My very good friend over at Cathy’s Voice Now recently answered six questions about body image and diet. Since this is an ongoing struggle for so many of us, myself included, I thought would answer them, too.
1. When you were a young child, were you generally too skinny, too heavy or just right?
I was very skinny as a child. In fact, I was very skinny until I hit my early 30’s. When I say very skinny, I don’t mean simply thin. I mean skeletal thin. My junior year in high school, I was my current height (5’4”) and at one point in the year weighed 89 pounds. In retrospect, I do believe I was anorexic. I didn’t consciously think “I can’t eat because I’m fat.” I really wasn’t that aware of my body size. I did have a difficult experience (that I won’t go into here) that affected how I felt about my body and I’m sure I was reflecting that unconsciously. And as I indicated in yesterday’s post, I struggle with perfectionism. Like everything else in adolescence, that struggle was magnified 100 times in my teens. As a result, I couldn’t keep food down. I survived for a long time primarily on a soft/liquid diet: mashed or baked potatoes, Ensure, chocolate milk, and milkshakes. I eventually improved and weighed a hefty 95-105 throughout my later teens and twenties.
In my early 30’s, I was a single working mother in seminary. I was so busy and so stressed out. In one of the houses where Anna and I lived, I don’t ever remember eating sitting down. There was never time. I ate too quickly. I didn’t cook as much. I started eating out far too often – a bad habit that has continued into the present. Whereas food was repulsive to me in high school when I felt anxious, in my 30’s it became a comfort. My metabolism changed. So did my body. I still have a hard time accepting my body some days when I look in the mirror. Inside, I’m still a very skinny girl. Outside, not so much so. I continue to work toward a spirit of self-acceptance. I try to strive for a healthy body now, not necessarily a skinny body. Some days I am more successful than others.
2. What’s the most weight you’ve lost during any one diet? (Or have you never had to be on one?)
The most weight I’ve ever lost at one time on a diet was in 2001 when I was doing Weight Watchers with my best friend, Susan. I lost 12 pounds. Susan lost about 40. Shortly after reaching her goal weight, Susan died very suddenly. I look back now and remember how very excited and proud she was of herself, her body, and her accomplishments. I gained my 12 pounds back, plus a few. I’ve been gaining and losing the same 5 or so pounds for the past two years now. Sigh.
3. Of your favorite foods, which do you think is the healthiest?
I love fresh summertime vegetables: corn, all kinds of beans and peas, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, potatoes, okra. . . I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
4. Of your favorite foods, which do you think is the least healthiest?
My least healthy favorite food would have to be Merita’s Sweet Sixteen Powdered Sugar donuts. I love, love, love them. They were a staple comfort food back in the days when Anna had to spend weekends with her dad. She wasn’t always happy about having to go and I hated for her to be away from me. I used to stop on my way home and pick up a bag. They would be gone before she came home on Sunday evening.
5. When did you last have some of each of those two foods?
The summer vegetables are beginning to come in. I’ve already had fresh corn twice this season. A church member brought July-yummy watermelon to our covered dish lunch just yesterday. It was heavenly!
I don’t remember when I last has my powdered sugar donuts. I look longingly at them every time I go grocery shopping, but I don’t buy them anymore. The last time I actually did buy them, my stomach hurt after eating them. I think my body is telling my something, don’t you? The temptation to eat them is alive and well, though, especially when I’m under stress.
6. You go to a coffee shop to meet a friend for conversation. How likely are you to buy a pastry or some kind of snack to go along with that coffee?
First of all, I don’t drink coffee. If I want to pretend I’m a grown-up, I’ll get hot chocolate. I figure no one who sees me with a coffee cup will know what’s really in it. Because I’m already getting my sweet fix, I rarely buy a pastry. (Although all bets are off at Panera when they have their frosted shortbread cookies!)
So how about you? Do you struggle with body image, healthy eating, or weight loss? I look forward to hearing some of your comments. If you play over at your blog, please post a link below so that I will know.