This week as I have struggled to complete the second and third part of my ‘running story’, I have come across two different posts at a couple of my favorite blogs that tell stories of weight loss and body image from bloggers I wouldn’t necessarily associate with weight loss struggles. It reminded me of how my own weight loss history and body image differs from the perception many people have of me – and how it illustrates that there is often so much we don’t know about people.
Here is a bit from my ‘Weight Loss Story’ journey:
In terms of eating, it is easy to look back and say that I was doing ‘calorie restriction’ at an extreme level. I would have a slice of unbuttered toast and a half grapefruit without sugar for breakfast. Salad with non-fat dressing and rice cakes for lunch. And a very limited dinner – at times I would have one food group per day for dinner. All while running a couple of miles and playing basketball for about 20 minutes daily.
I was fascinated with the feeling of being hungry, convinced that it meant I was losing weight and doing the right thing so long as it was just a hungry, empty feeling and I continued eating 3 meals per day.
Cori at She’s Going the Distance (now TRY to get the song out of your head) wrote about how she found herself 30 lbs overweight and how she struggled with the weight and feelings that came from eating things she knew were unhealthy:
I’ve been asked before if I was ever “fat.” The answer is no, however, I was overweight and unhealthy for my body, height and frame. The picture above might not look that bad, but i was 30 lbs heavier than i am now, a full bra cup size larger and 6 dress sizes larger. Like I said, I wasn’t 100 lbs overweight or anything, but 30 lbs of pure excess weight is a lot when you’re not doing any type of exercise (and I gained it quickly in about 6 months).
The problem was I knew I was eating bad, eating late, and not exercising. The turning point (cause you know everyone has that A-ha! moment) was when I tried to button my “fat jeans” and they barely made the button hole. I turned to my then boyfriend and asked, “Have I gained weight?” to which he replied, “I mean, you’ve gained weight since we started dating.” <— yep, we broke up very shortly after that.
Laura at This is Thirty wrote a couple of great articles over the last couple of weeks – one about food judgment and the other about how she lost 100 pounds! Here is a bit of the first post, where she talks about taking weight loss too far and not focusing on health:
“When I was losing weight, the very thought of food was constantly lurking below the surface – it became a pervasive, almost threatening presence. For me, counting calories was an addiction – and nutrient deficient foods became my drug. Because of that, telling me that I was eating the wrong things or that I was hurting myself by putting artificial sweeteners into my body wouldn’t make me change my eating habits. But it certainly exacerbated my hyper-focus on food”
That reminds me of a conversation I had long ago – where someone said that they would love to find a food that tastes good, was filling, and basically traveled from your mouth to your butt (sorry!) with as little interaction with the rest of your body as possible. And while I didn’t say so at the time, isn’t that pretty much what MOST people looking to lose weight would like? Sure we want to eat healthy, certainly we want nutrition … but there are times when we would just like to feel nice and full … but without any consequences.
Life, unfortunately, doesn’t come without consequences. The good thing is that deciding you are going to eat one meal until you are so full you can’t move doesn’t come with permanent life-altering consequences – it just means you dumped a ton of calories into your body and need to deal with it.
But back to weight loss and body image – I remember seeing friends at a fraternity reunion in the fall of the year I lost weight (1989). Actually one of my ‘little brothers’ brought it up in a conversation last week as he was talking about how many years it took him to visually identify me as the ‘skinny Mike’ rather than ‘fat Mike’. At that 1989 reunion, my body was still ‘reshaping’ (consequences of extreme weight loss) so a common theme was my head looked too big for my body.
Through the years I have met loads of people with whom the topic of weight loss came up – and seldom do any of them look at me and easily believe I once weighed 375 pounds. They just can’t envision it. Which is good, but it doesn’t alter the reality that I still carry that person inside of me every day. I have had many people – even those who knew my history – make blanket statements about obese people and defining characteristics (similar to the professor at NYU recently).
It really has opened my eyes to the power of perception to shape reality.
We all have our own stories when it comes to weight, perception and body image. I have shared mine and will continue to do so, and I love the stories from Laura and Cori. I encourage anyone reading this to share there own on their blogs (or here) or to link to ones they have written – or even ones from other people that they’ve read. Sharing our experiences helps us all grow.
Also, since I am enjoying following so many of you on BlogLovin’ I wanted to get myself involved …