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Our relationship with food and our bodies

(4 Posts)
thalassa Wed 19-Nov-14 11:54:10

This is something I've been thinking about a lot recently, prompted by getting a bit older and seeing how my lifestyle is different from those of many of my friends. So I'm struggling to understand something quite basic.
Logically, if you are unhappy with your body, as so many of my mid-thirties friends seem to be, you have three options in my mind. Firstly, you do something about it: get fit (properly fit, not a few lengths of the pool fit), fix your diet to make eating healthily normal, and eating unhealthily unthinkable. Second option is to accept the way you look and feel anyway, so if you are a bit overweight but healthy otherwise, stop worrying about it. Thirdly you continue to worry about it but do nothing, get fatter and more miserable.

I look to myself and realize that at age 36, I'm fairly comfortable in my body. But only because my body is "better" now than it ever has been. But that is a side effect of training and sustaining a level of activity that most people with "normal" lives couldn't. When I was younger, I had an athletic and strong body, at a time when willowy waifs were in fashion. I could never look like a waif, even if I starved myself. I felt heavy, although I was a size 8-10. Now I'm a size 6-8 and in reality not that much smaller than I was before, but more toned. And the waif look has fallen out of fashion. And I'm older, meaning it is unusual for a 36 yr old to have a figure like mine (simply because most have had children). But I DO put "value" on having a "good figure", and I wish I didn't. I know that I hate having time off from my regime, and the main reason is not loss of condition or competitive ability, but, sadly, fear of weight gain.

I don't know where I learned these patterns. I remember SO well being around 9 years old at the beach one summer and refusing the ice cream that my grandfather always bought for me, because I was suddenly aware of my stomach. I was a tiny child. Why? I truly don't know. It was like a shame crept up on my quickly and I learned so swiftly that my body was best small. But my mum was a feminist of the 1970s vintage and we had a copy of "Our Bodies Ourselves" in the house. It didn't come from her, she was small herself and never dieted (at least not visibly - we ate healthily in normal 1980s fashion, pork chops, peas, potatoes etc).

sliceofsoup Wed 19-Nov-14 12:04:16

For many people, being unhappy with their body is a secondary thing to having low self esteem and low confidence, (which are not necessarily body related) stress and other things in their life they are unhappy about.

You have made the link food-body, but for many people the link is unhappy thoughts and feelings-food. The body is an after thought.

Food is used as a pick me up, and that cycle is incredibly hard to break. So good for you, I am glad you refused that ice cream hmm but life isn't as black and white as some may think, and peoples problems cannot be sorted out so easily.

Sleepwhenidie Wed 19-Nov-14 12:10:55

Hi thalassa - what you describe is really common you know, in some way or another, most of us (women) obsess over our bodies/weight and diet. You are what I would term a 'false positive' - to everyone else you have the 'perfect' body and many people may believe that you can eat what you want and that you are lucky to enjoy your healthy habits. But it seems from what you say that you are just as trapped with regard to food and body as someone who is very overweight and consistently on/off the diet bandwagon and battling with their body smile. Wherever/however you learnt that a smaller body = a better person, you did learn it. The question is how do you unlearn it?

I'd think about the following questions...What do you think would happen if you did relax your regime a little and put on, say, a stone? How would life be different? In what ways would it be better or worse? What aspects of yourself are you proud of, what do you enjoy most in life - outside of your physical appearance and abilities? It sounds like you are keen to stay in control of your body, are there other areas in life that you closely control or perhaps where you feel out of control?

pinkdelight Wed 19-Nov-14 12:16:57

Well it doesn't sound like you're following any of your three logical options. You sound a bit obsessive about your regime and sensitive of your body image, which isn't the same as simply 'getting fit'. This is unsurprising because it's a complex area and people have all kinds of issues whether they're size 6 or size 20. I'm not sure what your point is. Your post could come across a bit 'I'm so slim why isn't everyone else?' (duh) but from the other issues underlying it, going back to your childhood, there's clearly more to it. But I'm not sure how useful a thread on AIBU is going to be to you.

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