Hugging my Waistline to a Baseline

(Originally posted May 2, 2013)

I’ve come to the realization (again) that I need to eat healthier. I’m 5’2″ and Asian, and most of my body is pretty slender, which makes me even more self-conscious about my waist (blush), which is to say the least “prominent”. I swear I think I must look like a snake that’s swallowed a watermelon. Every few months someone will congratulate me and ask, “When are you due?” even though I’m not pregnant.

The “ideal” weight for my height and frame is 9 lbs. less than what I actually weigh, which makes me think I probably only really need to lose 4-5 lbs. I recently calculated my waist-to-hip ratio though, and realized my waist is almost the same width as my hips, which apparently puts me at greater risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and gall bladder disease. To get to a healthier ratio, I need to lose about 2-3 in. off my waist.

When I’ve thought about losing 4-5 lbs., I’ve thought, “Gosh, am I just being a perfectionist? Shouldn’t I just accept my body the way it is? Other people probably have more weight to lose or worse health problems, am I just complaining about nothing?” I’ve felt guilty about thinking I should eat healthier. Does that sound as crazy as I think it does?

When I think about losing 2-3 in. off my waist, it sounds harder, but also much more worthwhile. Diabetes runs in my family so I’ve known for some time that I need to take care of my health, but I didn’t have specific data to really give me the kick in the butt that I’ve needed. I’m hoping this goal will.

I recently spent 2.5 years in therapy, and we made great strides in controlling my temper, accepting and experiencing painful emotions, and challenging self-destructive beliefs. One thing we could never make headway with was eating healthfully. I did the South Beach Diet, and it worked for the two weeks I was on it. Then I went back to my indulging in empty calories throughout the day. For example, one day this week I ate a chocolate croissant, frozen yogurt with Oreo bits and peanuts, ice cream, a couple of chicken wings, and a slice of pizza as SNACKS, in addition to three full meals.

I know the benefits of eating healthfully. It doesn’t help. I know that I tend to get cravings around 9 am and 4 pm. I know that I eat when I feel anxious or angry. I know that I use food as rewards for not yelling at my kids (even though of course I still yell at them, just not as often or maybe as loudly) or doing a ridiculous number of errands in a short period of time. I know that I get more moody when I eat empty calories because I end up on the sugar high and low roller coaster. Knowing all this has not helped me start nor maintain healthy eating habits.

BUT, this is my first attempt at eating healthier since I started this blog. I’m going to let all the past attempts stay in the past and not treat them as predictors of a future failure. I’m going to practice what a fellow blogger suggests, asking, “What else can I be thinking about instead of eating cookies/scones/mochas?” I’m going to order iced tea instead of mochas if I go to a coffee shop (I’m a mom, there’s no way to avoid coffee shops between kids’ story hour, book club, and writers’ group). I’m going to remind myself that I’m not eating pastries or mochas until I’ve lost those 2-3 in. off my waist. I’m not actually going to measure my waist until I can feel a significant difference in the tightness of my pants. I’m not going to worry about anyone judging me for my weight loss if it’s smaller than anyone else’s. It’s my journey to a healthier, happier me, and it’s totally valid. I’m going to remember I’m not alone in this endeavor. My fellow blogger Miss Bookish Girl recently wrote about her struggle to be a foodie while on Weight Watchers.

I’m going to accept that I’m okay the way I am now, and I’m still going to be okay when my waist is a little smaller, and maybe a little smaller still. I’m going to remember that “treating” myself is more about giving myself a break, sometimes by leaving chores to be done later or by forgiving myself for making mistakes. I am going to DO THIS.

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