Monday, August 30, 2010

{Public Service Topics}

I've had a couple of kind of serious posts swimming around in my head since I've been back from vacation.
School starts in three days though, so the big huge mind-blowing posts that I wanted aren't going to happen. These two issues are just so huge that I wanted to do them justice, promote discussion and sharing and all that good stuff.  So instead of big sophisticated planned posts, I'm just going to dive right in.

The first kind of serious post I've EVER written I want to be about the topic of Women and our weight issues.  Do we all have them?  I worked really hard this summer to lost the 15 pounds that had accumulated over the last year. I was in the gym constantly and moving constantly with the goal of feeling good for my vacation home.  When school let out in May I only had one pair of jeans I felt comfortable in and they were a size 14.  I have a ton of pants in a size 10, which is where I feel my best and just wanted to be able to wear them this summer.  I feel wonderful about myself and I feel strong when I'm regularly active!  I feel like I can take over the world and I swear I just walk different.

Side Note: Isn't it true that we always have more of our "skinny" clothes because that's when we love to shop?  I only own one pair of the size 14 jeans though because I don't really want to have to wear those jeans for very long. End Size Note.

So I got home from Vacation and all the motivation was just GONE.  I have a list of my reasons, including a full 3-credit summer class that I finished in 3 weeks, but I wasn't doing it 12 hours a day.  I totally could have made it to the gym too.  It's like the habit of going to the gym was broken and there was no way to put it all back together again.  It's been 4 weeks and I have yet to step foot back in to the YMCA. 

And when that happens, I notice the changes in my psyche.  I start feeling like I'm getting bigger again and all the guilt from each bowl of honey-nut cheerios (instead of oatmeal) or piece of apple pie (instead of a baked cinnamon apple) start to add up.  I notice an extra lump here and maybe these are tighter than the last time I put them on until one day I look in the mirror and start to cry.  I'm still wearing my size 10 jeans, but I just feel differently about myself.

Mr. Pie encouraged me to get on the scale again for the first time since I've been back from vacation.  In actuality I'm still the same weight I was when we left.  According to the scale that day I am exactly the same weight.  How is it my brain can distort my self images so completely? How is it I can not move, eat pretty much all the junk I want and not gain a single pound in a month?  I know the scale is a cruel master and it's not to be relied upon but wow.  I was so wrong when I thought I'd gained a bunch of weight. 

And that's the beginning of the cycle, isn't it? When I think I've gained weight, plus I've already been low on the motivation, then I just start eating crap because it's there.    Fall is the perfect combination of lots of circumstances for this attitude to hit me too!  The cooler weather calling on me to start baking, combined with the stresses and time constraints of school starting again and BAM!  I just stop caring about how I look.  At least then I'm not crying at the mirror, right?  Before long, I've gained the 15 pounds back on and just can't stand it anymore, so I renew my long-gone gym membership and it starts all over again.  Sigh.

I've heard comments about weight from friends all around me my whole life.  It doesn't matter what size they are, either! I used to think that if I could just be naturally thin like THAT friend, I wouldn't have worries like this, until one day I realized she stresses over 5 pounds like I stress over my 15.

Ladies.  We need to find a way to stop these cycles together.  I've gotten better, I suppose.  At one time it was more like 30 pounds to complete the cycle, not 15, but still.   It's a form of self-abuse, isn't it?  It's not mentally or physically healthy.

Let's talk about this!



  1. As a girl who just stepped onto her WiiFit Balance Board and heard it grunt at her, I feel your angst. Two years ago, I lost about 40 pounds that had accumulated from having 3 kids in 5 years. I've done a pretty good job keeping that weight off, only fluctuating 3-5 pounds. My biggest motivation usually comes from looking at my "big" picture. I pull that out and decide I don't want to look like that again. Then I get rid of all the snack foods in the house. :o) Good luck in your quest! If you figure out how to break the cycle, let me know. ;o) Thanks for sharing. Larri at Seams Inspired

  2. My mum and best friend have always struggled with these issues. Most people think I can eat what ever I want and never do anything. The sad truth is that it's a complete lie.
    Yes I eat a lot, and if I can I eat all the time I do, but I eat mainly the 'right' food.
    And I move a lot. I walk for an hour almost every evening and in the winter (when most people pack on) I'm at the gym about 3 days a week.
    Because of my mum's issues I try so hard... Looking at her almost makes me fear that I'll end up that way.
    I have a weight limit, 56 kg, which is my top weight at which I feel comfortable. My lowest weight is 54 kg, then I start to feel too skinny. I know it doesn't seem like much but believe me for my bone structure and height it's healthy.
    In school it was almost like people tried to get me to hate my body. Telling me that I had cellulite here and there, that my hips were too broad, my breast too big etc.
    To my luck I hated them more than I ever hated my body.
    The carpenter is really attentive and always compliments my body - because of him I now love my hips ('cuz he do) and don't mind my cellulite.

    If you solve this weight problem I'll nominate you for a Nobel peace prize

  3. I think there are two things we can do...

    1. Change the record that's playing in our head... the one you described very well. We need to change it do say We're beautiful, fit and healthy... and we have to beleive what we're telling ourselves.

    2. Find joy in the working out part. If we treat it like a chore, then we eventually loathe doing it and find something more fun to do... like knitting. :-)

    I used to practice yoga regularly. It was the fittest, leanest and strongest I've ever been. Then life changed and I couldn't find a class that worked with my schedule. Now several years later, I'm still not practicing yoga. It's not that I don't have the time... my time is very flexible these days. It the getting re-started that I think is the hard part.

    I love yoga, I love sweating, I love feeling fit. I don't love the small hurdle of getting back to that point.

    Thank you for this post. It's very good to think about these things.

  4. This is a really emotional issue for me; I have a pretty screwed-up relationship with food and body image. I don't have any answers, but I think it's great you're speaking out about it. :o)

  5. I think the big issue with weight conversations is that there are so many contrary expectations and ideals. There also is this weird sense of competition and envy. It's like there is an expectation that you will never be happy with how you look. It is socially acceptable to complain about ones appearance, but it isn't socially acceptable to be openly happy with how one looks and I think that definitely contributes to that pressure to keep improving ones appearance.

    As for breaking the weight loss/gain cycle, when I was at an unhealthy weight my family went on the South Beach Diet. It changed my eating habits which is something that stuck with me. I was pretty realistic with myself about my exercising inclinations. I went for occasional walks and always took the stairs (I was living on the 4th floor for most of the last year), but I didn’t try to work out regularly in order to lose weight because I knew that wasn’t something I would keep up. I could maintain new eating habits because that fit into my life easily in a way that making time to work out regularly wouldn't.

  6. Great post, it's an issue that's pretty much universal among women. Andi (above) said it: it's more acceptable to be unhappy with our appearance, than to be content with it. Sad. Of course, saying that doesn't make me any more accepting of my current weight/appearance.
    Do you mind if I link back to your post? It's pretty relevant to a post that I've been working on.

  7. Thanks for posting this, its like you read my mind sometimes, I just finished reading "Hungry" a memoir by the model Crystal Renn and it talked a lot about these issues and how the unhealthy relationship it seems that many people cultivate with food starts young. That our bodies have a happy place and we shouldn't fight that. The media tells us that skinny is beautiful but nobody should be making themselves ill over it.
    I second the proposal that if you solve this the nobel peace prize should be yours.

  8. Weight is an everyday struggle for most people I know. Probably because it is for myself as well. I was happiest at my skinniest because it gave me the courage to stand out, to be an exception to the rule, to say or do whatever I wanted because the sad truth is, society put up with me a lot better when I was skinny. I noticed that when I put on weight people noticed me just as much, just in a more negative light. Instead of "oh, look at that silly girl with the attitude, isn't she cute" became "who does she think she is? I can't believe she's doing that".
    So I believe we all want to feel accepted and it is much easier the prettier you are and having a toned, rockin' body helps. But that's just what society wants right now, bigger women back many moons ago were the ones that were envied. Being happy with ourselves as long as we're healthy is the most important thing.
    Love you Sarie
    PS. Nobel Prize, here we come!

  9. I feel really fortunate that I somehow skipped the weight obsession in my 20s. Unfortunately, about a year after I got married, in my mid-30s, I realized that I was really overweight and needed to do something about it. I then spent a few years wringing my hands and trying various strategies. Finally, I buckled down and lost 40 pounds in a few months (and kept them off for over a year). Yay! But I like to eat, and I figure that of all of the possible addictions out there, this is one of the least bad.

    My current strategy is to walk an average of 10,000 steps a day (about 4.5 miles), use portion control most of the time, stop at Starbucks only once or twice a week, and not stress over the occasional lapses. Oh, and don't look at photos of myself. I can't bear the thought of getting on a scale, but I do know that I can walk three or four miles in any kind of weather so I must be doing something right.

    Women in my family tend to be diagnosed with diabetes in their 50s.... that, for me, has been the scary monster lurking along the path, and it's of far greater concern to me than the way I look. I figure that a pretty smile, a warm affect, and an ability to make intelligent conversation are far more important than anything else.

    Sarah, you have so much going for you. You're smart, funny, creative, cute, have good family relationships, are blessed with a nice husband - no one besides you really cares about the number on the tag on your jeans; it's all that stuff in the first half of the sentence that matters to the people around you.

  10. I was a gymnast for many many years, and I used to blow off the idea that gymnasts stereotypically end up with eating disorders--until I finally came out of denial and admitted that I had one, for many many years. I didn't really shake it until I graduated from college, and even then there's always lingering demons.

    What I finally came to terms with was that it doesn't have to be all or nothing...either working out like crazy and dieting or giving up and eating whatever. As Andi said, it's got to be a lifestyle change, but it can be little things--I hate going to the gym, so I walk the dog several times a day and bicycle commute to work, occasionally take the 7 flights of stairs to my office. It just has become another enjoyable part of my day. Everyone has to find what works for them, sometimes it just takes a few tries to figure out what works for you specifically.