Ok, here’s what I don’t get. When you’re fat, nobody tells you that you are. When you lose weight, people initially encourage you, but then as you succeed with that continued weight loss, they admonish you and feel that they have the right to tell, command, order you to stop. People tell you that your continued efforts to maintain a healthy weight, your new body, your new found passion for health and fitness by being wise about what you eat is tantamount to disordered eating and that you need to stop it.
And THEN those same people spend half an hour chewing your ear off about how fat they feel and how they wish they had your will power. They say things like ‘all things in moderation’ and then post on facebook that they’ve eaten an entire box of chocolates! They tell you off for spending time at the gym and then say things like ‘I’m on a starvation diet for my holiday in 8 weeks’.
When you’ve lost weight and people notice, they feel within their rights to tell you ‘you look tired’, or ‘you’ve lost enough’ as if you yourself are not capable of determining such things.
When you’ve lost weight, people assume that you must be starving yourself, or subsisting on Special K, or SlimFast or Ryvita. Those same people claim to be ‘ on a diet’ and then facebook that they’ve eaten a small salad or a bowl of soup for their lunch and are now starving but will wait it out until dinner time.
This has been my experience this week.
I have been at a conference today of all my colleagues who work in my department. This was in excess of 300 people. Many of these people I haven’t seen for over a year. Several did not recognise me. Several did ‘double takes’. One particular individual who has a gastric band but tells everyone she developed a fast metabolism told me categorically not to lose anymore weight or I would ‘fall down a grid’.
In short, not one person had a positive comment to say – apart from one very lovely colleague who asked how I’d done it. Apparently I have become a weight loss/exercise evangelist of sorts because we were talking for aaaaaaages!
This is what I know to be true:
I have lost 40lbs.
I am fitter, healthier, leaner, more toned and motivated than I have ever been.
I am NOT eating disordered.
I do NOT starve myself.
I do NOT deprive myself of everything that I love and then binge in a moment of weakness.
I have found a way of eating that suits me.
I have found a place where I am happy in myself
I love exercise and count it as a priority in my life, but no higher a priority then friends and family.
My mental health is greatly improved
I am more joyful
I am more aware of my world and how I relate to it.
I CAN be and HAVE (in the past) been eating disordered
I CAN be prone to over-exercising
I am not there now! If only people could see behind the weight loss and see the good and significant psychological shift that has taken place in me. It’s taken an age to get here! A real battle and struggle!
I run because I love to run not because I am afraid of the calories I have consumed and must get rid of if I am to lose weight. I lift weights because I love the powerful feeling it gives me and how it sculpts my body, not because I am going for maximum calorie burn. I control what I eat by sticking to points, emphasising filling, clean foods and not overdosing on crap. I do not deny myself anything. Not denying myself any food/drink is not the same as giving in to temptation each and every day. Eating on ww means I continue to make healthy and sensible choices because I have gone too far to go back now and worked too hard. Plus I LIKE how my body feels and functions when it’s filled with health rather than utter sh*te.
I have been reflecting on external validation a lot this week and in particular what that means for me. I think I am someone who very much needs that external validation. I don’t mean compliments. I don’t mean to boost my ego. What I mean is, the picture of me in that green frock (last post) was at my dear friend Julie’s wedding. When I got dressed that morning I felt like I looked beautiful and slim and all ‘sex and the city’ for a fabulous occasion. I did not see the fat. When I compare it to a photograph of how I look now, I see it. I NEVER THOUGHT I WAS FAT. And sure, arguably I was never clinically obese etc butt his was my journey. I didn’t see what I had done to my body. I did not feel the hatred I expressed towards it in overfeeding and under-exercising it. It was a form of self harm. The worse about myself I felt, the more I ate.
I need that external validation in my life to reassure me. But it can only come from certain people. Friends are no good because (generally speaking) they never tell you when you’re fat and they are kind of obliged to tell you you’re hot and look good. Ditto for family members, ditto for significant others.
So, when people I respect tell me that I look good, it resonates and I feel confident and reassured, and this in turn helps quash the temptation to over do it, to just lose another half a stone, to just run another mile on top of everything else you’ve done today etc etc etc.
Last night at the gym I had run 5 miles outside, I then did BodyPump, I then swam a few lengths (about 20) to chill my legs out. As I was getting dressed I was (for the first time ever) brave enough in the changing room to stand in my underwear. I caught sight of myself and thought ‘you can go on holiday in April with the girls and be pleased with that body’. Almost immediately, that rational thought was replaced with ‘But you thought you looked ok last time you went on holiday, and look how you feel about those pics!’
Then I recalled ‘Perfect Gym Girl’ saying to me earlier that evening how good I was looking. I recall the yoga teacher saying my arms looked great. I recall my trainer saying that I am ‘definitely getting there’ in terms of changing body shape and tone and fitness. These are people whose opinions I respect, so it makes a difference. I know they’re not just bs-ing me.
I also remembered that this body just ran 5 miles and lifted some serious weights and does all I demand of it and then some.
And then I felt good.
So, despite all the haters today I choose to remember that what I have achieved is GOOD and not indicative of obsessive or negative behaviour.