I Just Wanted to See the Books
Having grown up in a very small, conservative Texas town, my access to the “outside world” was somewhat limited; reading has always been a way for me to escape any undesirable environment and stretch my imagination but, in the setting of my youth, magazines proved especially educational.
I’ve certainly had my periods of fascination with celebrities, but my favorite thing about People magazine has always been the books. There is a small section in each weekly issue that includes recommendations, in both hardcover and paperback, of new releases, curated by their editor of books. For years, this was the way in which I found out about new books; I could hardly wait to check the magazine rack at our local grocery store for a new issue.
Even though I now have a multitude of ways to find out about new books, I find something nostalgic about those pages in current issues so, while I do not subscribe to the magazine, when I see an issue I usually take a peek.
In recent weeks, one of the multiple copies that is sent to the hospital (my employer) has been landing in my box in the mailroom; I have no idea why it’s there, but I glance at it (for the books, of course!) and then deposit it in the area where the rest of the magazines are usually placed. A couple of weeks ago I dropped one on the floor and it landed with the last page open, just inside the back cover, and I spotted this:
Strangely, that image paralyzed me for a few moments; I’ve been avoiding features like this one for quite some time, and it reminded me that nearly a year has passed since I published this post about a new experiment in the way I think about food/eating/body image/weight/health. Not unlike my original foray into the world of periodical literature, this, too, has been an educational experience.
My journey toward a lifestyle of intuitive eating has not been without its challenges, doubts and hiccups: having initially relegated my fancy digital fat-measuring scale to the shed locked up in the back yard, it currently sits in a spare bedroom (albeit under a pile of junk); I’ve reinstalled some type of calorie tracking app to my phone twice (but only needed to use it for a day each time to remember why I vehemently loathe this practice); I’ve binged and then restricted in punishment; and I still get nervous about the way that I look under (imaginary) scrutiny.
Reflecting on the past year, I am thankful for the enlightenment that I’ve received by taking this frightening step: no longer held prisoner by calorie counts and the anxiety of eating in social situations, I feel free to enjoy my food and appreciate delightful taste experiences; the success or failure of each day is no longer determined by the number that registers on a scale, first thing each morning; experimenting in the kitchen is fun and, sometimes, I find pleasure in cooking (shh…please keep this a secret); and, rather than eating in phases of “good” and “bad,” I'm eating.
After nearly a year of this, I may finally be gaining an understanding of what my body needs to sustain itself both sufficiently and efficiently; I am learning to acknowledge clues and cues. This is a notable reward for the changes I’ve made, but I’m far from the end of this journey. After almost thirty years of disordered eating, body image bashing, periodic depression and self-loathing, I’m not naïve enough to think that I can be “cured” in a flash.
I’m not happy with the way I look, but I’m happier than I was a year ago; I no longer believe that my worthiness as a woman, as a human being, is tied to my weight (most days); I feel (mostly) confident that I can achieve any reasonable goal, just the way I am today. I am okay…and I’m going to keep doing the mental practice necessary to stay here.