Posts Tagged ‘body image’

A Note Of Thanks To My Body

At my heaviest weight, I was 267 pounds. That was 15 years ago. Through the years, I dieted, stopped, exercised, stopped, dieted some more, and stopped again. Any of us who has a substantial amount of weight to lose can probably say the same thing. We rarely get it right the first time, or the second or the third time.

When I started on my latest and last fitness journey in 2008, I weighed 230.2 pounds the day I stepped on the Weight Watchers scale. I happen to know that I’d managed to drop about 5 pounds before then. I weighed 167.2 this morning. That’s 100 pounds from my heaviest weight to now.

Yesterday I ran 4 miles. Running 4 miles is something that I wouldn’t have attempted or believed I could do….ever. Certainly not when I was 267 pounds or 230 pounds. Not even when I was 18 and 140 pounds and in good physical condition.

I was on my way to personal training this morning with my friend Jen…there will more about her and her alternative approach to resistance training in tomorrow’s blog post…and I started thinking about how far I’ve come. I think about this a lot. It keeps me going.

And I realized that I am truly grateful for having been 230 pounds, even 267 pounds. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I do now. Our bodies are amazing. Amazingly loyal, and amazingly resilient. My body still carried me when I had 100 pounds more on it’s 5’4″ frame than I do now. And at 230 pounds when I decided to get fit this time, it let me walk first, and then run…and swim and bike.

Being morbidly obese comes with consequences. And make no mistake. I was morbidly obese. I got winded easily. I got tired easily. I had acid reflux and heart palpitations. I felt like crap. But I was able to keep going.

You would think there comes a point where the body just says, “Nope, not doing it anymore. Not moving from this spot until you start treating me better.” It seems to take a lot to get the body to that point.

Think about it. If you abuse another person, you end up in jail, or at the very least that person can be taken away from you. But if we abuse ourselves, and getting to the point of morbid obesity is personal abuse, even if it’s done slowly and with yummy sugary treats, the only consequences we face are personal.

I am grateful that I weighed 230 pounds. I abused my body, but it stuck by me. And when I was ready to start treating it right, it responded. With each step and each pound lost, my body has gotten stronger and rewarded me in ways I never imagined. I have energy. I feel great. Aches and pains are fleeting. My skin has retracted to fit my frame (for the most part).

I can tell you that if I’d stayed at a reasonable weight all of my life, I probably would never have started running. I wouldn’t have gone back to swimming. I wouldn’t have attempted triathlon. Why would I have had to?

I would have been normal sized but unfit. Because I weighed 230 pounds when I decided to get fit this time, I knew I needed to exercise and eat healthier to reach my goals. I’ve taken it slowly. I’ve had missteps. But my body sticks by me. And I’m encouraged to get stronger and healthier every time I look at myself in the mirror or run a longer distance.

So thank you body. At whatever weight, I couldn’t have done it without you.

And I promise this time it’s for good.

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

CatAndMirrorI have a magic mirror in my bedroom. When I was heavy, it was always kind to me. I’d get ready for work in the morning or to go out somewhere and it never made me feel fat, well not too fat anyway. There was no getting around the fat thing really. I was never that delusional.

But I always felt ok in my clothes until I’d see myself unexpectedly…in a store window say, or in pictures. Is that what I really looked like to other people? Because it wasn’t how I saw myself. As a fat woman, I generally dressed in clothing that was on the loose side. Even though all of the magazines said dress in fitted clothes to shed ten pounds instantly, I was never comfortable with that. Wear a belt? God forbid. In reality, I probably made myself look even larger than I was (now looking back at pictures), but my thinking was that if I hid the rolls, no one would notice? Silly, I know. How, after all, do you hide three chins?

Ok, so now when I look into my mirror, I recognize that I’m smaller but I still see myself much the way I saw myself back in the “fat” days. Remember, in this magic mirror I didn’t see a really, really fat girl. I have sucked it up and changed some of my wardrobe habits. I wear fitted clothes now and belts, sometimes. But I’m still not so comfortable there. Give me a nice roomy empire waist top….a long flowy skirt with elastic waist, a pair of jeans two sizes too big now, and I’m a happy camper. I feel smaller when I’m wearing clothes that are larger. I also like layers. I’m trying to wear clothes that are more fitted though. And I bare my arms and even my legs from time to time.

I ran into Macy’s the other day with my daughter right after work and I passed a mirrored pole and caught my reflection.

When I passed, I had to back up and look again. There was a small person there. That couldn’t have possibly been me, could it? I was even smaller in that mirrored pole than I ever thought at home.

And when I see pictures of myself now, I’m kind of shocked. Only one chin? A collarbone? Biceps? I see these things in the mirror at home but I don’t know if I believe them. I keep waiting for fat me to return; I know she’s still lurking inside my head just waiting to make her grand entrance.

I don’t know that I’ve accepted myself in this new fit body just yet. And I should have by now. I’ve been working on it for quite some time. Maybe it’s that I am still working on it that keeps me from really appreciating how far I’ve come. Maybe its simply that I spent so much time in the other body, I’m reluctant to let it go?

How could that be you say? Being fat is like a security blanket. You get used to having it around as a protective shield. And change is scary. Even change for the better. I mean what if after all this hard work, the benefits I thought I’d gain from my fitness quest elude me. I’m still me. I still have the same insecurities and fears. I’m still unorganized.  I still procrastinate with the best of them.

I know getting fit doesn’t change everything, even though I suppose I hoped it would have in some ways. Get fit and win the lottery! Doesn’t work that way, right?

But it has changed one very key component of my life and for that I am grateful: my health. And with my health, I hope to live long enough to work on all those other pesky changes.

P.S. I lunched with a friend today who I’ve seen a number of times as I’ve been losing weight. I was late and she was waiting and she admitted that twice, she saw women she thought might be me and then realized, no, those women looked like the old me, not the new me. It seems people who know me are still adjusting to the changes too.

And then she told me I look really good. She’s a good friend. 🙂