As I’ve shared with you before, I believe that most obese people are like me – food is not our issue. Food is our coping mechanism. We are medicating inappropriately (and ineffectively) with food. When my heart is broken, you can see it. I usually chop off all my hair and camp out in the frozen food section. I failed at something like I was; so, I would set about being someone else for awhile – someone with short hair who ate a lot of ice cream. And, for awhile, it would work.
I would gain weight and become less attractive as a friend, a potential mate and even as a potential employee – in a word, safer. Over the years of being obese, I noticed that, for the most part, I was invisible. While people might have perceived my presence, they didn’t really see me, which was okay when I was hurting. But, when I wasn’t hurting, the disregard itself hurt – setting up the cycle again. Even Gwyneth Paltrow went through it when she filmed Shallow Hal. In an interview, she said that she, “felt humiliated because people were really dismissive.” Obesity affects perception. Study after study has shown that obese people are perceived as being lazy, as lacking willpower, and even as being less capable. So, while I was feeling sorry for myself and adding to my adipose tissue armor, I was isolating myself and perhaps even damaging my career.
The problem with self-medicating in frozen foods (well, one of the problems) was that I didn’t end up in a fat suit. I ended up in a fat body. I couldn’t unzip it and step out when I felt better. So, I had to find a better way to self-medicate.
Exercise actually encourages my body to do it by secreting endorphins. Nutritious foods make for better moods. Feeling stronger and healthier is a positive treatment all its own. Regardless, sometimes even Positive Thinking Blog Goddesses get the blues. For those times, I pull out the big guns – focusing on others.
During some of the bumpiest parts of my life, I discovered that the best way to help myself was to help someone else. After Hurricane Katrina took nearly everything we had, friends, family and strangers held out their hands to lift us up. A year or so after the storm, it was my privilege to go work on a Habitat build in the Upper Ninth Ward. I got to work on homes bought by people who had lost EVERYTHING. I still had my dishes, a few Christmas ornaments, my photos and a few other trinkets. They had nothing. Nothing. It’s still hard to wrap my mind around that. But working on that one young mother’s home, in particular, was really such a balm for my own soul. In helping her out in my small way, I helped myself.
As we’ve said in other discussions, the constant loop of negative thought holds no solutions. It’s a whole lot easier NOT to dwell on my own problems if I’m helping someone else solve theirs. And that’s way better than hanging out in frozen foods.