Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why I'm not getting "better"

Well it's a suprisingly cold and rainy weekend and I'm trying to get some exercise without being able to enjoy my usual hike. 

This morning my BMI is just 18.7 which is encouraging.  I'm still aiming for 18 in the first instance and then probably down to 17.5 depending on how I look at 18 now that I've got more muscle than ever.  I've lost about 5lb in the last two weeks or so that I've been dieting and I've had 275 cals for breakfast today (and keeping up my water!) so now I just need to get through the day without overdoing it and having 2500 out of the boredom of being stuck in the house. 

I'm just dealing with it by remembering that food doesn't make me happy - in fact there's some fascinating research on anorexic response to food that basically proves the exact opposite is true! I often eat reluctantly to fit in and keep healthy and while it gives me a good feeling to know I'm doing something good for myself or that people will approve of, I usually end up feeling just awful!

What I have done is my new favourite thing in the universe: exercise! I've done an hour of Aerobic Striptease (laugh all you want, I think it's great fun and I know I'm not planning a career exploiting poor lonely middle-aged men) and later I'll do Fit to Strip again and as I mentioned yesterday this time I'll be holding some weights to make sure I'm keeping my muscles challenged.

My boyfriend thinks that all the exercise I'm doing and the fact that I'm willing to eat a little extra to compensate for the extra calories burned (even if it's just 100 or I stay well under 1000 in a day) is a wonderful thing.  He sees it as "healthy" behaviour and has evidently never heard of an exercise disorder.  Actually, just to set the record straight, anorexics use exercise all the time as part of our calorie counting - some will even eat a stalk of celery and say "that's 5 calories so I have to do 50 sit-ups."  

A girl wanting social acceptability for her weight loss does well to surround it with a strong exercise regimen, preferably competitive sport, and emphasis on "healthy" food - nobody questions these "admirable" behaviours.  Sprinters and gymnasts are perfect examples of underweight girls and women that nobody questions and yet it is an open secret that sports centres and institutes encourage weight loss and disordered eating by emphasising a desire for an unnaturally slim figure.  It's OK to lose weight, skip periods, risk bone damage, brain damage, stomach ruptures etc. to win a medal but not if the goal is to walk a catwalk, dance or simply to feel comfortable at school, work and around friends.

Until we come to understand this dichotomy we've no chance of making a cultural change in the emotional triggers that cause so many young women to lose weight.

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