Ten years ago, I truly believed that happiness lay at the other end of the scale. I thought that so much of what made me unhappy in life would be fixed by changing numbers: the one on the scale, the one on the tag of my pants. And, for eight years now, my life has been consumed by numbers: Points, PointsPlus, calories, carbs, sugar, protein, fiber, fat.
My brain is full of numbers. I can tell you there are 73 calories in an egg, that 100 calories usually equates to roughly 3 Points on the old Weight Watchers plan, that a typical serving of fries at a restaurant is about 400 calories. I’ve had so many numeric goals: 100 carbs or less; 1,500 calories..1,200..1,000…800 calories a day; 200, 180, 150, 145, 135, 125, 120, 115 pounds on the scale. As you may have guessed, some of these goals were not healthy; some of these goals were not even safe. I didn’t care. I cared about numbers: I cared about making the numbers smaller and smaller and smaller.
Then, I had a daughter, and she was more important than the numbers. And, for a time, I thought that was it: I was fixed. My relationship with food, with the numbers, it was all OK now. Pregnancy had taken me back from the brink of underweight, and as long as I didn’t get back there, then what I was doing was healthy. I could let go of the shame of knowing that “After picture” was really just the outcome of an eating disorder.
But, over time, the numbers have crept in on me again. They’ve wrapped their claws around me. And, I look back now and see that all of those numbers have taken something away from me: I am less happy because of them.
Ten years ago, I thought weighing less would make me happier. But, now, I weigh less, and I don’t feel any happier. I don’t feel accomplished and content; I don’t feel any safer. All I feel is like I’m on the edge of losing all control of a bunch of numbers. And, that losing control of those numbers will bring destruction and failure and loss. I am afraid of the very numbers that I thought were making me better and happier.
So, you see, perhaps, why I have not written in this blog in a very long time. I have been too wrapped up in the numbers — in making them smaller (even while they have become HUGE in my mind), keeping them steady, trying to control them all the while knowing, deep down, that they are controlling me.
But, tonight, I am back. And, I’m here to say that I am going to be trying something new: I am going to try to break up with numbers. We’re in an abusive relationship, and the only way to end an abusive relationship is to cut it off.
To say I am scared would be an understatement: I have no idea what I am doing. I am terrified that I am going to regret this decision. I am terrified that all of this will be, in the end, just a bunch of words. I am afraid that I will ultimately go right back to my abusive relationship with numbers. I’m also carrying the fear of those numbers still — I am afraid of them changing, of them increasing. I’m scared of gaining weight. I am so so scared of gaining weight. And, I’m telling you this, because I just want to be honest. This blog is about honesty. Raw, open, unfiltered honesty. And, I’d like to use it again while I go through this breakup.
Now, I hesitate to share this next bit, because I don’t do endorsements or gimmicks or fads — ESPECIALLY here in this blog — and I do kind of fear that’s what this next thing I’m going to share might be. But, as I am committed to transparency, I will just blurt it out: I’ve decided to start this break-up by doing Whole30. There. I said it. Ugh. That was hard. I’ve no idea if it’ll be a good choice for me or not; I’m choosing to do it this way, because it feels right to me — it feels “safe” to me. I do want to say this though: if, at any point, any of you see this becoming some sort of act of restriction, please call me on it. Because, that is not what this is about, and if it goes that direction, I need to stop the program immediately.
Also, let me be clear, this is pretty much the only time I plan to mention this program’s name. I’d like to use this blog to talk about what this is really about: processing my breakup with numbers and working on my relationship with my body and food. Because, I’ve realized that not only am I in an abusive relationship with numbers, but I’m in an abusive relationship with my body. Only, in that relationship, I am the abuser.
I have both physically and emotionally abused my own self. And, right now, I’m not entirely sure why…or how to stop. I do know that my abusive relationship with with numbers feeds my abusive relationship with myself, so, it seems to me that cutting that off is step 1. I hope you’ll hang with me while I try to figure out steps 2 and beyond.