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.

6 comments:

  1. A month or two I plateaued for a couple weeks and some visitors started telling me that I looked great and maybe I should be happy where I was and not get too focused on reaching my goal. I was like, whatevah'. It's great that people think I look good. I think I look good too. But I'm going to get to my goal because I want to and not because of what other people think. I'm not taking a poll either!

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  2. You do look great -- and good luck getting to your goal! I'm cheering for you.

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  3. there's always going to be that one person that makes you stop and think, but you have to trust your gut...i've always had people tell me that i'm fine the way i am and that i have a distored view of myself - but don't we all... its more than getting to a certain number or size - its making a goal and sticking to it... that's what people should be paying attention too... :-)

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  4. Just like how we lose the weight, where we decide to stop and maintain is a uniquely individual thing.

    When I had lost a little more than 100 pounds I was still around 230, and I had people telling me I looked great where I was and to stop before I got "too thin." Granted, I was very pleased with losing 100, but I was nowhere near satisfied to stop at 230.

    I haven't set a final goal weight for myself, although I have mini-goals -- I'm closing in on 200/199, and then 180. At that point I'm going to take a good hard analysis of how I look, feel, and whether or not I'd be content at that size. If I'm satisfied and can easily maintain it, I'll focus on that. But if I feel I could still lose more without starving and overexercising myself, I may go lower.

    That's the thing: it all depends on what YOU are going to be happy with. So go for it!

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  5. really good post

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  6. What matters is what YOU think about where you are and what you want to accomplish. Some people will be content to not be "as fat as they were" even if they could stand to lose more to get to a better weight. I understand the fear of not being able to keep it off if you push too far into new territory.

    But other people, including you, have a very clear goal and it's not what other people tell you it should be - it's what *you* know you can accomplish and why. I'm really proud of you for not settling for less than what you want.

    When I'd lost 110 lbs and people were telling me how good I looked, I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be and it was too mentally exhausting to fight them with "I want" statements. So instead I started using "my doctor and I have discussed this and I still have pounds to lose." Somehow when I threw in "doctor" it shut people up.

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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