Monday, August 12, 2013

Living in the body I have now

One of the highlights of my summer was swimming at Oleander with Team Toledo. Mile swims around a man-made, kind of stinky lake might not seem like an obvious choice for a peak experience, but it made me feel strong and powerful and part of a group.  Tomorrow is the last open-water swim and I am really going to miss it. There will be other training activities, and I plan to find one or two that I like and continue with those.  The last time I was an active member, I made the mistake (encouraged by my sometimes too-gung-ho husband) of thinking that I had to do everything. I was living in Bowling Green at the time and it was exhausting driving to Toledo to do all these different activities after work.  I burnt out. And then I gained weight and used it as an excuse to quit. I didn't want to go until I looked like I belonged. I thought I'd get fit and start going again. That hiatus lasted about 5 years. Last year I joined but didn't actually do anything. This year, even though I'm still not the super-fit girl I want to be, I started back and have really enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, there are still times that I feel self-conscious -- I'm in a swimsuit, after all. But I just do it anyway. Sure, there probably are people who think negative things about me, but there probably always will be.

This is what I thought about when I read a couple of blog posts and comments that seemed to suggest that people who have weight to lose shouldn't bother to buy nice clothes, wear makeup, or otherwise take care of themselves in any way except trying to lose weight. I can't understand how that would help us accomplish our weight goals, and in the meantime (and because weight loss takes a long time, there is a long meantime) what message does that send to us and the people around us? What if I never get "there" (because, considering that most fashion models and actresses wear a size 0-4, and I have never been smaller than an 8 as an adult), does that mean I shouldn't even bother?

Believe me, I definitely have "why bother" thoughts, so I know the place they are coming from all too well. But I don't think they are productive. I have always had more success sticking to a my food and exercise plan when I'm taking good care of myself in other ways. It all comes from the same belief that I'm worth the trouble and the time it takes. That belief doesn't come from just telling myself that -- it comes from acting as if. Trying to wait until the negative thoughts go away to give myself permission to live doesn't seem like a great plan. That's why I always loved Stacy London on What Not to Wear -- she gave women permission to dress for the body they had.

Last time I got to my weight goal, I bought clothes I liked in the size I was as I was going down the scale. It was expensive and it also meant I spent a lot of time cleaning out my closet and taking stuff to Goodwill, on the way down and on the way back up, which is why I think Gwynnie Bee is such a genius concept. I have been stuck for a long time at the same weight and I think part of the problem is that I was waiting to get new clothes until I lost the weight, and I was feeling frumpy and ugly (my most "comfortable" outfit would make Stacy faint, and I was wearing it all too often), which kept me stuck there. 

My grandmother, who always had a great sense of style, used to ask us, "Do you think you look good?" Sometimes it was a pointed question, if we were wearing jeans and t-shirts, but usually, it meant that if you thought you looked good, that was all that matters. I don't always think I look good, but I'm trying. I think Grandma would approve.


3 comments:

  1. I love Stacy on What Not To Wear for the reasons you mentioned - they are big proponents of dressing the body you have as best you can and to look as nice as you want to. It makes you feel good about yourself (which will make you want to take better care of yourself!). They rock :)

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  2. There is a very fine line, in my opinion, between just enough (clothes) so one can feel empowered and take action, and too much so that the clothes actually perpetuate being stuck.

    I have heard you mentioned the 0-4 actress thing a lot over the years and I don't really understand it. Yes, I get they are tiny. (They probably need to be with the camera thing.) But that doesn't (really) have anything to do with the rest of us does it? If the camera adds weight on them, then the 'them' we see on the screen is probably the same size as many other people.

    I both cringe and sort of wonder about seeing myself on camera. I am sure areas that do not bother me in regular life when then be blown to all disproportion.

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  3. "I'm worth the trouble and the time it takes." Amen! And I love your Grandma :-)

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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