I hope I don’t need to convince anyone that ‘fat talk’ is a terrible and self-esteem destroying habit, and one that is encouraged and perpetuated everywhere throughout society. This hits young girls and women hardest, but is not exclusive to them – boys and men are bombarded with images and messages that tie body shape to self worth on an increasing basis. From a very young age we are taught that a great deal of our overall worth is tied to our appearance and whether we are ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’.
As someone who was very obese when I graduated college and overweight for pretty much as long as I can remember before then, I will ALWAYS think of myself as fat – even though most of the last 25 years I have hovered close to 200 lbs. I am NOT fat, but that doesn’t concern that little voice inside of myself.
So when the word ‘skinny’ – and better still ‘SO skinny’ came my way THREE TIMES early this week … I was thankful, respectful, and uncomfortable. It was intended as a compliment – people from out of town who hadn’t seen me in a while were visiting as part of my old project and were remarking on how I looked, because the last time they saw me I was much closer to my early 2012 high of 275lbs . The comments were all positive and I took them as such, but I keyed on the word ‘skinny’ – because rather than looking ‘healthy’ or ‘good’, ‘skinny’ means ‘DEFINITELY NOT FAT’.
The problem is that I LOVE being called skinny, even though it isn’t a healthy thought.
It isn’t healthy because ‘thinspiration’ is disordered thinking, not a healthy pursuit.
It isn’t healthy because I am a runner and restricting means starving my body of needed fuel.
It isn’t healthy because I am a runner and improper nutrition puts me at a much greater risk of injury.
It isn’t healthy because I have a strong history of heart issues on both sides of my family, and although I was ‘cleared’ this year, not eating properly puts extra stress on your systems.
So those are some of the reasons I KNOW it isn’t healthy. And because I know that, and because I know that my weight and eating will ALWAYS be an issue … I am constantly vigilant. I monotor my eating – to ensure I am getting enough. This week I was eating almost the exact same stuff as I did just before Christmas, but felt hungrier – and so I was eating an EXTRA apple mid-afternoon to address that.
THE REALITY is that I am BY FAR the healthiest I have been in my life. I am in pretty incredible shape – I have changed up my eating habits to ensure the best intake of nutrients and balanced healthy foods I have ever done, I have maintained my running condition such that I remain in ‘half-marathon ready’ condition. But I am also the thinnest of my life – my pants are the smallest size I have ever worn, and all of my dress shirts now are fitted.
I have learned so much about myself, my body, my eating and my brain these last two years. I have never approached running or eating quite this way, and I like the results – my normal pace for my morning runs used to be 50% slower than it is today. And in the past I would work a ‘restrict & treat’ balance that was really not a good idea.
My goal is to maintain my running, my eating, and my health. I want to keep at it so these habits I have develop remain through my life – because I truly believe that I am adding years to my life through these healthy pursuits (or at least not taking years off!).
Which is why I had a big smile and unambiguously positive response when I saw a colleague yesterday from the project I worked on last year until August, who said:
“I don’t even have to ask if you have kept up with your running and eating … you look great!”
Fortunately I knew the person had dropped about 20 lbs so I could return the compliment, but I have to ask – is there a better compliment? I mean, who DOESN’T want to look great?
What do you think? Do you consider ‘skinny’ a compliment? How does hearing it make you feel?