WEEKLY WELLNESS// cutting out fat talk and diet coke

Weekly Wellness is a community driven project to help each of us adopt a more mindful lifestyle. It is a twelve week experiment wherein we (Laura, myself, and whoever else wants to join) commit to one small change for each of those weeks in an effort to see how even a small shift can reap big rewards. (For the introduction read this and this.) 

on fat talk: 

a few years ago--just when i was starting to really get well--i dated a man.

and i was honest. as honest as i could be. (remember this?). 

and he did what i would have done had i been in his position. he made jokes. and he made me laugh. and his jokes regarding my eating disorder and my health fostered a levity that made me feel normal. oh so normal. and that's not only what i needed, it's what i wanted.

but his jokes, well, they were most assuredly fat talk.

fat talk as humor.

tom (my very, very wise therapist who is an eating and weight disorder specialist) and i would go back and forth on this fat-talk-as-humor-thing. i want to be able to laugh at myself, i would say. i want to be able to make fun of the thing--diminish its power in this way. his response was essentially this: nope. you can diminish the thing and you can be self-deprecating, but not in this way. it's not necessary.

a few months later, after the man i was dating made an exit from my life (at my request), i found myself across the country sitting at a table with a group of people i barely knew. we were eating ice cream and later in the day we were going to play tennis. and i made a joke connecting the two. about how thank god for the tennis to work off the ice cream (something along those lines) and a young man across the table looked right at me and said, no, you don't get to do that. you don't get to make that joke. this is me looking out for you and saying, i'm not going to let you talk about yourself in that way. i'll never forget that moment--it remains one of the most mature (and sexiest) things a man has ever done for me.

it was also in that moment i understood what tom was talking about. i got it. i can be funny and i can be self-deprecating, absolutely. but i don't need to engage in fat talk to do it. those jokes are damaging. period. for the person saying it. and for those who are forced to hear it. and because we cannot know how damaging it is for those listening we must put an end to it. the language of fat and body and devaluation is small and insidious and climbs in under the skin. it affects our behavior  before we even know it's happening.

for a good long while now i've been careful of fat talk. careful of engaging in it, quick to point it out (sometimes to the frustration of my friends who dammit, just let them be) but this week was different. there was something about making a formal commitment to abstain from it that was tremendously empowering. i felt lighter. those are the words i do not need. and without them a weight is lifted.

on water:

for the most part i gave up soda (coke and diet coke and pepsi and the like) a few years ago now. started drinking soda water instead--found that what i really wanted was the hit of carbonation more than the taste of the stuff. but there were always the small indulgences. the soda when eating out to dinner. or the can of diet coke at a friend's apartment. a diet-pepsi to get me through the occasional work day.

this week i didn't have any of those occasional cans. didn't even think about them or miss them or want them. it wasn't a conscious decision--just a really nice realization as i became more mindful of the water i was drinking.

a few weeks ago i sat in on a day-long conference centered around food and addiction and does food addiction actually exist? to be honest, much of what was said was over my head--the people speaking were scientists and researchers speaking to other scientist and researchers. but there was a moment when kelly brownell got up to speak (the man is a renowned expert on obesity--seriously look him up) and he was flipping through slides and he pulled up an image of coca plant. this in it's natural form is not dangerous to humans. process it enough and you get cocaine, extremely dangerous. process it even more and you crack cocaine. he then pulled up a slide of water. process it enough and you get coca-cola. diet coke. and on and on. his point was not that soda is as addictive as cocaine. it was that anything processed to that extent--that far removed from nature--is dangerous to consume. the effects of soda may not be immediate--or even fully known, but it certainly isn't good for us.

pass the water, please.


now onto week two: REST!! to be completely honest, i'm not yet sure what this will mean for me. how can i rest better? my job and my life don't allow for a consistent sleep schedule because every day is different--some nights i don't get home from work until one. but i'm excited to figure out what this week will mean for me. does it mean keeping a cleaner apartment so that i feel more at ease when i'm in it? or climbing into bed as soon as i get home at night? does it mean making an effort to have a plan for my morning already in place the evening before? or maybe it's that one day i'll skip the gym and go for a full-body massage. 

what does REST mean for you?

and how did you feel focusing on water consumption? read laura's insights here

onward to...WEEK TWO: REST (and continued pledge to cut the fat talk).