was a blurb in today’s paper about how the stars keep fit, fight cellulite, etc. It’s really quite easy. Just exercise for a few hours a day, eat a strict diet, and fast before major appearances. Every time I read something like this, it irritates me. Today I just happen to have some spare time to comment on it.

One of my personality characteristics is that I am opinionated, and I give myself permission to rant this morning. I spent 13 years battling and suffering with a lousy eating disorder. I had a twisted self-perception, constantly criticized myself, felt I was much too heavy, ugly, etc. etc. I worked really hard to recover. Part of my recovery is about being realistic and sensible. True, I’m not always that way in other areas, but as far as nourishment goes, I am. For the most part.

Yes, I am 46 now and not thrilled about having some cellulite kicking in. But, I refuse to take drastic measures to combat this. I try to be fairly active, eat fairly normal. The presentation in the media of the excessive exercise (3-5 hours a day), crash diets and fasts burns me up. Come on, people! Life is not about torturing ourselves, voluntarily starving, hating ourselves, and bouncing around with our weight like a yo-yo. How about some stability? How about moderation?

How about normal meals? Normal eating habits? Or instead of normal, how about regular? (After all, who’s to say what “normal” is. Certainly not I!) The eating habits seem to reflect the same behavior as the credit card phenomenon. And look at how many people are in debt — so over their heads that they just don’t see a way out. Okay, so some people are wealthy and can afford excessive use of their credit cards, and have house personnel which frees them up for several hours a day so they can do what they want. But that is not the norm. And they have their problems, too. Moderation is the key, boring as it may sound. We only need what we need. Why even bother with more?

Yeah, maybe it would seem boring to be reasonable in the food area, but it’s one area that I truly believe deserves to be treated reasonably. And funny enough, it’s not at all boring. I am free to enjoy — in moderation, without feeling like I’ve sinned or am eating something that will immediately go to my hips. That is a bunch of crap. Unless I eat really fattening stuff every day, but I don’t.

What bothers me the most is the question of what kind of role models these women are for our daughters. And sons. I want my children to grow up with a positive self image, to respect food as a nourishing necessity, a pillar of life, rather than an enemy. I want them to engage in sports and activity because it makes them feel good. I do know a few people who really love sports and are very active. But they do it because it gives them pleasure, not to lose weight. Granted, some people (including myself) consciously try to be active to keep in shape as a means of maintaining health as they age. That makes sense. I’ve never been one to HAVE to go out and do something every day. I tend to prefer the cosyness of my study. But this strong determination to be perfectly in shape at all costs is inhuman. In my opinion, and I am opinionated!

I also find it perverted that we are so concerned with dieting, while at the same time millions of people in the world suffer from involuntary starvation. For me, sensible eating is thus an act of responsibility. By not overdoing, I am not wasting resources. Believe me, I am aware that the simple fact of my comfortable existence is related to wasting resources, but I try to be conscious about what I’m doing, and avoid waste whenever possible.

It takes some time and adjustment. Think about it. Are you willing to try it for say, a week, a month, six months? I think I originally tried to do it a day at a time, which is the best way to start. And gradually I got into the habit of eating 3 meals a day, with rare snacks. I was honest about the food — and honesty often led to the discovery that I didn’t want a snack, I just wanted to take a nap, relax, call someone, or connect in some way. A snack used to seem like an easy alternative. But my problem was that most snacks turned into binges way back then, so I decided to avoid them. Now it’s no big deal.

Learning to eat regularly (after you have been eating-disordered for a while) is like learning to play a musical instrument: It just takes a lot of practice. When I was still sick and then in early recovery, I did think about food all the time. I could not imagine there coming a time when I would be so absorbed in life that I could forget about it. Or I would be so busy working on a project that I would think: “Okay, let me just finish this, then I’ll eat.” To the point of occasionally even resenting the fact that I have to cook/eat, because I’d rather be doing something else. Yet, when I go out to eat every once in a while, how nice it is to take the time to enjoy a good meal (and the fact that I didn’t have to cook it!).

The bottom line is: Let’s learn to listen to our bodies and pay attention to the signals. If we can do that, our body gives us all the information we need. We know when we are hungry, satisfied, and what feels good. Let’s be active, but not overdo. A happy medium does a lot of good — in most areas of life, not just food.

My body is a temple and it enables me to live well if I respect it and take care of it, but my body is not the sole focus of my life nor does it determine my worth. So that is today’s rambling rant.

Entry filed under: eating habits and food. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Adjusting to work and life How do I gain back my self-esteem?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Samantha  |  September 30, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    A friend of mine sent me your blog and I”m so glad she did. I can’t wait to dig in and read deeper! I’ve been battling a binge/excessive workout/occasional purge cycle for a period of time now that I’m trying very hard to break. I’m not super skinny, and thought I had to look and read (on the scale) very underweight to have a problem. I am now realizing thats not so. Its refreshing to find others who have gone through this and overcome it to be strong and healthy, and to share and support. THANK YOU!

  • 2. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  October 1, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Hi Samantha! I’m glad you’re here and seeking encouragement to overcome this problem. No, you certainly don’t have to be super skinny at all to be eligible to have a problem. That’s the whole point of my sharing — to give others hope that they, too, can beat their problem. Bulimia/anorexia & co. are nasty disorders and I truly hope to motivate fellow sufferers to break through and heal so that they can live satisfying, fulfilling lives. After all, we ALL deserve it! 🙂


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