Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? Ummm, not me

I went to stores and tried on clothes the other day, so you know this post was practically automatically going to be about body image. It's a common misconception that when one (I used "one" instead of "someone" because I'm fancy like that) loses nearly 170 lbs, which is a good-sized person, one would feel good about how one's body looks. And obviously, duh, I feel much better about how I look than when I weighed 328 lbs. I mean, I'm not completely delusional. But I can't say I look in the mirror and think, "Damn, I look sexy today." Actually, I would say that I have never used the adjective "sexy" to describe myself. Adjectives that enter my head when clothed are "decent" or "pretty good." Adjectives that enter my head when looking at myself without clothes are somewhat less flattering and may involve me making an even less flattering face at my reflection.

I had hoped that when I got close to my goal weight, there would be a magical switch that would go off in my head and I would have confidence that I looked good. But the fact is, I'm a bit more than 20 lbs away from that goal, and the switch hasn't gone off. Being this close to my goal weight is great of course, but also has a side effect that I didn't foresee. Always before when I saw something I didn't like about my body, I could say it was okay because when I hit my goal weight, my body would look great. But I'm objective enough to know that now my body is pretty much looking how it's going to look at my goal weight. Yeah, losing 20 lbs may change it a little bit, but for the most part, this is my new body. This is how it's going to look. And I do have mixed feelings about that. I'm not a supermodel by any means. Losing 170 lbs leaves its mark. I wish I could be one of those people that is proud of every stretch mark and bit of loose skin, but I'm not at that point yet. It would be easy to to think that if I had skin removal surgery, I would love how I looked then. But remember, I thought the same thing about losing weight.  I'm slowly coming to realize that having confidence in how I look is much less about losing any specific amount of pounds or having surgery to remove the parts I don't like, and much more about accepting myself as I am, flaws and all. 

I wish I could have an attitude like my boyfriend Brian does. His attitude about his body was somewhat of a revelation to me. He likes his body, simple as that. Not in a cocky or arrogant way, but he just likes how he looks. He doesn't mercilessly mentally pick himself apart every time he looks in the mirror. What a concept! And what's more is, he likes my body. This was also a revelation to me because I had always assumed that anyone I was with would just kind of accept my body because they liked my personality, but that they wouldn't, couldn't, actually like my body. Like the first time Brian said that he liked my legs, I was thinking, "My legs?!? You mean those massive tree trunks I lug around?" But having him and and his healthy body image around has been good for me. Slowly but surely, I am starting to believe that maybe there are parts of me that aren't terrible, that maybe there are parts of me that could even be called beautiful. 

I think I'm also making some progress on being more realistic about what size I am. I've written before about how when I try on clothes, it takes 3 times as long as it should because I frequently start by trying on clothes that are 3 sizes too big since that is honestly how I see myself. But when I went shopping the other day, I grabbed mediums and size 8's because I know that that is probably the right size. Yeah, every now and then maybe I need a size 10 or a large or sometimes even a small because sizes can be crazy, but for the most part, I realize I need to try on an 8, not a 14 anymore. It is still an effort to get the right size because when I look at those clothes, it still seems like they would be way too small for me, like I am one of those delusional women that is trying on clothes in the size they want to be and not the size that they actually are. I even have this one pair of jeans that I own that I know fits great, but still every time I look at them on the hanger it feels like jeans that size could never fit me. 

Sometimes I beat myself up about having lost all this weight and still feeling ugly at times, even 2.5 years into this journey. But the truth is that I have undergone a massive transformation physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. It's not something you get used to overnight. I don't think it's unusual for it to take quite a while to be able to accept all those changes. And also, everyone feels ugly sometimes, no matter what weight they are, be it 100 lbs or 500 lbs or every weight in between. No one feels beautiful all the time. But eventually I would like to be able to look at myself in the mirror, both clothed and unclothed and not immediately see my flaws. I would like to be able to look in the mirror and just think, "This is me. I'm not perfect and that's okay. Those little bits of imperfection just show where I have been and help make me me. I am beautiful in my own way, not anybody else's, and that is enough. I am enough." That would be pretty awesome to be able to think that and mean it. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I did indeed gobble till I wobbled

I admit it, I had the best of intentions about Thanksgiving eating. But good intentions aren't really worth much of anything. Part one of my plan went off without a hitch, but that's because part one of my plan involved eating whatever I wanted on Thanksgiving. And if I'm objective, this didn't actually involve me going crazy and shoving a whole turkey in my mouth or devouring a whole bowl of mashed potatoes. In all honesty, I just ate a moderate serving of everything. Even though that sounds fine, my stomach did not appreciate this at all because it was all rich stuff I am not used to. At this point though, I was still on track with the plan. Where the plan started to derail is when a couple hours later I decided to eat dessert (pumpkin cheesecake!) even though my stomach still felt horrible, just because I felt like I should have dessert and I wouldn't let myself have it the next day. So I ate that cheesecake and then headed to work, where I felt like my stomach was in revolt the whole night.

I wasn't tempted by the work goodies, not because of any superhuman willpower on my part, but because I honestly felt like I never wanted to eat anything ever again. I didn't really eat anything on Friday, so consequently on Saturday my stomach had recovered and I was absolutely starving. Upon arrival at my parents' house, I ate leftovers despite my vow not to do so. I mean, I did eat the turkey sandwich on whole grain bread and stayed away from the mashed potatoes, but I couldn't say no to the stuffing. It had celery and apples in it so it was practically a health food, right? Haha, I wish. This continued through the weekend, me not binging in any way, but not sticking to my regular diet either. What was really stupid is that my stomach continued to feel horrible the whole time, and while I knew full well that returning to what I normally ate would cure it completely, I still ate junk. Not because I was hungry sometimes, but just because I wanted to. I even continued to track what I ate in my handy app, and just kind of shrugged when I saw the calorie count. I kind of felt like I was being a masochist for even wanting to know the calorie count for some of it (does anyone really want to know just how many calories are in mashed potatoes?), but I track no matter what.

Some days I wasn't even over my calorie limit, but I knew the type of food I was eating was not doing my body any favors. And by Sunday, I had gotten to that dangerous place where I thought, "I weigh in Wednesday. The week is shot anyway. I'll just get back on track then." NO, NO, NO....what was I thinking?!? That is such a slippery slope!

So Wednesday morning came, and obviously I knew I had gained. I'm just not the type of person who can eat junk and not gain. But by that time, sanity had returned and I gave myself a talk that I was quite proud of. I told myself that the important thing was that I was owning the number on the scale, whatever it was, and not hiding from it. That whatever the scale said, it wasn't something that I couldn't overcome. That while it was important that I realize where I went wrong, it was equally as important that I didn't continue to beat myself up over it. So I hopped on and saw that 4.6 lb gain. I admit it, part of me resented that number, mainly because I knew some people could have eaten what I did and not gained an ounce. I threw a tiny pity party and thought, "Why can't I have a super human metabolism?" And then a minute later, I was all about getting back on track and doing what was right for my body, not everyone else's.

Luckily for me, part of that gain appeared to have been from excess sodium intake, since by the next day (after consuming tons of water), I had already magically lost a pound and a half. I've been totally back to normal since Wednesday and it feels great to me physically and mentally. Part of me is upset that even after all this time, I still can't seem to get it through my head sometimes that while eating junk feels good while you eat it, it's just not worth it for all the misery afterwards. It's tempting to beat myself up for not completely figuring everything out 2.5 years after I started all this. But I continue to be a work in progress and I always will be. Yes, I ate more than I planned, but I also didn't binge at all, which was not the case 3 years ago. I also continued to run every single day just I normally do. I've come such a long way, and one Thanksgiving weekend can't erase all that I've accomplished.