I saw this and I can so relate to it. Even now I’m out the other side almost, I still get this feeling from time to time. It gets easier to fight but it’s still there. It makes me feel sad reading this but I think a lot of people who are into bodyshaming fat people just don’t get it, they have no idea.
I’d hit a plateau with weight loss and had thought that was it, I was at my ideal ‘forever’ weight. I blogged about it recently (read about it here) and how I felt about plateaus but I’ve had a little shift beyond now so maybe I’m just at a point where weight loss is going to be very very slow. I’ve never known what that was like before, being so overweight and never coming close to a normal weight meant I’ve always seen good weight loss progress if I’ve stuck to a diet. The only time I did get slim was not my choice and so that one doesn’t count.
I have learned something about me and my whole journey through this plateau though, I’ve learned that the way I eat and exercise now has truly become a way of life for me. I’ve also learned that I wasn’t fully convinced of that or the need for that before I got to this point. I thought I was, but I wasn’t.
I’ve always known and I’ve mentioned in umpteen blogs how this is not a journey to an ideal weight but a journey for life, that I will always be on and I thought I had my head around that but when I got to near goal and to this plateau phase which made me think I was at goal I realised that I wasn’t prepared for a lifetime of this at all. Whether it was some emotional thing in my brain, a previously set trigger which told me “it’s done now eat cake” or what it was I don’t know but I found myself really craving crap food and I mean craving as in to the point of distraction. At first I wasn’t sure what it was and then I realised that it had a direct co-relation to me accepting I was ‘done’, I’d made it. The self destructive demon in my head sprang back to life when it heard that news and decided to make me change it all around, reverse all of the good I’d done and head back to Fatsville and boy did that demon find some power from somewhere. It’s as if it’s fueled by my emotional reliance on food, it’s energised by my self doubt and this innate need to destroy myself. I’d kept it at bay for a long time but as soon as I was where I wanted to be it rose up and hit me hard. As if success wasn’t something I had a right to. I have to delve into that I think.
I don’t suppose I’ll ever understand the mind of a fat person and I am one. How we expect other people to understand I don’t know. I understand a lot and I understand more but I just don’t get what it is that made this happen. I fought against it and it was hard I will not lie. This is a real, true addiction, make no mistake. I don’t imagine it could have torn me apart any more if it had been an addiction to alcohol or drugs that I was facing and it was far worse than anything I faced when I quit smoking. It took over my mind mentally and my stomach physically. I’ve never felt so empty in my stomach after food, it has actually been painful and I’m not exaggerating. I have felt so sad, so low of mood, so stressed and all because of this internal fight to resist bad food. It sounds crazy doesn’t it? To anyone who doesn’t know what a food addiction is or who believes food addiction is not real they would think I’m insane or making it up to cover for the fact that underneath it all I’m just a greedy person. But it is real.
Anyway, I’ve done it, I’ve battled and won again, for now. It took a while but I resisted and the urges have subsided again. The only way to win was to just keep self counselling, keep telling myself why I couldn’t binge on chocolate and crisps and biscuits and cakes and sweets and to distract myself with other things, keep on eating healthily, keep on exercising and now and then throw in a treat to satisfy the urges. That organic chocolate has come in really handy.
I really thought I’d seen the last of those pangs, I really thought I’d dealt with the emotional issues but now I believe that this really is a forever fight for me. That beast that wants to make me fat is going to come back time and time again and I’m going to have to beat it back down time and time again. Even though it’s been hard and I’ve not been the best person to live with and there have been tears shed over that because I felt so guilty for snapping at times and for retreating at others, even in spite of that I am grateful for this experience because it has taught me what I thought I always knew and that is that these really are forever changes and this is a forever battle. It is a journey that can never ‘end’. It doesn’t stop, it isn’t over and even though it feels like a way of life, even though it feels easy, there will be times when it really isn’t easy and when I’m reminded that the new way of life is just that, a new way which has 40 odd years of the old way lying underneath the surface and only time will put distance between those two ways of life.
It’s so important not to slip back into bad habits and to hold fast, it’s so hard to do but so important. I don’t want to be fat again and if I’m going to have to face a week or so of miserable struggle now and then to make sure that doesn’t happen then so be it. I know people say “I’d rather be happy than slim” but I really really am happy slim and I’m happy fit and healthy and if I have to trade that off for a once in a while bad mood while I’m in the clutches of the fat demon then so be it, it’s a good trade off. I would rather this than be miserable all of the time and being fat made me miserable, not because I was influenced by media or I wanted to be attractive to men or any of that, but because I didn’t feel I was getting the best out of my life or giving the best to my loved ones and I felt I was letting them and myself down.
This is a hard thing to do make no mistake changing habits is a tough call but with the right attitude it’s possible and with the right people supporting you. Nick and my son have been through the ringer this past week or so as I’ve struggled with this but they have never stopped loving and supporting me and helping me to come out the other side.
We’re all going away for a family holiday for half term and we’ve managed to get all of the kids together with us which is fabulous and rare these days. So good times are back and better ones are ahead, the sun screen is in the case along with the bikinis that I only ever dreamed of wearing. Holiday report will be forthcoming.
I’ve hit one, 17lbs from my ultimate goal of being in a normal weight for my height. This is the first time I have not seen a decrease in weight on the scale or a downward shift in inches since I started out on my journey just over a year ago as an over 300lb unhappy lady.
I’m amazed that I’ve got this far for this long without having hit a plateau before and I really think that has been down to changing my activity and my diet a lot throughout the past year or so, experimenting with this and that and never really letting my body settle into a comfort zone. I don’t know if that would work for everyone but it seems to have worked for me.
I also have to tell myself that as I lost weight just moving about was going to be using up less and less calories and it was impossible to imagine increasing my activity to accommodate for this. I was on pretty intensive activity quite early on and I don’t think I can fit more activity into my days if I tried. Besides I don’t want to try because there was a point where I became obsessed with activity and I was in danger of blowing myself out. Whilst the human body was made to move it was also made to rest and to know its limits, we were never designed to spend all of our waking hours thrashing ourselves into a sweaty breathless mess. Yes we were built to be able to do that if we really had to for a short time… think walking or running long distances now and then for food/water/shelter/communication or throwing ourselves into a physical challenge like climbing a tree/a battle/protecting children from lions by launching into hand to hand combat with one… but really we were made to take it easy now and then too.
Besides all of that, flippancy aside, I recently posted about the impact of exercise on fat loss and ultimately scientists and other professionals concur that diet is the key to losing the fat and should be the real focus. Exercise is great for so many many reasons and should be engaged in but it’s not going to make you skinny alone… if skinny is what you want to be of course.
But anyway, all that aside, I have to tell myself that reaching a plateau is not a bad thing. It’s not something after all of the progress I’ve made to beat myself up over or to need to find an answer to. I’ve been the same now for about three weeks, after the second week I got angry with myself for weighing myself each week. I’d promised to only weigh once a month but as the end grew closer I got addicted to the scales. That was a big mistake and I have now learned from that. This week was my weigh in with my trainer and so I couldn’t avoid it and was disappointed to see that same figure staring back at me.
Then I thought about it in the whole scheme of things and realised I’m an absolute imbecile and got angry with myself for undoing in a couple of weeks all of that work I’ve done over the past year of gaining perspective, learning to look at things in positive ways, not getting down on myself, not having feelings of failure in my repertoire of emotions. I’d let myself down not by reaching a plateau but by allowing all of those horrid, fat person on a diet, negative emotions back in. In a way it was good, it reminded me of what I’d always feared, those feelings will always lurk around me, I may have expelled them but they’ve not gone far, they’re just waiting around for moments when I become
weak stupid and then they pounce. So to some extent I’ve lost that complacency I was maybe beginning to feel and that’s a good thing that plateauing has taught me.
I also got to thinking, I remembered when I really believed my ideal weight for me was around 15 stones, I thought this because I always had trouble getting below it, when I made a determined effort to lose weight I mean, not when I was starved by the psycho I lived with. I had done it but it had never been in a healthy way. So for me to be way below that now and to have achieved it in the most healthy way I can imagine is a huge achievement and maybe this is my real ideal for me weight. What if I am 17lbs overweight? It’s better than 180lbs isn’t it? Why can’t I be happy to be 17lbs over weight? So I started thinking like that and it made me feel better, I gained perspective as well as having realised I was an imbecile for even feeling bad about it in the first place and as well as having learned that I really would always struggle with the emotional and mental issues of a fat person or of a compulsive over eater or of an emotional eater… whichever label sticks best.
Then I started to think about time. I thought, what if I carry on doing what I enjoy in terms of my movement and exercise and fitness, what if I carry on eating healthily with a treat now and then but making good choices for myself and eating foods I’ve come to love, cooked in ways I’ve come to really enjoy and find easy to fit into my day… those 17lbs might gradually vanish and if they do that will be fabulous but there is no time frame for them to do so, they go or they don’t either way I’m safe in the knowledge that I’m healthy and fit and doing the best by me. I’m giving myself the best shot of a longer life, a healthier life, a more active life and a happier life, how could 17lbs threaten that? If those 17lbs want to stick along for the ride then so be it, if they want to slowly slip away then so be it but I’m not going to stress about them. I’m stupid if I do.
I thought about what I could do to make those 17lbs shift. I realised very quickly thankfully that I can’t do any more and remain healthy. Yes I could go on a liquid only ridiculously low calorie fad diet for a month and probably see those 17lbs off especially if I upped my PT sessions from 3 a week to 5 but would that be healthy? Would that be sustainable? Not in a million years. I’m doing the best for me now and that’s that. Those 17lbs are not significant to me and I’m not changing for them. I’ve spent a life time letting fat dictate who I am and what I do and don’t do and those days are gone, I’m free from being dictated to by invisible layers of gloop under my skin.
Then I thought about goals and I spoke to Nick about it and he said to me “You’re at your goal honey” and I said “I’m not, my ultimate goal was to be a normal weight” and he said “No, your absolute ultimate goal was to be happy and healthy, you were there ages ago”.
17lbs? What 17lbs? He’s right, I’ve already done it, I have what I wanted and those 17lbs are not going to take it away from me, they are insignificant, just numbers and stay or go they are not going to take away my joy at having done this, at having made it to where I wanted to be.
I’ve transformed my life, everything about my life screams happy and new and free… my career, the way I dress, the colour of my hair, the design of my home, the way I have fun, the way I love, the way I parent, the type of friend I am, my role in my community and so much more, it’s all better and it suits who I am, who I always was under that fat. It really has been a total and complete unwrapping process, not a transformation but an unveiling of who I was always supposed to be before fat took a hold, before I used food as my go to healer, food as my shield, food as my comfort. I’m never going back again and this plateau is pretty cool, I can see for miles from up here and it’s all looking bright.
At least not if you are fat, obese, very overweight or whatever. It may tone, sculpt and shape, increase flexibility, endurance and strength, improve cardio vascular performance and release wonderful things in your brain that make you feel amazing… happy, lively, sexy, alert and it will increase the number of calories you use… physics tells us that but it won’t make you slim.
This article in the Guardian based on some medical study or other (I’m not a technical blogger academics was my job I can’t make it my fun) states that exercise will not make you lose weight or stop being obese. Lack of exercise is not the cause of obesity, too much sugar and the wrong types of fat are to blame for that and it accuses governments and health bodies of over emphasising the need to exercise in order to reduce obesity and not putting enough emphasis on the need to have a healthy diet.
Well who would have thought it?
I know personally from my own efforts that exercise of one type or another has had various effects on my body, inch loss is more of a feature than weight loss when I step up certain types of exercise such as strength training, a more toned appearance is more of a feature with the stretchy types of exercise such as pilates, increased stamina is more a feature of cardio such as walking or cycling, a greater sense of well being, tone and improved posture (which can show as inch loss) are more evident from exercise such as Tai Chi and Yoga, with all types of exercise, my sense of mental well being is enhanced as it reduces stress levels, makes me feel happier and energises me… the more fun exercise like swimming, playing tennis, really has an even more enhanced effect on me mentally.
Does my exercise make me lose masses of weight? I don’t think so, I know that dietary changes have massive impacts on my weight loss but without the feel good of exercise I would not have the mental wherewithal to fend off stress and misery and the associated lack of resistance to bad food temptations. Exercise helps me work off my frustrations, my anxieties and at times I punch out my sadness and residual effects of bad life experiences.
Exercise also makes the impact of my weight loss more visibly obvious as my posture improves, my muscle and skin tone, my strength, my awareness of my physiology, it all helps to make me look slimmer and that makes me feel slimmer and that inspires me to not eat crap and continue to lose weight. Take a fat person sit them slouched on a stool, hunched back, spread legs, belly flopping between and then sit that person up straight, put their legs together (or as close together as you can), straighten the back, pull in the tummy, open and press the shoulders down, extend the neck and they’ve lost 10 pounds…. well they haven’t but you know they look like they have.
Do you know I’ve got an inch taller since I started this journey of mine? I’ve regained the inch I lost during my late 30s and that is purely due to having pulled my body back into a posture more befitting a lady and less that of a potato.
So yes I believe that exercise alone is not enough and diet really is the big magic key to weight loss and the better the diet, the more it suits you and the more healthy it is (depending on what you believe, organic ultra low carb has by far had the biggest impact on weight loss for me and my family AND best equips us with energy for our active lifestyles) then the more effective it will be in terms of helping you lose weight more quickly. BUT do not abandon the thought of exercise because it has its place in your success and is important.
And please don’t let that word exercise put you off, think of it just as moving more. To exercise you really do not have to don a lycra one piece and leg warmers and contort your body into strange shapes and lie gasping for breath by the end of the first half of a step class warm up. It doesn’t mean buying expensive equipment and paying for personal trainers. It doesn’t mean sweating your fat ass off in a gym infront of perfect bodies. It just means moving more today than you did yesterday and getting a groove on with that. That can mean cleaning out a spare room or the kitchen cupboards, it can mean using your upstairs loo rather than your downstairs one, it can mean walking to a bus stop or train station and taking public transport rather than your car, it can mean strolling around a park during your lunch hour rather than sitting in the
canteen, taking the stairs rather than the lift even if for just one floor, it can mean walking the kids to school rather than driving them, it can mean you taking the dog for a walk with the kids rather than leaving it to them, it can mean standing up in your living room and stepping from one foot to the other during your favourite soap opera, or going for a five minute walk around your neighbourhood at 11pm when it’s dark and no one can see you. People exercise in chairs and in beds, there are videos to follow on You Tube of exercising lying down and sitting down, there is no excuse not to move more. Trust me you will be AMAZED by how fast your fitness levels increase, it happens in a matter of days and your capacity to exercise only increases the more you do it.
But yes, I agree for real results and weight loss, to change from obese to normal you really do need to address that diet first and foremost. Read about food and what it does to your body, read about how your body deals with food, how it processes it and how it gets the best out of it and what it does with the rest and develop an eating plan to suit you. Include what you like to eat (the healthy things that is), find ways to adapt what you like into a healthier version so you do not feel deprived, treat yourself now and then, cut right back on sugar including the naturally occurring kind, cut out unhealthy fats (research animal and dairy fats before you make assumptions about them), think organic, think green and leafy, think minimal cooking, think naturally occurring, research your health issues and your health concerns ie hereditary conditions you want to fend off and see which nutrients and foods might help with that, read the pros and the cons and you won’t go far wrong. Also, if you know your over eating or eating of the wrong foods is linked to something else and has become a habit or a boredom fix or something to do with your hands (ex smokers take heed) then change those habits. This should be a lifestyle change not just diet and not just exercise but often the thing that prevents us from getting in shape is a really bad habit.
Don’t think that if you can’t exercise you can’t lose weight because if that was the case how do we explain people in comas or incarcerated getting real thin and we all know that being bed bound with an illness and unable to eat results in dramatic weight loss… so whilst I wouldn’t advocate any of those methods of losing weight they prove that you can lose weight without moving much, but moving much makes losing weight so much more fun and you won’t run the risk of ending up a skinny weak saggy miserable mess at the end of your efforts.
Having a comment chat the other day with Tony from One Regular Guy… blog (have a read it’s good for anyone not just guys and not just people trying to lose weight) we mentioned some of the downsides of weight loss. Now not wanting to put anyone off losing weight at all, because we agreed there is no downside which compares to the upside of having a waist line reduced by inches, but there are a few things that you might want to get to grips with so you’re not so shocked when/if they happen.
It also keeps us grounded in the knowledge that for every good thing there could be a bad thing just waiting to smack us in the face… total unequivocal happiness and satisfaction may not be as easy to come by as we think and losing weight is not going to take all of our stresses away.
The first one we mentioned was temperature control. Remember when we were huge and we lolled around all summer sweating, wishing we had the nerve to wear barely anything, wishing we had the nerve to strip off and dive in a lake or pool (high five to those who just did it anyway), remember those days when we lay under a ceiling fan or hid out in air conditioned rooms as our fat added layers to insulate our bodies which on the upside also kept us warm in the winter? Well when that weight has gone, when the insulation is no more, summer is so much easier, having fewer creases and rolls is more comfortable (less places for sweat to gather) and less chunkiness rubbing on chunkiness causing sores and chaffing. Gosh I have been lucky that my legs were never really very big but even so I’ve had the odd summer where my inner thighs have blistered and bled from friction, and not of the fun gained type either, just walking.
So summer is easier BUT winter is a beast. You will feel sooooooo cold on your first winter and maybe beyond as your body really is shocked by the exposure no longer padded and insulated by all of that fat. If you struggle to lose weight in the winter (I used to) count your lucky stars here because you’re delaying the pain of freezing temperatures. We had a mild winter here this year but even so my heating bill was higher than last year all because I was totally freezing all of the time!
Another thing I’ve noticed is that sitting on a hard chair or bench is sooooo painful. I feel like I’m sitting on metal bars. It took me a while to even figure what it was, I thought the discomfort came from strained butt muscles but eventually realised I had so much less padding on my posterior now and sitting down for a skinny bum is really not comfortable, how do people cope? I’ve yet to find it comfortable and wonder if I ever will. So if you have stubborn bum fat, don’t worry, leave it there, when it’s gone you will know about it.
Saggy skin is another thing, I’ve not got any yet apart from tops of my arms but that’s not even bad. This section kind of covers more than that though, when you lose weight you can become hyper critical of your body in a whole new way. I have to remind myself when I look int he mirror at my naked self or in my underwear just what I was seeing in that mirror a year ago. It becomes too easy to obsess with body parts, to look at your floppy arms or podgy belly or dimpled thighs or reduced bust or whatever it is and hate it. It’s really bad to start hating your new body, it is. You have to remind yourself where it’s come from, how hard you have worked, how much better your feel and how a saggy bum or a few stretchmarks or boobs that only have a clevage in a bra are really not the end of the world.
It is hard to achieve perfection and what is perfection anyway? Who has a perfect body? Even if you can name someone who in your opinion does have a perfect body if you tell them that they’ll say “Oh no, my bum is too big… my boobs are too small… I have awful feet”. We have to get away from looking at our bodies on the outside and thinking of how they are thriving on the inside. It can be a really really bad downside of losing weight when you start to obsess with things about your body you can not change, OK so some you can change with diet exercise, even surgery but don’t let anything detract from the amazing accomplishment you have made to shed weight in the first place, don’t forget how much better your body is functioning on the inside. Don’t depress yourself because you’ll wind up eating again and risk getting fat again and you’re not going to be happy if everything you’ve done was reversed and we know how fast it can be reversed. When I look at myself in the mirror I suck in and posture and say “Hell yeah, you’re looking amazing, look at those slim ankles, look at that glowing skin, look at that thick shiny hair, look at those gorgeous pearly teeth, look at your slender sophisticated hands, look at the you that was hiding under all of that fat” and I slap my still slightly wobbly bum and turn that to the mirror.
Another downside is people’s comments about your size. This is a real downside. It’s like when you’re pregnant and people feel they have a right to say “Aren’t you massive?” or to touch you without asking first. It happens when you’ve lost weight. It’s like you trade the insults and jokes about your weight from people you didn’t know for constant comments from people you do know. People suddenly feel they have a right to ask a lady her weight, her dress size, how much she’s lost, when she’s going to stop and to comment with things like “you need to stop now, you’ve lost enough now, you’re looking ill, you don’t look like you anymore” and let’s just forget the ones who say behind your back “she’ll put it back on in a year she always does”… those ones need a swift jab in the eyes.
Nobody cares about anything else anymore, all they want to know is how much you lost and how, some of them want you to write them a diet plan, some want you to cook for them, some to come and steal your trainer sessions, you become weight loss guru and they either put you on a pedestal or they can’t cope with the threat of the new you and abandon you like trash. I think this is why I’ve kind of migrated towards relationships with my friends who are also trying to change their lives, either through weight loss or anything else, learning new skills, retraining, finding new jobs, exercising more.. these friends get me and don’t talk to me all the time about losing weight. We mention it but it’s not ALL we talk about and it’s not the first thing we talk about when we see one another. It’s at the point now where I dread seeing anyone I know who hasn’t seen me in a while I just know the first thing they’ll say is “Haven’t you lost weight? Oh gosh I didn’t recognise you” and I’ll have to retort with “Well you did otherwise you’d not have screamed my name across the supermarket so that everyone in here turned to look at me”. You just wish that once in a while someone you know would see you and say “How are you and the kids doing?” just like the old days when they didn’t say “Hi, aren’t you fatter than last time I saw you?” or “So I see you’re still massive then”
The other downside is that guys think you’re hot, everywhere you go guys are chasing you down, throwing flowers at your feet, sending facebook requests – you are in demand. Well not quite, for some maybe but you do notice that single guys you’ve maybe known a while suddenly see a photo of you someone tagged on FB (I hate that) and next thing you get a message asking if you’re doing anything Saturday and you have to send back a message saying “Yes I’m on a date with my beautiful boyfriend who had the foresight to ask me out before I cross trained my way off the fat bench”.
The other problem closely related to this is your girlfriends suddenly see you as hot too and they panic whenever you are around their men folk. You are no longer the safe fat mate who they can take anywhere or who they can leave alone with their man or who they take along just to make themselves feel thinner. What do they call it? The DUFF… dull ugly fat friend… seriously slim people see us fat people like that and whats worse we didn’t even realise it until we lost weight, we thought they were really our friends. This isn’t some juvenile only thing, this happens with middle aged women too, there are bitches alive and kicking out there at all ages. I really hate this one though, it’s like your friends, people you called FRIEND think that because you’ve lost 150 pounds you want to destroy their marriage or suddenly you find their whimpy boring idiot husband remotely attractive. Harsh? You bet I am! This is so upsetting when it happens. It suddenly becomes your fault that their husband says to them that you look good even when you’re miles away, or he says that maybe they should think about getting in shape again.
That is not your fault and don’t you dare feel guilty about it if it happens to you because that shit is not your fault. If your friend stops inviting you over or wants to kill you because their husband who they insisted you add on facebook while you were fat happens to like a picture of you now you’re not… even if it’s a picture you didn’t put there, it is her fault, his fault, anyone’s fault but yours. Sadly to some of your friends you will become the biggest flirty ho bag ever to walk the Earth because you lost some weight and got in shape and even if you have a lovely man in your life, that doesn’t exclude you from your expulsion from friendship groups. Sometimes I wish Nick would just hurry up and propose so that these idiots see us as more official and stop worrying. But then I don’t see why he should be rushed into something he’s clearly waiting for a very special time for (pft) by people who hate me because I’ve lost some weight. Oh yeah, because I also forget that as soon as you lose weight, another downside, you suddenly lose all of your morals and become a marriage wrecker and your years of friendship mean nothing and yes, you really can not keep your pants up for more than ten minutes. Upside of this, Christmas list shrinks and birthday calendar frees up some slots and when the wedding does come… Nick reads this so I’m told so excuse me a second while I get needy with the hints… ring, diamonds, ring, proposal, waiting, only joking when I said I wouldn’t do it again.
Honestly we went to a former colleague’s house for dinner a few nights ago and we both could feel the tension. Every time her husband, who I’ve known longer than I’ve known her, laughed at something I said we could feel the draft from her kicking him under the table. It’s not even flattering, years ago the bitch in me would have played on it and had him eating strawberries out of my cleavage but now I’m mature I can’t be bothered and my dresses are more expensive. I just find it very sad and very disappointing that my friend pool is diminishing at a time when it should be expanding as I become more social. But then it’s not diminishing because I have better quality friends now, I know who the real ones are and I also have met lots of lovely new ones through my activities so that’s not such a bad thing, we don’t need negative people in our lives do we?
On that note I shall say keep on going or start going if you are losing or wanting to lose weight. The downsides are few compared to the masses of positive effects, the longer life being the best one, the non irritable bowel, the lack of heartburn, the unswollen liver, nice clear wee, solid sleep, energy, flexibility, mental alertness, even my memory has improved, better hair, better skin, better nails, better teeth, reduced blood pressure, reduced water retention, reduced risk of diabetes reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, increased libido, cheaper clothes, being able to get out of the bath, being able to do a home pedi, knowing if you’re ready for a bikini wax without using your selfie camera… OK so that last one was TMI but don’t not lose weight because of the downsides just prepare yourself to deal with them, some of them can really piss you off.
I read this article today in The Guardian which suggests so. But when you read do bear in mind that it is written by a fat is fine activist who believes that some of us are just designed in a way that we naturally carry fat and that doesn’t mean we are not fit and healthy, it’s just a body shape thing.
I’ve long suspected that some of us are just naturally fat. Just like we accept that some people are naturally thin, those who can not gain weight, but we are less accepting of the concept of people being naturally fat. I even came out with a theory that within primitive society some of the village folk would have been naturally fat so that in the event of famine or a longer than anticipated hunt, those people would be able to last longer, feed the village babies for longer and just keep things ticking along long after the skinnies had flagged.
A couple of things sprung to mind as I read this article and the first was excuses. I know it’s going to be seen as harsh but I know that I’ve used all of the excuses in the book for remaining fat… and I was what could be termed a healthy fattie. I have never had the usual weight related health issues that we hear of in the news, in fact I have a few friends who have not had them either and so we do have to question if they really exist. Yet the research suggests they do. The problem is, I don’t think the health risks with fat lie in the here and now while we are young I think they lie in the future and whatever we want to say to dress it up, if the only thing affected by fat is our mobility then that’s enough to worry about. Mobility becomes a major issue in later life for many and fat doesn’t do a lot to make us more mobile. It’s a struggle to get up from lying to sitting and sitting to standing for most fat people, even the fit healthy ones like me and the young ones. I know when I’ve really regretted being fat the most is when I’ve had surgery and I have undoubtedly struggled with recovery more than a slim person would have, mobility being one of the biggest issues. I’ve worried that in older age my weight would impact on my enjoyment of life due to this issue alone. That’s without even going into the data on cancer and diabetes and high blood pressure.
But we are good at making excuses and fat people, like smokers and drinkers and gamblers are guilty (I am guilty) of finding reasons not to change and of convincing ourselves that we are happy and healthy and I really do envy those who are truly happy and who do not have concerns for their future health and mobility but I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t ever motivated to lose weight to look good, for me it really all has been about health and mobility, it’s been about feel good, emotional and physical. As the author of this piece implies that I’m in denial and I’m just a victim of media induced stereotypes regarding body shape and I don’t really want to lose weight for health reasons because I’m already healthy, I’d have to take exception with her opinion. I am not doing what I am doing to conform to a physical stereotype at all, I want to feel ‘right’ and I don’t feel right just yet and certainly didn’t feel right when I was 150lbs heavier than this.
I take exception to fat bashing, I really do and do feel that it is the last permissible discrimination but we shouldn’t be bashing each other. Fat people who can’t lose weight down treading the efforts of those who are doing it and questioning the motives and those of us who can lose weight making sweeping judgements about those who say they are happy to be fat. Yet we do. We take sides in the fat debate even though we are fat. I’m guilty and I don’t want to be but when my motives are attacked I go on the defensive, I’m a human being after all, fat or not.
Anyone following me knows I have a rough final goal of hitting a higher end normal BMI and maintaining around there. I’m almost there and I know I can get there I know that even though I have kidded myself I’m naturally fat and that I can’t ever be slim as excuses in the past along with the ‘happy as I am’ mantra… although if I’m honest I don’t believe I’ve ever said I was happy as I was when I was fat, I’ve probably said I’m just going to accept that this is who I am but I don’t even think I’ve believed that. I’ve always been aware of the potential impact on my health. I may not have diabetes or cancer or heart disease but I did have heart burn and indigestion and IBS and anxiety and depression and irregular painful periods and a whole list of other ailments which are not so readily associated with being overweight. I know lots of overweight people who are happy with their weight but complain of all or some of those same conditions while stating they are healthy and I know that those conditions can be cured with a good diet, weight loss and improved fitness. I know this because I don’t suffer from them anymore.
Anyone who follows me also knows that I don’t like BMI for the very reason that it doesn’t take into account everything, especially people who have stronger, dense more heavy muscles and those who just weigh heavy. I come from a family which weighs heavy, tall, skinny size 8 ladies weighing 11 stone are not unusual in my family so I know that BMI is not ideal as a measure. BUT, this is where I have complied with ‘the norm’ and sold my fat soul to the devil in that it IS the measure used by doctors, by life insurers and health insurers and as such if I want a good deal I have to comply. That’s not necessarily a good thing but I need to be out of that obese zone for more reasons than health and appearance, I don’t want to be obese and here we lead into another issue… when does fat stop and obese start?
At the moment I’m in the overweight category on the BMI scale and anyone following me knows how much I wanted to get into this category more so even than the normal band. No longer being obese, morbidly obese or super morbidly obese was to me a really big deal for my health and happiness not for my appearance. At this point I am super fit, super healthy and super happy so I guess I should stop and just content myself with being overweight yes? The problem with that is I don’t want to stop living healthy and eating healthy. I want to do it for life and the consequence of that is that I lose weight because I am overweight in spite of the fact that I’m happy and healthy and fit and I don’t have any health problems whatsoever.
There will come a point when I don’t lose weight anymore, it’s not like I am starving myself, I eat a lot and some of that is fat, I’m a butter, eggs, full fat dairy consumer, hard cheese is a staple for me yet I’m losing weight because I am carrying excess fat that is not natural for me at all, it’s entirely unnatural and that’s why even though I am not calorie counting I am losing weight. I can’t kid myself any longer, the proof is happening to me every day. Will I have a breakdown if I stop losing weight and am not within a normal BMI? No of course not, I’ll accept that’s my ideal weight and I’ll settle there, I’ll accept that I’m meant to have a thicker waist and slightly chubby cheeks and I’ll be happy with that knowing that I’m healthy. I won’t care that I can’t wear a size 6 dress, that doesn’t bother me at all, I’ll know that I’m where I’m meant to be and I’ll be satisfied.
People who are overweight and happy with their size and who are convinced that their weight is having no detrimental effect on their health are possibly correct but obese people telling themselves the same thing are maybe not being totally honest with themselves. As much as people like me are challenged as being deluded by the author of the piece, I’d say obese people who think that their weight is not going to have an impact on their physical health are deluded. I think that’s fair, we’re entitled to a bit of retaliation when under attack especially when broad sweeping accusations about our motivations are made.
Overweight and obese are not one and the same thing. It might be healthy to be a little overweight and my fat person in the village theory would hold with that, but to be obese is not to be healthy, I really don’t believe that and I think we need to differentiate between the two. I know you can be obese and not have the big nasty life enders that we hear about as I’ve done it but I also know that being obese is not being healthy, there are a whole host of health issues, physical and mental which accompany it which only get talked about when the weight starts to come down. That to me is denial.
We all want to be normal, the problem is we don’t know what normal is. Overweight people who are happy with their size feel normal, slim people who are within a normal BMI feel normal, obese people who are struggling with weight loss say they feel normal… as long as we are honest with ourselves about what our idea of normal is then we’re all happy and shouldn’t be judging one another or making assumptions about motivations to lose weight or to stay fat. The choice is ours. Happiness is the most important thing in life and if some people are happy being fat then that is wonderful, I was never happy being fat, I experienced happiness as a fat person but I was never happy with me, not deep down. I felt I was missing something, cheating myself of something, endangering my life and that’s why I lost weight, not because I wanted to look good in a bikini or to attract a man.
The article reports findings which support the ‘fact’ that being overweight can help you live longer and is actually a healthy state and if that’s really the case then I’m going to be a happy bunny to reach my normal a little sooner than I planned. This kind of research definitely will help me to be satisfied if I settle ten pounds or so above the dictated normal for my height and will confirm what I already know, that being healthy, being happy, being fit and well is possible if you are a few pounds over weight and you might even be the village saviour if the food all runs out. What I worry about is that this article will encourage people to be happily obese and unhealthy, maybe not now but in the future and that it will detract from their quality of life.
My first post on this blog was made on 5th April 2014 and it kind of dealt with how I was sick of being so fat, sick of not having a life, sick of going to bed thinking I was not going to survive the night and sick of worrying about leaving my kids alone too soon. It stated how I was determined to change my life for the better. Subsequent posts revealed how I didn’t want to just lose weight, I wanted to get fitter, engage more with life, be a better person, be happier, get healthy and make changes forever which would help me to beat what I called my ‘fat demon’ and break a lifetime yo-yo cycle of gaining and losing weight once and for all. I wanted to get to the root causes of my issues with food and weight and deal with them. It was now or never.
A year on, reading through those early posts for the first time since they were written I hear my old self in my writing but she is someone I don’t really recognise anymore, someone I’ve moved so far from that I even had trouble relating to her. That shocked me. It shocked me how much we can change as people in just one year, just by altering our lifestyle. How we can forget so quickly how we felt and transition into our new way of life. I think it’s a good thing that we can change and move on, I really wouldn’t want to carry the doom and gloom of my 2014 self around constantly, it would be as restrictive as carrying the weight I’ve shed around. But I really don’t want to forget how miserable I was and how hard I’d made my life. I thought that I could recall how bad I’d felt but reading back makes me realise I don’t come close to remembering at all. For that reason alone it has been worth charting my progress through this blog because I know now that I will never be able to forget how it felt because I can go back and read how it felt, at the time, for me. I can remind myself of myself and nothing will be more powerful than that.
This blog will make sure I never forget that person because if I forget her I have a chance of becoming her again and I do not want to become her again. I don’t have to relate to her, in fact the less I relate to her the less I’m likely to become her again. I’ve never been under any false illusion that this transition is a one off, short lived, time limited thing, I know it will be ongoing for the rest of my life and I know that there ill be times when sinking back to her may be tempting. I’m strong now but I’m not stupid, I know that something could send me spiraling back out of control and just being mindful of that, having things to remind me how that felt should I feel myself falling will help me to win over the compulsion that still exists inside me somewhere to use food to self destruct.
But positives…I can’t even list the amazing things that have happened in my life since I first wrote on this blog. I couldn’t begin to share the knowledge I’ve acquired about food, exercise, physical health, mental health, holistic well being in general and about how all of those things make me who I am and change who I am every day. I’ve experimented with food groups, cooking methods, recipes, home growing and fermenting and now we have chickens and fresh eggs.
I’ve experimented with exercise starting with walking and stepping from one foot to another I’ve tried out so many new things including swimming (which I only learned to do properly this last year and has now become one of my favourite pass times), tai chi, cross fit, climbing, pilates and I’ve even managed a little run or two and am now getting to grips with yoga. All of the experimenting pays off for me because it gives me a wide varied repetoire of activity which I can slot into a day no matter where I am or how busy I am or even if I’m not well or injured, I can do some activity, some form of movement which enhances my general state of well being and makes me feel good about myself and keeps my body moving. That’s all exercise is, I’ve learned that… it’s just moving however you can and however you want to and however you enjoy doing it. I do have a routine when it comes to seriously working out and keeping in shape because I need that in my life and I enjoy it and I get so much that I need mentally from it besides needing the discipline of a routine. However beside that I also have this huge bag of activities i can dip into when I feel like it for fun, pleasure and even just to enhance my mental state, to take away stress or give me thinking time or just to give me an energy boost.
The same with food, all of the trial and error and experimenting has kept my body on its toes, I’ve tried a few approaches and each new one has taken me a step towards finding an eating plan which suits me perfectly which makes me feel energised, satisfied and well. But it all came about through trial and error, this has been a year of experimentation for sure. It also came about from advice and links and reading blogs so again blogging has really had an impact on my success.
I’ve also delved deep into my past. My upbringing and my relationships with people throughout my life and found how those relationships have influenced my relationship with food and I’ve looked in to myself and found a way to love me and accept me and to stop self destructing with food and to stop thinking food is my friend when it’s actually not. I’m more open with my feelings more expressive and demonstrative a better mother friend and lover and I’ve learned that it’s OK to take from those relationships now and then to lean on people who love me at times just as I love them to lean on me when they need a hand.
Besides all of this I’ve changed how I work and what I do for a living and had the courage to do something I wanted to do for a long time. I’ve learned new skills and developed a professional confidence that other people always thought I had but I never really did. I’ve started a fabulous relationship and my kids are positively thriving and definitely benefiting from all of the changes either directly or indirectly. Their habits have changed and they’re healthier, sleeping better, doing better generally and they are benefiting from having a much happier, healthier mum who is engaging with life now instead of hiding and waiting to die. I think I’m far more fun to be around and they don’t say it but I’m sure they are relieved that they don’t have to worry about my health now.
I guess more than anything since this blog began I’ve learned to just relax, enjoy life, be me and let myself go with relationships (including those with food and things as well as people), not to question myself, not to doubt myself or to be so hung up on what other people think of me. I feel like losing the weight has just freed me from the hell I’d allowed myself to sink into, or even purposefully put myself into. I think I’ve become more conscious of myself whilst becoming less self conscious. That may sound weird but I think there is a definite difference between the two.
Life is good and I’m so glad that I documented this past year and so glad that I went through everything I went through to get me to here. I’m feeling strong and ready for my challenges in the coming year and can’t help but get excited about whatever is in store for all of us.