Body Language

I am not, by any definition, a thin woman.

I don’t consider my weight to be anyone’s business to comment on nor am I ashamed of my body. I’m frustrated by the stereotype that overweight people are automatically unattractive or lazy or even unhealthy. Like any generalization, it’s dehumanizing. Looking at the individual, it becomes harder to judge. And to those who judge, I say, get a life and buzz off, because I don’t need your approval.

Balancing those values of body acceptance with a desire to trim down is tricky. Not mutually exclusive, but a balancing act none the less.

My “dieting” history is relatively brief for an American woman of thirty-one who’s been curvy since, ugh, around thirteen. It was a magical traumatizing time when my average little kid body started to do all kinds of weird stuff. Ladies, tell me getting used to boobs isn’t serious adjustment.

I spent my teens and early twenties blissfully unaware of my actual weight. I wore between a size sixteen and eighteen, twenty in jeans. I walked all the time, ate whatever and didn’t own a scale.

A few years ago in a land far, far away (Missouri) I was diagnosed with several health conditions which are typically improved by weight loss. I was twenty-six that I went on a formal diet for the first time. I did Weight Watchers for maybe six months. I learned a lot about portions and planning indulgences. For multiple reasons, I didn’t stick with it.

My recorded high weight was 280 pound. It was sometime at the end of 2009. I’d spent several years working in a call center, on my butt all day and oft rewarded with sweet snacks as if they were fattening us for the slaughter a la To Serve Man. Add in depression, anxiety, and sleep apnea induced migraines and I wasn’t exactly making better food choices. I didn’t feel there was much I could do to change anything about my life let alone changing size and health.

In the chaos of early 2010, I shed more than twenty pounds within a month. Now, brief reactive psychosis – or in lay-terms a nervous breakdown – isn’t a recommended reduction program. I was, however, determined to use what happened to better myself. Mental, emotional and living circumstances were the bigger fish to fry. Working on my physical well being gave me a sense of control when I’d lost everything. Simple matter of eating less and deliberately. One slice of toast instead of two. No fries with my hamburger. Walking, both for exercise and transportation.

My recorded low in the brief time I spent staying with my parents in the Seattle area was 221 pounds. It was enough of a difference to require a near complete replacement of my wardrobe. I’d been, solidly, a plus sized twenty-two. Can I begin to explain my excite when I realized I could drip my toe into the misses and junior sections? Maybe a XXL seems huge to some, for me, fitting into a junior dress (boobs and all) is thrilling. By no means a fashionista, I love expanded options and expressing my own style.

In the last year since I moved to South Carolina, I’ve hovered around the same weight. At some level, I’m okay with it. Being back in the range I was in high school boosts my confidence and conforms to the image of myself I carry around in my head. I’m not as fit as I was at eighteen, but I’m far more fit than I was at twenty-eight. Still, I wouldn’t mind dropping a few more dress sizes.

More than the goal of wanting an excuse to once again replace my wardrobe, I am concerned about the easy, slow upward creeping of those pesky scale numbers. My post Dragon*Con weigh in revealed a disturbing 230 pounds. And that was after four days of walking and more walking at the con. Not cool.

Here we are, two weeks post-D*C. I started using SparkPeople on Monday. It’s a nifty fitness and weight loss tracker. I love that it’s free and, naturally, a mobile app is a requirement these days. What am I doing to do? Write things down? I’m primarily counting calories with a glance at protein, carbohydrates and such while not being a total hard ass with myself. Studies have shown dieters who simply write down what they eat tend to loose more weight. I suspect it’s part brutal honestly coupled with avoiding mindless grazing.

A brief stint on a very strict diet – lots of legumes, veggies and meat – earlier this year made it clear I’m better at modifying and tweaking than chucking out habits and rebuilding from scratch. Kudos to those with the discipline, but I find it easier to honor cravings in small doses than deny entirely. Even with a free eating day built in, too much structure and too many forbidden foods isn’t for me.

So far, the results are promising. I weighed in this morning at 223 pounds. Not to shabby. I know the first week tends to be a loss of water weight and weights tend to level off in the subsequent week. I’m okay with it. Goodness knows, I’ve got the metabolism of a three-toed sloth. But not eating gobs of excess calories in a given day and way less junk food is a good thing no matter what the scale says. One of my mantas for this adventure is borrowed from The Happiness Project: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

One other proven way to improve results is having support and accountability. I have plenty of in real life support. Especially and most importantly Chris. He’s used SparkPeople before and is generally awesome to live with, grocery shop with and talk over details and problems with. Heck, he’s generally awesome. I count myself blessed to have any number of friends and family who care about me and will want to celebrate successes or commiserate on struggles. I count among those anyone who cares enough to read my blog and am always open to new friendships. Without turning the blog into a Tina-diets-diary, I’d like to post from time to time on the topic as I will on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to drop me a comment, keep me accountable or tell me a story about your success or struggle.

*Song title subject borrowed from Queen. Idea for stealing song titles or lyrics for subjects borrowed from Chris.

7 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Its funny how weight always has to mean something. A few hundred years ago “fat” on a women was sexy, cause it meant you had the money to eat. And look at pics of Greek Goddess, ever seen a toothpick of a goddess? Our socity has such a negative view on “over weight” people. In one of my psy. classes we watched a study they did with 5000 children under the age of 10 where they showed pictures of girls and boys with various handicaps such as wheelchairs, leg braces, DS and a overweight child. 95% of the children studyed said they would play with all the children expect the overweight child which they wouldnt play or talk with. How sad is that? Exspecially because we know that prejudice is learned, and it starts at home. Its even more depressing to know that national avenge of dress size for women is 16. We pretty much say that most women in the country are unattractive,lazy or unhealthy.

    I’ve struggled nearly my whole life with my weight, since i was a teen. My weight yo-yo’s. Sparks is a really awesome web site I started using last year when i started my HCG protocol. There very helpful and supportive. My own personal struggle is trying to find a healthy weight for me to be at and maintain without going overboard to get there. Such as 2 years ago when i decided to loose weight again, spending 3+ hours a day at the gym, after 6 months of not loosing a lb I went to a personal nutrisionist who every week told me to cut more and more food, till i was down to a meal a day. The last time i saw her i was told I must not be following my deit plan else i would have lost weight. It never dawned on her and under my fat I was proably building muscle. She, like me was fixed on that scale number …. I swear our version of healthy is so screwed up.
    On the plus side, since I started my protocol and using sparks I’m down 40 lbs, which oddly isnt enough that I’ve had to get a new warode yet, most of my cloths just look way better on me! Though my goal is another 20 lbs. I’ve promised myself when i reach my goal weight and maintained it for 6 months I get a new warrobe weather or not it is needed ^^

    September 19th, 2011

  2. PS congrats on your own weight loss!

    September 19th, 2011

  3. *nods* I’m right there with the sociological stuff. It’s especially hard for prepubescent overweight kids. I don’t foresee significant change in those attitudes. What bothers me most is making a personal matter public and political.

    In a weird way, I admire your dedication to be able to go overboard. Three hours of working out and one meal a day isn’t healthy, but your self discipline rocks. I don’t do well with extreme. I referred to a strict diet without elaborating. Chris and I did the slow carb diet outlined in The 4-Hour Body for a couple months. I learned a lot and I believe the author has some good ideas. Chris heard about it from a friend who, apparently, is half the size he used to be thanks to following the diet. If nothing else, I started making a version of Alton Brown’s Lentil Soup (mine is half split peas). It’s so satisfying and delicious. For me, the results were not dramatic even when I followed it to the letter. My body, while it does some awesome things and is adorable, doesn’t follow the rules. When it comes down to it, if the results are the same, I’d rather go with a moderate plan allowing me convenience food and toast and chocolate as often as I’m willing to spare the caloric load. We’ll call it “eating like me, only less.”

    I would love to have high tech gizmos to measure body mass and fat percentage. I’ve looked on Amazon and they aren’t terribly expensive. When I add a formal workout plan – besides “I work on my feet” – I might just make the investment.

    September 19th, 2011

  4. Thank you and likewise!

    September 19th, 2011

  5. Renee

    “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” …I like that. Might need to adopt that as my new mantra as well, or at least try to keep it in mind when those perfectionism tendencies flare up.

    More power to you, Tina! Needless to say, I am well familiar with the challenges of weight loss and maintenance, and am still learning as I go about it all as well. Don’t suppose that ever stops really. I look forward to cheering you on along this journey. :-)

    September 19th, 2011

  6. I read an article in Psychology Today a while back about Perfectionism and Procrastination and decided they could have written it about me. I found a nifty procrastination quiz when I Googled the article. Sometimes, I’ll admit, sometimes I procrastinate due to bright-shiny-object syndrome. The internet is full of shiny objects.

    What you mention about maintaining weight loss not stopping is the hardest part. Feeling done accounts for failure and gaining back, especially, in dramatic losses on extreme plans. You’ve done amazing maintaining. Makes it look easy even if it isn’t.

    September 20th, 2011

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