So, apparently our interaction on Saturday made us buddies, me and that trainer, because when I got to the rack today, he was standing by it counting his client's bar curls, but when he saw me he hustled his client along. "We're in her spot," he said. I can deal with that. And he walked by when I was overhead pressing (still just the bar, which was harder than last time, either because I'd upped the weight on the squats I'd just done or because I hadn't eaten anything yet today and had last time, or because of some third unknown thing) and said, "I can lift heavier than that!" Now that is the kind of reinforcement I can get behind. (Twisted?)
True to my word, those measure-y pants stayed up in the tub of clothes that don't fit me for the end of May and all of June. When July 1 rolled around, I tried them on: they do fit differently. They still muffin-top me, but they button more easily; I don't feel like I might break a nail if I put my hands in the pockets. My weight's rock-solid, but with the return to lifting, things shift around a little.
I have been thinking a lot about the lessons of this year. I joined the Bed-Stuy Y on July 10th of last year, so I'm coming up on a year of lifting, which even with the nomadic hiatus in the middle feels like a thing. It really did take hold right away, lifting. Felt good right away, both physically and emotionally. It feels like it changed my whole deal, kind of, this year—made me appreciate my strength and health and toughness and willingness to go my own way, gave me a non-destructive place to put my drive and research and goal-making impulses, made me feel less left out when everyone else talks about yoga and running. It feels important to me to still be doing it in another year. I'm going to write about this more in a week, but lifting heavy weights feels like both a manifestation and a catalyst of some big changes in the last year and a half or so.
As ever, with my pants-measuring and the faces my aunt and uncle both made at me when I ran into them en route to therapy today and the jitters about being weighed at the doctor's office, I have to work to reconcile my feelings about size shift (mixed, including a strong strain of gratification) with my politics and my behavioral plan. It's important to me to be clear with myself that what I am doing here is not a weight-loss attempt. It's not.
Even though I have experienced weight loss, I've experienced it in a year in which I have pushed my own reflexive beliefs about what will make me smaller or bigger off to the side in favor of what I actually need and want on a day-to-day basis. What we have here is a behavioral change that comes from a place of self-care—an active hobby I love and a new push to abandon disordered behaviors. I would be a damn liar if I said I hadn't had the thought that these things might result in size shift in the back of my head. I had that thought in the back of my head. But what am I going to do? Go back? Starve myself and stop lifting because eating more food more often and lifting weights made me smaller and I often enjoy that?
What I can do is not prioritize weight loss over, well, anything. I can keep myself honest. I can keep my first principles behavioral and self-supporting, rather than about bodily outcomes.
And I can prepare myself emotionally for the very real possibility that my size has shifted as much as it is going to in response to this chunk of behavioral change or that even if it shifts further it will not (and this is overwhelmingly likely) make me not-fat; I can be clear with myself on the goal, which is to improve my lifts and get stronger and feed myself responsibly (by which I mean adequately and nourishingly and pleasurably) and continue to bolster my own identification with my physical presence in the world (to be a body instead of having a body). I can keep on beating the drum with myself that my well-being is more important than my weight. Which it is.
The thing here is that when my size stops shifting, no matter what size I am when that happens, I am going to have to continue to resist dieting behaviors. I am going to have to continue feeding myself when I am hungry until I am actually full. That is sort of when we will see what I am made of, really, but for now, the most important thing about all this stuff is the focus on actually attending to my own needs. And to that end, the consideration of the politics, too, gets pushed aside. I am absolutely concerned about being an ally to other fat people; that is super important to me. But this is important stuff too, this recovery work, and I can try to sort through my feelings about its connections to weight, but I am still going to be on the hook for the day to day, and doing the best I can with it. I am going to try to deal with whatever the results of this thing are in a smart and ethical way, but they are outside the box. Inside the box is behavior. Inside the box are my obligations to myself.
I think this is probably incoherent.