Saturday, March 31, 2007

dressing for success

Frances's last post on Angry Fat Girlz has made me think about my own attitudes about clothes. I loved playing with clothes when I was in high school and in college. But when I found myself 60-or-so pounds overweight and was feeling the worst about the way I looked, my fashion goals could be summed up in one sentence: "Cover up the belly!"

I know that in a recent post, I talked about having an hourglass shape, which would suggest a smaller waist. That is true up until a point. When I gain weight, I tend to fill in that middle part, though of course the top and bottom of the hourglass get bigger too.

In the late 90s, I went along with the grunge fashion trend and spent most of my time in my standard uniform of jeans, a size XL men's t-shirt, and a flannel shirt unbuttoned over the top as a sort of a jacket. For summer, I switched to men's shorts, a tank top, and a short-sleeved shirt instead of the flannel. I thought this uniform cleverly hid the weight I had gained since graduating from college. I was so unhappy about this weight that I really couldn't do anything productive about it. I had never heard some of the advice that Frances wrote about, but even if I had, I don't think I would have worn big jewelry in the hopes that it would make the rest of me look smaller. I wasn't that ambitious and I probably wouldn't have believed it would work.

I can trace my fashion reawakening to the day I was watching some B-level talk show and heard about Mode, a new magazine that was coming out for plus-sized women. I went to the local drugstore and thumbed through that first issue, and unlike BBW, it was a magazine that I could buy without dying of embarassment. The title didn't refer to size and the clothes looked stylish and the cover models were gorgeous. Wikipedia doesn't have an entry about Mode, but in the entry on plus-sized modeling, I found this mini-history:
With strong cooperation from Wilhelmina 10/20, Curves and Ford 12+, the premiere issue of Mode magazine was launched in the spring of 1997 to immediate success. No other fashion magazine specifically targeted the plus-size consumer with a Vogue-like fashion philosophy, nor with sophisticated imagery and clothing everyone wanted to buy. As a result, a booking with the magazine was viewed as the ultimate level of plus-modeling success. Mode's practice of including the models' names and quotations on self-esteem to make them more approachable greatly aided the popularity of the women featured and gave them a form of celebrity. Mode also ran model search competitions in association with the Wilhelmina modelling agency, drawing entries from thousands of hopefuls from the US and Canada. The circulation of Mode magazine was around 600,000 at the time of its demise in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001.
That magazine gave me the permission to actually put some effort into how I dressed. The models in its pages wore my size and they looked gorgeous. I started actually spending money on clothes, and even ventured into Lane Bryant for the first time, since they were an advertiser in the magazine.

Oddly enough, when I started buying fashionable clothes in my size instead of wearing oversized men's clothes, I started feeling better about myself and actually started to lose some weight. That gave me the confidence to exercise and start making more conscious weight loss efforts.

When "What Not to Wear" came to U.S. television, I was near my goal weight and trying to figure out how to dress my new body without looking like I was trying to pass as a teenager. So I appreciated the advice that Wayne and Stacy (and later Stacy and Clinton) had to offer. I didn't find "The Rules" to be overly oppressive, because I was free to ignore them if I wanted. And as I felt better about my body, I started to pay less attention to clothes again, because it seemed like whatever I wore was fine.

Now that I'm back on the way down again, I appreciate the advice on how to look thinner and make the most of my body shape. I follow a lot of Stacy and Clinton's advice on a daily basis. I love wearing a good structured jacket and I have at least 5 of them. I always wear a good bra and I buy mid-rise jeans and wear them with a wide belt. I don't feel pressured to do these things, but they do make me feel a little more confident when I'm leaving the house. But I still don't think that wearing big earrings will make my butt look smaller.

Friday, March 30, 2007

the great rubdown

I post comments all the time on other people's blogs about how they need to be kind to themselves and treat themselves well, but I don't seem to manage to take my own advice until I'm in serious pain.

For the last couple of days, I have been traveling by car and not getting a lot of sleep. I was already having some running-related discomfort in my hip but the car trips sent me over the edge of uncomfortable into painful. I woke up yesterday feeling achy all over. I had the brains to sleep in and not try to exercise yesterday, which oddly enough is a bit of a breakthrough for me. I called to schedule a massage, which is something I have been talking about for three or four weeks. Luckily for me, there was an opening yesterday afternoon.

If you have never had a professional massage, you need to stop reading for a minute and call and make yourself an appointment. Believe me, it's not the same as having your boyfriend rub your shoulders. Go ahead, look in the yellow pages under Massage Therapy or ask a friend for a recommendation. I'll wait.....

Massage is the most decadent thing you can possibly do for under $100. I have had massages by several different therapists and this one was so wonderful that I got tears in my eyes while she was rubbing my calves. We had a long talk about what kinds of things I had been doing that contributed to the pain I was in, but she was very understanding and I didn't get the sense that I was being lectured about my tendency to go for runs but not bother to stretch.

Having someone talk to me about it really made me see that I really am hard on myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I expect my body to take too much abuse and don't care for it properly, just because it happens to be a few pounds heavier than I want it to be. I won't do things that sound fun or relaxing because I should be working on my dissertation, but instead of actually working on it I waste time looking at job postings and message boards or reading Google News. I think that I should be able to handle any crisis that comes my way with a stiff upper lip. And I wonder why my body gets so tight that it ends up hurt.

I'm not saying that I want to give up on all my goals, I just want to watch for when I'm crossing the line from productive into punishing. I have to stop worrying about my dissertation and actually write it. I have to stop worrying about jobs and just apply for them. I have to stop working out like an insane person and do things that actually promote fitness and health. I keep having to relearn this lesson.

Yesterday the massage therapist said, "I want to work on that left leg, but let's take care of the right leg first so it doesn't think it has to hurt itself to get attention." I think that is what I need to do for myself -- take care of my mind and body before I start thinking I have to hurt myself before I can take the time for some self-care.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

weigh-in report, 3/26/2007

Weight Chart

I am going to have to miss my regular meeting again today, so I weighed in last night at an evening meeting, which has become almost a regular meeting for me because I've used it as a backup so often lately. I had a very small loss, 0.2 pounds, which may have been just the result of weighing at a different time or different clothes, but I'm not going to look a gift weight loss in the mouth. I am inching toward the 150s, and as long as the progress keeps going in the right direction, I'm happy.

I have been feeling mostly pretty good about the way I look now. I have stopped hiding from cameras or worrying about holding my chin in just the right angle to make my face look thinner. It's odd the way the weight has come off. I am really noticing the change in certain places, like my face, neck and upper chest. My collarbones seem really prominent to me all of a sudden. Other places are slower to catch up. My upper arms, for example, resist all my efforts to buff them up. My thighs are also holding out. I have a little soft spot below my belly button that I camoflage the best I can by wearing mid-rise jeans (thanks, Stacy and Clinton) with a wide belt. But my waist itself is looking so much smaller.

Back in August, I did an Angry Fat Girlz post about body shape. I think my body shape is most noticeable when I'm in this middle range -- when I'm really thin (for me) or really fat, my body's particular quirks are less apparent. Or maybe it was that when I felt worst about my body, I didn't spend as much time looking at it. I think that there have been times when, as Frances wrote yesterday, I was so wrapped up in an effort to hide what my body really looked like from myself and others that I never really saw it. Ironically, I feel like I'm both more realistic about and accepting of my body now. As PastaQueen wrote recently, " I was never under any illusions that I would score the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition when this was all done."

Monday, March 26, 2007

time to straighten up and fly right

Back in December, I decided I was starting fresh with Weight Watchers -- I was going to act like a newbie and start following the program to the letter, exactly as it was designed. I had some serious success, too, until I started to slip back into old habits. Guesstimating portions too generously, going over my points, waiting to journal until the end of the day when it was too late to make adjustments. All the usual suspects.

So far, I've gotten away with it. I haven't had any serious gains. But I also saw my progress flatten out, until I went away to New York City and got out of my routine for a while. My routine seems to be a big part of the problem, because my routine is too much snacking and not enough meal planning. And takeout. I tend to be a United Nations of food -- some of my favorites include Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Indian, Mexican, even Bulgarian. Too bad there isn't such a thing as a food passport, because mine would be full of stamps.

So it's time to get back that beginner's mind and straighten up and fly right again. A course correction is in order. For today, I have a lunch packed, including one of those microwaveable soup containers -- I have never taken soup for lunch and am nervous I won't like it, but the ingredients all look good, and it's only 3 points for the whole thing. It's minestrone, how bad can it be?

I also bought a new crock pot cookbook, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, which was on sale at Kroger's and has fabulous-looking bean, vegetable, and whole grain recipes. So I can be lazy and still eat well, if I take the time to do a little planning.

It's not a bad time to do a little spring cleaning for the routine. I'm going to be wearing shorts and bathing suits soon. Besides, it's healthier for my body and my wallet to eat at home more. Are any of the rest of you doing any course corrections to get ready for summer?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

a little better

Yesterday I ran into a wonderful friend of mine (who is a college professor) when I was going for sushi with my husband. We talked about our work and I felt a little bit better hearing that my problems aren't so uniquely crazy.

It's really that when I sit down to work, I just don't want to do it. I feel all panicky and whiny about it. I joked with Jesse that I was going to start doing my whining out loud so I could hear how ridiculous it was and get tired of myself: "I don't want to do my dissertation! I hate this! I should be done by now! I'm never going to finish! Why is this so hard? I wish this was over!" Yeah, it's really great, listening to that inside my head all the time.

Something must have worked because I woke up this morning (a Saturday) at 5:45 a.m. with an urge to work on my dissertation, so I got up and did about an hour of my data analysis work. Not bad. I really think that the software (nVivo) that I'm using is clunky and poorly designed. I might enjoy this a little more if the program wasn't so annoying. But that's another whiny thought. It's just a tool, maybe not an ideal one, but it's better than nothing. I did do some writing in my research log too and I could barely type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.

I went to Spinning class today and it felt good because it was so intense that I couldn't think about much while I was doing it. Then I ran into another professor acquaintance (yeah, that's what happens when you live in a college town) who asked how things were going. I told him, "I am not really enjoying this project right now and I'm wondering if this is really what I want to do for a living." After all, research is part of the deal for professors. But he said, "That's totally normal, everyone feels that way sometimes." And I instantly felt better. One thing I keep forgetting is that I'm doing this research in my home in addition to a job (even if it's just a part-time one) and a very busy personal life. If I do get a college teaching job, I will have an office where I can do my own work (right now if I go to my office I could get asked to do work for my assistantship, and home has all the distractions of home), and the research will be part of my job. So maybe it won't be as hectic. For a while I was considering running away to join the circus again...

I think part of what helped yesterday was watching some seriously dumb TV. I saw two different episodes of "The Simpsons," including one with the following quote:
Bart:"That movie was so boring I cut the ponytail off the guy in front of me. Look at me, I'm a grad student! I made $600 last year!"
Marge: "Don't make fun of grad students, Bart. They just made a terrible life choice!"
It made me laugh at myself because that's kind of what I've been thinking about myself: "I'm a loser, I'm making no money, what if I do this all and end up with nothing to show for it?" Yeah, whatever. I'm going to get the dissertation done and get my degree, even if I end up working at Starbucks -- that's Dr. Barista to you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

still no pay dirt in the job search

No interviews, no requests for more information, nothing. I am feeling pretty discouraged. I found out yesterday that my husband, who had alerted people at work that he might be moving after this year, just told them that "most likely" he would stay where he is. I understand why he did this but it feels like a vote of no confidence. Not that I was feeling perky and optimistic before, as regular readers of my blog know.

I have to just keep working on the dissertation and hope for the best. It's hard, but what choice do I have? I am still sending out applications here and there as I see postings. I had this goofy idea that things would be easier for me, even though I have heard from everyone how tough the academic job market is. I'm sure everyone thinks they are the exception, right?

At this point I have to start thinking about temporary employment for next year. Ugh. I am really ready for things to be a little less unsettled, and signing up for another year of provisionality appeals to me about as much as a liver-and-peanut-butter sandwich.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

down 3 since last week!

Weight Chart

The Potato Pancake Diet apparently works miracles. I had a really big loss this week while, as Anne wrote in her blog, enjoying a United Nations sampler of food during the Angry Fat Girlz Meetup.

For now I'll stick with Weight Watchers for real life. It's harder to do the Potato Pancake diet at home, where I have my routines and my daily stresses and my various Food Pushers to deal with. But it's nice to know that I can relax, enjoy a trip, and still have a little looser jeans when I get home.

Monday, March 19, 2007

the Potato Pancake Diet

I just got back from a visit with the rest of the Angry Fat Girlz team in New York City. We stayed at Frances's apartment in Brooklyn Heights. The neighborhood has wonderful shops, coffee houses, shoe stores, and restaurants. My favorite was Teresa's, where we ended up having breakfast every morning while I was there. I highly recommend the potato pancakes, which are crisp and golden and not at all greasy.

I had anticipated trying to eat very cleanly on this trip, especially considering that all four of us were in the process of losing weight. I thought that if I wanted something "bad," like a real New York City bagel, I'd need to sneak out and get it when I was alone. I didn't want to tempt anyone else and I was also worried that I'd have 3 sets of eyes appraising everything I ate and calculating calorie contents.

It didn't quite turn out that way. First of all, the four of us fell in together like old friends right away, and I didn't feel a sense of judgement or competition between us. We were all in this together. I ate pretty much whatever I wanted on this trip. I wrote everything down but didn't count my points. But we traveled a lot on foot, and there was also just too much to do for me to be searching out cookies and ice cream. I ate when I was hungry, didn't snack, stopped eating when I was satisfied, but chose whatever food sounded most appealing to me, including potato pancakes. I ate, in short, like a normal person who isn't obsessed with food. I didn't ever order dessert, not because I was afraid of looking bad, but because I really didn't want it.

Oddly enough, this is all completely in line with The Four Day Win by Martha Beck, a book I read about in Oprah's magazine and wanted to bring with me on the plane. I finally found a copy when I got home. The premise of the book is that attempts to strictly control our overeating by willpower and denial set up weight loss as a battle between our inner Dictator (rational mind) and our inner Wild Child (animal instincts) and only prompt more overeating when the Wild Child inevitably wins. Instead, to effectively lose weight for good, we have to befriend our bodies and reconnect with the world beyond our dinner plate.
Forcing your rational self's imperatives on your physiology in this way sends a clear message to your body that you don't understand it, don't like it, and fully intend to hurt and deprive it. How could any animal respond to this without panicky resistance? Your instincts fight back by "forgetting" you're on a diet, sneaking Skittles out of the candy bowl on your secretary's desk, ordering secret pizzas...When we're locked in the war between our Dictator and Wild Child selves, the prevailing mental state is anxiety...In biological terms, the opposite of getting fat is getting connected, and the antidote to being out of control isn't being in control, but being in love -- or, if you want to emphasize the mystical aspect of it, Being in Love, abiding in pure compassion.
A lot of this will sound very familiar to those in Twelve Step programs, especially the idea that willpower doesn't work.

Beck also suggests that a four-day variation from our routine can be enough to jumpstart weight loss. I came home from my trip feeling thinner, and my bathroom scale confirmed it this morning with an unofficial weight of 159.0. I will have to see if the Weight Watchers scale backs that up, but I know I lost a little bit on this trip, which with my weather delay lasted, oddly enough, exactly four days.

There is a story on the Oprah website about using the philosophies in The Four Day Win for weight loss if you'd like a little more of a preview. I know we've all been innundated with diet books, but this one feels a little different to me. It doesn't propose a plan, just strategies for how to stay on any healthy plan (Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, South Beach, The Potato Pancake Diet, etc.) that you choose. After all, we all know that the secret to losing weight is, say it with me, "Eat Less and Move More." But this book actually tells us how we might get to a place where we can actually follow that deceptively simple advice.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

so much to post, so little time...

I took a trip to New York City with some friends this weekend. There is so much to write about but I don't have time right now, but I will hint that I got to spend a lot of time with one of my very favorite writers.

I also got caught in the big weather mess in LaGuardia. So I'm pretty tired.

More to come!

Monday, March 12, 2007

quick update

Not a lot of time to post tonight, but as I suspected, I got to see a gain on the WW scale tonight. Just a little one to remind me that, yes, Virginia (or Jennifer), there are consequences to going over your points every day.

My meeting tonight was really good, though. The topic this week, emotional eating, really prompted some honest and interesting discussion. It was amazing, because the point was so clearly how to break the habit of eating in response to emotions, how people kept holding on to substitute foods ("I like fat-free pudding," "I eat celery") instead of thinking of other ways to respond to stress, joy, anger. I realize that those substitutes aren't better than eating half a box of Cheez-its -- not that I know anyone who has ever done that -- but maybe it's time to start letting go of the security blanket of food.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

should my food journal be for my eyes only?

I'll admit it, I've always been a little neurotic about food, and especially about people judging what I eat. I wasn't a fat kid, exactly, but I was a normal little girl with a little girl pot belly, and we spent a lot of time around the swimming pool. My mother, my aunt, and some of my adult cousins were thin and looked very cute in their bikinis as they slathered themselves with oil and roasted in the sun. The women in my family who were overweight spent a lot of time putting themselves down about it. Men in my family were pretty open about their appreciation for thin, pretty women and their disdain for fat ones. We were always warned not to get fat because men don't like fat women. I remember one day in my bathing suit, my grandmother looking at me while I was eating and saying, "You sure have a healthy appetite," and knowing it was not intended as a compliment. I love my family but I definitely got a lot of my neuroses about food and my body from them.

Lately I've been sharing my food journal online with a few friends. Even though I've been pretty happy with my weight loss up to this point, I have been sloppy with my food lately and I feel really embarassed about it. I have been going over my points a lot of days, not just a little but by double-digit numbers, for the last couple of weeks.

I'm not sure whether the group journal has something to do with that but sometimes I feel a little defiant when I decide I'm ordering Chinese food for dinner, or going to have the Cheez-Its at the party because I anticipate them shaking their heads at what I'm doing with food. It's not necessarily that they say anything negative, but I supply the dialogue in a lot of the situations where I feel people are judging my food.

I have been very good about journaling for the last three months, journaling everything, even the screw-ups, honestly and counting the points. So I'm starting to wonder if I'm gaining anything by putting it out there for other people's eyes or if it's just adding to my level of insanity. I know where I need to improve. So I'm starting to think I might need to go it alone for a while.

Friday, March 09, 2007

my own personal fat suit

It was a nice sunny day today so I went out for a walk, but cold enough that I needed to wear layers. Like most people who have lost weight, I have a lot of clothes in a lot of different sizes. I wore some wind pants (men's size L), a long-sleeved t-shirt (an XL) and a fleece (L). Over all of that I put on a windbreaker (men's size L). All this stuff was huge on me, but I figured it didn't really matter, it was just for going out to walk.

I looked in the mirror and I saw myself from before I lost the weight, except that my face and neck were still thinner. It was sort of weird. I was a little embarassed, even though I knew it was just the clothes. Luckily this "extra weight" didn't tire me out when I went to walk, and it came off as soon as I came back and got changed. But it was a weird reminder of what things used to be like for me.

Maybe I need to buy a spring workout jacket that fits.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

hello, my name is Jen, am I a food addict?

I was reading Beula's post about whether or not she considers herself a food addict. In the last couple of weeks we also had a post by Frances on AFG that prompted a lot of discussion and other blog posts about what kind of food plan is "best." I'm sure that it had other people, not just me, questioning whether they were, or at least whether they wanted to think of themselves as, food addicts.

There is a quiz on the Overeaters Anonymous website that is supposed to help you to determine whether you are a food addict. Answering three or more questions with a "yes" suggests you might have a compulsive eating problem. However, a lot of these questions are fairly general and I think that most of the American public, at least, would answer yes to at least three of them if they were honest. Does this mean they're all food addicts? I don't know.

I have found reading recovery materials, especially Codependent No More, to be helpful to me. I think that most people could benefit from reading and following the Twelve Steps, even if I'm still struggling with the Third Step. You don't have to be an addict in the traditional sense to need help finding meaning, or to need a little push toward understanding that trying to control everything and everyone around you is going to make you crazy. The world isn't fair in the sense that we'd like it to be. I was talking to a friend yesterday who knows a very nice woman who has cancer. She said, "It just doesn't seem right, with all the terrible people in the world, that she should have to suffer." But that isn't really how it works, probably luckily for most of us -- good and bad things don't always happen to us according to what we deserve.

Beula's question about whether food addiction is a "real" addiction is beside the point for me. I personally don't see it in that kind of black-and-white sense. It's sort of like trying to prove scientifically that God exists -- you can't. And you can't argue about it either, because the two sides really don't have any common discussion points to use.

Personally, I think that science and religion and philosophies are different frameworks for looking at the world and each frame is like a window -- it has a limited view. You can't see everything through any one of them. The idea of food addiction and recovery is another kind of philosophy, another framework. For me, the real question is, does the framework of addiction and recovery help people? Do people find it useful? Do they find life more manageable when they work within that framework? It's obvious from reading some of the blogs linked at the AFG website that people do find that framework useful and helpful, and even lifesaving.

Am I a food addict? Right now, I don't think so. But keep reading, I'll let you know if I change my mind.

Monday, March 05, 2007

looking back on 12 weeks

Weight Chart

TickerFactory now offers a graphing function, for those of you who liked my charts but don't want to mess around with spreadsheets. I think it's a nice option and I appreciate that they added it to go with their cute little weight-loss sliders (like my ladybug above), and it only took me a few minutes to add in the data from my past 12 weeks' weigh-ins. As you can see, I had a little bump up this week. I'm hoping it's just my little every-four-weeks bump, and that I can get things going back down again next week.

Looking at the graph also reminds me how serious I was for the first few weeks of the new plan. Then I started to relax a little. I'm happy with the progress I've made, but I know that I can do better if I really commit again. I just started a fresh 12-week journal, but I don't really feel as fired up, even though I'm only 7 pounds from my goal and 5 away from not having to pay for meetings.

I have plenty of external things to motivate me -- my skirt, an upcoming vacation with friends, the (somewhat faint) possibility of job interviews, summer on the way -- but I'm still feeling a little run-down and tired from reaching towards various goals. I think it's time to follow my own advice and start taking things a little more as they come and practicing gratitude, instead of just holding out for a time when all my goals will be accomplished and everything will be better.

Theme for this week: "Do the next right thing."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

yes, Oprah really does know all

A few weeks ago, I bought an Ann Taylor suit jacket at the mall. I had seen this jacket on the website, but it had almost immediately sold out in my size online. The store had two of the jackets in my size, but did not have the matching skirt or pants in a 12. The very nice saleswomen were, however, able to find the pants in my size at another store and have them sent to me for the purchase price plus $7.50 in shipping. I asked about the skirt and they said, "There is no skirt, this suit was only available with slacks." Though I thought there had been a skirt, I was willing to believe I might have been wrong. But I wasn't 100% convinced, and since I was traveling to another city with better shopping, I thought I would take a look anyway. The saleswoman at the Big City store said, "No, there was never a skirt with this suit, only the triacetate suits have skirts." Triacetate, by the way, is a fancy name that allows Ann Taylor to sell a polyester skirt for almost $100.

I got online that night to check the website for a skirt that might work, even if it didn't match exactly, and there was the skirt that three different saleswomen had sworn did not exist and had never existed. I know I had looked for the skirt online after buying the jacket and had not found it. Too bad I didn't find it sooner, because now only a size 00 and a size 14 were available online. There was a number that I could call that might be able to track down the skirt now that I had the style number. I called, and they were sold out of size 12 nationwide, but they did have a 10. Sometimes I can wear a smaller size in skirts than in pants, so I ordered the 10 (for another $7.50 shipping) because I really wanted it. I look so much better in skirts than in pants that, if I ever do get a job interview, I am somewhat convinced that having a skirt might be the difference between getting a job and not getting a job. Of course, when it arrived, the skirt was tight. It went on and zipped, but it made me look pregnant and the rear view would have been a big hit with Sir Mix-a-Lot.

I still wasn't willing to give up. I plan to lose a few more pounds, and I also remembered Lori's hilarious review of and Assets ("as seen on OPRAH!"). I read a few other reviews that suggested, just as Oprah had promised, that they really could make you look a full size smaller without cutting off your circulation. I decided to wait to make a final decision on the skirt until I tried it on with one of these miraculous undergarments.

Well, yesterday I found myself at Target with some time to kill, and went to the hosiery section and picked up a pair of the Assets "Unbelieveable Underwear" in the size recommended by the sizing chart. I was walking around the store carrying them around and trying to decide if I really wanted them when I ran into my aunt. We talked and I showed the package to her. She said, "Oh, Oprah swears by those. She says all the stars were wearing them at the Oscars." So I decided to go ahead and buy them, adding another $15 to the cost of this outfit, plus the other $100 of random stuff I always end up with every time I go to a Target store. I really, really hope I get an interview now, because I need a better job just to pay for the suit and associated expenses.

I tried on the skirt, first without the Assets and then with. The Assets looked like the control-top part of a pair of pantyhose, just a little longer. They went on like a stretchy pair of bike shorts. They didn't feel tight, but when I put the skirt back on, the result really was amazing. They tightened everything up just enough to make the skirt fit. I still think I'd look better in it if my stomach was a little flatter, so I will definitely keep working on the weight loss and maybe slip a few Pilates moves into my routine. But I will never doubt Oprah (or Lori) again.

Friday, March 02, 2007

whose body is it anyway?

Last Tuesday, Jonathan posted an entry in which he discussed his frustration with people's comments on his before picture:
I lost my temper last night when this older guy (who was big and tall) saw my “before” picture and scoffed at it and told me that I didn’t need to lose weight. I tried brushing off his comment, but he repeated, TWICE, that I was just fine before and there was no need for me to have lost 50 pounds...the implication was that somehow I’m not really capable of making a sound judgement regarding my physical being.
Now, I have looked at Jonathan's before and after pictures, and I can imagine what the guy was probably thinking. Jonathan's before picture looks pretty much like your typical "Guy on the Street" with a bit of a belly, and his after picture looks like an underwear model for Calvin Klein. (You're a hunk, J.) Most people in Weight Watchers are probably just striving for "normal." Still, I understand the way Jonathan feels. As a pretty "normal," (i.e., just slightly overweight as opposed to really overweight) woman, I feel like there is pressure on both sides about what I should want.

On one side is the "size 6 is the new 14" crowd, who thinks that Jennifer Hudson is "very brave" to appear on the red carpet in any size with two digits. To that crowd, my goal weight of 155 would still make me a good candidate for gastric-bypass surgery. I don't actually know any of these people but I hear them whispering to me from the fashion magazines I am still stupid enough to buy and see them on television all the time.

The other side is a more diverse group. There are friends and family who think I am "just fine" the way I am. There are some people who are thinner than me and don't want me encroaching on their territory, and there are those who are trying to lose weight themselves but don't want me getting too far ahead of them. Finally, there are a couple of people I know who think that it is not appropriate for any self-respecting woman to think, and especially not to say out loud, that there might be any real advantage to losing 5, 50, or 500 pounds, other than the advantages that come from being more in line with society's expectations for how we should look, which is of course a terrible motivation for doing anything.

I understand where this last group is coming from. I think that all people should be treated with respect, no matter what their size. Still, I know that, for me at least, life was easier at 155 pounds than it was at 200+. I didn't get tired as quickly. My blood pressure went down to the low end of the normal range instead of on the high end. My blood sugar didn't crash and make me feel shaky if I didn't eat for a few hours. I could stand heat in summer a lot better (though I lost some of my ability to cope with cold in winter).

Now that I'm close to my goal, I don't feel that those few extra pounds are causing any lifestyle or health-related problems for me. I don't have big issues with my current size. I can do everything I want to do, I feel great. But... I still want to lose my last little belly roll. I want to look better when I wear a bathing suit and not feel self-conscious. I don't think I look bad, I just think I could look better. I know that some people would think these are bad reasons for doing anything, and I have no answer for that, except to say that I'm not taking a poll. I'm living my life.
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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07