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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). 


Cassie said...

This is good. So good. The man who wouldn't accept "fat-talk," is a good man and a "sexy" man indeed.

I love that you've made these weeks of focus. Gosh, the negative self-talk hurts, and I've become so accustomed to it, that I hardly realize the words coming from my mouth. An un-lovely way to be.


Laura Marie said...

1. i love this. and you. and how you convince me to give up diet coke for good.

2. "after the man i was dating made an exit from my life (at my request)" — this is hands down the most eloquent version of "i broke up with a guy" that i've ever heard in my life.

Anonymous said...

I bought literally the largest water bottle I have ever seen (in preparation for a long hike, but it works for this too) and all week I sat at my desk with my 1.5 liter Nalgene bottle close at hand. Haven't done great on the giving up soda (working on it, ok?!), but maybe the water will crowd it out soon :)

meg fee said...

@anon: i love the idea of crowding out soda!! good for you.

The Savory and The Beautiful said...

Rest = Sleep. I'm hoping to be sound asleep by 10:30 this week, wish me luck. Thank you for this Wellness project; i love how it leads us right into the new year.

hannah debbie said...

this really made me think. I am extremely self-deprecating, which I think is a good thing, sometimes. It's good to be able to laugh at yourself. Sometimes I think, either I laugh or I cry about it, and after crying for so long, I think I prefer to laugh.

but you're right. I don't need to make jokes about working off whatever it is I ate. I exercise because it feels good, not to burn calories. My eating disorder was hell what it lasted and it doesn't deserve to still exist when I make stupid jokes like that. It's not okay.

katilda said...

love this. fat talk is especially damaging to little girls. parents need to be careful that they don't get in the habit of verbally scrutinizing or deprecating their bodies...because little girls hear, and little girls mimic.

nancy said...

since reading your blog I've noticed myself using fat-talk. even though I still catch myself using it, I'd like to thank you for pointing it out to me - hopefully this is just the first step!

Diana said...

Fat talk is more damaging than we think. I thought about this after reading this post and I can remember specific instances of being around girls thinner than I was saying that they were so fat and wondering what they must think of me--instances from over ten years ago! What!? It has stuck with me that long and obviously made more of an impression than I thought. And it isn't just the actual talk that is harmful, it is the negative connotation that value comes from size that just disrupts women and girls.
I still struggle with self-esteem due to weight and unfortunately one of the people constantly speaking fat talk into my life is my mother, whom I live with at the moment while I finish up school. Any advice on how to handle that?

Jo said...

i took a peek at your 12 week list...it's wonderful! some of those things look challenging, and so worth the challenge!
i quit soda a little over three years ago. one of the best things i've done for my health! i love that you didn't miss it this past week! not only have i not missed it, at this point i find the thought of drinking it, well...icky. hahaha! it's amazing how the body loves being clean! :)

Stereo said...

I found you recently through a random Google search and I am so happy that I did. The more I read you, the more I love your words and your wisdom.

Anonymous said...

i love what you have to say about "cutting out fat talk". i wrote a post on the subject a while back (i call it "fat-shaming" or "body-policing"). it's not nearly as eloquent as yours, but i'm proud of it. and i'm so glad to see that more bloggers are questioning and refusing to participate in the status quo practice of putting our bodies and ourselves down.

thanks for speaking up. your words are brave and inspiring.

Smooth Liminal

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! You really opened my eyes to something that I hadn't really thought so much about, but should have! Much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit comment challenged here . . . Somehow the link to my blog post that I wrote in response to yours ended up as my user name above (though it is sort of an awesome username). Again, thanks!