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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

259

Be Less Crazy About ... Weight

Okay backstory: I have struggled with weight since childhood, no doubt made worse by the present societal pressures. I have been obese, morbidly obese, and just plain overweight over the years through various periods of gaining and losing weight. But also, I have insulin resistance, which is really important to monitor, and to try to keep healthy the best thing to do is lose weight. How do I keep trying to be healthy without turning it personal and make myself feel fat?

Also, I don't just want to lose weight for health. I want to fit in, be treated equally, get paid a fair wage (as much as I can as a woman, hah!) find clothes easier, and fit into the seats of roller coasters. I don't want my life to be limited by my size. How am I supposed to accept myself as I am, when I know I want, and need, to change?

Oh, my friend. Reading your letter, I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if 68% of Americans suddenly cried out in unison: I am struggling with my weight. Healthy people come in many sizes, shapes, and flavors, but there are a hell of a lot of us right there with you, wanting to feel okay where we are now and also wanting something different in the future.

There’s so much that comes into play here — body image, grit, health, genetics, media, sex, family, fashion, and most especially the well-worn tracks of destructive thoughts laid down in our very own minds. It’s a veritable bouillabaisse of craziness, so overwhelming that sometimes it seems simpler to take a big step back from the whole thing, just to avoid awakening the body feelings Balrog inside.

But taking that step back is a big risk in itself, right? Because it can quickly devolve into neglect. This is how people end up saying things like, "I don't know how I got this heavy; I didn't realize it was happening." I’ve done it myself — it’s almost like you go to sleep, and you think about other stuff instead. Until one day when you wake up and freak right the fuck out.

Our entire culture is freaking right the fuck out, in fact. An epidemic of stories about the obesity epidemic! Cookie Monster rapping about vegetables! Fat cats and skinny dogs, lying down together! The message is Way Too Many People Weigh Way Too Much And That’s A Problem. But I’m not sure that’s accurate. I think it’s more a symptom of what happens when a couple of powerful forces come together.

First, the world is currently overflowing with more mind-bendingly salty sweet awesome disgusting food than has ever been witnessed before in human history. This food we have is positively diabolical in its deliciousness! Engineered to be extra irresistible! Of course it is hard to resist! We are not used to it!

Second, the way we live leaves us feeling thin and stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread. In between work and laundry and trying to have some fun, we barely have time to sleep, let alone confront the Balrog. Unconsciously, we’re led into a life of further unconsciousness, distracted and hurried and often on auto-pilot. It takes a strong will to snap out of it.

Our Western corporatocracy being what it is, the mind-bending food is probably not going to disappear anytime soon. But that still leaves us the second part of the equation to work with. We can focus harder. We can pay more attention. We can become more conscious.

In fact, this is exactly how you be less crazy while changing your body — you reframe the goal from something mechanical like losing weight to something more fundamental, like developing the ability to pay attention to what’s happening in your body without having a cow about it. You stay awake not just for a few months until you hit a certain number on the scale, but as an ongoing practice.

When you pay close attention with as much objectivity and kindness as you can muster, you can see what’s really happening and act rationally on that evidence. You can be reasonable and loving and logical with yourself instead of bouncing back and forth between unconsciousness and freak-outs. You gain the ability to say “Body, you are amazing!” AND “That’s enough ice cream for now.” Because both things are important, and leaving either of them out means trouble.

In addition to paying attention, you also need to see yourself as someone who’s worth paying attention to. As you are right now. You are going to be putting a lot of effort into this project, and you won't be able to sustain it if you feel like some kind of jerk. No, if you want to succeed, you have to get 100% on your own side from the get-go, and the best way I know to do that is this: construct a story about your life that positions you as an imperfect but lovable adventurer — someone you want to root for! — who’s boldly going someplace she hasn’t been before.

Because that is exactly what you are! A beloved heroine in the midst of a rollicking good tale full of scrapes and jokes and lessons learned! So make your story thrilling — make it one you can’t put down, one you can’t help being excited about, one that fills your heart so full you want to throw your head back and ROAR.

I know it seems goofy, but this story you tell yourself is serious business. And it’s precious, because it sets up how you experience everything else in your life.

Like, if you say stuff like “There is something inherently wrong with me and that’s why I can’t have what I want” or “I am but a pawn in the cold dance of chemicals we call life,” well, that shuts things down pretty thoroughly, right? It may be accurate to acknowledge that you have certain disadvantages, or that certain cultural systems are working against you, but you can’t stop there. That place is like a windowless room at the top of a lonely tower. It leaves you absolutely nowhere to go.

But if you see yourself as a lionhearted adventurer on a mission, suddenly you have access to whole new realms of focus and motivation and freedom. If the path brings you to a monster, you don’t sit there gloomily waiting to be eaten. Nor do you kvetch about how someone else came by this way yesterday and there was no monster so WTF. You have no interest in those distractions — you got adventuring to do! So you dig deep. You marshall your resources and you figure out how to get past or around or through. If your first solution doesn’t cut it, you try something else. And you keep trying things till you find something that gets you moving again.

This experimental, experiential attitude is a crucial ingredient in the formula, because you are going to come across a lot of mysteries on your trek, and you’ll need to have a curious mindset to suss them out.  We are talking about weight, after all, and that makes the whole thing extra fraught — in about 30 seconds you can whip yourself into a self-destructive tizzy that can take weeks to recover from. So try your best not to do that. Step lightly. When things don’t work out the way you want them to, be interested in what is actually happening rather than upset about what isn’t. This will help you not fall apart as you discover what combination of stuff works for your particular body.

And when you come to a scary part in the story — which you will, whether it’s a giant spider or just the marshy pits of your own mutinous mind — take heart from the fact that you can’t possibly have a great story without great scary parts. All the best heroines have them! Just keep going!

You can even prepare yourself now. What kind of obstacles you are likely to encounter? Well-meaning relatives who make you feel shitty? Emotional peaks and valleys? Cyclical tenacity deficiency? Have a think and come up with some tactics for dealing with them so they’ll be less likely to knock you off course.

You sound like a smart and self-aware person, and you have TONS of tools at your disposal — mind, muscles, emotions, objectivity, intuition, imagination, community. Use them all. Analyze and strategize and optimize to find out what makes your body hum and purr. Get excited to see how the story unfolds. Pay attention. Don’t go to sleep.

Most important, remember to root for your own sweet self as heartily as you ever did for anyone in any book you ever loved. It’s up to you to construct the narrative that explains what the moments of your life add up to … might as well make it the best damn story about a lady realizing her own worth and power that was ever told.

Previously: Be Less Crazy About Your Body ... for the Children.

Be Less Crazy About Your Body is a website, and a 50-page, $2.99 book. Do you ever feel kind of crazy about something and you know it's crazy and you want to stop but you're not sure how? Ask Megan anything.



259 Comments / Post A Comment

PistolPackinMama

Disempower weight by reframing is such good advice.

What other health-related goals are there? It seems to me so much of "lose weight" is really just "lost weight is a symptom of other things you are doing."

Managing insulin resistance (endocrine conditions holla?)- is kind of about diet and exercise, really.

If you are eating on-plan for insulin resistance, and getting appropriate to you physical activity, weight loss may not happen, but it probably will. And even if it doesn't, you will ate well and exercised!

Being able to walk up all the flights of stairs at work/bike to wherever without wanting to die/ portage a canoe/ walk for x-miles in y-time/ run x-minutes without stopping is about endurance and strength and conditioning.

If you work on those things, you might lose weight, but even if you don't, you'll still be able to kick the three flight's ass. You'll probably see better resting heart rate, LDL and HDL, and blood pressure.

Being confident in your body enough to try new BAMF-merit-badge-earning activities like Roller Derby/bare arms/ whatever might lose you weight. But if you go to Derby, where ladies of all sizes are rocking the athletics, you will feel better, even if you don't.

Taking African dance classes might not lose you weight, but you will be able to move your hips and thighs in isolated poly-rhythm.

BAMF-MERIT-BADGE, yo.

(Also there is a Pinner group on Fitocracy. Everyone there is so super nice and I love them for all the inspiring logging of badass activity they do. They walk and run and lift and yoga and dance and go join and hang out there with us and earn points and level up and follow me and I will follow you and it will be awesome.)

BONUS: The benefits of eating food that is right for your needs, and getting exercise appropriate for your body, and trying new things for your confidence? PAY OFF RIGHT NOW. Weight is a long term thing and if you are like me, PAY OFF RIGHT NOW is a huge motivator.

(join fitocracy despite the clunky interface)

dale

@PistolPackinMama Does the group go by some kind of obvious name? I've joined, but I'm on an unsupported browser so it's not letting me roam about & find things.

PistolPackinMama

@dale PINNERS!

http://www.fitocracy.com/group/6846/

Come be my friend! I am PistolPacknMama and I love company!

meetapossum

@PistolPackinMama Yes, join us! I've been better after some significant slacking, but I like seeing all the awesome things everyone else does. It motivates me to do better.

Gracefully and Grandly

@meetapossum totally joining! I've been curious about fitocracy for a while. Any bit of motivation helps, right? The username character limit is killing me though. GracefulyGrndly it is!

M'fly

@PistolPackinMama HEY are you also on Scary Mommy by any chance?

PistolPackinMama

@M'fly Nope. Is it usually populated by Mommies? Because I am not one. Not that there aren't a billion other reasons why I wouldn't be on it otherwise. Or be a not-mama and be on there, too, I suppose.

Is someone over there masquerading as me?

Anita Ham Sandwich

@PistolPackinMama
Just joined! Looks like a great site.

Diana

@PistolPackinMama

So many people joined the fitocracy group today! Awesome! I mentioned it at the time when I joined, but I'm amativus on there and I'd love way more Pinner friends because I don't have any real life friends to follow. Fitocracy has been the greatest thing to happen to my fitness in ages because it really puts the fun back in exercising. It really encourages me to look forward to exercising, to challenging my body. It gets me to rethink what my body is for, what exercise is for, and it makes me remember that my body is this really cool machine that can be challenged and pushed in so many different ways.

Also while we are on the subject of helpful things for fitness, I found an awesome app called "Gorilla Fitness" that gives simple bodyweight exercise routines. It's kind of like a Couch to 5K for strength training which is awesome for ladies like me who have never done strength training before and who aren't strong enough to lift a 45 pound bar yet. Fitocracy, Couch to 5K and Gorilla Fitness = I'm stronger and faster and happier with my body than I've been in a very long time.

rabswom

@PistolPackinMama I joined too!

PistolPackinMama

@rabswom Be my friend, be my friend! Inspiiiiire me!

BlueJean

Hi! Thanks for the fitocracy recommendation! I'm pretty new to the Hairpin, and just getting excited about exercise again, and I love that the communities overlap! Such great people!

MoonBat

Everyone: READ THE BOOK! Seriously I keep going back to it for other stuff, like remembering to be less crazy despite work stress and controlling exes and demanding kids and loving-but-demented doggies. Ugh, all of the stuff to be crazy about and to take out on yourself, but the advice in this book is golden.

madge

@MoonBat yay! i am so happy it is helping you!

also, i clicked on your username and saw my favorite line from my favorite pearl jam song and now we must marry.

MoonBat

@madge Whaaaat?!?! Yes. We must. It is obvious that you are destined to be mine.

carolita

@madge excellent advice on any level, not just for losing weight. Also good for mental issues. You're an inspiringly sane person, Madge!

Gloria

"A beloved heroine in the midst of a rollicking good tale full of scrapes and jokes and lessons learned! So make your story thrilling — make it one you can’t put down, one you can’t help being excited about, one that fills your heart so full you want to throw your head back and ROAR." I am going to write this down and tape it to my mirror. Thank you Megan, this is wonderful advice.

nyikint

@Gloria Yes, it really is great advice. I love the idea that you can harness fantasy and use it positively.

Rudy Reyes, (the Marine who played himself on Generation Kill), wrote a book called Hero Living, where he talked about how he would fantasize about being a comic book hero and use that as motivation to deal with physical and sexual assault, which I found fascinating.

Bittersweet

@Gloria I know, I love this too! It is so much more positive and great and take-charge than my current workout mindset, which is, "I have to run a lot and do conditioning because I'm terrified of getting fat."

Fear Biter

@Gloria Also this: "If the path brings you to a monster, you don’t sit there gloomily waiting to be eaten. Nor do you kvetch about how someone else came by this way yesterday and there was no monster so WTF."
Megan, thank you so much for writing that - especially the last sentence. I don't know exactly why, but I am legit misting up at work right now. This is a very fraught subject for me, as it is for so many others, but that right there is going in my mental empowerment-bank.

Cat named Virtute

I'm pretty stoked about this series. Would love to see you go even more into recognizing barriers because of size/weight (along with other things), and figuring out how to get over them. I'm trying to be less crazy about my average-ish but increasingly round and squishy in the middle body, and reconciling that with a disability that makes a lot of kinds of sports/activities hard and a really limited grad student budget has been a real stumbling block for me.

PistolPackinMama

@Cat named Virtute Fitocracy has a couple of disability-related groups! (Maybe not the kind you need though? It would probably be a drag to have to start one? But maybe not?)

http://www.fitocracy.com/group-home/ search "disability"

I am so going to search "diabetes" right now. Why hadn't I thought of this before?

Anyway. Ugh. So discouraging, the time/limited budget/ and so on/ blam. But still. Join! We can be friends!

There is! Are! There are diabetic groups. Duh! Yay!

gobblegirl

@Cat named Virtute I don't know what kind of disability you have (and I'm not asking), but does your university have a kinesiology/phys.ed department?
If it does, then they probably have experts on adapted exercise - my university even has a special adaptive gym area. You could probably find some good advice there, or even classes/teams/equipment. And if you're a student, it's probably cheap.

Cat named Virtute

@PistolPackinMama Aw, thanks, PPM! I'm in the middle of a move right now, but when that's finished at the end of the month, I will check it out! Plus my mom made noises about gifting me a month pass at the Y so I can swim, so I'll actually have things to include beyond "walk to grocery store/metro station/friend's house!"

PistolPackinMama

@gobblegirl How smart is that? So many PhD students/PT majors, gunning to practice their Adapted Exercise Skillz!

@CNV- yay! And good luck with the move!

Cat named Virtute

@gobblegirl Good suggestion! I'm actually taking a semester off, but when I get back I will look into it!

I have a visual disability, which makes classes where you have to follow an instructor hard (I can muddle through a beginner yoga class, but anything faster just leaves me overwhelmed), and I can't play any contact/projectile sports (risk of retina detachment), which basically leaves me with swimming or going to the gym/running. I'm a pretty strong swimmer, but because of my disability my high school just exempted me from my phys ed credits (well, I made up for them by being in a swim club), so I never learned to properly run/stretch/weight train without hurting myself.

I do walk a lot though. Loooove walking.

gobblegirl

@Cat named Virtute Spin class? They'll yell lots of stuff at you, but it's generally just "do what you're already doing, but faster."

Cat named Virtute

@gobblegirl Oh god, I'm so afraid of spin classes! Will it be crying can't-keep-up hell for me, as someone who's pretty out of shape, or will it be okay? The stories that the girls in my grad program tell scare me!

I know, I'm so hard to incentivize to exercise :-(

Elsajeni

@Cat named Virtute It sounds like one or two sessions with a personal trainer might be really helpful for you, in terms of learning to run/stretch/[other specific exercise interest] safely and usefully. Which I know sounds expensive, but being a student may be to your advantage here also -- campus rec centers often offer cheap personal training for students. Might be worth checking out when you're back at school.

sarah girl

@Cat named Virtute If you consider yourself pretty out of shape, I don't think spin classes will be for you just yet. I say this as someone who is also pretty out of shape, went to one spin class and almost vomited in the middle of it AND had to wimp out of half of the challenges.

If you're interested, though, I bet you could do some stationary bike practice on your own with the goal of working up to spin class.

sarah girl

@Sarah H. Let me clarify, because I feel like that might have sounded judge-y - it's not that I think you/I can't do it, it's that at our current fitness level, it's a difficulty level that might actually hurt you, rather than just pushing you hard.

Cat named Virtute

@Sarah H. No worries--no offense taken, and I appreciate the insight! I suspect you are right, and I will start smaller/slower. I've been so jealous of cyclists scooting around town this summer (no peripheral vision = no outdoor cycling for Cat Named Virtute), so maybe I should try for the next best thing. If I bring an mp3 player full of podcasts it'll be just as good, fight? :-P

PistolPackinMama

@Cat named Virtute And here was me hoping we could form a Spear-And-Hatchets-Dodge-Ball-League.

Shoot.

(j/k, obvs. But really, some of the shit people will throw at each other is kind of scary, isn't it?)

wee_ramekin

@Cat named Virtute Re: spin classes. I have only taken a handful, and they were at a 24 Hour Fitness, so this may not be true for all spin classes, but I got the sense when I went in that following the instructor's directions wasn't MANDATORY. As in, the instructor is there to motivate you/present some challenges, but I didn't get the sense that I would have been kicked out of the class if I didn't change my resistance/pedal harder/do whatever it was she asked the class to do.

What I'm saying is that if you think you might be ready for a spin class, I bet you could totally go in and just do what's within your capacity to do. Even if it's not what the instructor is telling you to do, it's still exercising, right?

Exene

@Cat named Virtute I'm a spin class superfan, and I don't want you to be discouraged against trying it! It would be the perfect group class for someone with a visual impairment- no Jazzercizin' instructor to follow along with, no volleyballs flying at your head. You could literally do the whole class with your eyes closed, adjusting the resistance on your bike by feel.

Your first time, arrive early and ask the instructor to show you how to adjust your bike. If you get too tired during class, just slow down, take the resistance off your bike, and chill for as long as you want. Don't expect to pick it up right away- it takes a bit of experience to be able to get the most out of class. My first time, I kept putting WAY too much resistance on the bike and kept exhausting myself and having to slow to a crawl to recover; I didn't really start to get it until midway thru my second class.

It's really motivating, a great workout without too much impact on your joints, and I've found it really fun to establish casual relationships with the women in my classes. I recommend it.

/evangelism

Cat named Virtute

@Exene This is all super informative and helpful--thank you! I will look into it, post-move.

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama I would totally try that form of dodge ball. I play full-contact monkey-in-the-middle with my friend and her kids, and it's both a brutal workout and just plain brutal. Last time I came home dripping with sweat and with my friend's blood on my shirt.

dtowngirl

I think one of the most important things is to not vocalize for yourself all the negative things you feel. I found myself actually criticizing myself out loud, and I realized that made me feel worse than anything anyone else could ever say. So, I do my best to not tell myself anything negative. But, it's an ongoing process.

madge

@dtowngirl yes! after you do this for a while, it seems to get easier, too. like your mind goes, "um, are we really ranting about this again?" and then you can say, oh yeah, well-trod ground that is going to make me crazy. let me focus on something else.

KatnotCat

@dtowngirl I have discovered shutting down other people's negative vocalizations is also hugely helpful, both for your own mental health and probably, ultimately, for the other person's. Just don't have the "ooooooh my god we are both so fat and ugly" conversation with friends. Change it to the best of your ability. I haven't participated in said conversation since college by sheer force of will.

PistolPackinMama

@KatnotCat Hahahahahahhhhhh *@evil melis laugh* see my comment below. I LOVE making people shut up about fatzomg.

Hot Doom

Balrog and butter scraped over too much bread. I like what you did there, Dietz. Ok, back to reading.

slanket

@LolaLaBalc And the marshy pits and spiders. All the article really needs is a reference to "I AM NO MAN" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrCvgiQGh1o

Hot Doom

@slanket "Weight issues...DIE NOW"

PistolPackinMama

@LolaLaBalc "Ssccaaaaaaaalllllleeeeeeeee... weeeiiiggghhhh iiinnnnnsssss."

"There's no scales and weigh-ins 'round here. They're all up in Weightwatcherston."

"GIVE US THE SELF ESTEEM, SHE-ELF."

"IF YOU WANT IT, COME AND CLAIM IT."

I could do this all day, but I ain't gonna cause I am gonna go trail run on the only not-horrid day this week.

madge

@PistolPackinMama "i will take the leftover cake to the trash can, though i do not know the way."

PistolPackinMama

@madge BUT WHAT ABOUT SECOND BREAKFAST...

I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.

They call him... Dieter!

madge

@PistolPackinMama "your love of the halfling's leaf has clearly stimulated your appetite."

bskinz

God. I have been struggling with my weight for my entire life, and am currently at nearly my heaviest. I was thin in high school, after developing severe bulimia (which i still struggle with). I want to be that thin again, but i know that as soon as i start trying to lose weight, i immediately go back into super control 300 calorie/day crazy mode. Guh.

gobblegirl

@bskinz Have you visited a dietician or a nutritionist? (I assume you've already thought about regular counselling). You might not be able to get rid of the control-issues side of the eating disorder right away, but if you have a healthy plan maybe you can channel it in the right direction?
(If the above comment shows glaring misunderstanding of eating disorders and is therefore horrible advice, someone please correct me).

@gobblegirl You don't want to be in super control mode. Like, ever. That's bad news bears.

@bskinz Big hugs, friend. *big hugs*

sidral mundet

@gobblegirl I would think it could get re-focused as orthorexia.

realtalk

@bskinz oh boy have I been there. if you ever want to talk about it, you can email me at realtalk.hairpin at gmail. but definitely know that I'm sending love and good thoughts your way.

Diana

@bskinz

I just wanted to let you know that I understand completely how you feel and it took me a very long time to get to a point where I could try to get in shape and lose weight without spiralling back into an eating disorder. You need to address whatever issues were underlying your eating disorder to begin with, and you need to learn to love yourself despite your weight. No matter what you try, no matter what you eat and how often you exercise, if you begin from a point of self-loathing, you will always end up in that dark place because that's where you started. If you start running a marathon in Hell, all those miles later the finish line still isn't anywhere you want to be.

Kulojam

@bskinz I'm late to this post because I was out of town, but I second realtalk's offer for email support. and i am sending you internet hugs and support. you can get through this. chilejamie at gmail dot com.

gobblegirl

Celebrate the little victories (I didn't have dessert, even though I sort of wanted it! I made the time to go to the gym today, even though I had other things to do!).
And don't procrastinate. Go to the gym today, don't assume you'll have more time tomorrow. Don't plan out healthy meals you're going to eat later, eat healthy right now and then treat yourself later if you want. That's my biggest problem - my healthy breakfasts are always tomorrow morning ;)

PistolPackinMama

@gobblegirl And if you eat the cheesecake, enjoy the cheesecake. It's cheesecake, not peace negotiations in the Middle East. (typoed that as Middle Eat, hah hah) Eat the damn cheesecake and don't burn all its calories with your guilt.

gobblegirl

@PistolPackinMama Good advice in general, but I personally find the guilt very motivational. That sounds pathological, right? I swear it isn't!

PistolPackinMama

@gobblegirl no no, whatever moves you, if it keeps you functional and relatively happy. Who am I to say?

MissHalfway

@PistolPackinMama @gobblegirl "And if you eat the cheesecake, enjoy the cheesecake. It's cheesecake, not peace negotiations in the Middle East." LOVE THIS. writing it down. thank you.

it also reminds me of this quote (I got this off tumblr and it was attributed to a girl on america's next top model, but I've never watched so that may be wrong): "my body is my temple, and sometimes my temple wants cheesecake."

Gwdihw

@PistolPackinMama
I pray for peace in the Middle Eat.

PistolPackinMama

@l'esprit de l'escalier Or Piece of the Middle Eat.

Elleohelle

@PistolPackinMama I totally agree! My rule of thumb is that if I'm going to eat a piece of cheesecake (or pizza, or a cheeseburger, etc.) I MUST enjoy it and not feel guilty while or after I am eating it. If I do, then what is the point? Also, if you're eating some junk food that isn't THE MOST DELICIOUS junk food you've ever eaten, PUT IT DOWN. Go find something else equally bad and more delicious, but put it down.

Xanthophyllippa

@Elleohelle One of my (now former) friends once told me that the dried apricots I was eating were nutritionally the same as a Snickers. I put away the apricots and went to the snack machine to buy a Snickers.

Elleohelle

@Xanthophyllippa It's true! Less fat, probably, but same calories and sugar, and the Snickers definitely has more protein. See what I mean?! I'd go for the Snickers too.

Xanthophyllippa

@Elleohelle Less fiber, though. (Snickers also has more protein than yogurt, and I'd definitely rather eat a Snickers than yogurt. Thank you, peanuts.)

angelene

@gobblegirl I'm not some kind of health guru, but I always think the goal shouldn't be "I'm going to lose weight" but "I am going to eat well and be more active". You probably will lose weight, but starving yourself shouldn't be the aim, just a balanced diet. Also, I think breakfast is the best time to eat whatever the hell you want because you'll spend the whole day running on that meal, unlike late-night snacks which just sit in your belly.

up cubed

I registered to share this website: http://www.stumptuous.com/
Her goal is to help you become a strong, happy, whole, fit person.

Nicole Cliffe

@upupandaway YES!!! Love her.

shadowkitty

@upupandaway THANK YOU. I was reading through that website ages ago, lost my tabs and haven't been able to find it since.

Scandyhoovian

you reframe the goal from something mechanical like losing weight to something more fundamental, like developing the ability to pay attention to what’s happening in your body without having a cow about it

This is, in short, exactly what I finally managed to do, after years and years of making it all about the number on the scale.

Now, I know things work differently for anyone and I don't intend in any way to discount other methods, but I'm going to tell my story of how I managed it as quickly as I can:

Three years ago (ish) I weighed riiiight under 300 pounds and couldn't go up even one flight of stairs without becoming a huffing, puffing heap of a human being. I woke up one day and realized this in a fit of singular OH GOD OH GOD feelings that left me in quite a big depression about how I'd managed to get here, and how do I get myself out?

The first thing I did was change my diet, because I thought there was no way I could even get on a treadmill. I thought I was too out of shape to get back INTO shape (which, for the record, was untrue! SO UNTRUE!). So I cut out soda, and I stopped eating out as much, and while I didn't deny myself things like eating in restaurants if I wanted to do them, I tried really, really hard to pick healthy choices, or eat only half and take the rest home, that kind of thing. Over the years my going-out has whittled down and my making-my-own-dinners has become the norm, which is so much fun! Kitchen experimentation is one of my great joys now.

IT WAS NOT EASY. Let me just say that. I want to say it 1000 times. I broke quite a few times and had binge weekends after which I felt so, so much worse for disappointing myself.

And then eventually, I started going to the gym. I would get on the treadmill and walk. I started at like... probably no pace at all, just on it with the thing moving and me going steadily for a long while. And then I would pick up the pace and eventually the walking became speed walking and that slowly (SO SLOWLY) made it up to a 12-minute mile (which I only just hit like... last month).

The other thing that helped is I stopped riding the bus for the mile and a half or so that I had to ride it and started walking that distance instead, swearing to myself I'd only ride the bus if it was raining.

I've dropped right around 100 pounds doing this. It's hard, and sometimes I fall off the wagon and I don't go to the gym for like two weeks at a time and I feel bad about it. But my "feeling bad about it" is more of a "I know I feel better when I go, why aren't I going? I am disappointing myself" than it is "ugh I'm such a fatty." BUT I ALSO STILL FEEL THAT WAY SOMETIMES. I try really hard not to, but every now and then I have days where I just look in the mirror and I'm still sad, because I'm not satisfied yet. But I know that if I keep it up I'll get to a place where it doesn't make me sad anymore. And now I can go up lots of stairs without losing it, and I can run a 12-minute mile, and I can LIFT things, and I can go jogging with my fiance and actually outpace him, and I feel good.

I just want to reiterate that it wasn't easy and it took a long time and I feel like I've overhauled a large chunk of my life to get where I am food-and-exercise wise. But it's been really good for me, and really all I want to do now is cheerlead people and support them when they want to do the same thing. It CAN be done!

Scandyhoovian

...holy hell that is longer than I thought it was going to be.

noodge

@Scandyhoovian hell yeah! that is really awesome/inspiring. i think the key is what the author was talking about, that you touched on as well: making your life healthy. eating healthily, exercising, in order to feel happier and be healthier. And the weight may come off with that tactic, but it will be slow. Having the goal of "weight loss now!" just makes it a nasty cycle of misery, and your body hates you all the more for it.

@Scandyhoovian HECK YES, AWESOME LADY!

WhiskeySour

@Scandyhoovian Thank you for typing this up. I feel like we need so much more of this kind of story surrounding health and weight. I'm just so tired of "It's so easy! All I did was stop drinking pop. It's just calories in vs. calories out." Well, yes, that's part of it, and yes, pop drinking is probably not the best food choice, but it really isn't "easy." It's fucking hard and takes a lot of work not just physically but mentally. It can get easier over time, but I just never find it "easy."

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think this is super honest and inspirational. Like I'm going to come back and read this again several times level of inspirational. And you sound like such a rockstar!

PistolPackinMama

@Scandyhoovian 12 minute miiiiiiiiiiile.

cherrispryte

@Scandyhoovian I'm really happy for you that you're proud of this, but your "it CAN be done" at the end is indicative of your own experience, not a universal fact. What caused your body to change shape is not necessarily going to do the same for other people's bodies, no matter how hard they try.

noodge

@cherrispryte
I think she tried to cover herself with:
"Now, I know things work differently for anyone..."

what she's saying is pretty inspiring, and goes along with a lot of current research that is actually going against the "95% failure rate" statistic - this research indicates that long-term lifestyle changes focused on moderate diet and exercise are most likely to produce sustainable weight loss over the long term. We're not talking fad diets - this is real hard work that was successful in the main goal: health and happiness. Reason to celebrate, right?

@WhiskeySour Yes! Thank you!

I've yoyo-ed through my adult life (okay, I'm 25, but we're talking about my life since I was 16). So 9 years of yoyo land, which blows. 9 years of yoyo land between 117 and 175 pounds. With the help of an awesome doctor (shout-out to my amazing endocrinologist and my kickass ladydoctor), I'm getting my PCOS under control, which is a big part of the problem.

Sometimes I feel guilty for taking care of myself -- for spending the extra money on yummy fruits and veggies, for spending the extra time cooking them, for savoring amazing food, for spending money and time at yoga (which I LOVE), for spending time running (which I'm new at but makes me feel so good!), for spending money on cute workout clothes because they're motivation to exercise and they make me feel less shitty about my body while I'm doing it (at least I don't look like I'm in 7th grade P.E.).

Ugh.

TheDangQuesadilluh

@Scandyhoovian - I don't know how to say this without sounding disingenuous, but it's good to hear that someone else has been through what I'm about to go through/am going through. Cheerlead away!

City_Dater

@Scandyhoovian

Thank you for posting this, and for stressing the time and effort you have put into changing your lifestyle for good. Too often healthier eating/weight loss/fitness writing skims over that aspect of it, as if it's a matter of setting a goal and once it is reached, feel free to resume what was comfortable for so long.

Scandyhoovian

@cherrispryte Like I said, I was just sharing my own experience, and I was not trying to discount anyone else's experience in the process. I know it's not the same for everyone. I know very well that it isn't, having been told time and time again by others "Oh, it's easy, just X" or "Y Z and Q worked for me so it should work for you, too!" I was simply sharing what worked for me and to tell my story, because that's the only story I know well enough to share like this. I'm really sorry if I offended you at all.

@City_Dater and others: I'm glad to be helpful! I wanted to stress over and over that it was not easy, and that I did have to make a hard and conscious effort to change not only a habit or two but my whole damn lifestyle. I know some people can't do that or don't want to. But I did, and it worked out for me, so I wanted to share.

Xanthophyllippa

@cherrispryte I took it to mean, "you can in fact find something that will help you feel better than you do, no matter how bad you feel at the start."

cherrispryte

I am pleasantly surprised and impressed by the quality of the advice above!

One other thing, though: Dieting to lose weight, in any form (call it a lifestyle change or whatever) has over a 95% failure rate over 5 years. And before every single person in that 5% minority decides to reply to this comment, let's also point out the billions of dollars the medical and weightloss industries have spent trying to shout down this fact.
Become as physically active as you can be, eat mindfully and intuitively, sure, if you want, but its incredibly unlikely you're going to permanently lose weight.

PistolPackinMama

@cherrispryte Yes... but can I squat 1.5 Malamutes. I will do it. I will squat the weight of 1.5 Malamutes.

(Goals. Silly goals.)

No, but really. Yes. Exactly. There is no bootstrapping weight. Just trying hard enough is a ridiculous expectation.

Cat named Virtute

@cherrispryte Ohhhh, yes, this. A friend of mine has been telling me about a friend of hers who has lost 100 pounds in less than a year. She's been working with a trainer and it sounds like she's living healthier, which is so great, but the fact that she's choosing to celebrate the 100 pound loss, rather than some measure of fitness (say, being able to run 5k) makes me feel sad, and worried about the flack she might get if/when she gains it back, even more so since my friend is so gung-ho about that marker on her behalf. This is a friend who isn't judgy of other people's bodies, just happy for her friend's success, so I haven't known what to say both times it's come up. Argh. Body positivity, so hard.

redheaded&crazy

@Cat named Virtute I also struggle with knowing how to respond to this. Mainly because, lots of people do set their goals by weight loss rather than those tangible fitness markers. And on a personal level, is it really so wrong to want that? If you want to lose 100 pounds, and you lose that weight, that is a notable accomplishment, isn't it? Or is even saying that problematic?

I mean, I know it is problematic because it sucks to get all this positive reinforcement/validation "oh you look so great now!" and then if you gain it back, you lose all of that. But if somebody is proud of losing that weight, and wants to celebrate that ...

ARGH! Body positivity! SO HARD!

dale

@Cat named Virtute This is why I hate having a scale in the house. My g/f gets in these modes of weigh-myself-every-day and bemoan the number. I have tried and tried to say, the number doesn't matter, muscle has weight too...but it doesn't sink in.

Doesn't help that a friend has gone on a massive diet-shift in order to specifically lose weight, and I have to try to deflect those results in order to not have my g/f go into some kind of unhealthy starvation mode. :-/

RNL
RNL

@cherrispryte I'm interested in the source of this statistic, and what it means. Does it mean that 95% of all people who lose weight gain it all back within 5 years?

PistolPackinMama

@dale To rephrase from Jane yesterday.

"The number isn't a 'fact'*, but fitness is."

*if by "fact" we mean unquestionable indicator of healthiness.

Beaker

@cherrispryte Ugh, yes. I have a friend whose goal is to be the same weight she was in high school, which makes me really sad because she's in decent shape but doesn't really think about that, just the weight. I'm pretty sure she can run farther than I can (and I'm her target weight).

Fitness and weight sometimes go together, but not always!

noodge

@RobotsNeedLove

It's difficult to find the source of the 95% statistic - this is one of the more factual (by factual I mean "cites actual studies") sources for diet failure rates.

http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/2749/Diet-Weight-Loss-Lore-Myths-Controversies-WHY-DIETS-FAIL.html

I guess the biggest thing is what you touched on: what constitutes failure? I think most fad/quick weight loss diets do fail. But I know so many people personally (anecdotally) who have made lifestyle changes that have let them lose maybe 10% of their weight, and keep it off for years.

Cat named Virtute

@redheaded&crazie Exactly! Because we don't want our body politics to ultimately get in the way of being good, supportive friends, right? I mean, I can tell anyone who snarks about my body or choices where to go, but I struggle more in circumstances where it's not about me. Telling someone that their goals are wrong seems really inappropriate.

I have a similar issue with my mom. She's mostly backed off body snarking me, but she's always talking about her own squishy middle and weight gains. She does yoga and zumba a couple of times a week, gardens and walks home from work in good weather, and is always on the go. The health issues that she has are all flukes or hereditary, and none are linked to her diet or fitness level. I hate hearing about her extra five or ten pounds--it's bad for her, and it's bad for me.

RNL
RNL

@teenie Thanks. That's really interesting.

I think it's important to thing/believe/know that a sedentary lifestyle dominated by unhealthy food is not destiny, and it is not unchangeable. I think maybe it's a bit dangerous to cite a statistic that tells people that 95% of them will always be the way they are, no matter how dissatisfied they may be, no matter what they do. Of course weight loss is hard, and of course it can fail, especially when it supersedes more important health goals. But under the right circumstances, with the right help, it is possible for many people. I think, for many people weight loss can be an important part of feeling healthy, vital, and able in their bodies, and they should not be told that they are doomed from the start.

cherrispryte

@teenie And I know more people than I can possibly count who have made "lifestyle changes" and then gained weight back, plus interest.

This article, which is the original source I've seen for the "95% of diets fail" statistic, cites 3 different sources:
"Statistics show that less than 5% of the people who diet lose weight permanently. (Patton, 1984) Approximately 90 of every 100 pounds lost in this country is regained. (King, 1984) The Washington Post reports that only one out of every two hundred loses all of their excess weight and keeps it off by dieting. (Schwartz, 1984)"
(Yes, the article's from 1984. And the references page isn't available. I don't have time now at work to do more than a quick google search and this is what popped up first, but I'll do more research tonight when I can.)

A lifestyle change is just another word for a diet. And while most lifestyle changes are usually more logic-based than fad diets, they're still restrictive eating with a weight loss goal. And they're not going to work for most people in the long run.

Cat named Virtute

@RobotsNeedLove But it's not about being doomed. Say you up your produce intake, slash your processed carbs and fats intake, and start running and doing yoga multiple times per week. Say you don't lose weight, or you do, but then you gain it back. What are you doomed to? Living a more active, healthy lifestyle? If we create a path for ourselves that doesn't fixate on size and numbers, than healthy changes don't doom us to anything.

cherrispryte

@RobotsNeedLove Oh for fuck's sake. You can become more active. You can change what you eat. You're just not going to lose any weight permanently, so give that up as a goal. Work on, oh, getting your blood pressure down or your cholesterol level or improving your endurance or lifting a certain amount or doing some intense yoga pose or what-the-hell-ever.

Weight is not an indicator of health.

People who would like to lose weight and are not doing so are not simply not working hard enough, and its insulting as fuck to imply that that is the problem.

Also, I'm gonna flounce the fuck away from this thread now and not come back. Despite efforts by some, it's getting incredibly toxic here, and it's disappointing to see how many of you have bought into the diet industry's lies.

madge

@Cat named Virtute yes! this reminds me of this cartoon about dealing with environmental problems.

http://healthculturesociety.wikispaces.com/file/view/Climate-Cartoon.jpg/270817436/Climate-Cartoon.jpg

figuring out what kind of eating and movement makes you feel awesome has literally no downside. it's the focusing on the numbers above all else that makes us feel crazy.

RNL
RNL

@Cat named Virtute Yes. I guess this is an even better way of putting it, and may be we're all talking different aspects of the same essential point. If people want to get healthier, why do we cite statistics telling them that they can't? If people say "I want to lose weight", instead of saying "you'll probably fail", couldn't we say "you'll accomplish much of the 'goal' of weight loss is you find physical activity you enjoy and eat more wholesome food."

The letter writer's insulin resistance is no joke, and her goal of weight loss is legitimate, and achievable. The advice is excellent: "focus on other markers of success". But reducing fat accumulation in the body is also a legitimate health goal for her.

noodge

@cherrispryte

really?

roughe

@cherrispryte i think it's kind of weird that you refer to the longterm lifestyle changes like switching from eating processed foods to more whole foods and fruits and vegetables as "restrictive eating." because, to me, the way we look at food now is so restricted. we're confined to poor choices because that's the majority of what's in the supermarket and in the restaurants. it was only after i decided to start eating foods i knew were good for me and my body (a "lifestyle change") that i began to feel unrestricted by food.

Cat named Virtute

@RobotsNeedLove I think, sadly, that it's hitting the division between people who thinking that better health for overweight people necessarily includes weight loss, and those who think that better health can be independent of size. We've already seen what a failure the BMI is as an index of weight-related health on an individual basis, and there is science that supports the idea that weight is tied more to genetics, foods eaten in early childhood, and whether or not one has ever had a calorie-restrictive diet than it is to exercise and current diet, which are health markers that one can control in the present.

scoutee

@PistolPackinMama ha, i usually measure my weight lifting goals in terms of % of my body weight but i adore your malamute measurement. you can totally do it - just keep squatting heavy on a regular basis! and maybe tranq those malamutes before you try to squat them (or just stick to a barbell ;)

KeLynn

@roughe "i think it's kind of weird that you refer to the longterm lifestyle changes like switching from eating processed foods to more whole foods and fruits and vegetables as 'restrictive eating.' " - This stuck out at me too. I've always taken the term "lifestyle change" to mean "this is the healthy way I'm going to eat for the rest of my life." Changing your diet to something healthy, fulfilling, and sustainable is hardly restricting. Except in the sense that you restrict yourself from eating as much of whatever is outside of your idea of a healthy diet, but that's what being an adult is: realizing you can't always have/do everything you want, because it interferes with your larger beliefs about what you want out of your life.

PistolPackinMama

@scoutee I have a long term goal of .50 of a small blue ox. (I also have a very sore ass/lower back today courtesy of 80lb total squat and cramps. Ow.)

@roughe I know this isn't really on topic. But. This is so much part of the OBESITY EPIDEMIC AJKHDGSJFHG that makes me just stabby-set-it-on-fire. When your options are limited by availability, knowledge, cost, whateverwhatever, you are at the mercy of a food system that isn't geared towards your choices and wellbeing in relation to them.

Those of us who can do that, feel ourselves unrestricted by food because we can not only re-imagine our relationship to it but also act on/in food systems to make the relationship change in practice are so, so, so lucky.

But yeah. Learning to see education and experimentation as freeing oneself from restriction =/= quinoa pilafs only forever.* It can mean ridiculously lovely raw milk ice cream with local blackberries or extra fatty bacon from a pig whose name you knew. Or whatever other changes you make that you decide to make. (I also see these as health contributors, frankly, as I do Pringles on a hot day after hours of sweaty canoeing GIVEMETHESALT. Because my mental health is important, and bacon is a small pleasure in this vale of tears.)

But they all have the health attribute of being things I chose with mindfulness, and joy, really. Having agency is the most important health outcome there is.

*I want to learn how to make quinoa tasty.

Dr Clownius

@KeLynn @roughe i totally agree. i had to make a "lifestyle change" because my blood sugar was out of control. it did restrict my diet in the sense that i had to cut down on sugar, but really it made me stop and pay attention to what is in the food that i eat. and now i am more mindful of what i eat and have a different relationship with food that i have to continue in order to be healthy. i don't feel restricted. i feel a lot better, actually. if you are talking about like, "cutting out carbs" as a lifestyle change, then yeah, that's restrictive eating. but i wouldn't call that a true lifestyle change.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@PistolPackinMama
I love salty quinoa salads! Just throw whatever you've got around in with some quinoa and salt to taste! Two birds, etc.

Does Axl have a jack?

@PistolPackinMama Sautee some onions and garlic in a pot. Throw your quinoa and twice as much chicken broth as quinoa and whatever spices sound tasty in there and bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for 15 minutes or so. Throw in some spinach or kale or whatever, and cook it a bit more until everything is done. Nom.

emilylou

@PistolPackinMama Instead of cooking it in water, boil the quinoa in equal parts chicken (or veggie) broth and light coconut milk! Throw in some red pepper flakes, and sea salt! Mix in delicious kale, chard or spinach. Feel free to serve a protein on top of it (maybe with some peanut satay sauce?).

Seriously, any grain you want to make tastier: stop cooking it in water and cook it in flavorful thangs.

noodge

@emilylouise totally agree with "stop cooking it in water and cook it in flavorful thangs" - I started doing this with veggies - just reducing them in broth until they're cooked and super delicious. om nom nom.

@emilylouise That. Sounds. Delicious. I now want to eat All The Quinoa.

Xanthophyllippa

@cherrispryte Why is "lifestyle change" another word for diet? The 10-mile bike ride followed by a 4-mile run and the 10-mile ride home don't have anything to do with what I eat.

@PPM I...kind of want you to bench-press me.

PistolPackinMama

@emilylouise EMILYLOUISE HELLO!

Also, coconut milk CHECK. I keep that shit around for all the things, and now will use it for this thing.

@XP... heh heh heh. We need a spotter. And probably also bourbon.

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama And something soft in case my HUGH JASS proves too much for you and you have to heave me off to save yourself. (I kid. My ass is tiny and nice and firm.)

PistolPackinMama

@Xanthophyllippa I think more bourbon will solve it.

emilylou

@PistolPackinMama HELLO!!!!!!!!!

I love to cook with coconut milk. Quinoa, brown rice, curries, etc. So good. And I know, I know, t has a lot of saturated fat, but whatever, everything in moderation yo.

KeLynn

@Dr Clownius Exactly! In the past few years I've had to make a "lifestyle change" for a few different reasons. But what that really means is that I'm just eating healthy now. And I was eating like crap before, without even realizing it. I haven't given up a single specific food, I just eat the crappier foods less often and in lower quantities. I guess technically I'm restricting myself (I mean, I *want* to be able to eat a whole stack of pancakes every Saturday I have to stop myself from doing it) but in reality I'm just making healthier choices about what I put in my body, and my body has thanked me for it. I went from 5 prescription meds a day to 2, and my life as a whole is SO much less restricted because I'm much healthier now. (This weekend, I'm going to take a trip I've always wanted to go on, but couldn't in the past because my health got in the way.)

That's how I view the term "lifestyle change." Going from a bad place to a good one, and making a commitment to stay in the good place. It doesn't mean cutting out entire food groups, or only drinking SlimFast for lunch, or stopping yourself from having wine and cake on your friend's birthday, or even enjoying the occasional dinner so rich you have to take a nap after.

KeLynn

@PistolPackinMama FWIW, I've never felt like plain quinoa was tasty. I kind of treat it like brown rice - rarely do I just eat it with butter and salt like I would with white rice, but I *do* put it on salads, or throw a bunch of leftovers on top of it for lunch. On its own it's kind of meh.

thebestjasmine

@PistolPackinMama WAY OLD COMMENT because I obviously missed this post. But toast your quinoa first! Put it dry in a pot on medium/medium high and stir it around for like 3-5 minutes until it gets brown (but not too brown). Then pour in your water/broth whatever and some salt and bring to a boil, and simmer for 12ish minutes. I love quinoa, and do not like brown rice at all.

packedsuitcase

Find things you love to do! Buy groupons for things near you that sound interesting and give them a shot. Hot yoga, dance classes, tae bo, they have all sorts of fun things. And if I can be a bit of a pusher here, ultimate frisbee! I know my league lives having new people and we have players at all fitness levels. It's super fun and I have never met a friendlier group of people. But really, the key is to find things you love and that will take time.

Also, focus hard in the changes you FEEL. They are what will make a difference. I may not look the way I want to in a dream world, but I can play ultimate for hours (when I'm not injured like I am right now) and I can rock climb and I go on hikes for fun now!

Getting healthy is a challenge, but the difference it makes is worth it. Looking in the mirror is still hard some days, but on those days I put on some red lipstick and think about all the things I can do now that I couldn't do 4 years ago.

SarahP

@packedsuitcase Yes! How you FEEL can influence how you feel about the way you look. I run on and off, and I find that when I'm running often, and longer distances, I don't actually lose much in the way of weight, but I feel so much better about myself that I care less about, say, how big my stomach looks in that one dress: "whatever, this stomach and I ran 5 miles yesterday when we used to only run 3--we're awesome!"

Clare

@packedsuitcase Totally agree on focusing on how you feel and not so much the numbers on the scale.

I joined a gym a couple of weeks ago for the first time in almost 15 years, and I might not be seeing the numbers drop precipitously (right now I'm focusing more on movement as opposed to the eating), but after only two weeks, I can feel my cardiovascular fitness improving. I can string laps together at the pool and I can do 30 laps in the time it used to take me to do 20. Even last week I couldn't do that.

sarah girl

@packedsuitcase Yes! I am starting to learn what physical activities I like, and they are pretty much dance (any kind) and yoga. Groupon has served me very well. Also, today is the first post-yoga day where my hamstrings haven't been uncomfortably tight - noticeable progress, hooray!

packedsuitcase

@Sarah H. You all rock! I'm not able to play sports right now, and trying to get into the (dreaded, hated, loathed) gym is so hard. It's rightfreakingthere and it's free and I have no excuse not to go, except I make every excuse not to go! Ugh. I wish I could do the things I love. Who is counting down the days until ACL surgery? This girl.

amity

I have not commented in approximately 19,385 years but I just decided to pop in and say "I love you Megan Dietz!"

Meaghan Widmer@facebook

"Most important, remember to root for your own sweet self as heartily as you ever did for anyone in any book you ever loved. It’s up to you to construct the narrative that explains what the moments of your life add up to … might as well make it the best damn story about a lady realizing her own worth and power that was ever told."

THIS THIS THIS

ALSO: now crying at work
AND THEN: mass fwd to my girlfriends.

redheaded&crazy

I love this series and the idea of viewing your life and your goals as an adventure, particularly as it pertains to the really tricky shit like dealing with weight. Seriously I find that super inspiring and original, probably could have used that kind of advice a long time ago. It would have been perhaps a more healthy approach than lying in bed crying and then realizing that i could go outside and walk around and cry which would be slightly more productive.

KeLynn

@redheaded&crazie Have you seen NerdFitness.com? It's written by a guy who uses the same sort of mindset (having adventures, "leveling up" your life, etc.) and it's one of my favorite blogs.

SarahP

The problem for me is that it's a constant battle. I'll finally talk myself into feeling better about myself, and then next week something happens and I'm back to hanging out with the flaming Body Feelings Balrog for a long time. And then I feel better about it a while... and then it's back.

cherrispryte

@SarahP This might sound silly, but there are LOTS of body-positive tumblrs, and following them - or even just visiting them when you're feeling down - is kind of a steady stream of Gandalfs yelling "YOU SHALL NOT PASS." So maybe turn there for support?

PistolPackinMama

@cherrispryte The Shapely Prose Archives! Always.

Cat named Virtute

@PistolPackinMama Ahhhhhhhh, Shapely Prose! <3 u, Shapely!

madge

@SarahP yep. it's going to keep coming back, and then you face it down and take a deep breath and shift your attention to something else again. and again and again, forever. it's a daily practice, but it really does get easier after you do it for a while.

Exene

@jen325 tangledupinlace

Cat named Virtute

@jen325 Your link isn't working for me! :-(

fondue with cheddar

@Cat named Virtute Oops, I don't know what I did there. Here you go!

Punk-assBookJockey

That last paragraph of the letter is hard, and I know where you are coming from completely. I think about most things as they relate to my size and it's really hard to turn off, especially when you HAVE to think about something logistically, like "will I fit in the booth seats at a restaurant or should I ask for a table?" Most of the time for me it's stuff that I don't even need to worry about though, like "do I look dumb riding a bike (or even talking about my bike) when I'm obviously not athletic?" and more serious things like "will my being fat make my (future, hypothetical) kids crazy about their weight?" But I know I am never going to be a Thin Person, and so I just have to learn to be ok with some of that. Where I can't change my body I just have to learn to change my mind. I try to think of it (and I know I read this somewhere but I can't remember where) like being short. It's just a type of body and I just have to adapt and take care of it and help it to do the best it can. And if people think I look dumb on my bike or want to pay me less or are otherwise discrimintating against people who are short or fat or whatever physical type they may be, I have to truly believe that that's on them and not me. Taking care of myself and loving myself are the only ways I can take a stand against that kind of thing, and I just have to hope that in the long term my love and acceptance of my own body will, in some small way, help other people to accept bigger bodies in general.

PistolPackinMama

@Punk-assBookJockey *fistbump*

Also I have a wicker bike basket on an old bike and wear flowy dresses and so I pretty much look ridic anyway. "I ran out of petrol ration coupons" is not the cutting edge of athletic style, yo. But I am sure someone is going to cast me a movie someday.

Punk-assBookJockey

@Punk-assBookJockey Sorry that's just a wall of text! I can't get it to edit!

Punk-assBookJockey

@PistolPackinMama Ha, I love biking in dresses! I bet you look amazing.

PistolPackinMama

@Punk-assBookJockey I do. In all the ways you can interpret that word.

Make Do And Mend, Yo.

kinbarichan

@Punk-assBookJockey: I feel the same way about loving and accepting my own body, and I agree that it's hard sometimes to be active (swimming, for me)without feeling like people are judging me. Bathing suits are especially tricky, because I do like to be covered, but too much bathing suit looks like I'm trying to camouflage, and too little bathing suit leaves me walking backwards away from people because I look less fat from the front. (My compromise is a one-piece with legs like an old-timey suit; it also protects my thighs from jellyfish stings)
You are a model, out there on your bike. I really believe that, even though it is so hard sometimes to get out there and live your life without apology, biking because you like to bike and not because you are doing penance for cheesecake, you are setting an example - a good one.

Punk-assBookJockey

@PistolPackinMama I need that stitched on a pillow!
@kinbarichan Thank you! Same to you out there swimming! I got a swimsuit this year and went out to the beach with friends while camping and it is so much fun! It is hard to push yourself to just not think about how you look and have fun, but I think the more people who do it the more people will feel comfortable with it, and we'll all be healthier for it. I always feel more at ease when I see people my size out doing things I want to do. Even things that aren't exercise, like getting a pedicure or something!

packedsuitcase

@Punk-assBookJockey Your being fat will not make your kids crazy about weight. Hand to (insert diety of your choice). Just make sure you accept that, whatever their body type, they will still have insecurities and do not add to them/comment on them/act like they are less soul-crushing some days than yours are. My mom is fat and I have always been fairly slim (okay, until I started eating my feelings in college and then my metabolism slowed down and oh hey, size 10, how are you doing?), and she used to make all kinds of comments about my body that *now* I can see came from a place of insecurity + assuming that because I was slimmer, body issues didn't apply to me. I think if my mom focused more on accepting and loving her body the way it was (while still trying to make healthy choices) it would have been really inspiring and made me a more body positive person.

MsMisery

(First time post! Long time lurker!) I always hear about how "the last 10-15 lbs is the hardest to lose." Well, I ONLY want to lose 10-15 lbs. And then I feel all weird about it because I only want to lose it for comfort reasons right now (I put on some winter weight that won't got away), as opposed to health, and when I tell people I want to lose weight they berate me for already being one of the "skinny bitches." But I am approaching 30 and I know that I need to get a handle on things like nutrition and exercise and my metabolism before I am 100 lbs overweight like my mother.

Cat named Virtute

@MsMisery You can get a handle on those things without losing weight! My mom is constantly making comments to me about my cousin, who is overweight. The kid eats the same food as the rest of the family, and his sister and father are not overweight, he plays golf all summer, he plays hockey all winter, and he's had basically the same body shape forever. But he's active, he eats decently well, and he's healthy as a horse. Listen to what your body wants in terms of food and movement, but don't give it a hard time because it's not just the right size.

gobblegirl

@MsMisery People who talk about "skinny bitches" or "eat a sandwich" or are NOT body-positive. They are hateful jerks.
Never let anyone make you feel bad for ANYTHING you do or don't do with your body. If you want to lose weight for health, your business. If you want to lose weight because you think you will look better, also your business.
If you find yourself thinking negative body thoughts, then maybe do some introspecting of the "am I doing this for me? what are my actual goals and needs?" variety, but just go out there and live yoru life. Fuck the haters. Fit into your shorts from 3 years ago (okay, now maybe i'm projecting a little bit).

sarah girl

@MsMisery I'm in the exact same boat as you. I don't have too much to add because I'm trying to puzzle it out, too, but just wanted you to know you aren't alone.

entangled

@MsMisery you can absolutely get a handle on health/nutrition/fitness without focusing on your weight. Maybe you will lose weight, maybe you won't. We have limited control over what our bodies do as we get older, but unless you were an elite athlete there's no reason you can't run faster/lift more/eat a more nutritious diet than you have in the past.

If you want to lose weight, that's fine. It's not my business or anyone else's to judge anyone's motivations (unless they are close to me and I suspect their life/health to be in serious danger). But I do agree with gobblegirl who suggested you should examine why you want to lose weight and if it's really going to make you happier and healthier. I've always found that as soon as I start trying to be smaller, the goalposts move and I can never be small enough.

Also - why are you telling other people you are trying to lose weight? It's not their business and it's usually either destructive or boring (or both) to talk about. If people are offering you food you don't want, it's OK to politely turn it down by saying you're not hungry or it's something you don't want to eat right now.

Linette

@MsMisery I am in this boat too. I've been anywhere from 140-165 lbs (I'm pretty tall) over my adult life, and I was decidedly at my absolute healthiest/fittest at the low end of that weight range. I'm at the high end now, and I'm scared that if I don't work on it I'm going to go right into the 170s, and the 180s, and then it will never end.

Especially as we get older, it's a lot harder to maintain. I've been my current weight (163) before, when I was in college, and I got right back down to around 145 within a summer of eating better and running regularly. But that was when I was 21, and now I am 28, and it is a LOT harder to lose weight.

Older friends and relatives tell me that with every year that goes by, it's harder to LOSE weight, but with good habits of exercise and eating well in general, you can maintain a weight without feeling restricted or like you're constantly on a diet or a crash exercise program or anything. Which is to say, generally the weight/activity level/diet you have when you're around 30ish is a pattern you can maintain, but it's really hard to alter it for the better (obviously altering it for the worse is super-easy and sometimes really appealing).

That's a scary prospect for the rest of my life - that if I don't get into a good pattern very soon and maintain it, I'm probably going to find it extremely hard to reverse it as I get older. I'm already finding it hard! And from all accounts, it only gets harder as you get older and your metabolism slows down and all the rest. It's also really common for people to continually gain weight as they get older if their lifestyle isn't healthy enough to maintain their weight - so if you're not terribly active, eventually your metabolism simply won't be enough to keep you from weight gain and you'll gain weight, which will usually mean you're less inclined to be active, and then the cycle just perpetuates. It feels a lot like I need to figure this out RIGHT NOW or be doomed forever.

I know it's possible to turn it around, I'm not saying it's a given, it's just the fear that it will become so hard I won't want to try. And I'm already feeling that way, because I've been exercising lots and learning to cook delicious, healthy things that I love to eat, and generally doing all the right things, and the body, it changes soooooo sloooooooowly these days. It didn't used to be this hard.

MsMisery

@arrr starr and @gobblegirl Well, I don't go around proclaiming it. But I work in an office of wommenz, so it comes up, and even among friends if I try to contribute to a discussion about goals I get the "You don't need to lose any weight!!" comments. Maybe I don't NEED to lose it to save my life, but I would like to, so I don't have to go out and buy all new pants (not 3 years-ago-pants, just last years :), and just generally feel comfortable in my own skin.

Plussss, ugh. My biggest downfall is the way I eat. I know the first thing I need to cut out is crap food. But the things, they are so delicious.

MsMisery

@Linette YES. The FEARING. I have the fear, too. Dreading the Next Decade, and the family history of diabetes, and of course, fondly recalling my high school weight (which is still on my drivers license). Also fearing the hard work because I've never been sporty and I hate working out with a flaming hot passion (but I do it! YMCA membership here!). I just wish hating working out burned as many calories as actually working out.

Linette

@MsMisery I'm one of those people who decidedly feels better when I work out regularly, and enjoys the physical challenge, but it's so much work to get started if I stop. I worked out yesterday, and it's easy to remember how good it felt, so I'll probably be able to persuade myself to do it today. If I wait two days, though, I'll forget that I actually like it, and stop doing it.

My short term memory is that of a fish. A fish who does not swim.

entangled

@Linette I found that this was the case for me when I started - I had to go to the gym every single day or I was afraid I would stop entirely. It took a sadly long amount of time forcing myself compulsively to work out even in circumstances where it made me kind of a jerk (sick at the gym, should have been visiting sick relatives, etc, etc) to get to the point where I can let go and realize that sometimes working out is not the healthiest thing to do, but it's awesome most of the time and I'll be psyched up to do it when I can.

But, yes! To get started, doing something (almost) every single day is a great way to build the habit, the stamina, and the appreciation for the (non-weight) results. I totally recommend it, especially to those not so prone to restriction and exercise compulsion (also tip: do not go running 9 days in a row without a rest day. I couldn't walk for days after that one)

Linette

@arrr starr Oh, yes. I didn't think to mention that, but doing exercise that is proportional to what you're capable of is a big deal. Even on my rest day I stretch or go for a walk or do something low-key but still categorized as "exercise" in my head. And now that you mention it, I'll probably try to do that if I get sick or something - just pick a form of exercise that is suitable for a sick person, which will probably mostly involve lifting 8 oz of water to swallow lots of Nyquil capsules. Because yes, I fear falling off the bandwagon. I'd love to get to the point where I could take a week off and just jump right back on, but I know the habit isn't deeply enough ingrained yet.

I can do that for other habits I've done for years, though, so I'm sure I'll get there eventually with exercise.

like a rabid squirrel

@Linette This is something I worry about too! I have experienced what it's like to gain weight absentmindedly, and indeed to lose it somewhat absentmindedly (by switching up my lifestyle without weight loss as a goal, mostly exercising to cope with stress). Yet, I'm really happy with my lifestyle and appearance right now, and I'm terrified that if I gain weight again, it'll become harder and harder to take off as I age. Combine this with moving to a new city soon and starting a PhD program and I'm basically freaking out all the time about how I'm going to establish a routine when I don't even know my schedule or where the store is or approximately how miserable and homesick I'm going to be. It all starts to feel pretty insurmountable when you think of your appearance (and happiness with that appearance) as related to so many lifestyle factors, and that these factors will continue to be in flux FOREVER.

Does this make sense? Just saying that I relate.

Xanthophyllippa

@MsMisery I suspect those last 10-15 lbs are the hardest to lose because that's our bodies telling us, "you're at a weight we like; you can stop now."

packedsuitcase

@Xanthophyllippa YES! My body has basically decided on a range it's comfortable with, and it strongly dislikes me trying to make it get smaller. I don't super love my body, but I am working on accepting that I will never be the waif-like ballerina type I would like to be, and that I am more a Marilyn Monroe than a Natalie Portman, and that is okay. In fact, it is great.

Cat named Virtute

@RobotsNeedLove But it's not about being doomed. Say you up your produce intake, slash your processed carbs and fats intake, and start running and doing yoga multiple times per week. Say you don't lose weight, or you do, but then you gain it back. What are you doomed to? Living a more active, healthy lifestyle? If we create a path for ourselves that doesn't fixate on size and numbers, than healthy changes don't doom us to anything.

dabbyfanny

A few things that have helped me:

-The thought that whether you hate your body, or accept your body, you weigh the same. So you may as well give yourself permission to accept your body - you'll feel better.
-When you think about going for a walk, or eating something healthy, visualize a reward for that behavior i.e. if I walk, I'll feel all glowy and energized. If I eat peaches, my skin will look great.
-Recognize that every day is full of opportunities to make decisions that are healthy, and others that ain't so healthy. Making an unhealthy decision is just that, a one-off that is no big deal. It doesn't make you a bad person who will never lose weight, so don't beat yourself up - that just starts a cycle of eating to make yourself feel better. Go for a general trend of healthy decisions.
-Try not to focus on the scales, those don't reflect what's really happening in your body as you gain strength.
-If you are feeling down about yourself, get a great haircut and buy something gorgeous that fits you really well. Basically, just demonstrate tangibly to yourself that you are worth taking care of, no matter what the hell you weigh. This may sound shallow, but I radically changed my hair and my body image has improved about 100%. No shit.
-Try and remember that everyone - even those models in the magazines- freaks out about some feature of themselves, which is sure proof to me that this shit IS a construct, and we are doing it to ourselves.
-Your family may not be helping and you may need to make a moratorium on their weight related comments. One time when my mother was making snide comments about how much weight I had gained, I asked her when it was that I had been perfect? Because I had been too thin, and now I was too fat, so by logical extension, I must have been perfect at some point, and I wish she'd pointed it out so I could have known. It did shut her up for a while. Another time, I just lost my shit and screamed at her. Not healthy, but she hasn't made fun of me since.
-Recognize that watching TV makes you crave junk food. Seriously consider throwing out your TV. And all those studies about how reading fashion magazines leads to lower self esteem may have something, I haven't looked at Marie Claire in months and I'm feeling pretty good.
-If you catch yourself evaluating another woman's body, give yourself a mental slap. I can't explain how accepting other women has helped me accept myself, I only know it has.
-Try and find an exercise you enjoy. For me, walking around the neighborhood, listening to my "guilty pleasures" playlist on my iPod is what I love (that sucker is loaded with eighties music). Such a treat to get out and MOVE.

It is a mental exercise, all this. It takes perseverance, but it helps me to remember that the weight loss and beauty industries are huge, and they make money by making you feel like shit. So you are a caped avenger who refuses to be sucked into their nasty, self hating vortex.

redheaded&crazy

@dabbyfanny Great advice! Walking is also my exercise I enjoy! I have to constantly defend it against people who consider it to be not active enough/not high impact enough/whateverrrrrrrrrr. which is annoying.

I think your point about not evaluating other women is also very useful. I think that doing so in the first place is an extension of negative body image in ourselves. Like, if I don't like my stomach, I'm constantly going to be focusing on other women's stomachs. Because it makes me feel better about mine or something? Which is a complete lose/lose game. But at the same time it's so much easier to see beauty in other people than in ourselves (at least for me anyway) so reframing the focus on that makes it easier for me to be body positive about myself. Like, hey I think that woman is gorgeous and she has a similar body type to me! So that means maybe my body isn't so bad after all! I guess it's a kind of roundabout way of achieving something, I don't know if it's the greatest way.

miss olsen

@dabbyfanny I also like to remind myself that "those models in magazines" are not real. They're strategically photographed, then photoshopped and airbrushed and whittled down. Whenever I feel tempted to compare myself to something I see in a magazine, I remind myself that that image is a thing someone created with a computer, whereas I am a real person living in the world.

madge

@dabbyfanny amazing and practical advice. i too love the idea of making a point to not evaluating other women's bodies. i sort of look at it like, what am i brewing up in my head? whatever's brewing is what is going to be on tap for everyone including me. so i try to brew up tasty affection rather than nasty judginess.

Cat named Virtute

@dabbyfanny Hear fucking hear! This is so wonderful and humanizing and gentle and kind.

PistolPackinMama

@dabbyfanny Amen to being generous about other women. And it makes it so much more fun to be in the world, because if you drop the shoulding all over the place, you see what is really there.

Women are so gorgeous. So many kinds, all doing their thing, looking lovely and being rad.

I feel badly for entitled dudebros who have an I Deserve A Perfect 10/What Will My Friends Think mentality. They've narrowed down their world of beauty to such a very few things, and I always get the feeling they are persuaded that the woman they are with bribed the East German judges for an extra .10 of a point on technique.

It's so sad for them. (Also they should play hide and go fuck yourself.)

Also, a well fitted LBD, if LBDs are your jam, cures all manner of ills.

If I eat peaches, I get to eat peaches, and they are my favorite fruit, and maybe in my top 5 favorite foods. So. Good.

redheaded&crazy

@PistolPackinMama And it makes it so much more fun to be in the world, because if you drop the shoulding all over the place, you see what is really there.

YES.

sarah girl

@madge What's that quote about being kind to everyone, because everyone is fighting their own battle? Very applicable.

Also, it feels really good to discourage woman-judging among your friends and peers, too. You don't have to break off into rants each time, but sometimes just staying silent when teasing starts or shooting someone a skeptical look when they make a comment can make a noticeable difference.

PistolPackinMama

@Sarah H. Ahhhhhhahahahahahahhhhhhh... I live in a zero-tolerance-for-body-hate-world. And my friends know it. I've thrown people out onto the deck in mid-January to finish their plastic surgery and diet talk because in my house, there is no body hate about yourself or anyone else. None.

I overheard a friend once say "should I be bad and order the lard-dipped chocolate pretzel bacon fries with a side of whipped toxins and sugar mustard MSG sauce?" (Or whatever) And another friend said "don't say stuff like that around PPM. She won't allow it." And the friend quit and ordered the bacon fries. And I cackled and drank beer.

My world is much nicer since I adopted this policy.

Cat named Virtute

@PistolPackinMama Do you have pointers on ushering that into your life? I'm okay at it when it comes to direct comments about me or in general or snarking on others, because I can talk about who they hurt, but I have yet to find a good effective way to deal with diet/plastic surgery/whatever talk that people direct at themselves that is kind and accepting that everyone is at different places in their self-acceptance/body positivity journey but also firm and gets the job done.

PistolPackinMama

@Cat named Virtute Um... well. I am bossy. So I actually just said "after X-incident, I have decided I can't stand body-hate talk of any kind." And then ever after I rudely interrupt negging and say "this is a no body hate table/house/bar stool. Can you save it till I go to the bathroom. If you want to talk about how awesome your exercise is making you feel, great. But no body hate here."

I mean, really. It's been that brutal. But it's worked.

noodge

@PistolPackinMama I love your stance on this, and how vocal you are about it. Fuck yeah. I'm definitely going to take on your "no-body-hate" zone tactics in my own mind at first, then I'll take it outside once I feel firm in it.

And I'm completely impressed at your weight lifting.

Cat named Virtute

@PistolPackinMama Oh man, okay. My mother's voice will be in my head reminding me how bossy and demanding I am, but I will determinedly try it!

Man, this thread is making me realize that I have A Lot Of Issues.

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama Ugh, I totally needed you today when my friend said, "I'm going to make a pig of myself" and then ordered a normal-sized lunch. I don't know where this came from; she's just recently started pulling this shit on me. Usually we'd just go to lunch and eat whatever the hell we wanted.

That said, and as per @dabbyfanny's comment above, I don't WANT to give myself permission to accept my body no matter what. That's how I ended up 5' and 169 and feeling miserable and unhealthy all the time. When I finally stopped looking in the mirror and telling myself I was okay, I got off my ass, found ways to do activities I knew I liked, and, over the course of the 10 years, dropped the weight. Since I generally don't get much lower than I currently am, and since I look good in my clothes and generally feel pretty good, I have given myself permission again to accept my body. I don't always have to love it and I reserve the right to think nasty things about it, but I'm no longer stressing to make it look like something it isn't.

PistolPackinMama

@Cat named Virtute I am sure your mama is a lovely lady. But in this instance she is totally wrong and needs to STFU.

I think people are so shocked when you first say "it's a pizza with white sauce, not disarming Iran's nuclear weapons. Eat it. It's fine." or "Okay, this negative body talk has got to stop or I am going to lose my temper, cry or both. Save it for when I am not here." Or "sometimes mental health has to win over other kinds of health options. I am getting Pringles."

They just don't know what to do. So they don't do anything. Then when they realize you aren't going to shut up about it, they eventually just... shut up about it.

I do say "yeah, I know, it's so hard to be cool with where your body is at, when there is so much pressure on us to be thin. But it's easier to resist the bullshit if you don't self-generate it." Or "I do understand you hate your belly. But it's a fine belly, there's not a thing wrong with it. And if you want to ab-crunch it away, I understand that desire. But that belly hate is absolutely unnecessary. You don't need to hate it, because it is fine."

But that's about it.

It's been that easy. Really.

PistolPackinMama

@teenie Also, I have always been self conscious of having All the Shoulders. But you know what I decided? If I have to have them (it's not like a shoulderectomy is an option, really), I am gonna HAVE THEM LIKE A MOTHERFUCK.

Fuck yeah.

My workout buddy, who is tiny, used to box, and one day she looked me up and down and said appraisingly and said "yeah. You are meant to be a heavy weight fighter. I could jabjabjab at you all day, and then you'd get one punch in and I'd be down. Yup. A heavyweight. You are meant for being a boxing heavyweight."

I could see gears turning.

I figured, well. Okay. I am not going to have a lithe dancer body no matter what I do. I can dance. I love to dance. But I won't have that Balanchine body. But I can learn to throw a dangerous punch. So I am gonna learn."

And I am gonna. Learn that is. Not actually really punch anyone.

My point is, weights. Are. Awesome. Duck to water, etc etc. Running is still sucking, but weights I can just do and get better at by doing. So. Yeah.

packedsuitcase

@PistolPackinMama YES! Yes to the positive body talk, the banning negative self talk, yes to everything you have said ever in this thread.

I am going to put this to work, starting today.

noodge

@PistolPackinMama hahaha, I love that - "I am gonna HAVE THEM LIKE A MOTHERFUCK."

I'm like that with my legs. i was told at the age of 13 that my legs were too "big" (muscular) to have any serious shot at being a professional ballet dancer - which was my goal at the time. So I became a modern dancer instead. Now, with all the biking and dancing and squats and lunges I do, my thighs are pretty impressive. Maybe they look odd on my small frame, but I <3 them.

Xanthophyllippa

@teenie I LOVE MY LEGS. They are HUGE from running and biking and rowing and swimming and diving and when I had to run hills for softball in high school and really good leg genetics (thanks, Dad!). I have a hard time buying boots because my calves are massive and pants are hard to find because they often don't fit over my quads, but holy shit I would not trade these muscles for ANYTHING because I love it when random people tell me I have great legs (like the food service worker at a conference who yelled across the room at his co-worker, "Hey, come look at this girl's calves!") Same with my arms.

<3 u, musclies!

sceps yarx

THIS POST IS AWESOME! I think I will be sharing it with my therapist later today.

area@twitter

Thank you, this is an awesome post. I'm going to throw a book in the pile, if I may? It's Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink; he runs a food lab at Cornell and he's done some really interesting research on food psychology, talking about, well, why we tend to eat more than we think. I love his approach, because it's both fact-based and cheerful; he makes it clear that he loves food, all kinds of food, and that eating more than we think we do is not indicative of some great defect in our moral characters, but rather a combination of our environment and habits. It's an interesting piece of the puzzle that I don't think gets looked at enough. Love the book. Love it.

madge

@area@twitter that sounds great! added to my library list, thanks!

KeLynn

@area@twitter Added to my wishlist! Looks interesting.

entangled

This is excellent.

I somehow, very slowly, transitioned from crazy control diet "healthy" to actual, intuitive-eating and exercise based treating my body well. It IS an adventure, and I will always maintain that being as healthy as you can be (which means a different body shape and composition for everyone) in a self-accepting way is WAY, WAY harder than restricting food and counting calories burned on the elliptical. It's nuanced and mentally difficult, and those problems are always harder to solved than the ones that just involve sticking to rules and feeling self-righteous about it.

The adventure is about trying new things - new foods (which may or may not be diet-approved) and new exercises and listening to your body to see how they feel. Learning the difference between "stop this movement right now" pain and "just starting to build up previously under-utilized muscle" pain. Learning when your body is hungry (rather than your tastebuds or your mind) and figuring out when your body is telling you it needs a certain thing. I've found that when I let go of the guilt and the shoulds and shouldn'ts, most of my cravings are nutrient-based. Steak, broccoli, peanut butter. Once, based on a craving, I ate half a bag of frozen broccoli covered in tahini sauce and it was the most delicious thing ever. It has never been that delicious again, but apparently my body REALLY wanted something in that broccoli and tahini. Back when I was all about control and restricting, I couldn't listen to my body. What I craved was simply what I told myself I couldn't or shouldn't eat. Letting go of that noise - which was drowning out the signals telling me when I was hungry or full - really did feel like exploring uncharted terrain and an adventure of trying new foods without calories and grams of fat or carbs or whatever as a map.

Xanthophyllippa

@arrr starr I once had a three-week spinach-eating binge. Oddly, I didn't even like spinach at the time. I've never had that all-consuming a spinach craving again, but holy crap, did it taste good during those three weeks.

sparrow303

Yay! Find some way to use your body that makes you truly happy. This is good advice.

I started swimming because I wanted to lose weight, but I didn't lose any at first. I kept on swimming anyway because I liked it a lot and it made my head be quiet for a while, at a time when I had been very depressed. I kept on swimming and lost the weight I wanted to-- but mostly because I like swimming. And it's been easy to keep swimming because I still like it, and I like the way it's made me physically and mentally stronger, all other benefits aside.

Because I liked this new way I could use my body-- to swim!-- I wanted to take better care of it. I eat more natural foods now, avoid dairy (because I'm lactose intolerant but cheese is good!), and get far fewer stomachaches, meaning I feel better and can swim more!

TLDR: Happy mind, happy body, whether you lose weight or find it or what.

Cat named Virtute

@fishiefishfish Oh man, I so want to get to this place, where swimming (or yoga, or running) makes my head be quiet for a while. Right now it just ramps up my anxiety; either I'm worrying about my form and feeling awkward and ungainly, or, if I'm comfortable (looking at you, 500 meters of breast stroke) my brain goes into anxiety overdrive about whatever little things are flitting around my brain. It's why I have to put podcasts or music on to cook or clean--any task that is more kinetic than intellectual just frees up my brain for anxiety loops. Did you find that you got quiet brain naturally when you started swimming, or did you have to train your brain to shut up?

emilylou

@Cat named Virtute If I may suggest a book: The Body Mind Soul Solution

Bear in mind usually I HATE self-helpy shit. My awesome former therapist recommended this book to me a few years back when I was going through a really tough time with anxiety, and she even said to me "I know you usually HATE self-helpy stuff, but..." and I really liked it! It teaches you ways to use anxious/stressful/sad thoughts as fuel for exercise, and on the flip side, how to use exercise as a way to exorcise said thoughts. Instead of training your brain to just shut up, it trains it to think constructively while doing kinetic activities. It helped me become a more purposeful, motivated, (and faster!) runner.

(Also: haha, I got to say both "exercise" and "exorcise" in the same sentence. It's the little things)

Cat named Virtute

@emilylouise Thank you! I am similarly avoidant of self-helpy shit, but I will take your word for it.

sparrow303

@Cat named Virtute My anxiety tends to manifest as "checking"-- checking my email, checking FB, checking email again, etc etc. When I start swimming, my head is always still going 100 mph, but I can't do any of the things I'm thinking about (read: stalk exes on FB, check my email 50 times, make that phone call, etc), so if I let my brain do its thing, eventually it peters out. And if I keep thinking anyway, I tend to be more productive during a long swim-- it feels almost like meditating after a while, with the rhythms and the breathing.

Also, the longer I swim, the more tired I get, and the more tired I am, the less I panic about stuff. Generally, if I get some really good, long body-usage going, my head quiets down (I'm talking like 45m of swimming, typically, for optimum head-results, or about 60m of yoga. YMMV, naturally).

Re: form concerns, swim somewhere not-fancy. I swim at the Y, and nobody looks at each other in the pool. I wear my neon green noseplugs, even! They also offer form-related swim lessons, for those who know how to swim but not very well. I took one when I started and it helped me swim more efficiently, which helped me swim longer.

Xanthophyllippa

@fishiefishfish Noseplug wearers unite!

sparrow303

@Xanthophyllippa Aw dude, seriously. It's like chlorinating your brain, otherwise.

SweetAlissum

Thank you for these posts and basically existing, Megan.

My current battle is wanting to lose a specific amount of weight that made my doctors go from no comment at all to suddenly, "Have you thought about exercising more?" They're not bad doctors and they're not trying to shame me - they're vocalizing what I already knew. It's really hard for me not to put a number value on what I want. I was almost exactly this overweight 10 years ago, as a very lonely teenager with a host of food problems. It's also hard not to associate this weight gain with a forced change in my lifestyle that is a wound only partially healed.

When I moved out at 18 and I had the freedom to change my diet and exercise schedule with the magic of college, so I managed to work hard, lose weight and not go crazy. I had access to a gym right in my apartment complex, great friends, flexible hours with my job, and had the luxury of time to get so much sleep even after working out regularly.

I switched from summer and part-time working to a full-time job to support myself through the last year of undergrad. That is when everything changed. My parents were fighting with me, not wanting to help me get loans to finish school and live close to campus. My friends turned against me because I didn't have time to hang out anymore once I was working. My best friend and roommate turned nasty, secretive, and eventually decided she was moving out of our rent-controlled city apartment (where she was the lease holder), but refused to tell me for almost six months. I tried in vain to find someone else to live with, somewhere I could afford on my own, but no luck. I had to put my tail between my legs and go back to living with my parents in the suburbs.

Commuting two hours each way to the city to work and living in an area surrounded by freeways with no where to walk to, not to mention the loss of my friendship support groups and access to a free gym, the weight just piled back on. I was starting to feel a little more hopeful about life, patching relationships with friends, adding a new routine, when my entire work team was laid off. My mum assured me I could stay on her health insurance and continue to live rent-free but then she decided to leave her job and change her tune. I managed to thankfully find a new job, but with all the ups and downs of my life at home, could no longer stand it and saved to move out on my own.

So that's where I'm at now. I've had my own place for almost a year, but with a new razor thin budget (both of money and time) and no free gym, I'm still stuck at this weight. I'm moving back to eating better like I was in the Golden Days, but without the exercise, it's not enough. I want to be healthy, but it's really hard not associate that with weighing less, 'like I used to before all of this happened.' It's an on-going day-to-day process to be kind to myself and not associate ~30lbs with the past.

I shared my long story just to say that things are so hard with weight - so hard!! - and go on forever - your whole life!!! - so thank you again, Megan, the Hairpin, commenters, for reminding me that I'm not alone in struggling to be positive about my body.

madge

@SweetAlissum the point you make in your last paragraph -- that your relationship with your body is a life-long thing -- is so important, i think. it makes sense to take the time to develop the mental habits that allow you to relate to your body without freaking out, because you can use them every day for the rest of forever. it's like compounding interest!

SweetAlissum

@madge That is an awesome way of putting things. Compound interest for body image!

I thought I was positive when I was eating healthy, exercising, and a healthy weight, but nope. I had to gain back the weight, go through forced lifestyle changes, to truly start learning to be better to myself about my body. Sometimes you do all you can and things still aren't what you hoped - and you have to tell yourself every day that it's okay.

PistolPackinMama

@SweetAlissum Ugh. I want to start the Reform Society So Activity And Eating Are Not Just Valorized By Everyone And Everything But Are Actually Achievable to Everyone. God. Poverty is one of the biggest health risks we can have, really. And that's just not right.

/human right rant.

SweetAlissum

@PistolPackinMama I would be in such favor of that reform society. I'm not even poor myself so I feel bad complaining on some level. (I live in an area with insanely high cost of living and I would move away, but this is the job market for my industry. Plus student loans and being single.) However, even from my middle class position, I'm finding it so hard to have time for anything outside of work, chores, sleep. My friends in harder economic positions than I am are in similar boats and it just sucks. I don't want to get jealous of friends with some kind of break - husband is the bread winner, parents help them, etc - but that is also a daily struggle!

H.E. Ladypants

Not to product plug but I did want to pop in and say that SparkPeople (www.sparkpeople.com) was kind of a Godsend for me in terms of thinking better about my body while improving my health. I realize it isn't for everybody but they are really big on the "HEY THIS IS A BIG WHOPPING ADVENTURE" ethos that Megan just espoused and taking care of your body because you are a fan of it. Also, there are forums where you can jump into groups and talk to people who are dealing with the same challenges and that is pretty nice. I know for me being able to talk to people who also had histories of mental health issues while figuring out how to take care of my body.

Again, not plugging for any reason other than that it was really good for me and it might help other people!

sarah girl

A tiny thing for people looking to make some small steps into a healthier lifestyle: Buy a pedometer. I know FitBit is all the rage but that shit is expensive, you can get much cheaper versions.

Throw it on your waistband in the morning and every now and then, check in on your number. You can record them if you want, but if you know that's going to make you anxious and obsessive, then don't. Most likely, you'll start thinking things like "hmm, I wonder how high I can get my steps if I walk to get lunch instead of driving? What's the difference between a day of using the elevator and a day of using stairs?"

I really like it because it makes you think of small, incremental things you can do to increase your step count, and thus improve your health.

Also, if you have some friends who are in a similar boat and aren't too over-competitive, you can suggest going in on a pedometer experiment together! Again, it's not about winning or losing, just encouraging each other. Also, fun things like "Holy shit, did you know that walk we just took around the park was 8000 steps?! So amazing!!"

PistolPackinMama

@Sarah H. Check your ipod. It might have a pedometer feature if it's a newer one.

Xanthophyllippa

@Sarah H. One of my friends did this! By the end of a summer she was walking the mile and a half home from campus instead of taking the bus. Sometimes little changes = big results.

Linette

I just want to ask: am I the only one who finds tracking my weight to be helpful? I know that a lot of people have real problems with doing it, and it can lead to unhealthy obsessions, and for those people it is clearly not the best way to track their progress. But for me, it's nice to have a number to shoot for so I can feel like I'm getting somewhere.

Don't get me wrong - I have other goals, like running a certain distance in a certain time, and I don't think my weight is a barometer for how healthy I am or anything, but I do have an accurate idea of a healthy weight for me, and I know I'm currently not in that weight range, and it's nice (for me) to be working toward that healthy range.

I just feel like it can be a perfectly healthy way to make progress, and it seems like a lot of people feel like it is always VERY dangerous to use your weight as a factor in your overall health, and I don't really feel that way. It can be, for sure! But I don't think it always is. Am I alone in that?

redheaded&crazy

@Linette When I started to lose weight, it wasn't because my intention was to lose weight. In fact, I had tried many times in the past to lose weight by running, going to the gym, swimming, etc, none of which seemed to help. I just started going for long, energetic walks because it was good for my emotional health at the time.

Then, when I realized it was actually causing me to lose weight, I did start to track it on a weekly basis. I don't know if that necessarily came out of a healthy place though. I think it came from a place of surprise that this low impact thing was working where so many other things had failed, according to this tangible measure on my scale. I just don't know.

I feel like my focus on weight is antithetical to what is being discussed here. Blah! I'm not advocating for my experience as healthy I guess. That was just my experience.

OhMarie

@Linette I'm with you. I've tried to get healthier multiple times in the past and have only been successful recently, since I started weighing myself. Apparently I'm not very...perceptive, I guess? So I don't notice things like, oh, I feel better or my pants fit now that other people can use as benchmarks. Having a moving number that says, "yes, moving my body and not eating all of those things that are basically not even food is doing something other than depriving you of cheez its and ice cream" has been incredibly helpful.

Linette

@OhMarie Right. And there are a lot of studies that say setting a specific goal is much better than a general goal - like, "run a 5K" vs. "boost my running endurance." Weight isn't ideal, obviously - and I'd imagine I'd be equally motivated by lowering my body fat percentage (which would be a more accurate measure of how healthy I was getting), but weight is easier to measure accurately on a daily basis at the gym. They charge The Monies for an accurate body fat percentage calculation. The scale is free.

H.E. Ladypants

@Linette I gotcha. I weigh myself every morning. I like doing it every morning because it helps me keep in mind that I have a range to stick to, not a number. I also like to have an outside indicator that is 100% not subjective. I understand how it can make some people crazypants but for me something non-subjective like a number can be really helpful. If I'm having one of THOSE mornings I can go "nope, sorry brain, I don't buy it. Call me fat all you want but I weigh the same I did last week when I was feelin' alright."

This is something that I think works best for me as a motivator for losing or maintaining weight, though. Back when I was first just trying to BE OKAY with my body (without which I never would have gotten into shape in the first place) I think those numbers would have been panic inducing. At that point things like getting through a yoga class and eating more vegetables were pretty key. But those were also tangible, external goals! So, yeah, I think the big thing is to have real goals you can accomplish and outside measurements you can use. The scale can be one of those! But milage may hugely vary.

Linette

@H.E. Ladypants Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I'm trying to be really respectful of other people's objections to the scale, because clearly it has wreaked some havoc for many folks and I'm absolutely not recommending they try it when it triggers bad things for them. I'm just glad to hear other people have had other experiences, because my experience of tracking my weight has been benign at worst and extremely helpful at best.

I think your example of shutting up your brain when it's being mean with an objective number is a good way of showing how it can be a positive and healthy tool. Sometimes we're too hard on ourselves and having outside indicators that we are hitting milestones and give us that little reminder nudge that we're just feeling bad, we're not actually DOING bad.

noodge
redheaded&crazy

@teenie in my experience with internet communities this kind of thing is very common. "old" people leave, "new" people come in, the tone of things changes/evolves/devolves/whatever. nothing ever stays the way we want it to!

-armchair internet anthropology (???)

area@twitter

@teenie People have to do what gives them peace. Sad to see a good commenter go, but I wouldn't want anyone to stay and be unhappy either.

noodge

@redheaded&crazie

Yeah, no I get it. The whole convo upthread seemed to me to devolve so... strangely. I'm not accustomed to this sort of foot stomping on here, so I guess that's why it was interesting. It's a little uncomfortable, so I guess this is probably the best solution?

Anyway. You don't go. You. redheaded&crazie. don't even think about it.

Scandyhoovian

@teenie It's like ye olde Fandom_Wank commenters. The brouhaha over "new people" coming in and disrupting the old ways, I don't even know.

I've never quite understood people who flounce and brag about it as if it matters in the big picture (oh no I stopped commenting on a website I used to comment on?) but to each their own, I suppose. If someone's not happy here then why would anyone want them to stay where they're unhappy?

also the idea of people coming in here to troll the thread is unsettling to me but that's just because I find the hairpin to be the one place on the internet I DON'T see that kind of behavior and I like it that way >.>

redheaded&crazy

@teenie i could never leave. i'm far too earnest for anyplace else on the internet to tolerate me!

Clare

@teenie If someone wants to systematically categorize ALL of her opinions on every possible topic as the One True Opinion and everyone else's opinions as Total Bullshit, well, that's her prerogative and frankly I won't miss that kind of nasty, intolerant attitude.

Faintly Macabre

@Scandyhoovian Yeah, there was a website whose forums I used to read daily and comment on frequently in high school. And then I got bored and kind of annoyed with the people/content. So I...stopped visiting the forums. And didn't say anything about it to the people on the forum or even a IRL friend I'd made through them, because should anyone really care when one person leaves one facet of their internet life, even the person herself?

/earnestness--back to you, RH&C!

Diana

@teenie

Oh Christ. This sort of behavior has ruined every single Internet community I have ever loved. Do not give it attention. Do not encourage this shit. Don't speculate about it. If the community has become something that she feels no longer pertains to her interests, so be it, everybody is welcome to the Internet browsing of their choosing. But the second visiting or not visiting an online community becomes a Political Act everything turns to shit.

Blondsak

@teenie Eh, yeah, this is unfortunate. It's obviously creates a lot of difficult emotions in her, but I think she realizes that and tries to handle it as best she can; of course, as we all know that's not easy, not in the least. I may not agree with some of what she said, but I think much of it was in frustration of the moment and also perhaps frustration with herself a bit too. In any case, I don't want her to be here if it makes her unhappy, but I hope she will come back if she wants to.

Honestly, the thing that really gets me is to see Leon considering heading into the sunset, since he has posted some of my favorite comments and is generally very thoughtful, eloquent and even-tempered.

Xanthophyllippa

@Diana WORD. Especially since this is a kind of Political Act that has no effect on anything meaningful. It's not, like, a boycott of a company with identifiable human rights abuses to target its profit margin. It's a huff, plain and simple.

boyofdestiny

@Xanthophyllippa Oh, I don't know. If the "Hairpin Community" is an actual thing, and not just an empty badge that's tossed around to boost our sense of self-regard, then a statement like that from a commenter like cherrispryte, who's written for the site and has been here from the beginning, is absolutely a political act.

I'm not a huge believer in gold stars or anything, but I think she's earned at least a "hey, maybe this is a cause for reflection," rather than a "good riddance."

redheaded&crazy

@boyofdestiny What I really appreciate about your tone, across all hairpin articles, is your ability to make people take a step back and think, "hey maybe this is a cause for reflection," without raising hackles. I was going to say more but I really need to exert self-control in internet drama situations and not get involved (more). So I'm just going to leave it at that. I appreciate your comments boyofdestiny!

noodge

@boyofdestiny I think if she wanted to stick around and engage in meaningful debate rather than getting ragey or "flounce"ing, then we definitely would change the tenor of our discussion. That's not the case though, right? am I reading her tone/words incorrectly? (actually asking, since that's entirely possible)

Xanthophyllippa

@redheaded&crazie @boyofdestiny What RH&C said! You raise a good point here. I was thinking "political act" more along the lines of "here's something that will actually produce noticeable change" -- I wasn't thinking about it as a visible way of making a particular statement, which is also a political act.

I think what got me thinking in terms of huff was the tumblr comment, which I did not interpret favorably. I think we've all been pretty good about not insisting that weight control methods that worked for us will work for everyone; some folks have added that particular disclaimer, but for the most part it's the tone that suggests we're telling stories about our own experience rather than telling anyone else How It Is. I was, however, miffed that someone I didn't know stated pretty explicitly that no matter what I did towards changing my body, it wouldn't work in the long run. The dynamics of speaking about experience without preaching or decreeing works both ways.

But you're right about the community bit, though. I think this is one of the few online places I've been that does actually feel like it's got people behind it, rather than just a few names on the internet.

noodge

see, because here's the thing that isn't resonating positively with me, that has actually really gotten under my collar:

we all have beliefs, thoughts, opinions... we've all done research, and these beliefs are based on our lives and experiences and our attempts to understand other people's lives and experiences. most of the people who "hang out" on the hairpin want to learn, want to understand, want to communicate what we've learned in our lives, and help others feel good about living their life. occasionally we disagree, but for the most part even if there are disagreements we move on, or live and let live, because we know that no matter how extensively we learn about other people, we will never understand what they feel because it's not our life: it's theirs.

I witnessed a lot of people learning from each other in this thread. There were a number of positive exchanges, whether people agreed with what the others were saying or not: everyone seemed to want to learn. But when people weren't learning what Cherrispryte wanted them to learn - when they disagreed or had a difference of opinion - then (from my perspective) she actually seemed pretty insulting to their beliefs. The toxicity she felt - I didn't feel it, and was surprised to see her write that.

Is it toxic that other people have different experiences or beliefs? I don't think so. These beliefs didn't put her down, that I saw. It seemed to me that she wanted to shut down those who approach the whole issue differently than she did. THAT seems toxic. And if we're taking the "community of Hairpin" seriously, then yes: I think we should speak up if we see that sort of toxicity. Not to make bogeymen (bogeywomen?) out of anybody but to keep us mindful.

We can't continue the dialog if people rush out of the room and slam the door. Yes, she's got a strong, intelligent, important voice. But none of us can hear it anymore. And that was her choice.

candybeans

god, i love you. i want to print this out and, like, take it to a tattoo shop and have them tattoo it on my arms so i can see it all the time. THANK YOU.

sydwi

Most of my life, I was generally okay with my body. I was overweight and not really pleased with how it looked, but I felt it was just the way I was. Then I joined Curves and started to lose weight. The closer I got to "normal," or what I thought normal was, the more I focused on it and worried about it. I've lost about 50 pounds total, quite slowly, and I am so close to being what I want to look like and it feels so far. The closer I get, the worse I feel and more obsessed I get. And I've recently realized that I'll probably never be satisfied. I'm working through it.

One thing that has helped me immensely is superbetter.com. I am doing the body image one as well as the depression and it's helped me refocus and retrain my thoughts on my body. (The developer just did a ted talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life.html ) I really recommend checking it out and playing with it. Doing it challenge by challenge made me mindful of my thoughts and it felt less overwhelming to be following a path rather than expecting a change overnight.

I feel I can lose weight in a more healthy fashion when I am not thinking of my body as something that needs to be fixed, just taken care of. SB helps me with that. Otherwise it's too easy to see food as out to trip me up rather than fuel all the fun I want to be having.

Maladydee

@sydwi this is a really late response due to finding my way here via a link-trail, but I just wanted to say that I watched that ted talk, signed up for superbetter, and am pretty excited about it. It meshes with ideas that I have been having lately about setting goals for myself and looks like something I could really do, and have fun doing. Thanks for posting this :D

sydwi

@Maladydee That makes me so happy! I really love it and how it has helped me, and I hope it's a great tool for you, too. :)

lizardjellybean

Everyone seems to be leaving lovely websites that seem super helpful, so I thought I'd add to the pile- anyone ever try www.superbetter.com? It's definitely more about your relationship with food and your body, and little steps toward big goals than it is about WEIGHTLOSSNOWORELSE,FATTY, and it was definitely a helper toward making a lot of really good choices in my life. I lost a pants size so far, and it's actually been sort of fun? Hard, but fun. Superbetter frames it like you're a superhero in a video game- you earn points for completing quests, and you keep a secret identity, stuff like that. It can sooooometimes be a little cringe-inducingly cutesy, but mostly I thought it was helpful and silly-fun.
THAT SAID, I mean, I've been feeling a lot better about myself lately, but I still often get stuck in the Evil Voice loop, where my brain tells me that the reason I am not in a fulfilling relationship is because I am overweight. Which I think is maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy? I am overweight, and so I have low-self esteem often, and so I don't think dudes find low self-esteems attractive? But I'm not 100% sure how to battle that.

sarah girl

@lizardjellybean That looks really interesting, thanks!

noodge

@lizardjellybean
Evil voice is... Evil. I have my own, and I'm sure a lot of others have them too.

From my own quest to tame the evil voice, I've found that discovering compassion for the evil voice helps. This is a common theme in Buddhist meditation (and Thich Nhat Hanh does a number of helpful books for non-buddhists, like "You Are Here") and revolves around trying to comfort that voice, understanding the voice. It sounds MEGA CHEESY when writing it out, but it's made a huge difference for me. There is also a book called "feeding your demons" that breaks down another buddhist meditation technique that personifies these negative voices.

In the end, it's about loving yourself, which can be way more easily said than done. But rest assured it's very human, so you've got a heap of people who can relate to it and pass along any wisdom they may have on it! Good luck!

@teenie It's so helpful! My therapist taught me how to do this, basically by treating my OCD as a part and then being nice to it. It totally works. I don't give into its demands (which are usually "clean ALL the things!" and "worry about ALL the problems!"), I'm just sort of like "there, there, you tiny little special child, you little fucked up monster baby!"

Okay, the downside is that I frequently refer to myself as "we" when talking about my anxiety/OCD because I no longer see it as part of myself, but an outside thing that I can deal with. "Oh yeah, we're doing fine, we had a rough day the other day but it's under control. OCD wanted me the bleach the carpet, and I said that was ridiculous and we went for a walk instead." I promise I'm sane, guys.

I haven't tried it with the evil weight voice, but maybe I'll try it. "We wanted to feel shitty about our upper arms, but then we said 'fuck you!' to negativity and went for a walk instead."

noodge

@S. Elizabeth AHHH I love it!

For me it's like "hey, you... yeah you sulking in the corner. What's up? it's ok, you can talk to me. OK BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO YELL! it's ok, I'm still here. wait, what's that? you just need to feel secure and loved? oh. well, why didn't you say so? bring it in for a hug. yeah, that's it. I know *pat pat* it is. really. hard. sometimes. here, have some love and security. feeling better? yeah. me too."

@teenie When being nice to the voice no longer works because it's a little shithead, I make fun of it and think about ways to turn it into stand-up comedy. The weird obsessive thought pattern/rumination I had during my first year of law school was that lawsuits were Evil Scary Monsters, and I had a full on panic attack because I irrationally thought that I would get sued. So then I think about going on stage and being like "My pet OCD monster is an asshole. It turned me into a law student with an intense fear of lawsuits. Can we talk about how fucked up that is?"

It's hilarious.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth This makes me envision your OCD as the little sniveling child-thing that Harry meets in Charing Cross Station before he talks to Dumbledore in HP&The Deathly Hallows. I kind of like that mental image; it feels appropriate for my Asshole Inner Voice.

sarah girl

One thing that helps me (not every time, but sometimes) is the mantra "Life's too short" - as in, "Life's too short to be worrying about ________." Because it's true - we have precious little time as it is, too little to be wasting it on worries and pointless struggles.

For example, I was trying on some pants at a store last night (on a very nice sale), and they aaaaaalmost fit - they were a little tight in the waist, and possibly would have stretched a bit as I wore them but maybe not. I looked in the mirror at the pants that didn't quite fit - you know what? Life's too short for clothes that will make me uncomfortable, even if it's temporary, even if they're on a great sale. I put them back on the rack and left, and I felt really good about it.

area@twitter

@Sarah H. I felt like I had a huge breakthrough when I told myself (in a Target dressing room one day while buying shorts), "The purpose of clothing is to make you look good. Buy something that makes you LOOK GOOD. The size is a NUMBER. It DOESN'T MATTER. Buy something that makes you look good, the Fat Police is not going to turn your tag inside out and inspect the size and rap your knuckles." Now I just have to keep repeating it when I venture out shopping.

area@twitter

@Sarah H. Also, visualizing the Fat Police helps. I like to think of them as a couple of officious mall cops with ridiculous hair who pull up in one of those little golf carts with a siren on the top. Then they threaten to write me tickets for Insufficient Fat Shame or Flabby Arms in Public or Enjoyment of Food and my friends and I laugh and laugh and laugh.

madge

@area@twitter and that's *exactly* how you get rid of boggarts!

sarah girl

@area@twitter Ahhhh I love this! Just laughed out loud at work at Flabby Arms in Public, which probably earned me an Overexcitable Woman citation but whatever.

TARDIStime

@area@twitter This is the thing, isn't it? The number on the clothing? Nobody sees it but us and can only guess at what it acutally is by looking at us. My partner and I have been together nearly 4 years and I still don't know what size he is and he still doesn't know mine. Guessing is hard!

TARDIStime

Love the "listen to your body" advice.
I don't know about it helping you lose weight because I have been privileged enough not to become overweight, but I know that if I'm hungry, I eat. If I want carbs, I eat carbs (wholegrain if they're around). If I want sweet, I'll have sweet (a couple of jelly snakes and maybe an apple with some green tea susally does the trick).

If I have something naughty, I go and do some walking, eat healthily for the rest of the day (learning to cook yummy and nutritious meals is so important, so you feel like you're not missing out/are rewarding yourself) and go about my business guilt-free.
I also make sure I enjoy the CRAP out of that naughty food. Every mouthful.

TARDIStime

@TARDIStime Also, public transport. Obviously this is not a thing everyone can do due to loaction, but I consciously avoid cars so that I get to do a heap of incidental excercise (I'm not the kind of person to exercise for exercise's sake).
Bonus: this is cheap for those who can do this and walking is FREE! Yay nature's transport!

TARDIStime

@TARDIStime Oh, and coffee. Black - no fatty milk means well... no fat.
But you still get the caffeine hit and the fibre - do not underestimate the power of fibre in a diet/lifestyle!

KLPA

Thank you for this column. this issue resonates deeply with me! which brings me to my next point:

Beloved 'Pinners:

since you are already on this site, you probably like wasting time and being a part of a community. Please read my brand new blog on size acceptance and tell me what you think! phatally.blogspot.com

Sister Administrator

God, this is the number one thing in my life, if I'm being honest. No words, no mental tricks or "ways of looking at it" really help. It's such a waste, to think it has been my narrative.

lora.bee

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I love this. Not just for being less crazy about weight, but something to remember In My Life.

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