Tag Archives: self image

Kaleidoscope view

I like who I am. That is a good starting point.

About a decade ago, I was in a bad situation. Part of the consequence of that situation was that I lost my sense of self. I did not know who I was, what I wanted, found it difficult to form opinions and more difficult to vocalise them. I was scared and felt trapped. I was not safe, there was no respect for me at home and I had very little respect for myself. I did have enough respect for myself to leave.

A year or so after that I had found a good counsellor. One of the things I spent alot of time working on was who I was. At the time I felt defined by the bad situation but I came to understand that was just one aspect of who I was and that aspect did colour alot of other things about me at that time. That aspect is still a part of who I am but has very little impact on my day-to-day anymore. Building a concept of who I was involved several of these aspects and all of them impact to some extent. Then there are the other things about me – skills/talents/preferences. These also help define who I am. For example, I like reading, I like making things, I like cooking and am good at it; and I don’t like watching or participating in organised sport. These are tangible things about who I am that other people see and also know about me. There are also some fundamentals that define me – I am a woman, live in Australia, white anglo-saxon protestant upbringing. This is a very basic and simplified summary of the work with my counsellor on this issue.

I look at all of this and to me it works like a kaleidoscope. The aspects are like colour filters that fall in and out of view. The fundamentals and preferences/skills are like the jewels that are in the kaleidoscope. All the components are there but it shifts and changes. The aspects give their different hues depending on how dominant they are at the time. Who I am changes but is made up of the same components.

And so, I like who I am. I like having this understanding of who I am.

I am coming to realise that there is a part of me that I have never really addressed. It is an aspect that I am actively aware of, it is dominating at the moment and I want to reduce it’s influence. I have always been the fat girl. I am working on changing that. Part of me wants to keep changing it and part of me wants things to stay as they are now. Being fat has always been part of who I was. When I left school, I was bigger than I currently am now; that was 18 years ago. In the last 18 years I have only once made it close to where I am now but the bad situation that I described above happened and that was that. So, for my entire adult life, I have been fat. I have used it to avoid doing things that I did not want to do; I have hid behind it; I have used it to fade out at social occasions; I have used it to be invisible in public. I had accepted that being fat was ok.

But I know who I am and I like who I am. I am not defined by my physical size. Sure, ‘fat girl’ has been an aspect of who I am but it is not me. I am so much more. I have so many skills and I know what I like and what I don’t like. I need to start saying goodbye and letting go of ‘fat girl’. It is really hard to replace something with nothing. So, I need to start celebrating something new and help build this new aspect of who I am. How am I going to do this? I will enjoy the journey – enjoy the exercise, challenge myself with exercise. I will enjoy what I am eating and keep that interesting. I will enjoy my body, wear clothes that fit and that make me feel good. I will think about my goals of being healthy into my future. They are some big ideas and I don’t quite know how I will make it happen day to day. I will think about it. I also don’t want to be defined by the fact that I was fat… so ‘former fat girl’ doesn’t really work for me. It will be there but I want to work on the idea of ‘healthy for life’ as my new aspect.

I don’t need to be scared about this change. Sometimes it feels like it is all unknown from here. But it isn’t because I can apply the same things that have got me this far to the next stage of my journey. I know I can lose weight, I have already succeeded there. I know that I can get clothes that fit on the internet or at second hand shops that will get me through the changing sizes. I know that I can manage my food and exercise consistently. I know that I am getting better at managing my stress with strategies which don’t involve eating. I know I have the support of my family and friends. The fact that I don’t know what I will look like or feel like at a healthy weight is ok and is actually only a small part of the journey. Afterall, I like who I am.

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Pretty in Pink

Today I went shopping on my own. I might just type ‘on my own’ again. I had an hour before I was meeting up with my toddler and his grandparents and I really did not know where to start. I thought of getting coffee and reading in peace. I thought of going to the new chocolate store and getting chocolate and reading in peace. But I decided to look in some clothes shops. I have been buying clothes in the larger sized shops for so long. Now that I am losing weight, I need to look in the regualar shops and get some idea of what they sell.

I wandered around the shops. I was looking for something in pink to wear to a breast cancer fundraiser in a months time for a colleague. I don’t wear alot of pink, I am not that fond of it. I was being picky about what I looked at and I finally found some things that I thought would look good and be appropriate to wear to work. I took some sizes into the change rooms and tried them on. The size 16 clothes that I had selected fit. They are a little tight but in a month they will be spot on. The size 16 fits. That I will say again, as well. The size 16, off the shelf from a regular store, fits.

Size 16 AU is a 12 US or a 14 UK. In January, I was a size 24 AU (20 US, 22 UK).

And so, I am going to say again. Size 16 fits.

I remember wearing size 18 clothes in my final year of highschool. I was 18. I don’t remember when I work size 16 last. We are talking maybe 20 years ago.

My brain is really struggling with the idea that I am a normal size. I kept repeating to myself as I bought the clothes today I am just a normal girl. I am not the fat girl any longer. I am so glad I bought the evidence because it will take a while to sink in. Evidence is reassuring. I know I still need to lose weight. I know that I am not there yet and I don’t want to stop here.

I don’t get to go shopping on my own often. I so appreciated the opportunity today. I now have something to wear to a breast cancer fundraiser that will look good on me. I am healthy and strong. I am so fortunate. I want to stay healthy and look after my body. I want to be there for my family as I grow older. I am going to enjoy wearing these clothes I bought today.

emotional eating

Usually where I have come from is not an issue but yesterday it was very much part of my day.

The things my head is trying to process:
– I have lost 25% of my start weight and am halfway to a healthy weight. That is simultaneously wonderful and difficult. I have come so far! I have so far to go! How did I get that overweight? I am doing so well!
– I found pictures of me at Christmas to put in an album to show where I started from. They were hard to look at. I remember at the time thinking they were realistic and that I looked terrible. I had already started working on a plan so it reinforced my motivations. But I felt ashamed looking at them.
– I had pictures taken of me yesterday and I look so good in comparison! I look thinner and happy. I put one on facebook and lots of friends commented about how well I am doing. And again, simultaneously wonderful and difficult. And I also felt vulnerable. I was letting people who didn’t really know what I was doing that I was doing something.

Last night we went out to dinner and that was nice. We had Indian and the food was fabulous. I found myself missing green vegetables even though we had one vegetarian dish. I ate more than I needed but I did not overeat. And we stopped at the Indian Grocer next door and I got one Galub Jamun for desert. I just wanted something a little bit sweet. But in the course of events, it never made it home. Which was frustrating.

My man was going out, I was staying home with the toddler. I had a little bit of the chocolate slice he was taking with him. And that did not ease my frustration. He left and I prowled the kitchen looking for … something. I deserved something. I had worked hard all week at tracking and exercise and had been spot on. I had such a stressful week at work as well. The scales were going down – quite quickly and so I was entitled! I was entitled!

And what did I do with the feelings of entitlement, frustration, vulnerability, loathing and success? I ate. I had one bottle of cider and a packet of choc finger biscuits; the whole packet. And while I was eating I felt relief and acceptance and comfort. I knew last night that it was a one off. I knew it was not the same as a couple of weeks ago where the compulsion stayed with me. I knew that I would be ok the next day. This morning I got up, did 60 minutes fast walking up the hill and back. I have eaten well and am tracking everything and I have had not problems with keeping to my plan or any desire to deviate.

Tonight, I told my man a short version of what happened last night with the biscuits. I guess I was testing myself. I did not want it to be secret eating. I wanted to say the words and make it real and have it known. But I had not worked out why I had eaten the way did last night, I thought it was just the frustration and did not link it to the photos and stuff from earlier in the day. And so I was left with feeling exposed and I wish I had said nothing. I just wanted to hide and I slipped quickly into control/freak out behaviour. I cleaned up in the kitchen, I got my food ready for tomorrow, I kept myself busy as my thoughts spun and spun and spun.

Not normal, not normal, what is normal anyway, it was normal for me, not good certainly but it was my normality, what do other people do anyway? Why would I want to be like other people? I like who I am, I am strong, I am clever, I am making my own way. This is my path. Not normal, what is normal?

I don’t know what normal eating is. I don’t know what the average person eats. I know what books tell me people should eat but I don’t know what people actually do. But I know that food is not just food to me. Food is acceptance and comfort. Cooking and eating is about sharing and love and family and acceptance. This is me. This is my struggle.

With all of those emotions last night – the self loathing at what I had let myself become, the vulnerability, the fear, the frustration and the sense of entitlement, is it any wonder that I ate? No, not really. Did I feel better? Yes, at the time. And tonight? I have worked through my reaction and understand why I wanted to say it out loud and why I then responded the way I did. And now? The spinning has slowed down and I feel like equilibrium is returning.

I don’t want to be normal. I want to be me – understanding where I have come from, where I want to go and be real along the way. My man supports me. He doesn’t understand my twisted relationship with food. I suspect he eats for hunger while my normal patterns for so long have been to eat for acceptance and comfort. I am trying to build new patterns and they are getting stronger every day I keep at it. I have a long way to go on this journey. Eating well and exercising is the easy part.

reflections

I looked in the mirror this morning and thought I am not that fat girl anymore. I am not small, I am still big, but it is more average (on the large side) than fat. The fat girl is gone.

6 weeks completed

Today is weigh in day 🙂

Last week I did get a bad cold and was only able to exercise on Monday and then again yesterday. But I was really careful with my food and I am happy that I did pay close attention to it.

Start weight (3/1/11): 140.9kg (310 lbs)
Today’s weight: 128.9kg (283.6 lbs)
This week: -1.8kg (4 lbs)
Total Lost: 12kg (26.4 lbs)
That is an average loss of 2kg a week.

A couple things happened this week that were interesting, challenging and very thought provoking

I am now starting to think the weight loss needs to slow down. I am enjoying seeing the numbers go down and my clothes are starting to feel looser. But 2kg a week is alot and it is not sustainable. I have worked out a way to manage this. With the points system for food allocation, as you lose weight you also decrease the food allocation. So, for every 10kg I lose, I am supposed to drop a point’s worth of allocation. I was going to drop that point at about 125kg but have decided not to. To sensibly slow my weight loss I need to eat a little more. And this seems an easy way to manage it.

And while I was sick I started thinking about incorporating some resistance training. I have a couple of handweights that I could use. But I need a plan, I need a goal. So I started looking for ideas. I think I will give it a little longer while I build on the start I have made. I will get some equipment and work out a routine so that when I am ready to go, I will have all the tools in place.

And then.

My man wanted to have some friends over for lunch on Sunday and started suggesting things like fried haloumi burgers. I just started putting up road blocks. With my lack of exercise and feeling sick I just could not let go. He didn’t understand and I did not communicate very well because I was getting stressed about food I had not planned for. He gave in and told them lunch was not on offer that day and then, after about 30 minutes, I was able to explain the fear and the mental confusion that his simple suggestion had made. And it was ok, he might not understand exactly how I feel but he does support me and could follow my twisted logic.

And then, just because I was curious, I decided to work out what the healthy weight range is for my height. And with that I just melted into a puddle. It is so very far away. The very top of my healthy weight range for my height is 69.5 kg (153 lbs). Over half. Over half of my start weight. I thought if I got to 80 that would be ok, and 75 would be amazing. And both 80 and 75kgs would be so much better than where I am. But to be in the ‘healthy’ weight range… I would need to lose 71.4kg in total. I melted. I started freaking out. I went into uber-control mode and calculated all my food for the next day and worked out when I could exercise even though I had not fully recovered from the cold. My positive self talk kicked in but I just ended up cycling from despair to control freak.

I brushed my teeth and went to bed. My man came in and said he loved me and I just cried. How? How could someone find me attractive, desirable when I am this size. And I explained to him what I had been thinking. It was hard and I almost turned the light off so I could tell him in the dark and he would not be able to see my face but I left the light on and I gathered my thoughts and he held me as I cried. He did not try and solve things or really make suggestions. He just held me and tried to understand. I did not sleep well that night.

I am somewhat relieved that hormones played a part in my little melt down. I am also proud that I did not turn to chocolate to ease my tight chest and sooth my aching body. And this morning, my positive self talk was back and I was able to talk through what happened. See, my plan for this year is a 40 week plan. I have committed to 40 weeks and am aiming for a 35kg loss in that time. And then for the 10 weeks before Christmas I would like to lose another 6kg to make it to 100kg. My plan never included reaching my healthy weight range this year, so I don’t really need to worry about it. I just keep saying ’40 weeks and 40 by Christmas’. Down the track I will come back to the BMI guides but that is not part of this years plan. I need to let go of the number and focus on today’s choices. And the reason I like my plan is because it is challenging but achievable. I know what I look like at about 100kg and I have a photo of my on the fridge at about that size to remind me. I have lost 30kg in 6 months on a past attempt, so I know I can I have a plan that is achievable and realistic, I am eating food I enjoy, have the tools to track, the support to help and next year is another challenge. I don’t forget but I can’t let it overwhelm me.

A crazy up and down week. But I finished it with a commitment to moving forward, staying focussed and shifting weight.