All One in Dr. Atkins

Okay, so that's a slightly blasphemous title, but I don't know quite how else to give this post the force that it needs.  Because, you see, I had an insight on Sunday after I wrote that post about not being enough of a bitch while I was on my way to the strip for my pools.  But you'll have to bear with me for a moment here, because it was one of those insights that, when it hits you, turns your whole world inside out after which, suddenly, you are looking at things with whole new eyes, typically weeping for joy.  (How's that for a teaser?)  And then the moment passes and you spend the next day or so too involved in life (fencing, talking with friends, driving home, recovering from the fencing and the talking and the driving) to be able to write about it, by which time (i.e. now) the full force of the insight has faded and all you are left with is the conviction that it is absolutely vital that you write about what you saw because therein lies the salvation of the world.

Or some such.  Let me see if I can recapture the moment for you.  I had written that post and was feeling incredibly grumpy, so much so that I even had to apologize to the waitress in the hotel restaurant for being so much of a bitch (not the good kind).  Then my friend Badger came down to have breakfast with me and what with one thing and another we were talking about food and mood and how surreal it was to learn that perhaps, just perhaps, some of the problems that we had both been having with staying steady in the storm were more dependent on what we were eating (me, carbs; she, gluten) than, say, our personality or character defaults as such.  Then I went to the venue and bumped into one of my Facebook friends who had responded to that status update that I wrote (about not being nasty enough), and she told me, "You need to find your own mode of engagement" (or words to that effect).  And this made me feel blissful, because I knew that she was right.

Here I had been, telling myself that I needed to be more of a bitch (or "bitch"), when in fact just thinking about being a bitch (i.e. ruthlessly self-confident in my ability to excel over others) simply made me feel worse.  "I don't want to be like that--and I don't have to be!" I thought.  It was an extraordinarily liberating thought.  "So what do I need to be other than myself?"  Answer: "Nothing!  Just myself!"  Okay, so who is that?  (Wait for it, we're getting to the big one.)  "Who is that?" I thought as I walked alongside the strips where my potential competitors were warming up for our big event (Div II Women's Foil).  As I was walking and pondering, I suddenly became conscious of my legs moving well, so powerful and strong and not-quite-yet, but oh-so-much-closer-than-they-were-a-few-weeks-ago-to-being thin.  And then I knew. 

I knew because I suddenly understood something that had been lurking in the back of my mind about why I am so exhilarated to be on the diet (read, "way of eating") that I am now and to be losing weight (inches, heaviness, what have you) for the first time in my life without drama and without angst.  I knew because this diet makes me feel so good about myself without making feel like I am doing anything particularly heroic or hard.  I knew because ever since I have started to think of fat in terms of excess carbohydrate consumption rather than in terms of power (beauty, luck, strength of will), I feel not disgust but pity at the thought of anyone's (myself included) being fat.  I knew because I realized that if I could succeed at losing my excess fat, then anyone could--and that made me feel not threatened or jealous, but happy.

(Here's where it gets a little complicated.)  But why was that such an exhilarating thought for me, that everyone could be thin?  Because (I now realize, thanks to Dr. Atkins' advice) it is what we are all supposed to be: healthy.  Being thin is not some magical gift bestowed only upon those lucky enough to have had the right fairy godmothers present at their birth.  Nor (if the world weren't so out of joint) should it be a cause for exerting power over others (as every thin woman in a world of fatties is supposed to assume it is).  It is simply our natural state, if only we eat well.  Eat, that is, with a full awareness of the effect that various foods have on us and without listening to the devilish whisperings of the likes of Ernest Dichter whose only goal in life is to convince us to eat as much as we can of the addictive and poisonous "foods" that they have industriously--and industrially--produced.  "You deserve a treat.  It's sinfully delicious.  You will be like gods."  Now, where have we heard this before? 

No wonder we feel so sick.  We are no longer ourselves.  Thanks to the sugars and starches that we have been seduced into eating with the promise that we will feel better (Coca-cola, anyone?), we have lost touch with our bodies and (if what Badger and I were talking about has any basis in reality) even our emotions and minds.  But--get this--it does not have to be this way.  Being thin is not like being rich or smart or talented or even beautiful.  It is just being healthy, and that's it.  Which means--get this, it's the big one for me--being thin is not an act of aggression or power.  It is not about power or status at all, only health. 

So what does this have to do with fencing?  Well, as I realized on the way to the strip, the reason that I think I may just succeed at having thin thighs this time around is that it no longer feels like a threat.  Why a threat?  Because I don't like feeling dominant over other people, which is what my magical thinking about thinness had always led me to believe must be the case if I were thin.  (I told you it got complicated.)  Which, if you think about it, actually makes me a good person, not a bitch; which is why it is so threatening to me to think that the only way I can win is to be a bitch.  (I confess, I'm losing myself a bit now.)

I'm not entirely sure how all of this translates into how well I did in pools on Sunday, but I do know that it was there in the thought "It's okay to be thin.  It's okay."   

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