I hope the title of this post got your attention. I’ve decided to discuss this under some duress I might add because the combination of our fear, rage, apathy and mixed-up thinking is killing us. Or at the very “least” negatively impacting and lessening the quality of our lives. It’s not an easy topic. This also ties into why we need to let go of the pain (porn) and stop wrapping it around us as if it were a blanket to protect us when it is in fact an anvil sending us to the bottom of the ocean to drown.
I’ve observed the conversations at several BWE blogs who’ve tackled addressing why many of us need to lose weight. (I say get rid of because I don’t want it “finding” me again!). I’ve noticed the knee-jerk defensive attitudes of many women and can totally relate. I usually avoid participating because reading those words in their various combination: “you who are overweight and obese need to change” felt like a knife jabbing my heart.
The main reason of course, is that I already knew this. They’re not saying anything most of us don’t understand. It’s the equivalent of broadcasting something at full blast that we think we’re hiding in our pockets. Yet, everyone can see it as plain as day!
We just don’t want to hear it. We are stressed and distressed and being stubborn. It needs to end today.
Many of us have survived (barely) growing up in predominantly black environments where we’ve been told a lot of upside down things were normal. We weren’t always protected. We’ve been sexualized at an early age, violated or had our senses assaulted repeatedly. Be it by strangers when we walked down the street or by family members or some combo therein.
Many of us have been told we had to be responsible for others to our detriment, that wanting to be treated with consideration was asking for too much, that wanting reciprocity was selfish and often this was strictly enforced by other women with a particular viciousness that crushed our spirits.
We tried to be “good” girls and model citizens despite being fitted with lead weights around our ankles to keep us grounded. We are often the “exception” to many things. We’ve gone on to achieve so many things. Yet there’s still a jumbled mix of pride, confusion and even loneliness we may have to contend with.
Self-medicating with food and perhaps with the sugary-types in particular was one such recourse (drugs, sex and other coping skills may abound as well). Those coping mechanisms only work for so long until we have to up the ante to get the same effect. Binge-eating and stuffing ourselves past our comfort is a sign of disordered thinking as surviving abusive and counterproductive situations will permanently alter our perspectives.
The rush of serotonin likely offered a calming balm to highly-charged negative situations and feelings. Perhaps we’ve engaged in some starvation/purging tactics but realized we couldn’t maintain that, so overeating became the preferred reactionary compensation attempt. Perhaps our eating habits didn’t have to be examined for years due to our high metabolism and exercise regimes, but time and a more sedentary lifestyle eventually displayed the increase in weight. Perhaps we never gained a huge amount of weight all at once and it was a slow drip 5-10 pounds per year. Perhaps we woke up one day and went, “What the *(&^ happened to me!”, but choosing busy work and rescuing others got in the way of properly addressing it.
Perhaps we’ve been disconnected from our bodies for years, since shortly before or after puberty and we’re still stuck emotionally at a certain age. Perhaps we’ve tried to address these things by attending OverEaters Anonymous meetings but were surrounded by a lot of non-black women discussing their anorexia and bulimia battles and thinking we weren’t nearly as messed up as they are or felt we could not relate at all to those stick-thin girls and who wanted to be vulnerable around them?! Plus the no-dating anyone for a year rule had us balking if we were already single and starving for affection. Telling us we couldn’t do yet another thing when we were already going to have to give up our crutch of food was just too much.
Perhaps we’ve been to therapy and the tenure of the remedy revolved around our feelings but we were so numb we couldn’t distinguish what they were. Maybe we didn’t really connect with the therapist because we’d be too busy trying to be the Model Minority and couldn’t discuss certain things. This professional looked like all of those OA girls or was a male or maybe from a similar background as us but deflected any evaluation of what we may now recognize as the abnormal conditions of our surroundings.
Or all we felt was rage and expressing it was not a freeing experience it just left us exhausted and more enraged. Especially if we thought this was supposed to set us free. Perhaps not having anyone connect the dots to where we lived and the acceptance of the violation against our person wrapped as cultural instead of being recognized as anti-woman further alienated us.
Perhaps we see these conversations as yet another person telling us there’s something wrong with us when we’ve had to fight other people tearing at us for such a long time. We feel helpless but we don’t want to hear it. We’re being told we’re fully responsible…but we’re so doggone tired from years of heavy lifting other people’s burdens. Perhaps we’ve had our bodies dissected growing up and inherited other people’s shame instead of being taught to have a normal reaction to our development and safe exploration of our sexuality. Perhaps we or those we’ve been intimate with do not understand basic anatomy to this day. Perhaps we’re embarrassed by that as an adult but still haven’t addressed it because our religiosity gets in the way.
Even though the intention may be to help it doesn’t necessarily feel that way. We like to think of ourselves as the exception. We’ll remain healthy. We’ll get the love we deserve. We’ll climb the ladder of success. Despite all of the obstacles.
So having someone, especially someone who has never walked in our shoes (the way we think is valid) tell us that we have to change, that we have to take responsibility, that something is off is like sticking so many pins in our balloon. The one we’ve self-inflated and taped over in our focused attempt at soaring. We may have traveled for many miles and gone to great heights but we’re always aware one big gust or rain storm can send us crashing back to earth. Perhaps.
Besides, we may not want to accept our concept of the black community no longer applies, that we have to include a completely different set of social “rules” and engagement outside what we may be comfortable or familiar with. We may not want to accept as some bloggers have said, that we’re surrounded by zombies. It’s incredibly sad and distressing when you see your entire ethnic group going down in flames by choice. Even as they have little pins of their own to poke holes in your balloon and have been doing so for a quite some time. Even as you logically know these things to be true, you have examples of exceptions to wave proudly just to counterbalance that. Even though you see the foul behavior and may write about it in fact, you still want to find the uninfected in hopes you all can band together in real life and form an intentional community for support – or at least have some a sense of solidarity amongst each other. Even as you’re preparing to step into the world at large or have already done so. Some people like being the only one of their kind in a new territory. Perhaps you would at least like a few people who look similar to you, that you can relate to and who’ve had certain cultural ties that you share. Because you’ve not had an issue with the core of your person or the package you were sent to this Earth in.
Perhaps you think all of this stinks on so many levels but you’re a pragmatist. Perhaps you have to contend not only with random people, but those who share your closest blood ties. Reading what some person writes on a blog is the last thing you want to have to deal with even as what they’ve posted is a double-edge sword and you know it to be true.
You’re already so tired, so overwhelmed, so angry or so disappointed and just trying to get through the day. You may be planning your escape route or your reinvention story. You may have a load of responsibilities. You may have to clear up the damage from previous mistakes. You may just be stalling. You may not believe you can make this change and think it’s better to accept defeat rather than try and fail because then you’ll really feel like crap.
Here’s the thing: all of the above are various scenarios that some of you may or may not be able to relate to. At the end of the day none of it matters anymore, because what we may not realize is that we’re walking around with a ticking time bomb designed to take us out. If we’re overweight we think we have time because “it’s not that bad”. If we’re obese or worse, morbidly obese we may tell ourselves that we’re merely overweight. That the BMI index is utter BS and culturally biased. So what!
Even if we think we can’t possibly change it we’re wrong.
We can address our excess weight even while dealing with all of the above. It starts by deciding to take it seriously. By choosing what we eat instead of grabbing whatever is convenient. Now we may have to figure out a nutrition plan but the immediate thing we can control is not eating the obvious crappy foods we’ve been consuming. We can keep a food journal to actually see what we’re eating. It might be more food than we realize or lack nutritional variety. We can reduce our portion sizes. We can immediately add more fruits and vegetables. We can do 15 minutes of exercise doing something every day. Even if it hurts eventually our bodies adjust. Then we keep increasing the duration and level of difficulty. We don’t have to be perfect or have all the answers before we take the first baby steps towards our recovery and getting all aspects of our lives under control.
We’ve been dancing on the edge of a cliff this entire time. We can’t be resentful of those trying to dispense common sense and win. We can’t be envious of women who’ve managed to avoid falling into certain pits for telling us to get out of those that have ensnared some of us. They’re doing us a favor when they have other things they could be doing.
Regardless of the ultimate goal – some of us will be more concerned with the external results not our health – even if our health needs to be our primary concern we still need to get started today. We may not have tomorrow.
Here are three places to start if you’re ready to make a change —
One of the first things I did was to reduce my daily calories and following some of the techniques with The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories as I adjusted.
Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple blog has a great post on dealing with stress and has written books extensively about optimal health with a return to more simple eating — The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy
Fans of Tim Ferriss will be pleased to find he has a new book on fitness amongst other things (lol)