I’m trying to be all healthy and active and whatnot

I Read A Lot of Internets

a post i’ve written at least a thousand times

I’m overweight.

Writing that out is really weird and honestly I think I have an easier time saying it than typing the words.

My BMI puts me firmly in the overweight category, though I don’t put much stock in the BMI. We can look around and see that these categories are very questionable and they really don’t say much, if anything, about a person’s actual health. I am actually leaning toward the obese category and while I will admit to some bad habits that have led to weight gain, I just don’t consider myself obese. I think.

Herein kind of lies the problem.

I was a ballet dancer and, not surprisingly, that really messed with how I ate, how I viewed myself, and how I viewed others. Much of my worth as a dancer (and, therefore, myself) was tied up in whether or not my instructors thought that I was thin enough.

Ultimately, I was fired from my first dancing job for being too fat. At the time, I believed them, but looking back at pictures of me from that time, and knowing that I was maybe 105 lbs. (I’m 5’4″) makes me realize that maybe they were a little…insane. What was especially upsetting about that firing was that they had told me at the beginning of my time there that I needed to lose a lot of weight. And I worked really really hard to get down to their standards. My body just couldn’t do it, though. I’m really just not cut out to be 95 lbs. (which is where I needed to be for them) and be able to, like, dance or sit upright or whatever.

But it wasn’t just that instance that gave me trouble. Because I started dancing when I was very young, I’ve been concerned about my weight and/or actively dieting since I was six or seven years old. Yes, I’m serious.

After I was fired from that dancing job, I decided that ballet wasn’t for me, after all. I wasn’t looking forward to having to move every year and always worrying about having a job. And I realized that my weight would always be an issue and, frankly, I was hungry. After I quit, I kind of just reveled in being able to eat whatever I wanted. I had many happy reunions with hot fudge sundaes that I hadn’t seen in years.

But that lifelong deferral to what someone else determines “thin enough” has stayed with me. I KNOW that it’s all about what you feel comfortable with and what is right for you, but for the most part, my brain believes that there is an objective standard. I’ve been working really hard to shake that belief off, but it’s really hard shutting up a voice that’s been in your brain since you were a kid.

I’ve gone back and forth between wanting desperately to meet this standard that I’m so sure exists and just doing whatever I want. Obviously, what I need to do is find some middle ground where I look out for my health but celebrate my body for what it is.

Lately, I’ve been doing whatever I want. Part of the reason for this is because I have too much going on in life and I know that I don’t have time or energy to obsess over my diet and weight the way that I know I will. As of two weeks ago, I was very, very close to my 9-months-pregnant weight. Granted, I had my son in my early 20s and I’m 30 now, so some extra pounds are to be expected. But I’ve been blatantly ignoring what I eat and how much simply because it is comforting to not think or worry about it.

The thing is, I’ve gone through this cycle many times before. Most recently, in late 2007. After I did Weight Watchers for a few months and lost about 15 pounds, other stuff got in the way and I abandoned the diet. I told myself that if I ever worked on losing the weight again, I wouldn’t publicly declare it because going back and reading several series of posts that go through that predictable process of, “I just started Weight Watchers (again) and I feel great! -> I’m still on WW and I’ve lost this much! I love being healthy! -> I know I haven’t mentioned it in awhile but I’m still kind of doing WW and it’s alright. -> What diet?” is kind of embarrassing.

But here it is: I started Weight Watchers again last week and I’ve lost a few pounds. Whoopee. I’m not setting any expectations for myself and I’m not going to beat myself up if, in the middle of the semester, I realize that I just can’t deal with this right now and I need a pie.

So why am I mentioning it? I don’t know. Because I guess I hope that someone understands.

28 comments to a post i’ve written at least a thousand times

  • i understand. i would think about 90% of women understand.

    that said–good luck staying on the wagon. WW is a good program and you CAN do it.

  • Baltimoregal

    For what’s it’s worth, I have seen you in person don’t think you’re fat. Curvy, yes. But not even overweight. Are you heavier than you used to be? Sounds like it. But you were in your 20s and in college! Everybody was thin then, even me.

  • MeL

    I have been “thin” twice in my life. Once was in high school, after I was obese first. (My mother slipped me her fen-phen scrip on the sly to get me going. Fucked up much?) and then I made with the exercise. The second time was before I got married. I got down to a trim size 8 on my 5’8-ish” frame and found out later my family was giving my new husband the inquisition AT OUR RECEPTION to find out if I was “eating enough”. No wonder, then, that I have issues. Obsessing over weight is the most popular pastime in my family! That said, I’m learning to do myself up whatever my size, and as long as I’m happy with hair and makeup, I find I can keep the weight in perspective most of the time. I’m still conscious of my 50-lbs-baby-weight left to lose, but I’m giving myself permission not to obsess over it.
    And I thought you looked spectacular, by the way. :)

  • I totally understand. I’m on that up and down weight rollercoaster with you. I too have been on Weight Watchers before (twice actually) so I know it works. And I know it’s tought to stick with. But you can do it. You really can.

  • NGS

    Oh, I do wish you luck. It’s awful to wake up and not be happy with the way you look. Don’t be too hard on yourself and keep reminding yourself that every small change is worth it!

  • I wasn’t a dancer but still began to seriously obsess about weight when I was seven. Being thin is a cultural obsession.

    We should toss out the BMI. According to that chart, I am OBESE. You’ve seen me. Obese is not a word anyone would choose to describe me. Fuck the BMI.

    You, dear, are beautiful.

    And I wish you luck with the weight maintenance. Even mentioning it makes me want to run to the chocolate gelato I’ve got in the freezer.

  • well, i totally understand & get what you are saying. i’m at the highest peak of my weight of all time, and trying to scramble to figure out how i got here & how i’m going to get back… in some kind of sustainable way.

    barfffffffff

  • I understand. I loved ballet with a passion in my pre-teen/early teen years. But with the boobs and weight I had even back then, I just didn’t have the right body for it, no matter how technically adept I was at it.

    I’m on my 3rd go round with WW. I know it works, it worked before. But the difference for me this time is that I’m just doing it for me. It’s my time and$ spent just on myself. Not my son, husband, family, friends, work, school, etc. Just me.

    It’s kind of nice to finally have a little bit of time and energy set aside for myself.

    I don’t know that I’ll ever be “normal” weight, or actually if I even want to be that thin. But I do want to be able to run around and play without my joints hurting or having an asthma attack. So I’ll keep plugging away at it.

  • I think it’s great that you finally posted your experiences. Not because someone else might relate, but because it’s a declaration to yourself. Good luck!

  • I’m about to start round &*$#%^*& on WW. I have lost 25 pounds on it twice. Each time I got to that point I got pregnant. Since that’s not happening this time, perhaps I have a chance. I’ll be there when the next campus session starts in a couple of weeks. (Gah, I hope I’m not wrong about that.)

    I’m also hovering dangerously close to where I was when I delivered my kids. That scared the shit out of me, then I promptly went to find a brownie so I’d feel better. Now I’m realizing I will have no clothes that fit when the weather starts getting colder. Like NO PANTS. Might be kinda chilly. Shit.

    The iPhone app for eTools sucks, but it’s better than nothing.

  • Dean J

    Awesome to read, and a huge step. :-)

    I hate to say it, but the reason Weight Watchers doesn’t work is that it’s not a permanent change for most people. If you return to the eating and exercise habits that you had when you started, you’ll return to the body you had when you started.

    Permanent change is *tough*. I’ve tried to gain weight for years, as I have a pretty horrible body image from being kicked around in school as the lanky kid.

  • Bolt

    I feel like I’ve mentally been in the same place as you. My last rendezvous with Weight Watchers was in the beginning of 2008 when I lost 25 pounds. And those 25 pounds have stayed off. After moving here and working 7 days a week, it got to 35 pounds, but only very briefly. From there, it’s since been creeping back up. Only know have I re-hit my 25 pounds lost weight (which I keep reminding myself is SO MUCH better feeling for my than my high weight), I still feel as if I’ve completely lost control and it’s inevitable that it will all come right back on and that scares me more than I can put into words. So now, albeit in a loose way, I’m trying to consider what I’m eating and trying to divorce my love for ice cream (OMGZ) and trying to get off of my ass more. I’m hoping that I can get to a place where I FEEL as if I’m in control again. Ultimately, I’m aiming to lose more weight (I have my heart set on another 25 pounds, which would put me well into the “normal” BMI weight range), but I just need to stop the weight where it is before I have a mental breakdown. Ugh. It sounds so ED of me to voice the desire for control, but I liked being in control of my weight. I also liked generally not thinking about what I was eating and having that not negatively impact my weight. I guess it’s apparent that I took that notion a bit far…. ugh!

  • You are not fat. You are likely not even overweight. BMI charts were creating by the insurance industry the deny people life insurance. I am keenly aware of what is a normal weight range, I am diabetic and have suffered from bulimia since I was about 12. We need to redefine what is healthy. I know that there is an OBESITY EPIDEMIC! aiiiiigh!!!! I think the key is moderation, which I would never say is easy. I have to admit my bias against weight watchers or any organized diet plan. Counting does not work. WW will not release any statistics on success or sustainable results of their program. If you want to know what it right for you to eat, spend the money and see a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Totally my opinion. I think you are smart and gorgeous and awesome.

  • Dealing with the complexity of weight, self-esteem, a woman’s body, social pressures, insurance companies, physicians, peer groups, children, partners, and all of the other triggers that exist in this world profoundly affects not only the body we have but the way we love it.

    I am an unapologetic fat positive person. I think that it’s safe to say that you know this. While I was in Arizona with my family a few weeks ago, I had to field daily complaints and declarations of woe from everyone but my father (my mom and my two aunts). Funny that my father, though he has “struggled with his weight” his entire life, didn’t really say much. Lucky bastard. But my aunts and my mom, JESUS CHRIST. The endless spewing of self-denigrating quips and phrases was overwhelming. At one point, while my mother made some sort of hopeless and hapless complaint about her fat ass, I said to her, “SO WHAT? So what if you died tomorrow? What if you died in this body, miserable, depressed, hating every square inch of you. So what if you did? Would you be happy about that? Would you be happy to know that the last batch of memories I had of you were that you hated yourself because you weighed 215lbs? And are you so selfish to think that those are the memories I have actually created WITH you? Yup, just me and my fat mom!”

    The answer is so clearly NO. I understand the compulsion and even the necessity to lose weight, for health reasons and even just so my breasts don’t thud against my rib cage hard enough to break something when I run. I don’t think that women should align their sense of self worth with their weight, however. I wish you all the best in this journey, and I do sincerely hope that somewhere along the way, you find your ability to look at your thighs, in whatever condition they might be, has nothing to do with the love you have for yourself as a beautiful perfect-in-every-way human being.

  • jen

    yeaaaah. feelin this.

    I’ve never even worked up enough effort to start dieting. I’ve been saying since spring I’m going to fast (for purely health related reasons) and there is always one reason or another why its not a good time.
    Over the past month i have made small steps here and there to change my patterns and habits, hopefully for the long term.

    I’m pretty sure I’m totally over comparing myself to other people- not sure if its because I’ve lived in this body for so long and i am genuinely ok with myself, or ive fooled myself enough to think i am ok.

    for me, its all about health and well being- i dont want to spend my life riddled with disease and sickness, i cant afford that shit.

    go steelers. as always, you rule!

  • Mary

    *hugs*

    According to the BMI scale, I am also overweight. I weigh 170 pounds. (I am also 5’4″.) Future Husband insists that I am “a tiny girl,” and that he loves me just the way that I am, but damn if I don’t feel like I need to drop about 30 pounds. But when I look in the mirror, I have no idea where it could come from.

    I am currently actively choosing to believe that my excess weight is due almost entirely to strong muscles, and thus I can move and lift a lot more stuff than I look like I can. I like that.

    (PS. This is not to shame you in any way, or to make you feel bad, but Ruth and I have been going to free aerobics over in Whitfield Hall every week, emphasis on free. If you want to join us, I’ll send you the info.)

  • Jenn

    I wish you lots of luck! It’s tough to make the changes in your life that will result in healthier living.

    One tool that I’ve really enjoyed and benefited from is sparkpeople.com

    I hope that you find the path that is right for you.

  • i completely understand. and am delurking after 2 years of reading to tll you good luck, but you are a beautiful woman and wonderful writer, and the bmi can suck it.

  • I so understand. And I think you’re one of the most gorgeous women I know, outside and in.

  • juli

    this is a hot topic in my part of the woods, i saw an injuried friend last week that had lost 95 lbs and i was insanely jealous of him so i fed him this amazing chocolate cake and put cherries on it to keep from feeling guilty. i want to try WW put am poor and unable to afford such things. also i work until 9pm every single night of my life, who wants to cook at 9:30pm? does WW have a plan for such people that live on hotpockets and chicken? i wish you much luck, you are not overweight, if you’d like to see overweight i’ll show it to you.
    (ps, how did the driving test go?)

  • If you get to a point where you’re all WW + “I feel great!” you have to tell me how you did it. I did WW for over a year to lose 28lbs and I hated the whole thing with a fiery passion the entire time. The program works, no denying it, but it’ll never beat out a hot fudge sundae for me, or even a creamy carbonara sauce. I’m back up about 7lbs so I’m half assedly back on program trying to get back down. So my misery is happy for your company!

  • American’s have a psycological trouble with the word “lose”. Consentrate on the things you”ll “gain” by healthy diet and excercise. I Love and miss you much!
    p.s. sorry if i just butted-in on a chick conversation. lol But i think about my weight every day. I have 6 sisters :)

  • Speaking as a sighted person who has seen you IRL, I have to say that “overweight” would not be a word I’d use to describe you in a goddamn million years. I mostly noticed how covet-worthy your hair was. And your eyes. Um, hi. I promise I am not trying to get in your pants. (OR AM I?)

    I hope you reach a place where you feel happy & positive. As long as that place is nowhere near 95lbs, because HOLY SHIT OMFG NO.

  • kent williams

    It’s vastly more important to work on good eating habits and a healthy diet in general than to care what you weigh. If you eat well, get some moderate exercise regularly, and get enough sleep you will be healthy.

    I’ve been overweight pretty much since I started working a desk job. I’ve been very slowly losing weight over the last few years, just based on changing diet and habits. I weigh nearly 100 pounds over my ‘optimum BMI’ still.

    More disturbing to me is how weight affects women’s self-image. Men might be vain about how they look, but there’s no way a man (a straight man, at least) would ever engage in the sort of self-loathing many women do over their weight. It isn’t fair, and while one can’t control one’s feelings entirely, one should work to break free of the externally imposed toxic perceptions.

  • I understand.

    Ohhhhhhh how I understand.

    And yet, I loathe myself and think you look good. Go figure.

  • I really understand. So very much.

    I’m starting WW too. There, I just typed it, that makes it official, right?

  • I understand.

    I’m overweight. I want to punch myself in the face. Except! The only thing I like about myself currently is my face. So I don’t punch myself. But I quit drinking pop/soda in the past two weeks, and I’ve been regularly busting my ass at the gym and drinking insane amounts of water. I’m hoping this pays off, because I hate avoiding mirrors. It makes me feel ridiculously coward like. I hate feeling like a coward.

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