Archive for July, 2016

posted by Amy on Jul 19

When I saw my oncologist last Friday she told me that I need to maintain my weight in order to support my immune system. She ordered me not to lose any more weight. When I went to get my infusion I had my nurse look up how much I weighed in September when I started being treated at University of Colorado Hospital. I’ve lost 18 pounds since then. I remember how much I weighed after my first round of cancer treatment five years ago. I was getting steroids, which made me ravenous (and really mean, but that’s another story). I now weigh 40 pounds less than I did then.

There are several things going on here. In 2014/2015 while I was getting some counseling I figured out that I had a subconscious fear of being hungry. I usually ate nutritious food and didn’t have a sweet tooth, but I was just a bit obsessive about responding to any and all hunger pangs. I decided to just start noticing when I was hungry and detaching from any feelings about it, rather like one does with intrusive thoughts while meditating. Then I decided to see if I could satisfy hunger with somewhat smaller portions. There were no rules. I wasn’t “on a diet.” I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I had been operating from a scarcity mindset. I began to trust that all my needs will be met, including but not limited to my need for food. And my body slowly began to return to its natural weight.

But eating has become a bit of a chore in the last year or so. I don’t need to detach from feelings about hunger pangs because I either don’t get hungry or don’t notice I’m hungry. Also some cancer treatments cause loss of appetite. Now that I’ve been told my life may depend on not losing any more weight another dynamic is coming into play. I don’t like being told what to do.

And there’s that lifetime of messaging from the culture and my family that my worth as a human being depends on my being thin. I have spent so much time and energy–all my life–obsessing about my weight. At one point in my teens I was borderline bulimic/anorexic. For most of my life I have hated my body, meaning I hated myself. I punished my body, meaning I punished myself. I exercised obsessively, dieted obsessively, read books, kept journals, recorded my weight and measurements, joined gyms, bought exercise videos, etc. etc. etc. I also rebelled from dieting, exercising, weighing, measuring. I didn’t want to conform to societal norms and expectations. I wanted to be loved and accepted for my mind, my heart, my deeds, not the shape of my body. Keeping a nice, squishy layer of extra flesh may have been a way to protect myself from the attention and intimacy that I both craved and feared. Now I weigh less than I did my senior year in high school, and it happened almost automatically. In a secret, sick way, one part of me may see this as a payoff.

The healthy part of me recognizes how insane that thinking is. I want to live, and I want to stay as healthy, strong, and vital as possible. My doctor said to get more calories. After a lifetime of specializing in knowing exactly how many calories are in everything that goes into my mouth, that should be a no-brainer.

I’m writing this post to identify feelings, triggers, and ghosts from my past. I don’t have any answers at this point.




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