Sending out a big hello and thank you to Marsha over at A Weight Lifted who posted my interview last Friday! (See “Keeping Lost Weight Off: 168 Pounds for Three Years.”
I can’t believe it’s been nearly three years since I reached goal. I remember the days when I’d hit some weight goal and think, “Yay! I can eat again!” and proceed to reward my success with food. Then when the scale started creeping up, I’d get all pissed at myself and think I was not normal because if I was normal I could eat normal foods, right? And in whatever quantity, right? I’d like to say this only happened once, that I learned my lesson quickly. But heck no. I thought this way YEARS.
That’s why BEFORE I lost weight this last time (and it is my last time), I had to figure out why I kept dancing up and down the damn scale. What I learned (and honestly, this made me sad at first) was that everything I thought of as “normal” – from the food I ate, both in types and quantities, to my views on exercise (like George Carlin said, “No pain? No pain!) – had to change. I had to adopt a “new normal” if I was going to A) successfully lose weight, and B) keep it off for good. Whatever I’d done in the past had to be scrutinized under a microscope. Old ideas were tossed out the window and new ideas were embraced and implemented. And when I got to goal, my “new normal” – in terms of food and exercise – was for the most part in place, although a few demons still lingered (Teddy Grahams cravings, anyone?).
One thing I hadn’t considered until I got close to goal was how I’d feel about my reduced body. When I weighed 138 pounds in 1991, the only loose skin I had was in my lower belly, and I’d proudly earned that through two pregnancies. My legs were smooth, my boobs were perky, my arms were taut. As I approached goal in 2007, it was apparent things had changed in 16 years. My ass was droopy, my upper arm skin kept flapping after I stopped moving, and when I put on a cute lacy bra, my armpits spilled over the sides. Armpit skin? Seriously?
And so began my sub-journey of body acceptance, one that continues three years later. What I’m beginning to suspect is that, like food and exercise, I will forever need to be vigilant in order to stop that negative voice from getting too much air time in my head.
I wanted to open up a question to you for your insights about body image, perfection and self-sabotage. It stems from a comment left on my last post, “Lady In Red, Do You Know Your Numbers?” Blogger An Invisible Girl left this comment:
“I just found your blog by clicking through from someone who follows mine. I read the flabby skin entry (“Closer to Accepting the ‘Flabby Bits’”), and it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been at goal now for more than 3 years after losing a little more than 100 pounds. Some days I can see the flaps as badges of honor, but mostly they just disgust me.
“I often wonder if that is what keeps me in the constant yo-yo state of losing and gaining the same 10 pounds…after all I can’t ever gain perfection since I have that ‘schtuff’ hanging around. I know all too well that perfection is a myth, and I have times of acceptance and peace. Mostly though, I live in a constant state of thinking I should lose another 10 pounds, and I can’t help but wonder how many ‘last 10 pounds’ can/should there be?
“Do you ever struggle with that?”
I struggled with this more a few years ago than I do now, mostly because I’ve learned to appreciate what my body can do more than what it looks like. I find that challenging my thighs to pump the bike pedals harder or my arms to lift just a few more pounds is more emotionally healthy than staring at and hating my wrinkly inner thighs and papery stretch marks that align my triceps.
I know several people who’ve opted for plastic surgery and people for whom excess skin caused medical conditions that needed to be addressed surgically. Even after surgery, they’ve all told me that the inner voice that tells them their not good enough often haunts them and that self-acceptance must come from the inside out.
It’s taken me years of therapy, meditation, journaling and many MANY talks/emails/group discussions with friends to be who I am now – a person who most of the time is OK with her body, but who realizes there will always be some flabby bit that gets the best of her in a dressing room. And when that happens, I rely on my new normal. It’s an oldie, but I love this slogan: “If hunger isn’t the problem, food isn’t the solution.” Write it out, talk it out, or exercise it out. Somehow we all need to find a new way to get through our flabby bits.
So…how do you gain self-acceptance? How do you or plan to feel good in your skin?