Jun 082008

Some days ago when grocery shopping I saw a story in a magazine about “dressing slim” with before and after pictures. The magazine almost went into my grocery cart on itself. Then I thought again. Do I really want to dress so that I look slimmer? Or do I really want to be slimmer. Well, you know the answer, both of course.

I didn’t buy the magazine but I thought about “feeling fat” again. Feeling fat is not to be confused with being fat though when you are fat you have a higher probability of feeling fat too. And these past weeks I have felt especially fat. One reason for this is that I gained about 9 kilos between last July and this May. Last summer I bought myself I nice new bikini that was just a little bit too small because I was sure I would lose still more weight. Gaining that much makes me feel like a loser. Like my whole life is out of control; which in a way it is.

When I tell people that I gained weight (I had to do that quite a bit when I visited my parents and relatives) they usually ask, “And why did you gain that weight?” Well, I’d say I ate too much. And drank too much beer. And moved less. If I know somebody really well I tell them that I was depressed for months. But then I’m not sure whether I get depressed because I’m gaining weight or gain weight because I’m depressed. Nonetheless the two are related in some way.

I feel even worse because I was doing so well. I had been losing weight, and changing my old unhealthy and unconscious habits for two years, and I lost about 14 kilos. Not by dieting but by changing habits one at a time, doing small things. This wasn’t a speedy process. On average I lost about 300 grams a month. So I thought at least I’d keep it off. Turns out that when I revert to eating just a bit too much for every meal, too many snacks, sugar again, and about two beers a day I gain back a kilo a month.

It’s not as if I were asleep for months and then suddenly woke up to find myself much heavier than before, every month, every week, every single day of that months I vowed to change back, not to drink beer, not to eat my son’s candy, or five liverwurst sandwiches for dinner. But then I felt hungry all the time, I felt, well, depressed, and a part of me thought that nothing I’d do would make a difference and so I just ate more this once, and drank that beer “just today”, and that box of crackers that hardly makes a difference, and so on and on, day after day.

That’s one of my main problems in life, I see clearly what I am doing, and it doesn’t fit the way I intend to live and then I’m doing it anyway. In part it’s that kind of stubbornness that makes me stay up because my husband reminded me that it’s getting late. The part of me that didn’t clean my room because my mother said so even thought I could barely stand the mess myself.

If you look under the category changing habits in my left sidebar (or click on the link), and then go back to 2006 you’ll find quite a few posts about losing weight and such. I really thought I had it. Once and for all, I know how to do this and I was sure I’d never get fat again. The interesting thing is that obviously I chose to go back to my old unconscious eating patterns, and for months and monthsat a time  without changing back. I just gave up.

Of course the next thing I think is that this just doesn’t work. Like one of my aunts said, “For some people it’s just genetics. They can’t help it.” Sometimes I dream of having a magic pill that will let the pounds melt from me (over night and without a mess of course), and then I’ll live at 64 or maybe 65 kilos, wearing a size 6 or 8 for ever. But I doubt that will happen and it’s no use to wait for it.

I’d love to be one of those people who read the right book, change their eating habits and that’s it. Forever. For me, obviously, I have to practice new habits for years and years and years and years, and then I still can’t be sure of them. This is very frustrating. But then I thought to myself I have two choices here: I can either give up and get fatter and fatter until I die, or I can start over again. And over. And over. And over. Every single day, every single meal, every single bite.

While I’m writing this now, the worst seems to be over. I already lost a kilo, I’m back to not eating sugar much, and alcohol is restricted to weekends (with a very broad definition of weekends, like, three days a week). I’m also back to exercise, doing small things like riding the bike to the grocery store instead of taking the car, and a walk every other day.

I very much hope that I can keep myself on track and then some time in the future (maybe next year) I’ll be back to where I was last year. And I want to do this without obsessing about it, just behaving like a slim person. Because “feeling fat”, like I said before, is not about the size of your body, it is short for “how I feel about myself as a person”, or for self worth.

Still. If you were in my place, would you sew yourself a new summer dress? Would you buy yourself a new, bigger, bathing suit? I know I’m not the only one in this place.

  13 Responses to “On feeling fat”

  1. Weight is an ongoing battle with everyone – men and women, not just you. All you have to do is not think about your failures, but rather, what you are going to do about it today. You can’t do anything to change where you are now, you only can change what you are going to do today and tomorrow. It looks like you already made your changes and you will get back on track! Good on you!

    I guess the question you should ask yourself is do you want to go swimming this year? That will answer whether or not you buy a new bathing suit! 🙂

  2. First–it’s an absolutely, totally, gorgeous bag! Couldn’t be better.

    As to the weight–apparently you’ve already looked at the issue from a lot of perspectives. FWIW, this is mine: You’ve read, I’m sure, that your body has a physical “set point.” You eat a little bit more today, a little less tomorrow, blah, blah, blah, et cetera, and your body just hangs in there at its set point. So it takes a significantly better eating pattern, and/or significantly more exercise, over some time, to change anything. (Appetite and habit, I think, reinforce the physical setpoint. I think that that is why even though you may not eat much of anything at all when you have the flu, you don’t get a permanent weight loss out of those few days. Either your body stays right there just because it does, or you eat a bit more as you are recovering.)

    So what I hypothesize is that you also have a mental setpoint. You know that you would never allow yourself to exceed (horrible, maximum) Point X, whatever Point X is for you–and so you never do, and you never will. But you do allow yourself to approach it, maybe reach it, because it is your absolute mental limit. So for long term success, it may be necessary to change your mental set point. Your mental Point X, which you will never ever ever exceed, has to be reset, lower. You’ve already dropped a kilo–so maybe now, tell yourself that you will never ever ever exceed where you are right now. And after you lose some more, move your mental set point down again.

    I have a friend who has been planning to lose the same 5 pounds for the last 9 or 10 years. I think her mental set point is exactly where she is right now. She doesn’t ever go over it, but I will be amazed if she ever does lose those 5 pounds.

    Yep, go for the too big swimsuit if you want to swim this summer. In September, recycle it. By then your set point will be low enough that you know you won’t want it next summer. Figure that with your sense of style, any summer dress you make, even if you don’t fit into it till a year from now, will still look great, because you are going to sew a timeless fashion.

    Best wishes. (BTW, because of your post, I got curious and finally looked up and found what a kilo is, in pounds. Maybe, just maybe, you could encourage yourself more if you kept track of how many pounds you’ve lost?)

  3. Definitely buy yourself a new bathing suit. Lands End has suits that fit all sorts of body types and you don’t have to frustratingly shuffle through all of the tanga models at the Karstadt sport section.

    Ah, self acceptance… something that eludes so many of us.

  4. I’m a firm believer in dressing the body you have to the best of your ability. That’s why I bought two “body shapers” today so I can wear that dress I bought without my post baby jiggle all a jiggle’n. So buy that suit and if you lose a bunch of weight you’ll just have to buy a new one and you’ll feel fabulous that you even have that problem. Enjoy life as it is, now. Instead of wishing for what it might be later.

  5. I would buy a bigger bathing suit. One that fits and is comfortable – difficult with bathing suits, but possible.

    I love how you differentiated between “feeling fat” and actually “being fat” or getting heavy. That feeling of fat has everything to do with self-esteem.

    Treat yourself well. Baby steps, which you sound like you are doing again. I think the best thing you did was experience the slow weight loss. It always comes back faster, but that slow weight loss, with the gradual changes will win in the end.

    Thanks for this honest post.

  6. Buy a new swimsuit!!!! Get a nice wrap to go with it so you can feel sexy when you are wearing it. remember love your body no matter how much fat is on it. Never give up being good to yourself and just remember to be kind to yourself… everything you wrote seems to point in that direction….

  7. Hm.

    a) Als meine beste Freundin im Februar aus Neuseeland zurückkam, hatte sie ca zehn Kilo zugenommen. Vorher war sie sehr, sehr schlank gewesen, sie hatte eine ziemliche Ballettänzerinnenfigur, jetzt ist sie mollig, rundlich und hatte ein Körbchen mehr Oberweite. Und sie sieht fantastisch aus damit, besser als vorher! Bei der Gelegenheit habe ich festgestellt, dass es einfach Menschen gibt, die rundlich schlicht besser aussehen als dünne, egal was die Medien einem eintrichtern wollen. (Ich habe übrigens diese Brigitte, von der du erzählt hast, hier rumliegen, und die Frau, die dünner aussehen wollte, war bereits äußerst schlank.)

    b) Ich hatte auch mal eine seeeehr lange Phase, in der ich mir Klamotten eine Größe kleiner gekauft habe, weil ich mir dachte: wenn ich das Kleid vor Augen habe, dann bin ich motivierter abzunehmen! Pustekuchen. Sowas funktioniert nicht. Warum sollte man sich etwas kaufen, dass man im Moment nicht anziehen kann und dass einem hinterher ein schlechtes Gewissen machen könnte? Lieber das kaufen, was einem jetzt gefällt und sich drüber freuen.

    So. Ich weiß nicht genau, was ich dir mit meinem ganzen Geschwafel mitteilen will, aber vermutlich versuche ich das hier auszudrücken: wenn du tatsächlich nicht mit deiner momentanen Figur leben kannst (also kein mollig-Mensch bist), dann fang wieder an, deine Essgewohnheiten zu ändern. Leicht gesagt, ich weiß, aber du hast es schon mal geschafft, also kannst du es noch ein zweites Mal schaffen. Du wirst es auch schaffen. Und wenn du es geschafft hast, kannst du dir Gedanken darüber machen, wie du es schaffen könntest, nicht wieder zuzunehmen.

    Was im übrigen alle schreiben über Selbstbewusstsein &c ist gut und richtig, und ich finde: dass du so ehrliche Posts schreibt, beweist, dass du eine Menge Selbstbewusstsein und Selbstreflexionsfähigkeit besitzt. :-))

    Ganz liebe Grüße

  8. I’m going to come back and read this again because I’ve been here half an hour longer than I alloted, however…

    Yes, buy the new bathing suit.

    I am having a really hard time – maybe we can help each other again? I’ll be back!

  9. Respekt.
    Für deine Posts. Fürs Lebensweise-Umstellen. Fürs Wiederanfangen-des-Lebensweise-Umstellens.

    Was ist mit alkoholfreiem Bier?

    Liebe Grüße,

  10. yes, i know. i just ate a ton and made 4 dozen cookies.


  11. first of all, five liverwurst sandwiches would make me so sick, I could not eat the next day. I wonder if liverwurst here is the same?

    this spring, I tried eating well for about a week (though I’m not sure how strict I was) and nothing happened. Then I tried not drinking my one or two beers or mixed drinks in the evening, and I lost three pounds. I am still balking at fitting the exercise into my schedule.

    Right now, at the early stage of the change, those conversations you have with yourself are key. Instead of allowing the self who wants to eat the wrong thing to win, you need to clearly state to yourself, “I want to eat healthy foods. I am not really hungry, etc.”

    The other important aspect of making the commitment is planning ahead the foods you should eat and making them available, easy choices.

    I know you know this as much as I know it, but this is where I fail – talking myself into the wrong choices, and being lazy about what I’m going to put in my mouth. Yesterday I was trying to think of something for breakfast, and drew a complete blank. I’ve forgotten everything that used to be second nature.

  12. I’ve recently found myself to be back where I was more than five years ago. I lost weight and kept it off for the most part, but “somehow” I’m at my heaviest again. I’m doing something about it now, but I know it will be a lifelong thing for me. I will always have to be careful because if I’m not I just want pastries and booze.

    In the meantime you might as well have a suit that fits. No one can feel good about themselves in a suit that squeezes thigh in the wrong place, and you have to think your body is worth it to feed it the right stuff.

  13. “And why did you gain that weight?”

    I think if somebody asked me that I’d slug them. It just seems to incredibly insensitive and rude!

    And I don’t want to talk about my current refined sugar intake, especially in the evenings. Not pretty.


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