IT'S ALL RELATIVE
17 March 2002
I was sorry to have to leave the WeightWatcher meeting early today (down another 2
lbs, by the way). The topic today was a good one and it elicited more audience
participation than any discussion I've seen to date.
We were discussing "self esteem" and the effect it has on weight gain/loss.
The leader asked, "What is self esteem--and how do you know if you have it?"
Self esteem is a real biggie in food issues. Some anorexics and bulimics starve or
purge because they think if they become thin enough, their value as a person will somehow
Fat people often eat when their self esteem is at its lowest. "I'm worthless; I
might as well stuff my face." The fat becomes both a protection against the world and
a self-fulfilling prophecy. "I'm not lovable, so I eat; when I'm fat, people don't
like me; so I'll hide behind the fat and won't have to deal with people."
The first woman who spoke at the meeting was eloquent. She was a very large woman--the
shape I had nightmares about. She said she felt there was no "one" integrated
thing called "self esteem." She said you get your self esteem from different
parts of your life.
She stated proudly that she is a teacher--a very good teacher--and that she had a great
deal of self esteem when she thought of herself as a teacher, but that the fat part of her
had little to no self esteem.
Another woman spoke about discovering that when she found someone who loved her despite
(or perhaps somewhat because) of her weight, she experienced a sense of self worth she had
never known before, at any weight. That for the first time in her life, she wasn't
tormented by body image, and could just be her real self, and what an amazingly
"freeing" thing that was.
Our token male WeightWatcher described his realization that his self esteem had to come
from within himself, and that if he always looked to others for validation, he would never
develop a true self esteem. This guy has reached his goal weight, and one would
never dream that there was a time when he struggled with self esteem issues.
I was sorry that I had to leave just as it was getting good.
But it's all relative, isn't it? As I watch the numbers at the bottom of this page
climb (it will be 40 lbs next week--just watch!) and as I discover the joy of movement, I
find myself esteem climbing with the numbers.
Forty lbs -- that's a small child. A medium size dog. A couple of bags of water
My body moves more easily. I can pick up things I drop on the floor. I don't have to
worry if I'm going to yank the bannister out of the wall by hauling myself up the stairs.
I'm enjoying the bike so much I never think about what I look like when riding it.
I look in the mirror and see the thinner me that's inside. I still catch glimpses of
myself in shop windows as I walk down the street and am surprised to still see a fat
person, because my brain , for the first time in a long time has given me this
Then I remember Gilbert's memorial service and that I felt so uncomfortable,
self-conscious, fat -- though I was more than 10 lbs less than I weigh now.
My ability to feel "thin" now comes from knowing I'm working this program,
I'm learning to enjoy moving, I'm in this for the long haul. I've changed my life and
there's no turning back now.