Sunday, April 28, 2013

Starting over, again...and again...and again...

Date: April 28, 2012
Time: 1:57 pm
Current state: Mildly apprehensive, hungry
Location: Oddfellow's Café, Capitol Hill, Seattle
Weather: Partially cloudy with a cool refreshing breeze

The other day I was perusing through the music catalogue on my Zune (yes, I have a Zune, and I love it), and I stopped on an album I haven't listened to in years: Lit's A Place in the Sun. I started playing "My Own Worst Enemy" and I burst into tears. "It's no surprise to me I am my own worst enemy/'cuz every now and then I kick the living sh*t out of me".

Over the course of my life, I have slowly learned to hate my own guts. "I'm not smart enough." Idiot. "I'm not very beautiful." Ugly. "I'm fat." Whale. Monster. Pig. Glutton. I am literally in hate with myself. When it comes to my health and body image, I am my own worst enemy.

Back in January I decided that I had let myself go too far, and it was time to start living again. I had gone on a trip with my family to Hawaii, and found that I couldn't do a lot of the things that I wanted to. For instance: walk. Walking from our room to the upper decks was physically spending for me, and I hated myself for it. "You're in Hawaii! You should be able to kayak and swim and run and play! Instead you're sitting by the pool icing your knees because walking is too hard. Whale." My weight was a constant topic of discussion, with my well-meaning family providing tips on what I can do to start losing weight. All I wanted was for the earth to open up and swallow me, so I didn't have to feel like I was a monster anymore. When I got home from Hawaii I had resolved it was time to start over...again.

As far back as I can remember, I haven't gone a single day in my life without thinking about my weight. Every time I take a bite of food I think, "Is this right? Should I be eating?", even if I am hungry. Every time I walk through the office or a public space I see people stare, and I feel embarrassed and angry. I even catch the people I care about staring at my gut.

I have spent a large sum of my life feeling like a circus freak. That is until a couple of weeks ago.

After resolving to take better care of myself after coming home from Hawaii I had started exercising more. I would walk around my neighborhood, go to the pool and do water aerobics, and I was eating better. I was starting to feel good, but my knees weren't. They were progressively getting worse; even when I was sitting or laying down, they really hurt. It had gotten to the point where I couldn't stand without my knees buckling, and I would fall down again. I started walking with crutches so I could still be mobile. When my new insurance kicked in, I finally went to the doctor who looked at me, without even taking an x-ray, and said "You'll feel better when you lose weight." I had weighed myself when I arrived at the doctor's office and found that I had actually lost 30 lbs. since the beginning of the year. I told the doctor that I knew I needed to lose weight, but I can't walk and I'm in pain. She sent me to a specialist. The specialist looked at me, without taking an x-ray, and said "You'll feel better when you lose weight." I burst into tears. I told him that I was trying, that exercising hurt, and that I was in so much pain I felt like I was losing my mind. He gave me cortisone shots, told me to lose weight, see a physical therapist and sent me on my way. I sat in my car and cried for an hour after that.

I had a lot of questions for myself. "How can I lose weight if I can't even move? How did I even get here? How could I let myself get this far? How do I live with myself? Monster. Pig. Whale. Glutton." I had brunch the following week with my cousin, K, and told her what was going on. After that we decided to email each other every day what we were planning on eating. The idea behind it was if I couldn't move, I could at least start being thoughtful about how I am eating, and that could be a start. She even packed snacks for me with times written on the baggies to eat healthy snacks throughout the day.*

One morning when I emailed her what I had for dinner the night before, I was saturated with guilt. I had Burger King for dinner because I worked late and I just wanted a burger. She wrote me back and said two words that completely upended me. "No guilt." What?! No guilt?! I'm not supposed to beat myself up until I hate myself again? That's when it occurred to me: I have spent so much time going on "diets", failing them, and giving up. Diet, fail, give up, hate myself. Diet, fail, give up, hate myself. I have been on a 32 year old downward spiral to where I was: obese and in hate with me.

I spent the rest of my day thinking about the concept of "no guilt". We are trained to beat ourselves up when we deviate from the path or expectations we have set, which almost always leads to a sort of "falling off the wagon". I ate fries, I may as well eat a whole pizza. For me, the concept of "no guilt" means: yes, I tripped up, but that was yesterday, and this is today. To dust off an old colloquialism, "Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater."

Since then I  have started to reconcile with myself. I am neither monster, whale, nor pig. I am who I am. No guilt. That part of my life is over; here begins a new journey. It's not going to be easy, and there will be times that I will stumble, but I'm not going to beat myself up.

This blog is not just a diary of weight loss; my hope for this blog is to become a guide towards self-acceptance, and maybe if I gain some readership, a guide for others as well. Every day I will post my menu and thoughts for the day. I would love for readers to ask questions via either the comment section or Twitter (@summerwaldo). Follow me on this journey, and maybe we'll learn something.

P.S.--I feel like this blog was super heavy today, so I would like to end it with a joke: Two strands of DNA were walking down the street. One says to the other, "Do these genes make me look fat?"

*I love you K.


Nancy said...

Wonderful post. You are so brave. I'm rooting for you and looking forward to following along on your journey.

--friend of D & K, fellow Seattle-ite and blogger. said...

I've been reading "Intuitive Eating" and highly recommend it based on what you've posted here. They also have an incredibly wonderful and supportive online community at

Shonna and Brandon said...

Woot woot! We are behind you 100%. It takes a lot of courage to do what your're doing. We applaud you!

Janina Martin said...

Okay, so I know I posted on the other entry too, sorry to hijack! But!! I will say, anytime I feel bad about how I look, I am almost always reminded of that scene in "What the Bleep..." where Marlee Matlin covers herself in hand drawn curlicues and finally loves her body for what it is. For some reason, remembering that always soothes me and reminds me we are all beautiful creatures deserving of our own love. So, why do we women (and I know some men who are now doing this) hate our bodies so much???? I do think comparison (like you talk about in today's entry) is at the heart of so much of this hatred. If we were all blind, would anybody hate their bodies...? I wonder.

Nadia said...

Oh, Summer, sweetheart, I heart you!!! Like, OMG, I was and am going through the very similar struggle and I SO relate to everything you're saying.
Self-acceptance is hard to do and I'm so inspired seeing you blogging all the stuff that is already in my head every day.

Nadia (a weird exchange student :))

shannon said...

I've decided to walk out of any doctor's office if the only advice they give me is to "lose weight". It shows they're a shitty doctor and have no empathy. Sure, weight can be hard on your joints, and certain other body parts, but it is not the only problem/solution. And it's insulting, because it shows they're under the delusion that the patient doesn't know they're fat and/or never thought they should try to change it. Seriously? Even if you love your body it doesn't mean it's never occurred to a fat person to lose weight, but sometimes it ain't that simple. Say...if you have bad knees.

And I've had doctors recommend weight loss when I came in with tonsillitis. SERIOUSLY? Fuck off.

In the fat acceptance communities, they try to pull together lists of doctors who are "fat friendly":