Monday, December 19, 2011

Body Image, It's An Issue

Current pic 144.5 lbs
I'm Not Fat
If you asked me 50 pounds ago if I thought I was 'fat' I would have said, "No, I'm big boned.".  Interestingly enough, I had less body image issues with 50 extra pounds on me.  I know why this is and I know why I felt comfortable in that skin... I DID NOT KNOW I WAS FAT.  I guess I was told by enough people that I was heavy, my sister would drop hints about fat girls wearing tight clothes all the time and my mom would suggest that I go for a walk, but I still didn't look in the mirror and see a fat person looking back at me.
The first time this phenomena hit me was after I had my first child.  Jared had taken a picture of me asleep on the recliner holding our sweet little bundle.  -I was horrified- I had felt so beautiful and secure with my pregnant body that I didn't recognize the deflated blob wrapped about that little pink baby stuffed blanket.  Sure, through the teen and early adult years I'd look at pictures of myself and not liked what I saw but I was convinced I just didn't photograph well, my mirror wasn't the lair, the camera was!  So this new realization hit me like a bird in the windshield -completely by surprise (a pretty ugly realization).
 So I did what any other person who realizes they are fat does...

Self Loathing
9 mths pregnant and 190 lbs
After such a harsh judgement has been passed how can you not do something about it, how can you ignore what you know to be true?  The question was, WHAT to do to fix the problem.  I had always been very active and strong and a 'healthy eater', so I really didn't know what I needed to do or even what the problem was.  I had just had a baby, I didn't gain weight in excess, in fact I was told to gain weight (I started my pregnancy at 180 lbs and only gained 20 total) which is easier said than done when the barf train rolls into the station after every meal.  Where do you go when you don't know how to get there? -Around in circles- (Also known as the Crazy Train!)

Slim In 6 to the Rescue
That's me up there at 200 lbs
Feb 8, 2004
Post baby we order the Slim In 6 DVD's and nutrition plan and got to work.  At first the workouts seemed ridiculously easy, besides my always bothersome knees, I thought the program was going no where fast.  Even more ridiculous was the nutrition plan, I mean, measure my food?!  You've got to be kidding me!  I thought I was going to starve those first few weeks and I really laughed inside about the whole thing, thinking it was a silly fad that wasn't going to do anything but cost us $100 and some dignity.
After 3 weeks on Slim in 6, 145 lbs
Funny thing happened though... I began to lose weight!  Not just a few pounds, I literally melted the sizes away in the third and fourth weeks.  After doing the program from start to finish I had lost nearly 50 pounds and 8 dress sizes and I was stunned!
In my adult life I had not even realized I was even heavy let alone fat.  This new skinny figure was completely out of grasp for my mind.  I still felt like the same person I was pre-baby only the scale had this new amazing number I hadn't seen since puberty.  I started to really like that number...

Funny Thing Is
I wasn't told I was fat, it was merely implied and it didn't phase me much until I had lost weight and then when I looked back over the years of photographic evidence.  I wondered why nobody told me I was overweight! 
So, when is it okay to tell a person they have a problem and is it worth giving them another issue with self image.  Should we tell each other right out that the government considers you obese and I think you're looking a little on the fat side as well?  That's assuming of course that a person doesn't realize they are indeed overweight.  I was a teen when I packed on the pounds and most of it was not a lack of activity but an over indulgence at the dinner table.  That problem was two fold, first as a younger teen I listened to the torment of my sisters and others that 'ate like pigeons' -so that was bad- and then being encouraged and even praised for being able to eat more than 'so and so' -so that was good-.
It's no wonder I ended up at 180 pounds at age 18, I had no grasp on what a healthy portion of food was.  Other than the reactions of others to the amount of food on my plate, I had no gage, and no really motivation to learn or change anything...I DIDN'T THINK I WAS FAT!

Fast Forward
Here we are 8 years down the road and 2 more babies later...
I now weigh less today than I did after my first baby, by just a half pound.  But I don't feel the same, something has changed.  The years after baby number 1 and 2 I spent working out and enjoying a new body that looked great in workout clothes and felt strong and received compliments that I actually believed.
2 years out from baby #3 and I'm back down to that *magic* number and I find myself riddled with insecurities.
I find it interesting that I felt completely comfortable in my 'fat suit' and while I love being a smaller version of me, it's not at all what I thought being 'skinny' would feel like.  Just goes to show that extra pounds lost are not going to magically erase your history or the personal recording in your head that tells you who you are in the voice of those that influenced you most.

For the Record
I was indeed overweight.  My mom had good reason for suggesting long walks and even the jabs of others should have clued me in that something was amiss.  At present I am at a healthy weight for an average female of my height but for an athlete I still have room for improvement in both my BMI and muscle tone.  My current goal is to reach my optimum race weight of 138 pounds, which will go something like this...
 "When people ask if you have been sick, you're within 10 pounds, when they whisper and ask if you have cancer or aids, you're within 5, when they actually have an intervention, you know you're at race weight!"
-Rick Sivertson, Ironman Triathlete

When people tell me I'm looking skinny this quote pops in my head and I get a good giggle over it, but then I get really bothered.  I've told my husband I don't want to look 'sickly' skinny like many pro athlete's I've seen.  I'm trying to reach a goal, so I DON'T want to hear that I look anorexic and if I hear it I may have to delete you from my friends list! ;0)

No Really...
I feel guilty about comments on how much time I spend working out or how much money is put into the pursuit or how much weight I've lost.  I am really REALLY bothered about my weight and even MORE bothered when the suggestion of not eating is thrown at me.  If you only knew how much food I eat in one day you wouldn't look at me like a starving dieter, you'd probably wonder how on earth I'm not 40 pounds heavier!  What swimming, biking and running 5-6 times a week will burn in calories is amazing.  I've never worked out this hard in all my life, I've never ate this healthfully in all my life and I've never felt as incredible in all my life.  That being said, I wish I had a fat suit to race in.  In my mind I imagine it to be comfy and cloak my insecurities about being a skinny fat chick with saggy boobs and stretch marked like an old pair of panty hose. :) 
Well, that's the 'skinny' on it.  I've got perceptions about myself just like everybody else, something I'm trying to work through in my physical pursuits.  So when I post those first pics of me at my race weight let's hear some positive feedback cause they're coming... and I don't want any Facebook casualties!