A few weeks ago my stomach started hurting when I eat certain foods. I talked to my doctor about it and, since these foods are easily avoided and not a big deal to my life, we decided to take an approach of “avoid and monitor.” So far so good. I’m not missing the foods and I haven’t had to make drastic changes in the way I cook or eat.
As a person who has dieted for weight loss many many times in my life I *know* that any change in diet can cause immediate and somewhat drastic weight loss. This is the so called “water weight” that people talk about. After a month or so things plateau and losing weight becomes more difficult or a person may even gain weight. I feel like I’m quoting the intro to every diet book I’ve ever read, except I’m not going to make any promises that this diet will be different. Quite the opposite. Still, when I weighed myself this morning after noticing some differences in my face shape and found that I have lost seven pounds I got excited. Then I asked myself “WTF?”
I’ve been working hard on changing my relationship to food and to my body. I’m learning to like this body, the things that it can do, and what it looks like. I’m not waiting for magic number to come up on the scale for happiness, I’m going out and finding it now. I’m also not fucking dieting to lose weight.
I can only chalk my excitement up to cultural programming at this point. Theravada Buddhists often try to destroy their attachments to people and things by picturing them dead and decaying. Similarly I am meditating on all the times that weight loss is not positive to break my attachment to the idea that weight loss is something to be excited about. I am offering up my counter examples to the “weight loss is good” paradigm just in case any one else needs them.
A friend of mine recently had a surgery that altered their stomach to repair a physical problem that had nothing do do with a desire to lose weight. The recovery is long and slow and the list of foods that they are allowed to eat is limited. In addition each time they eat they can only eat tiny amounts of food without having to walk for at least 1/2 hour to get the food moving through their stomach. Essentially every calorie they are capable of ingesting is burned through this process. They are slimming down rapidly. The other day we were talking about this, their reaction to it and orthorexia. Compliments prop up orthorexia.
Another friend of mine had recently gone through a break up, a person very dear to them moved very far away, and their parent was dying. Depression came upon them in full force and with good reason. In the ensuing time period they lost a lot of weight. Though the person was already slender, people complimented the weight loss. Weight loss in this case was a sign of things going very wrong.
My cat Ender was dying of kidney cancer and I complimented him on his weight loss. It didn’t matter to him, but it caused me to miss the fact that he was sick. I couldn’t have saved him, but I might have known sooner so that he might have suffered less.