My changing but still confusing relationship with food…

Carbs make more sense now. They’re for performance.

Protein: 1g per 1lb body weight. It’s really hard for me to reach that especially on days when I end up eating lunch at 5pm.

Fat: keep it low, but not too low. High cholesterol runs in the family and I’ve never had to worry until now. But I don’t want it to drop too low because it’s a lot harder to function.

Fat: in another way, am I? I am exhausted constantly defending my weight to myself. I am 5’4”, 170 pounds, and none of it makes sense. I don’t understand my measurements, my proportions. I don’t know how I compare to other people. I don’t know how to explain to my mom that even though the BMI says I’m overweight, I’m not. I think. I don’t know anymore.

There are days I feel like I can do anything. Like my legs are strong, like my back muscles are stronger than I’ve ever been because I can do 3 chin-ups now. I feel like I can do anything because I feel strong and that’s all that matters. I have my muscles and I LIKE taking up space and being big and strong. But then, there are days when I feel like I am huge. I feel like I take up too much space. I hate my proportions because my hips are incredibly narrow. I feel like I don’t make sense because my weight doesn’t match how I look.

And in another way, how does it make sense to complain that I don’t match the way I look? It feels like I’m complaining about something I’m privileged to have. Most people have told me that they assume I’m 145 lbs or so. I may not “deserve” a chance to complain, but the hardest thing is feeling like I don’t make sense as a person because the way I look doesn’t make sense.

I am miles away from the ability to squat body weight. I am miles away from doing more pull-ups. I am so, so weak for the amount I weigh and I am desperately, always trying to defend it. “I’ve been dealing with injuries, I haven’t had consistent training for the past few years”. The thing is, I know they’re not excuses. They just feel like they are to me, and I feel weak. But the thing is — when I run, even though I weigh that much, I feel strong. I move my legs and push them and feel solid. But it again, doesn’t make sense, because it shouldn’t be that easy, should it? So I feel like a jumbled mess. At least, even on my hard days, I know I’m pushing myself, so exercise hasn’t been the hardest part.

But food has been confusing for me since I was a kid, and especially since I graduated high school. I turn to food when I am in a rut, but when I am truly stressed, I ignore it completely. So when I turn to comfort food, I’m also telling myself that I’m being lazy, making excuses, and I dig myself into this hole. I find myself lately eating with no schedule, with no regard for my digestive system or being consistent to please my mental side.

I feel like I have a strong grip on what to eat — I mean, yes, I have taquitos in the freezer, but it’s all about balance. I’m eating what feels like a lot, but I’m eating mostly very whole foods, which means I have to shove it down all the time (which is another reason I have those taquitos because when I mess up with my schedule and need more calories, those exist. This is an entirely new issue in itself, my inability to eat consistently). But at the same time, I’m trying to lose weight? But I’m scared to eat too little because then it messes with my ability to recover. But then, I’m scared to keep weighing this much. I go back and forth everyday because I worry that I am not doing enough. I worry that I can’t succeed in my goals because I’m not good enough, not strong enough.

But you know what the worst part is? I generally eat very healthy with low levels of sodium, sugar, and grease. I don’t eat many desserts because I don’t have a sweet tooth, I don’t use much sodium because I’ve been conditioned to hardly use it, I don’t need a lot of it. Most of my fat comes from things like avocados, fats in protein bars, meats, etc. I do this because of my past (I have my parents to thank), and I’ve met some people who have made big impacts on my diet and I will carry those concepts with me forever. But here’s the issue — when I let loose a little, I feel like I am absolutely punished. My body feels wrecked, my head hurts, I want to vomit. Usually it’s when I go out to eat (with the exception of most Asian foods because of the nature of how it’s made) or have a classic Thanksgiving dinner, for example — and encounter much more sodium, sugar, & grease than I’m used to.

It’s not that I don’t eat with balance. I eat yummy things I like. Curry, chili, chicken katsu, guacamole, popcorn, occasional ice cream, Mac & cheese…but I generally cook it all myself where I control everything I put in. I don’t restrict and then binge “cheat meals” as much as I used to. I actually enjoy my food most of the time. So how is it fair that I am punished for generally eating quite healthy?

I am frustrated with so many things. And I’m most of all frustrated with myself, I know I can’t blame a single other person here, and I don’t wish to. I wish to…first, learn some more concrete skills when it comes to cooking with more variety, but I think the most important thing for me is to change my mental outlook. That may include seeking help to understand why I am this way (I always want to know why), but just talking myself through things and even opening up to friends to voice my frustrations. And maybe, just for a second, I want some reassurance that I’m doing okay, or even better than ok.

See, my mom has always voiced her concerns with me mostly for health reasons, but as the shortest sister, but also the heaviest one, it’s tough. I’m the biggest I’ve been, but the strongest I’ve been, with the most muscle I’ve had. But the fear I have in facing my family and defending my choices in food & exercise constantly shows up, and it can be draining. I just want to know if I’m doing ok. But then I have to wonder — is that going to change anything, or do I need to just dive in headfirst and attack the problem head-on?

I suddenly see that my biggest fear is feeling like I’m going to fail. I’ve never quite succeeded in losing weight and keeping it off, but I’ve also never been in such a good place with food (relatively speaking) and exercise, so I need to push myself and learn to accept myself. Look, I want to lose weight and feel more fit so I can live longer and feel better, and I should be free to do so. But my acceptance of where I am now — is what will give me the freedom to look at my goal and give it my all.

I have a lot to work on. But luckily, I can talk about it and that in itself has always, always been Step 1. I don’t quite know what’s next but I do know that I’m ready for change.

Athletic trainer, coffee lover, looking for a hobby I don’t have time for. I write about fitness, mental health, being Asian-American, and personal growth.

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