Mind, Body, Prison

First order of business– THANKS a million for all of your help on deciphering the 100% illegible inscription from Adam Bucko!  I’m pretty sure it’s “may you be the change,” but “may you be in charge” could also be right… and that little word after be seems to look a little more like in than the.  So, after pondering, I’m going to read the book, see if “in charge” makes sense, and then decide if that’s it or if he was quoting Mother Teresa.  Either way– thanks so much, friends!!  You’re awesome and someone’s about to get a book!!

Anyway, on to our regularly scheduled program.  Prison time!


I read a really interesting article from CommonHealth the other day entitled “I’m Finally Thin – But Is Living In a Crazymaking Food Prison Really Worth It?” by Rachel Zimmerman.  It was a really good read and I loved her prison analogy.  Loved it!  So much so that I wanted to extend it to the other side, too.  Because it’s not just thin women that end up in that crazymaking prison… I think all women can.  And it’s not difficult to get locked up.  At least not in my experience.

So, let me tell you about life… on the inside.  (Do I sound hard?  Like prison hard?  That’s what I’m going for.)

Mind, Body, Prison.

When I’m trying to lose weight or maintain a lower-than-usual weight, those are times when I’m working toward parole and I’m so busy kissing the warden’s behind that I can’t do anything else.  My stomach growls and I spend hours in the gym, but it’s never good enough.  So much time is spent obsessing about food, and not eating it.

When I’ve gained weight and feel too fat, those are the times when I feel hopeless and certain that I’m in for life.  I’ll make a shank out of just about anything (cookies! candy! cake!) and I’m quick to use it at even the slightest provocation.  (Nom nom nom…)  Again, I’m obsessing about food, but the feelings are of finding more and then feeling guilty for consuming it.

My body is covered in prison scars and homespun tattoos– stretch marks from rapid weight gain and loss and persistent injuries as a result of over-exercise.

They say that people can become permanently institutionalized… unable to function appropriately in the real world.  And I fear that I share that fate.  I hope for rehabilitation, a chance to live happily on healthily on the outside.  But what does that take and how do I get there?

My institutionalized mind has two alternative answers for me.

The goody two-shoes hopeful parolee says that loss of a few pounds (or many…) will impress the parole board– a smaller pants size, careful control of caloric intake and demonstration that I am willing to eat nothing but leafy greens and crunchy carrots.

The prison yard gangsta says to forget about it because I’ll just end up back here anyway, searching the yard for another sugary, salty treat to turn into a weapon… and let’s get another tattoo while we’re at it.

So then what’s the real answer?  How do we reform the mind-body prison system?

I don’t know.  And at the moment, I’m the tough guy looking for a fight, about to start a dang riot.  And that’s a problem because people who just want to fight (read: eat) are rarely capable of looking for diplomatic solutions in the heat of the moment.  And, to be perfectly honest, the piece of me that hopes for an answer is really just looking for a way back in front of the parole board– in smaller pants.

I have pretty intense physiological and emotional cravings for, as the book says, Salt! Sugar! Fat!  (Really, good read, I highly recommend it.)  But I’m simultaneously dealing with a neurological and sociological obsession with thinness and unrealistic, mainstream beauty ideals.  But above all, the thing that my heart desires is comfort and to be out of prison, once and for all.

Orange really isn’t my color.  Even metaphorically.



Oh man, nerd alert.  I was re-reading this post and was concerned that I had used the word shank wrong because suddenly shiv was popping into my head instead.  So I googled it.  Don’t worry.  They’re both names for sharp, handmade prison weapons.  Whew.  I wouldn’t want to incorrectly label a handmade prison weapon.  Oh TV, thank you for giving me so much prison knowledge!

7 thoughts on “Mind, Body, Prison

  1. Having listened to him (by Internet) on Sat. AM, I’m sure Adam Bucko meant “may you be the change”…..whether or not his scrawl got to that!

  2. when I feel like I’m in prison grinding the handle of a plastic spoon into a sharp point (saw that on tv):

    -Why isn’t it good enough to eat as healthy as I can and have a cookie every once and a while? Will I be doomed to cardboard-y breads, broccoli burps and sugar free jello forever?

    -Spending an entire winter exercising like crazy, then not doing as well as I would have hoped in a triathlon and consoling myself with a movie and couch time… only to pick Black Swan and relate to it… (terrifying!)

    1. Plastic spoon?! Genius! I bet you can still use it to eat… like a spork, except a shpoonk. Yes, I really like that.

      Isn’t the prison metaphor so right on. It was such a light bulb when I read that, I’m so tired of life on the inside.

  3. Oh, Aimee and Rachel, my cellmates, I understand! I was excited to have my cholesterol checked after 1 year as a vegetarian only to find that it did not matter on a blood panel. Did it matter to my overall health and sense of well being? Yes. Could I do more? Probably. In my old age I have learned to be moderate, enjoy life (mostly read “food”), and love big. This is working pretty well for me! Meet you in the yard with a plastic spoon and and a gooey dairy free dessert!

  4. 1. Rachel- this post is amazing for any reasons:
    A. Honesty and courageously writing what the great majority of us are thinking
    B. The style and beautiful-ness of the writing itself makes me smile! Clever, honest, funny, poignant- perfect! You should submit this to someone somewhere- for real.
    2. Can I join you guys for the dairy free prison snack?!

    (I’m not sure why my lists now have subheadings. It’s late and I’m drinking coffee so we’ll blame it on that!)

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