Sunday, October 31, 2010

What's Your "What If..." Weight?

I heard Christmas music in Wal-Mart last week. And yesterday, there was a 20-foot Christmas tree near the front door.

Tis the season, my friends. The Season of Food.

I’ve come a long ways from my early days of weight loss and my “Thou shalt not eat __________” mentality. Adopting such a hard-core view was necessary at the time, but through the help of time and my weight-minded friends (particularly the WW 100+ board alums), I’ve learned a bit about discipline and balance since 2005. But food is still a challenge and always will be.

Walking hand-in-hand with that challenge is the way I view and live within my body. I’ve been feeling bulky lately, and when I walk, I don’t “glide along” quite like I used to. I feel more like a gorilla. That’s why I laughed out loud while packing my office yesterday and came across this cartoon:


I remembered I’d posted it on my original website, Lynn’s Weight-Loss Journey, so I went back and read the post that went with it. What I wrote still speaks to me nearly three years later.

When I was 16, I weighed 150 pounds. That was about 20 pounds more than would be considered normal for my age and height, but at a size 12/14, I was hardly ginormous. Yet that’s what I thought I was. Self-conscious, I avoided walking past certain boys in school because I was afraid they’d “moo” at me or call me fat. They did that to a lot of girls who I felt were my size.

My negative body image caused me to make a lot of poor choices when it came to sex and relationships. Although I had some nice boyfriends in high school, the kind who really did like me for who I was, I always felt there was a “catch,” that somehow they were lacking because they liked me.

When I was nearly 300 pounds, this cartoon’s sentiment was most certainly true for me. I always dreamed of “that day” when I’d be 150 again. All my problems would disappear, I’d have self-esteem to spare, and life would be the way I always knew it could be, all because I weighed 150 pounds again.

I’m well below 150 now and problems still arise and I often lack self-esteem, although I admit not to the extreme of nearly 170 pounds ago. My weight, while definitely an important factor in my overall wellbeing, cannot define my life. I am (and so are you) more than weight, and yet I still base a good deal of self-worth on the number on the scale, the size on a tag, and the width of my hips.

How to undo that? Talking with friends who understand weight loss and maintenance, journaling, meditating, and reminding myself daily that I’m OK just as I am right in this moment.

My question to you is this: What do you think your life will be like when you get to goal, or even when you lose 5, 10 or 20 pounds? How do you stay balanced? And has your definition of “normal” weight changed since you were younger?

23 comments:

  1. Well, my life is SO much better already (in terms of mobility and just feeling well) that I imagine it will only get better.

    However, I still feel sluggish and 'fat' and uninspired some days. I still have a lot of the same problems in life that really are not related to weight. I have discovered that I really am an introvert, not just staying home because of my weight. Learning to accept myself has been a big part of this journey.

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  2. I love what Lyn says about being an introvert and accepting that that is who she is, regardless of weight. As much as I can change the external, the internal stays the same. My personal balance has been that acceptance of the internal person. That glorious, unique, internal person that we each are! (doesn't mean that I don't want to lose another twenty pounds, just means that if I don't, it isn't the end of the world)....

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  3. I've definitely changed my ideas about weight. In the past, I chased a number. These days, I'm all about how I *feel*. Yes, I have a specific weight range I intend to bounce around, but my measure of success is more focused on what I'm doing rather than on the scale number.

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  4. My biggest factor in feeling large as a child/teenager was not understanding the different heights thing. I am 5'6" and I was comparing myself to family members who were about 5' even and TINY. I felt like an amazon. I was in my 40's before I really understood different body types and how much height has to do with how big I always felt.

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  5. I actually weigh less than I did in high school, isn't that funny? I am not one of these people that can reminisce to thinner days.

    I also realize that when I was at my high school weight (in the 160s) on my way down to now - I had a much better body shape as a woman than I did in high school. Credit to exercise and lifting.

    I wonder sometimes if I can attain a magical number goal and how different that would be. Part of the reason that I haven't really and truly gone for that goal is that I don't want to be miserable trying to maintain it.

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  6. I must admit when i was a teenager i weighed 125lbs and at 5' 0" tall i felt chubby!!!
    Oh my! Now at 50 although i love seeing the scale go down, i more into being healthy. Especially after the scare of having two stents put in this year.

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  7. I think I've been waiting for the "what if" weight for a while now. I know life won't be all sunshine and roses when I reach my goal but just feeling better about myself will definitely help me get through life's ups and downs. I regret letting my weight keep me from many things. It really sucks that it did and does....but I'm working on that. ;)

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  8. I think I just wrote the answer to your question on my blog a minute ago!

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  9. Very powerful question. I have been a "yo-yo" dieter for over a couple of decades and I am on my way back down to goal. When I hit my goal weight, what I will do differently is plan and log my meals and continue to discover new ways of exercising. I know it sounds like a cliché, but this time is different for me, I have different motivators and am not looking at this as a diet anymore. For me it’s a lifestyle change, and my health is important to myself and my family. I want to "live" and not be hindered anymore by emotions, guilt, etc. So along with this journey I am also discovering why I have done things and not appreciated my body. I am also working on different channels of expressing my anger other than on myself. I am learning to communicate and express myself in ways I won't dare in the past. I am also learning to love myself, and accept that I am me, and focus on the "what I can do's" rather than "what I can't do". I have also really embraced that life is so very precious and to make the best of every breathing moment.

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  10. I can't say that I've thought a lot about getting to goal. I guess it will feel great to be able to fit into any of my clothes. It will feel great to be able to walk in front of people and have them look at me because I would feel more confident and not want to die to walk in front of a crowd. I think that's why I hate public speaking so much. Please don't look at me! I hate attention. I look at people on TV sometimes and think how can you let them get that camera so close? I just can't image ....

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  11. Ooo, good question, Lynn!

    I've been maintaining a 70 (+/-3) pound weight loss for nearly 2 years now, but in the back of my mind, there's still the thought: I never made it to even my *revised* goal weight. However, the only tangible benefit I can think of would be having 25 fewer pounds to schlep around when I run. Since I eliminated enough body fat to regain my health, I'm not feeling in a particular rush to reach goal, nor am I sure yet how I feel about saying I'm "done." Will saying "this is it" make me feel like I've let myself down/settled for less than my potential somehow? Or will I be relieved? Athletic fitness-wise, I believe reaching my goal would be helpful; but I don't think it would get me any more of the "quality of life" items than I have now: health, family, love, respect, tropical vacations...well, I don't have the "vacation" part at the moment, but my weight has never been a gating factor for that! ;-)

    That cartoon did make me chuckle, because while my current weight has been my "scream weight" at other times in my life, I so appreciate it now, having carried so much more for so long. I think it's working for me right now, because one of my factors for "doneness"/normality is a weight that is not too crazy-making to maintain (i.e., balance), and this seems to be the one.

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  12. It truly is all about perspective. I'm currently in the clothes I originally bought to be "fat clothes" and feel so skinny because I've worked so hard to get here! I'm much more interested in being healthy and making lifestyle choices at this point.

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  13. I don't really have a goal, and I am happy at my current weight of 203, which is over 100 lbs lighter than my highest weight. I wear a size 14, at 5'8", and I feel strong and beautiful. I don't imagine life will get any better if I lose more weight, but I am still losing about 1-2 lbs a week. That is simply what is happening. I don't try to figure it out anymore. Suffering and pleasure come and go, just as always. However, I really enjoy the ability to move physically with ease, dance, walk, skip, hike, jump a bit and lift heavy objects. If I stop losing weight tonight I will be surprised, but nothing profound will come of it. I'm not my weight. I'm not my body size. Not sure who I am, and doubt I will ever know, but the external *self* is not my identity.

    Great topic!

    RNegade

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  14. Ohhh, I wish I weighed what I did when I THOUGHT I was fat and I intend to but what I really want to avoid is the trap I've seen older relatives and in-laws fall into--they got big then their health was compromised and they were unable to live as I define it--move freely and quickly, walk distances etc So my goal is to not be physically restricted by weight!

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  15. Since I am just starting my journey, from reading blogs and books and being wary of such thinking, I joined a confidence building group at school. It has been good so far and I am going to another one next year as well. When, it really comes down to it, my problem is my low self-esteem and self-confidence, which weight-management and healthy eating (moods) will help but the traces of bad feelings, memories and low self esteem will remain.

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  16. Maybe it's because I've struggled with my weight my whole life, so at a certain point I've just had to get over it, but I don't think I have a "what if" weight. I've been happy at 200lbs, 185lbs, and 160lbs. I've also been very unhappy at those exact same weights. When I was young, I really thought being skinny would miraculously make me the most popular girl and land me a hot boyfriend. But now I realize that life is too short to wait to be the perfect weight. It's good to have goals, but all we have is right now and I have to make the most of it.

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  17. don't know if you are moved yet, but saw this announcement and thought I would pass it on - I am sure she is a HOOT in person.

    ANNOUNCEMENTS ~ The latest and greatest weight loss news on how you can meet-up with Janice Taylor, Weight Loss Success Coach and Our Lady of Weight Loss, the patron saint of permanent fat removal.

    Saturday, November 6 - American Diabetes Association- EXPO/Pittsburgh
    David L. Lawrence Convention Center
    Main Stage 12:30 PM - Kick in the Tush: Get Motivated and Stay Motivated Forever More
    Workshop 2:30 PM - Fatitude Adjustment

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  18. Thank you for so much food for thought in your comments. I think it's interesting how deeply we think about weight and most of us have from an early age. Sometimes I wonder what our lives would be like if none of us stressed about our weight, if we'd never learned its "importance" when we were little. Would we have grown up with normal weights and had overall better self-esteem? Hmmm...

    Vickie, I'd love to see her if I was available. I'll look a blurb in our local paper, if there is one, and let you know. Thanks for the heads up!

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  19. Interesting thought, I want a goal and as I am working toward that goal and so close to it I wonder if I really need that number. I am so much more in shape then I was along with fitting back into several clothing items that were my goal to be reached also that I wonder if I really need to get to that stated number that I set. After all that said its like if i do not get to that goal number then i will not have made the climb that I started out on and I surley want to get to the end. So I guess I have to say that I am going to reach that number so I knwo that I have ended the challenge I started myself on.

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  20. That is my story. I was 138 in 8th grade and going to a commercial diet center. How sad is that?
    Love the comic!

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  21. Losing weight boils down to a lot of psychological "Stuff" such as how we feel about ourselves, how we control our eating, what we are willing to do to handle our weight, and how we are motivated (to name a few).

    When we are younger, we are not only affected by our personalities and environment, but also by our hormones. So, looking for acceptance by others, especially those to whom we are attracted, can affect a large part of our self-esteem.

    If we don't feel that we get that reciprocal attention from those that we like, then we tend to feel badly about ourselves. When we know that we are being shunned and talked about due to our weight, then we either fight back and lose some weight, or we pull back into our shell and eat to make ourselves feel better. Of course there are a lot of in-betweens, but you get the gist.

    The hormones don't affect us nearly as much as adults as when we are younger, but we still have friends that we want to look good for, and still get the comments and stares from some people. We get better at adapting. The problem is that we have a more difficult time losing weight. Much is due to mindset, some is due to time spent working a job. Family and life also eat away at our time. So it then becomes even more imperative to get our mental state in shape as well as our physical balance.

    Normal is different from one person to another (you know, the "One man's ceiling is another's floor" thing). It is also important for the majority of overweight individuals to KNOW that they really do have the ability to change their eating and activity habits so that they can lose weight.

    What things will be like after weight loss - many, unfortunately, will only imagine. And, to their credit, many already know or are finding out.

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  22. My idea of a "healthy weight" has certainly changed from the days, before I was married, when I only weighed 120 lbs. My goal now is 165, but that may change as I get closer to that number. And day to day how I look and feel changes, for no apparent reason that I can see. Mostly I try to feel good that I am taking my weight and health in my hands to stay as healthy as possible. However, I don't want to end my life realizing that I've spent it all worrying about how much I weigh. There are more important things in this life. We have to keep perspective.

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  23. After years of struggle I am thinking when I am at goal I will be who I am right now, just smaller. same struggles, same family, same monetary situation. However who I am right now, is the person that started the weight loss, I learned to love me, and than decided to treat me better than I had been.

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