In my head the flesh seems thicker

It’s not a secret I’ve had issues with body image for a long time. And it’s always difficult to post about them because really, it’s such a spectacular waste of mental energy. Not wasting time is one of the driving forces in my life, and it’s unsettling when I find myself making a choice that doesn’t line up with my values, yet at the same time, I don’t seem to be able to help it. Something that’s left me more than a little disconcerted as of late is my weight: last year, I’d posted about the fact that I was probably considered medically underweight, and that gaining a few pounds might actually be a good thing – yet I was struggling with the idea of becoming bigger because being thin was something that people had complimented me on my whole life. And when you have abundant issues with how you look, the thought of letting go of the one positive thing isn’t something that sits easily. 

In the spring, most of you know that I went through some pretty major life stress, and in the preceding and subsequent few months, in a terribly unhealthy coping mechanism, I basically stopped eating. I remember feeling such a loss of control in terms of life events and emotions that I tried to take it back in the form of something I could control: my weight. If the world insisted on spinning around me, the one thing I could keep a hold on was what I put into my body, and as frightfully unhealthy as that sounds, I think it’s a pretty typical psychological response. Emotional eating isn’t uncommon; people have a tendency to go to either one of the two extremes, and as a result of something nasty hitting the proverbial fan, I found myself embarking upon an inadvertent hunger strike. 

But I didn’t like it. I didn’t like feeling lost, I didn’t like feeling panicked, and I didn’t like feeling hungry. And when you acknowledge the fact that there’s a giant discrepancy between where you are and where you want to be, it’s enough to cause even the most stubborn of us to take action, and it wasn’t long before I was setting about making an action plan to move ahead with life in full force. I found myself a new apartment within a couple of weeks, started spending time with incredibly wonderful people, focused my mental energy on things within my control along with the positives of the situation (as Beyonce so aptly said, I “found the good in goodbye”), and set about moving forward. When I got to my new place, unpacked the bathroom scale, stepped on it and saw I was at 100 lbs, the gravity of how unhealthy my month of avoiding food had been really hit home. So I went grocery shopping. 

Now, one of the things that goes along with living completely solo is the need to budget – something I hadn’t had to do too strictly in a very long time. I’ve always shared accommodation with other people, and subsequently my bills for rent and food had always been a fraction of what they’d be if I lived alone, leaving enough wiggle room for the odd Friday night takeaway, bottle of wine, concert ticket or new piece of clothing. I’d also been able to make big dents in paying off my debt – something I’ve been picking away at for as long as I can remember, and that I was on track to have tackled completely by the end of 2011. Fast-forward to the new now, however, and things aren’t quite so flexible. My rent is exactly half my monthly income, which leaves the other half to cover food, bills, transportation and other miscellany, leaving a float of less than $60 per week for things like entertainment and debt payments. Which is quite the adjustment. I wonder how people do it, but then I realise that most people live with others. I want to eat healthily, but on such a tight budget I’ve found myself eating what’s cheap, and not much other than pasta, pizza and pop tarts. And though I’ve been able to just about manage financially, I’ve definitely put on a large chunk of weight in the last month. And it’s unsettling.  

Friends tell me I look healthier – that before, they thought I looked “borderline eating disorder”; that before, I was the skinniest person they’d ever met, or that you could see my collarbones protruding from across the table. Now my clothes are definitely feeling tighter than usual (uncomfortably so; several pairs of work trousers are now actually unwearable), and I find myself shelving the tank tops and skinny jeans, instead opting for flowy clothing that camouflages the body.  (The silver lining, I suppose, is that a tiny bit of the weight has gone straight to the bust, which is nothing for a former A-cup to complain about!)  But though people say I look good, healthy, and that they can’t see where the pounds could have possibly gone, I feel bad knowing I got to my so-called “healthy weight” on a Diet for Poor People. I don’t want to continue eating unhealthily, but I can’t afford things like fresh greens and fish every other night like I used to. I’ve been buying KD, microwave pizza and sacks of oatmeal so I can have enough for other expenses, and though my BMI is now considered in the normal range, I feel awful knowing I got it there so unhealthily.

So what do I do? The end definitely doesn’t feel like the means were justified in the slightest, and though I know I’m sitting at a weight that’s probably way better for me than it has been in a long time, I want to know I’m staying there healthily. But how do you do it when your budget is tighter than the locks on an Azkaban prison cell? I feel gross, I feel huge, I feel superficial, and I’m feeling really unsettled about it. I was going to end this post by asking for tips, but then I read something very aptly timed indeed over at Suzy’s blog:

…i’m noticing a lot lately how that stuff–the words and the looks and the notes–can live inside of your head for a long time. they can glob together into an angry giant, feed off your memories, knock your good sense out and take over the steering wheel.  i was talking this over with a friend the other day, and confessing to her that i still think about these things too much and that i still see myself as that annoying, clumsy, horribly ugly girl from frontier, and she said something great.

she said, “i think, at some point you just need to get over it.”

and at that moment i was all snarky and thought, “yeahokwhatever.” because i’m not really sure how you just get over something that has been driving your brain around like a demented chauffeur for 17 years. but i wandered around inside of that thought for a while and realized that that’s really the only thing i can do. i’ve forgiven, i’ve realized that most of these things came from kids who didn’t know better and were probably even more insecure than i was, but i just wasn’t sure what i was supposed to do about the leftover sinking feeling that maybe they were right. you know, the part where you look in the mirror and go, “yep.” and you can’t see anything except the ears, the teeth, the hair, the whatever else they told you was wrong with you.

the answer: just get over it. look in the mirror and see what’s actually there–not what you’ve been told is there for years and years. and realize that no matter what’s there, it’s ok because that’s not the most important thing anyway. 

and THEN i realized that the same basic principle applies to every kind of pity party. i’m so guilty of pity partying.  i kind of think we’re a society that loves pity parties. we love wallowing. we focus on how we’ve been wronged and we let past hurts of all sizes and strengths grow like weeds in our brains. how useless and ugly. fact is: you’re fine. you’ll be ok. i don’t mean it didn’t hurt, i don’t mean it, whatever “it” was didn’t suck. but it’s over now and you have two options: stay here, or move on. let it drown you or get out of the water.

I don’t think any words could’ve been more appropriate. It’s the same sentiment as I tried to express last time we spoke: if you don’t like something, change it. Don’t just sit there whining. So I’m going to make a Proper Budget, and a Proper Schedule. Actually factor in things like vegetables and fish, and make a conscious effort to avoid so many carbs. Eliminate things that add up over time, like the Starbucks every day with milk and four sugars. Give myself an extra ten minutes in the morning to make a healthy lunch rather than pick up KD to go or a couple of Bagelfuls. Leave my debit card at home, so I can’t pick up unhealthy snacks over the lunch hour. Actually take my two coffee breaks, and walk a few blocks around downtown instead of sitting at my desk working through them. Dig out those dreadful Hip Hop Abs DVDs and schedule them in, instead of coming home and sitting straight back down at the computer to read blogs. I want to be a healthy weight, and maybe that means losing a little bit – not enough to get back down to an unhealthy 100 lbs, but enough to make me feel comfortable in my own skin. Small steps add up to big changes, right? 

Have you ever had to make a drastic change in diet and budget? What helps you stay on track with your eating habits, and how do you budget a limited income and stay healthy?

* Lyrics from the only food attitude-related song I could find, and it’s a great one.

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54 comments

  1. This is a tough one because on one hand you are probably sitting at a much healthier weight now regardless of how you got there, but the feeling every woman gets from society is that size 0 is the ultimate in terms of attraciveness and leaves us all feeling disgusted with ourselves. I’m just glad you started eating again – my sister went through something similar and she did the same thing and lost a scary amount of weight (she’s back to normal now). You probably gained it back so fast because this is probably your optimal weight, the weight you should be, so I think the best thing you can do in order to feel better about being there is just maintaining it as healthily as you can. Chin up girl, you’re still the most goergeous person I know! =)

    1. Aw, you’re too sweet. How is your sister feeling after she put the weight back on? And maybe you’re onto something – I also know that when you lose weight unhealthily (like fasting) it doesn’t really matter what you eat, it goes straight back on in no time and maybe this is the weight I’m supposed to be. I guess it’s just a habit to break – just because I enjoyed something (being skinny) doesn’t mean it was good for me; people could say the same thing about smoking lol. It’s just prioritising what’s actually more important – health over looks. And learning how to be in charge of my self esteem :S

  2. This was beautifully written. I have these same issues. I was in a really stressful relationship a year ago and ended up losing so much weight that I was down to a size two at 110 pounds. Not to mention I used to be a pack-a-day smoker. I loved not having to worry about my clothes because everything seemed to fit. And there were people who said I looked great. But there were also those who thought I looked ill. My collar bones were jutting outward and my legs were like sticks. I miss being skinny (I am now in a healthy relationship – but have gained all the weight, plush some, back) but I can’t seem to stop eating all the things that make my extra weight an unhealthy one. It’s so tough to go up and down on the scale. I’ve been working out, trying to lose what I don’t want, but it’s hard. I wish you luck. Thanks for sharing. : )

    1. What is it about toxic relationships that forces us to become unhealthy?? That could be a post in and of itself! I too am now in a healthy relationship and I think, like you, that may be related to having put the weight back on – knowing that there isn’t something else I could be wishing for, that I don’t have to worry about what he’s thinking or if he thinks I’m attractive or not, knowing there isn’t some giant elephant in the room I’m avoiding… just being healthier mentally I think has led me to being a healthier weight. Now if only I can maintain it in a healthy way and not go further into the poorhouse than I already am 🙂

  3. man alive, once again i completely get it. in grade 12 some insanely stressful things happened and i didn’t know what to do with them, so i just quit eating. and, of course, i realized at a point that i couldn’t do THAT so i started eating EVERYTHING. i yo-yoed for years until i discovered the whole “everything in moderation plus take a lot of long walks” method. but for my mental health, the most important thing WAS getting over what other people thought and just taking care of myself because that’s the right thing to do.
    i’m glad you’re on the right track. 🙂 cheering for you!!

  4. I get this on so many levels. When I was in NZ I came out of a horrid breakup and lost a bunch of weight and was stoked with what a skinny mini I was! I managed to stick with that weight and then I came to the UK and oh, that Heathrow injection got me bad. A few months ago I saw a UK GP for the first time, and she said that my BMI was perfect, I weighed exactly what I should, and good on me for being healthy. I wanted to be ill, how could I have put on SO much weight and feel so very uncomfortable with myself and still be ‘healthy’. Whatever. So, I’m doing what your doing. Making a concious effort to eat better, healthier, even though its more expensive (and seriously cutting into my already minuscule ‘adventure’ budget). Running at lunchtime is also something that works well for me. The leaving your debit card at home is a great trick. Another one I use is to take out my food budget money from an atm once a week, so I know how much money I have left. I find it easier to say no to extras if I can see exactly how much money I have left to last the week.Luck, hey. It’s a tricky balance, but I’m sure you’ll find something that works 🙂 Happy thoughts, hey. Good on you for finding your feet and making life work for you 🙂

    1. Thanks miss – and I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one dealing with this. We really just have to learn to be comfortable being healthy because what’s so widely accepted as the “beauty” standard is not healthy at all!! I actually just started going for long walks at lunch time! I’m going to try to make the most of that before the winter sets in, and I’ll definitely try pre-planning lunches and leaving my debit card at home. It might be the only thing for my terrible willpower 🙂

  5. So, this could be just the diabetic talking, but I recommend talking to a nutritionist or a dietician (not sure what the designation is in Canada). Their job is to help people make the right food choices, not so that they can lose weight but so that they can be healthy. Especially if you’re at all unsure about your size, it might be good to get a professional opinion about where you should be to be healthy.

    Personally, I have the opposite problem of you. I felt gross and huge, but I actually WAS gross and huge for my height. At my highest, I was 212 lbs, which is over 50 lbs. more than I really should have weighed. You, my dear, are probably fine with the weight you are at, but I strongly believe the type of food you put in your mouth is just as important as the calories they produce. That’s why I started investigating Clean Eating, which I highly recommend googling and reading. It’s something I’ve fallen away from in recent months, but definitely something I strongly support.

    Good luck! 🙂

    1. I will definitely look into that! And sadly I don’t have coverage to see a dietician, and they’re really pricey up here (not sure about in the States), but I’ll look into Clean Eating 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. Poop. I just wrote a big response and it got deleted. Here’s my 2nd go at it:
    a) you’ve inspired me to write a blog post on food budgeting today (in my aforementioned deleted comment I explained why I feel useful in that department).

    b) body issues: I certainly had my slew of them in middle/high school (I once swallowed a piece of raw chicken with the hope of getting food poisoning! Another time, I swallowed RUBBING ALCOHOL hopping it would make me vomit, because I heard a woman saved her poisoned dog by doing just that. Sick shit.). However, over the past 6 years or so, I have noticed that I only feel negatively toward my body when it is not being used. My weight is pound for pound the same it was in High School, and my measurements have never fluctuated more than an inch or two in any direction. For that, I am lucky. That being said, I am not “thin”; in fact I have never been called thin/skinny/slim. I’m average, healthy, toned, and–a confident 140-145 lbs. But still–when I don’t use my body, and by that I mean really be active and feel *strong* (not just cardio: feeling strong is so empowering), my flesh gets softer, clothing pinches on the sides of it, and I feel past weight issue’s resurfacing.

    Every time this happens, I realize I could either beat myself up over food (I typically eat pretty healthy but I eat a *lot* and don’t stress over having dessert every day etc), or get moving more. Whenever I choose the calorie-cutting path, the rewards don’t come quick enough, or they simply don’t come at all, and I’m left feeling deprived, punished and frustrated. Even if my weight manages to drop a bit, I don’t *feel* any different, or feel that I look any different. But, when I chose the exercises path the rewards are immediate and consistent (*even if my weight remains the same*–which it always does).

    I guess I’ve learned that at least for myself, continuing to have a positive relationship with my body means appreciating what it can do for me, how fast or how far it can carry me, or what new muscle it can reveal to me. And even if the weight stays the same–my flesh definitely gets firmer, and the clothes stop pinching, which is usually enough to stop that ugly “I feel fat” voice from speaking up. Then again, since puberty, I’ve never been the “skinny” one–so I am sure the relationship you have with your body is different that the one I have with mine, based in large part by your experience of being constantly complemented on your skinny frame.

    I think complements are nice (when sincere), but I try not to ever really listen to them too much. People always have an opinion on how you should look (when I dyed my hair red, everyone seemed to LOVE it, and yet when I went back to black everyone seemed to say “thank god! We’ve missed that!”, and when I went my current blonde, I received nothing but complements, and now that I have hinted about changing it, people are suddenly telling me how much they miss the dark etc. The strange thing is that I’ve never asked anyone’s opinion!

    So, if you feel better being slightly “underweight” I say go for it. I just hope you aren’t in a place where you are simultaneously feeling deprived and overly-critical of yourself. There will always be people who tell you that you “look better and healthier with a few pounds on”, just like there will be people who tell you how good you look thin(ner). It shouldn’t matter what they say:you are not their Barbie Doll to play dress up with. I wish for you health, both physically and mentally, and happiness. At any weight.

    Sorry. For. The. Longest. Comment. EVER.

    1. No seriously I appreciate it lots, especially since you already wrote another one and lost it!! ❤

      The thing that stood out most for me in what you said was "Every time this happens, I realize I could either beat myself up… or get moving more." It's the sentiment I try to live out in every other walk of life and you pointed out that I'm not doing it here. Which in itself is a huge motivator for me to get my arse in gear!! I HATE it when people complain about things but don't actually do anything about them — so I'm taking your advice here, channelling a little of what I last wrote about in terms of making the most of the time in each day, and making an action plan. Even if it just starts with shutting my office door on coffee breaks, pulling the blinds, and doing sit ups twice a day at work 🙂

      I really appreciate your honesty, advice and encouragement. Lots 🙂

  7. To be perfectly honest, I have never been so poor that I couldn’t buy healthy food. I also wonder – is healthy food really so much more expensive than unhealthy food? There are so many cheap veggies especially when you shop by what’s on sale? I have never kept track of my budget and I think food in general is cheaper here than in the US (and presumably in Canada as well). But still…. Meat and fish are definitely something I’d cut down on if I didn’t have the money. But vegetables and fruit never seemed that expensive to me especially compared to ready-made meals. Those actually seem more expensive to me than cooking from scratch.
    If I was you, I would probably try not to lose much weight at all but to just switch to a healthier diet and work out (if you don’t do that anyway) and see if your clothes might not fit better anyway, even if the scale doesn’t budge (which, let’s be honest, would probably be healthier for your body even though it makes you uncomfortable). If you’ve been eating a lot of ready-made meals maybe your body has also been retaining water (ready-made meals are typically high in sodium).
    I just recently changed my diet quite a bit after some medical news – mostly I have to cut out bad carbs (refined carbs & sugar) as much as I can – basically change my entire lifestyle and lose weight (let me know if you are interested in this, I have a separate blog on weight loss, healthy living and all that jazz, I’d love to send you the link if you’d like to read it).
    Take care of yourself, Em. And remember that you are a beautiful person, inside and out, regardless of whether you weigh 10 (or whatever) pounds more or not. You are gorgeous, you really are. And you still have a fabulous figure at a few pounds more.

    1. One thing I miss about Europe is the markets. I remember fruit and veg being SO CHEAP, and there’d be a market every Wednesday and Saturday and it wouldn’t cost you much at all to stock up. I don’t know if it’s the climate here or the fact that we’re buried under ice and snow for 7 months of the year and have ti import, but I’m guessing that has something to do with the much higher prices. Thanks so much for the sweet words too ❤ I hope you're doing okay – medical news??

  8. A very honest post here that I applaud you for tackling. I am much like you, naturally smaller framed so I know what you mean when you say the gain is noticeable right away. Bigger people can fluctuate ten pounds and nobody can tell where as when you’re small, any gain is noticeable. I’m sorry you have to deal with a new financial situation that’s such a struggle. Have you tried making things in bathces and freezing them, or just using them for two or three meals? For lunches, are you buying ready meals (so unhealthy!) or making sandwiches – you can make a loaf of bread and some sandwich meat/lettuce last a full week for the cost of one or two of those and they’re much healthier. Anything “convenient” is usually expensive and bad for you, have you tried buying big bags of frozen fruit and veg and adding to meals or making smoothies or something for the health value. 100 pounds is REALLY low and no matter how small you are that can’t be healthy, so I’m glad you’ve put on some weight, and from what I can tell on face book you are still looking fantastic. Maybe do a clear out of all the clothes you bought when you were superskinny, and that way you won’t be reminded that you’re a bit bigger (read: healthier!) now – save up and buy a new item once a month or so and you will have a better fitting wardrobe for the healthier you. Now you are a little heavier (not that that is a bad thing) I think if you focus on staying there by putting good things into your body, you’ll feel much better. Good luck with the adjustment Em

    1. Thanks – the clothes idea is a great one because I find I only feel really bad about it when I try to wear something that just won’t fit any more! And buying them only once in a while when I can save up a bit is a great idea. 🙂

  9. Great post Emily! I am facing similar issues, although on the opposite end of the weight spectrum. Everyone knows that it is important to take care of ourselves but we tend to come last on the list of priorities.

    As for having a hot beverage at work, I invested in a good silicone tea steeper (http://theteaspot.com/tuffy-tea-steeper-steepware.html?catid=251) and several nice loose teas and make that at work every morning. It was a bit of an initial investment (I spent about $25 total) but costs me way less than a $4 London Fog everyday. A $9 100g bag of tea gets me well over one month’s worth of hot drinks whereas I would have spent in excess of $80 at Second Cup.

    Take care of yourself!

      1. YOU DONT HAVE A COFFEE POT?? Emily! You can get one for 10 bucks! $2 coffee x 30 days in a month = $60 a month, or $720 a year!!!!! BUY ONE! It tastes better too. And get a thermos while you’re at it!
        (Also–$2 per day could easily buy you several servings of vegetables,!)

  10. Oh yes. I think what is important to remember here is that we ALL go through this, no matter what anyone says. You’re not the only one to pick up flowy clothes to hide bulges. But your friend is so right, we must stop playing the victim. There comes a certain point where you take responsibility for your moods and actions…this is the way to take control in a healthy, good way!!!

    To address something else you brought up, it’s a SHAME at how much the U.S. charges for fresh fruits and veggies. This is not so in Turkey. I think what we need to try to learn is how to grow our own fruits and veggies. I think that may be my next venture 🙂

  11. As you well know, weight is something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I have the opposite problem as you but I know just as you want to put ON weight healthily, I want to take OFF weight healthily. Eating healthy can be more expensive than not, and it’s actually something I need to tackle because our grocery bill is out of control. Maybe, since you’re living alone, taking more trips to the grocery store will help? Just buying things you need for 2 or 3 days? I know people tend to buy more this way but I think it’s different when you’re a single. Maybe. I don’t really know. I’m just trying to give some advice. 🙂

    I’m happy to hear you’re at a more healthy weight, though! Even if it did come by eating crap. 🙂 Just keep the weight on by eating as healthy as you can.

    1. The good thing is I can take more trips to the shops because I don’t live too far away – it’s a nice 20 minute walk, or a less than ten minute bike ride (while the snow is still at bay!) so I just need to work on making that habit, and making those things last 2 or 3 meals I think. Thanks for the tips 🙂

  12. Hi Em,
    For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated by budgeting- probably for the same reason I read blogs by people who do marathons- I’m TERRIBLE at it. I have found a few really good resources though. I use Gail’s web budget excel sheet ALL THE TIME.
    You can find it here (amongst other resources):
    http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/resources.html

    She also has a really educational/fun tv show on Slice TV, which you can watch online. The kicker is that its all Canadian content. Huzzah!
    http://www.slice.ca/

    1. Oooh I have seen that! I’ve seen “Til Debt Do Us Part” (SUCH a depressing show lol) but her methods really seem to work… I’m going to explore her website right now! 🙂

  13. Ugh, I know what you mean about how eating healthy is sometimes more expensive. That’s how things are for my husband and me. I want us to eat healthier but frozen pizza is just so much cheaper. I hate it!

      1. frozen pizza is not cheaper! Spend a sunday making whole wheat dough (flour is cheap and one of the only ingredients); make a triple or quadruple batch and FREEZE it. OR, better yet: make every pizza and freeze it yourself. Anything you can buy frozen you can freeze yourself (including cheese). Seriously, with some whole wheat flour, a little olive oil, some canned tomatoes, cheese, and a ton of veggies, you could make 4 full-size pizzas, wrap em up (even wrap up individual slices if you live alone), and then cook when ready. I do that with soup: rather than spend $2-3 on a can of minestrone, I set aside a day every week or two to make a HUGE batch, and then I freeze 2/3 of it, and eat the other 1/3 for lunch and/or dinner almost every day of the week. It’s full of veggies and beans, and tastes better after a few days sitting in the fridge. Shopping/cooking for one can be super tough, but the most useful trick I’ve found is to get used to eating the same meal, or similar meals, for several days on end, since it is rarely economical to “1/2” or “1/4” a recipe. The fun part though, is each week, you can switch the menu!

  14. lady friend, can you please please please come and be my life coach? i think you would make a kick ass counselor/coach. you understand the roadblocks and always come back with the most insightful things to share 🙂

    interestingly, i changed my budget when i decided to change my health. they definitely went hand in hand for me. my suggestions: analyze your current spending before deciding your new budget. gotta know, realistically, where your money is going. i decide my weekly menu once a week so that i can use what i have, buy specifically what i need and look for coupons/sales. i also love buying things i know i’ll want later while they’re on sale. i stocked up on so much beef this summer lol. for both health and budget, track everything. i’ve been using my fitness pal for food since i left weight watchers, and it’s been really helpful

    …hello, long response. i think that might be enough advising 😉

    1. Awwwww you made my day! I wish I could be a counsellor or a psychologist or a life coach, something like that… it is my Myers-Briggs type after all 🙂 Seriously you absolutely made my day.

      I shall try this tracking method… although I am terrible at organising things when it comes to things I find a pain in the arse, lol. I am religious when it comes to organising TIME with my gCalendar but budgeting… I’ve always been terrible at 😦

      1. oh that myers-briggs 😉 :p maybe try mint.com for budgeting; it’ll do all the hard parts for you. you don’t have to be amazing at it. you just have to find what works for you 🙂 ❤

  15. This is something I struggle with all the time. It’s weird because I go home to PA and my parents made awesome food and I eat it all up and gain weight, then I go to school in VA and buy frozen dinners and lose it again. I feed off that constant up and down and I hate it, but your excerpt from Suzie’s blog has me thinking. Maybe you just do wake up and say it doesn’t need to consume your thoughts anymore. Maybe that’s what I need, too. It’s unnerving, getting to the weight quickly and feeling awful about it. My only solution — though I haven’t taken it myself — is to cook good food for yourself. A good mix of veggies, fruits, grains, protein, etc.

  16. Oh honey honey honey. I love your blog. I just finished cooking supper, and it’s just sitting on the stove, waiting for me, because I had to reply Immediately.

    Being a girl is so tough, particularly when what we know to be truly healthy conflicts quite a lot with what is considered “beautiful” (mostly by the older WASPy women who edit Vogue, btw, but I digress). Please, please, please just remember that controlling your weight by choosing not to eat is tantamount to peering into a rabbit hole from which one can almost never climb out.

    Isn’t it hard dealing with life? It’s just so chaotic, and there is so little within our control, it’s astounding how we survive. It’s so shitty that your income has been slashed so much. My third year of university, I worked at a Domino’s Pizza, and all that I ate for a year was pizza and chicken kickers. It took like 5 years for my internal organs to recover from that- seriously. I get where you’re coming from. Need some recipes? Years of being a vegetarian, and growing up poor have made me a great (cheap) cook 🙂

  17. I commend you for having the courage to open up about the struggles you have faced and continue to face. By doing this, you will ALWAYS be able to overcome each and every battle you face. I must also thank you for giving all of us courage to speak out and face the battles that we all face. It’s a shame that we can’t all see how beautiful we are, but it’s certainly something we all much strive for. XOXO

  18. I’ve always been thin, but not necessarily in shape. There’s a big difference. So, seeing as it’s summer, I decided, at the end of June, to push myself to get in shape. I downloaded a calorie counter on my iPhone that helped me determine an adequate and healthy amount of calories to consume each day and started working out six days a week. I’m a big fan of Jillian Michaels work out videos as doing them for six weeks now has changed my body in a very good way. It’s hard to establish good habits, but once I got a few weeks in, I found myself wanting to exercise. Now, I crave it.

    1. That’s really encouraging – exercise is something I’ve never enjoyed, but you’re probably right, it’s just getting used to something new and different and making it a new habit. I hope I can enjoy exercise one day.

  19. I actually just wrote about this same topic on my blog. You should check it out and leave me some pearls of wisdom, I think.

    As far as your own questions, though, I wish I could help. Husband does the budgeting and I pretty much stay out of money matters, mostly because I’ve been so poor my whole life that money is still a scary thing for me. When I was poor, though, I lived just like you describe and I packed on TONS of weight. I’m finally to the point where I’ve lost most of it and I believe it is two main things helping: exercise and portion control (though getting loads of fresh veggies from our garden co-op every week certainly helps). I will admit, I do like to eat garbage food because let’s be honest, it’s tasty. It’s not much work. It’s not much clean up.

    I think that we all need to live a little more conscientiously, whether it’s how much we’re spending, what we’re putting in our body and what we’re doing with our time. We’ll all slip up or have something disastrous happen in our lives that throw us off track, but that’s being human. As long as we are able to take those steps to get back on track, I think we’re doing alright.

    Good luck on this new adventure and I hope that you (and I) can finally learn to be comfortable in our own skin.

  20. I’m rooting for you, Em. You’re just finding your way. I can’t really give you any advice, because it seems like you’re working towards a solution that works for you, but I wanted to say that I’m in your corner!

  21. girly can we talk? I would love to help in anyway, esp since I am pursuing health and nutrition.. would love to help with food or exercise in any way that you need! Let me know darling.

  22. Always pay the money for the good food. What you really need to do to stretch your budget is figure out exactly how much food you need, and plan your meals. Also – frozen fruits/veg are a huge help. Shop at Price Chopper – it’s cheap and has good selection. I feed myself and Graham on $100 a week because I have our grocery needs down to a science. Get more value for your money, skip the pizza pops!

  23. I’d really recommend menu planning and also eating lots of lentils – you can buy red lentils in bulk usually and a cup of lentils with some chopped carrots, and squash and a bunch of spices makes a great dahl that will last many nights and be really healthy and filling.

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