I'm Missus, "She's-Too-Big, Now-She's-Too-Thin"
Beauty Is In The Eye of The Beholder
In the last 10 years I've been every size from 0 to 12. It seems everyone I know has an opinion about my body and feels entitled to express it. I've been glorified, scrutinized and everything in between. Well-meaning friends and family members compli-sult me with how, “fantastic” I'm looking these days. The implication that I did not look fantastic before is an interesting pill to swallow. On the flip side, former flames have no problem telling me how much more attractive I was when I was, “curvier.” Thank you for so eloquently informing me you wouldn't “bang” me now. And thank you for your continued love and support. It means a lot. Chaotic frien-emies don't miss a beat when demanding, “Tell me EXACTLY. How. YOU. Lost. SO. MUCH. WEIGHT. Because you've lost a lot of weight. Do you even eat?!” In translation, "You were bigger than me and I was comfortable with that; now you are smaller than me and I hate you."
Quiet Down Y'all
As far back as I can remember, my relationship with my body has never been a kind one. This hub is my attempt to get some peace and quiet in my life, at least when it comes to my size. My self-worth should not be derived from the numbers on the scale, and sadly, it sort of is. In order to quiet my own negative voices, I need everyone to simmer down and accept me as I am. Let me begin by clearing the air on a few things:
1) I lost a lot of weight in 2012 but I am now my body's natural weight. Again. I was about this size in high school/university, so it's not super strange to be here.
2) Even though I just said this is my body's natural weight, I don't think I looked bad before. I was by no means obese, I knew how to dress for my body, and I still had many boyfriends throughout the bigger years who liked how much meatier my derriere had gotten. Sir Mix A Lot's Anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hun.
3) Contrary to the opinions I've heard about how unhealthy it was for me to lose “so much weight so quickly,” it was actually perfectly paced and perfectly healthy. I gained and lost a total of 60 pounds, 7 years to gain and 7 months to lose. 7 Months roughly equates to 33 weeks. 2 pounds a week at 33 weeks = 66 pounds. Boom goes the dynamite.
I know that 60 pounds is a great deal of weight to gain and lose. I'm like an “inspirational” Jenny commercial or something. I know people will naturally be curious and that's okay. So I'm also going to discuss exactly how I both gained and lost the weight.
Packing On The Pounds - How I Gained The Weight
Age slows down your metabolism. Women can't eat the same way they did at 18 and 25 without noticing a difference. Men start to see the same thing around 30.
At the beginning of the weight gain, I was much happier and more accepting of myself at a size 6, 8 than I'd ever been at 0. Why starve yourself to be skinny and miserable if you can be normal and happy? I might have gotten a teensy bit carried away on that one eventually because...
I like to eat my feelings. A rough break up, a stressful job and a sick parent all lead to my devouring copious amounts of food very late at night. In response to this, I tried...
Yo-yo dieting. I learned in Evolutionary Psychology that a woman's body actually works against you if you diet. Our bodies are made to sustain themselves even in times of famine. They learn to survive on very little calories and fat. When you "diet" instead of making lifestyle changes you're telling your body, “there's a food shortage happening so don't burn a lot of calories.” When the dieting is over and you go back to your old eating habits, your body thinks, “holy crap, this is awesome! All these calories I never thought I'd see again! I'd better hold on to this and store it as fat for the next famine we go through.” And that's exactly why dieting doesn't work; you end up gaining back all the weight you lost and then some.
Finally, my Gluten intolerance played a huge role. My body literally cannot receive the nutrients it needs from wheat, rye and barley. In my case, it stored it all as fat. And bloated my stomach, giving me that sexy pot-bellied look. Rawr.
Getting Back to Me - How I Lost The Weight
Going gluten-free. Bear in mind there are 2 misconceptions when it comes to living gluten-free. The first is that gluten-free and carb-free are the same thing. I eat carbs. I eat a lot of carbs. I would literally be dead if I didn't. I eat rice, potatoes, corn-flour tortillas/tacos/nachos, green beans as well as gluten-free pastas which are rice based. I can't do gluten-free bread because I haven't found a substitute as good as regular bread and the little slices of “fluffless” imitation crap are mocking me. Thanks but no thanks. I can do without. The second misconception is that gluten-free substitutes are better for you and have less calories (unless you're eating quinoa, which I couldn't cook if my life depended on it). There are a lot more nutrients in whole grain bread than in whole grain rice and most gluten-free breads and pastas have much more sugar and much less nutrition than their “gluteny” counterparts. So simply going gluten-free won't necessarily help people who don't need to, but because of my intolerance it worked wonders for me. My G-free lifestyle also forced me to become a label reader (which I'll get to later) and has forced me to turn down most desserts at dinner parties or restaurants (cake, donuts, cookies, brownies...I sometimes dream about them at night).
Portion control. Once upon a time I'd eat an entire medium pizza, a bag of chips and a bag of cherry blasters. In one sitting. I didn't gain 60 pounds by eating carrots. These days I eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. I try to eat every 2 hours but that's not always realistic. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. When I go out I always eat whatever I want. More on that momentarily.
Drinking plenty of water. For one thing, sometimes when you think you're hungry you're actually just thirsty. Your body doesn't always know the difference between dehydration and hunger. Drinking water instead of soft drinks or high-sugar fruit “juice” helps keep you hydrated and healthy.
I sleep. A lot. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep actually helps you lose weight. It gives your body the time it needs to rest and recover.
I eat what I want. But here's the thing, I'm reasonable. If I feel like eating junk food I'll make beef nachos with extra cheese. Or I'll have ice cream. Or chips and dip. If you deprive yourself of anything, not only are you more likely to binge later on, you're also not really living life. I love food. I love food so much that I will literally never have defined abs because I won't break up with cheese. And I'm okay with that. I'm starting to like that I'm kind of “soft.” I mean, I'm a girl. I'm supposed to have curves. But I digress. The point I'm trying to make here is if I want ice cream, I'll have ice cream...I just won't eat the entire tub. And if I happen to feel like eating a lot of ice cream that day, I won't feel guilty about it or punish myself with more time on the treadmill. I don't participate in food-guilt. I think it's just stupid. I'm reasonable with my junk food consumption because the healthier my diet is, the more energy I have and the better I feel. Veggies and fruit taste great. Or at least they can - you just have to find a way to prepare them to your liking. Eating should not cause suffering.
My workout routine involves increasing heart rate and muscle building. A lot of women don't understand the importance of building muscle. Even at rest, muscle burns more calories than fat. And building muscle does not mean you have to look like Chyna. It's actually incredibly difficult for a woman to bulk up. And remember, doing squats lifts your bum, it won't make it disappear. Hot yoga is my exercise of choice because you increase your heart rate, tone muscle, relieve stress by focusing on breathing and increase flexibility. Aside from the stinky dude on the mat next to you, what's not to love?
Finally, I read labels. I know the ingredients of everything I put in my body. Yes, it is a lot of work. But you get used to it. My non-label-reading friends and I make dinner together from time to time and when we do, they have to change how they shop for groceries. One night we made Thai Chicken Curry and coconut milk was on our list. One can cost $1.88 and the other cost 98 cents. The former contained, “water, coconut milk, colouring.” The latter, a bunch of stuff we couldn't pronounce. We didn't need our words, our faces communicated our disgust. We walked away from the 98 cent can. That's not to say there were no chemicals in our can of choice (like colouring - why is that necessary?). It was just the better option. And all we can do is choose the best options available.
Loving Myself As I Am
For my parting words I'd like to say this: looks can be deceiving. I'm less confident than I appear and perhaps you may want to think on what you say to people instead of saying everything you think. Of course it's not your job to babysit my feelings; only I can determine how I react to what you've said. But a little tact goes a long way. Finally, I'm tired of being told what looks good on me and what doesn't. As they say, opinions are like assholes and everybody's got one. So I'm going to collect all the opinions I've heard, put them in a hypothetical box, light that opinion-filled box on fire, and dance around the flames like a banshee. It's my body - not yours - and I don't care what you think of it.
I can't wait until that statement is completely true.