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Goals and such

May 18, 2009

When I was at my heaviest weight several years ago and during a moment when I was feeling particularly down about being a fat person, I remember telling someone that all I wanted was to be a size sixteen. That’s it. Just a size sixteen and I would be happy.

I’m not sure why I picked that size. Probably because I thought it sounded reasonable. I would still be plus sized, after all. Maybe it seemed less greedy or less “I want a unicorn!” than saying that I wanted to be a size 6 or something. But it was still worlds away at the time. I wasn’t, at that point in my life, interested in trying to lose weight (mainly because I still held the view that losing weight had to entail a fair amount of suffering) so I guess I was just hoping that one day the fat would just fall off and I would emerge a voluptuous, but slimmer, version of myself.

Fast forward to now. I’m not quite a size sixteen, but I have to belt all my size 18 pants lest they fall off. Suddenly this old ‘goal’ looks pretty close by. But it’s not my ‘goal’ anymore and I’m wondering how to deal with the questions this raises about what might happen when I do reach some of my current goals.

I don’t have pant-size goals, really. I mean, I think about it. I would be a liar if I didn’t say that part of me wants expanded shopping options – already being able to wear some old navy and gap stuff has doubled my wardrobe – and, though I try to fight it, there will always be a part of me that would be happy to not have the ‘plus size’ label. But I can honestly say it’s not one of my main motivations at this time.

And yet…

The fitness and health goals I have, some of which are a bit nebulous and some more concrete. What happens when I meet these? What happens if I meet these while a size fourteen? Will I shrug my shoulders and ride off into the sunset blissfully happy with my body for the rest of time?

Probably not. I suspect that just as maintaining a healthy (for me) size and fitness level will take continuing work and adjustment, I will also have to keep working at all that body image and self-love stuff. And I’m starting to think that it may be more important than ever to work on it because I’m losing weight. Approaching a size I once held up as a personal ideal puts into sharp relief the ways I still beat myself up when it comes to body image. Knowing that this once-ideal size is no longer ideal now that I’m close to it is sobering. I can easily see how, even as my health and fitness improve, the hope that a better me is just a few measly sizes away could become an idea that dominates my relationship with my body.

So I’m going to take a bit of a break from reading books on fitness and diet (although I still have a few book reviews I’m going to post in the meantimes) and put more focus on treating myself well and all that self-image stuff.

I’d love some recommendations for books, websites and whatever that you might have found particularly helpful in this regard. I still own all my old fat acceptance books and I still read that fatosphere, but I find that most of that is geared towards a particular anti-weight-loss viewpoint that I don’t share. I agree that self-esteem should never be based on size and that all bodies can be beautiful (and that beauty isn’t something everyone needs to work for anyway) but having that wrapped up in “diets are really harmful and never ever ever work!” rhetoric just annoys me and makes me unable to focus on the larger message.*

I don’t know exactly what I am in search of, but any ideas would be helpful.

*and just because internet people are so picky let me state that this is totally my problem and that the fat acceptance movement has every right to be anti-purposeful weight loss.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2009 5:57 pm

    Yes. This. You said in one post what I’ve had bouncing around in my brain for months. I so often fall into the “just a few more” mindset: just a few more pounds, just a few more minutes on the treadmill, just a few more diet cokes and black coffees, just a few more. And it’s sneaky how it can come to dominate my thinking if I’m not hyper-aware of it. I have to make a conscious effort to acknowledge and appreciate my body NOW: what it can do, how it looks, how it functions. It’s easy to forget all that.

    As for self-image resources, I have to admit that most of the books I have aren’t specifically targeted to that issue. Having said that though, I really like some of Carolyn Myss’s stuff (though it’s a little energy woo-woo – just a heads-up there). I had a therapist once require me to list 3 things every day that I liked about my body and I wasn’t allowed to use anything more than once a week. Twenty-one things, no repeats, every week. That was hard at first, but helpful. And it got easier as time went on, which was effective. I also liked Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth,” because even though it pissed me off (and sometimes I thought it was over the top – not always, but sometimes), it gave me a different paradigm to look through – a way to step back from my own beliefs and start asking WHY I thought what I thought about myself. Does that sort of make sense? And from there I could sort out what was mine and what was society’s and what I would keep or discard from society.

    Anyway. This is getting WAY too long, but this post just really hit a chord with me right now. Thanks.

    • May 18, 2009 9:12 pm

      I really like the idea of just making lists of things you like about your body. Sometimes I feel like I deal with negative self-image by just ignoring my body so forcing myself to pay attention in a positive way would be a great thing.

      And Naomi Wolf is a great suggestion. That’s the kind of thing I was thinking about, honestly. Something that also encourages me to say F*&$ You to beauty standards. Part of my issue is always that my body type is not part of the beauty standard at all (apple shape, short legs) so I really don’t have any luck in terms of finding beauty role models or anything. I prefer to rebel anyway. :p

  2. May 18, 2009 8:40 pm

    The problem with “just a few more” is that you can always lose more. When I think of the average woman and body image, I think of that scene in “Mommy Dearest” where Joan Crawford beats her kid in a swimming contest and tells her, “I’ll always win.” Because the body image game is set up for you to always be dissatisfied: you are never quite as thin as you can be, never quite as perfect.

    I found the point of my body, after some trial and error, that I could maintain without insanity: no starving, exercise, but without exercise dominating my life. I feel strong, don’t look like a model (my Polish peasant genes ain’t gonna let that happen), but I am happy with my looks and my body. My weight takes dietary and exercise maintenance, but I can go to parties, be with friends, and not be a hermit. It’s hard because you have to find that point. Society will never encourage you to be sane. I guess that’s all I can offer.

    • May 18, 2009 9:15 pm

      I think that’s extremely sensible and very healthy. What I tell myself is that I’ll know I’m where I’m “supposed” to be because to lose more weight will involve extreme (to me, at least) methods.

      • May 18, 2009 10:17 pm

        Yeah, don’t sweat it too much. Because you have to save some energy for dealing with your inadequate eyelashes 😀

  3. brahnamin permalink
    May 19, 2009 9:37 am

    Dunno if you’ll find this helpful or not, but I’d say skip all the books – Diet books, Image books, Training books, etc . . .

    The only thing that matters is what you want out of all of this.

    So you reach your goals. That’s not the end.

    We tend to look at goals as final destinations, but they’re not. They’re just steps.

    There will always be more steps in the journey of your life.

    It doesn’t matter what someone else thinks about dieting or health, it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks about image.

    Keep rolling until you are satisfied with your results.

    I’ve always been into positive body image, long before I even know the FA movement existed, but when my health brought me to a place where I had to lose weight I felt weird blogging about it after writing countless *you’re beautiful the way you are* style posts.

    I worried what people would think.

    But that was back@sswards. I’d spent my whole life not giving a damn what people thought about me and that shouldn’t change because I suddenly found myself in a position of having to lose an @ssload of fat.

    Don’t apologize for how you choose to live your life. It is, after all, your life.

  4. May 19, 2009 10:28 am

    I’ve found a few books over the years about self/body acceptance at any size. I was just looking for one, but it looks like I gave it away. This is currently the wall in front of me, that I don’t really want to deal with. I think I may try to face it using self-talk, ala David Burns, or similar.

    As for where to stop, I’d like to get my BMI to 24.999999999999. This is in approximately 12 pounds. I’m currently at 27. I’ve been quite close once in the past, and still felt fat, a chubby size 6. The body resists, though, and I’m not willing to starve myself for it. If 2000 calories/day allows me to get to 150, and 1500 calories is necessary for 140, I probably won’t hit 140. I’m not quite sure if that’s exactly how it works, but I’m going to work on these 12 pounds, and see where I end up.

    I think at this point, I’m better off trying to get a better body image, and cleaning my bloody apartment (talk about a block!) than focusing on the weight. I can eat healthy and exercise to the best of my ability, but obsessing about it doesn’t really help.

    • May 21, 2009 1:24 pm

      The body resists, though, and I’m not willing to starve myself for it. If 2000 calories/day allows me to get to 150, and 1500 calories is necessary for 140, I probably won’t hit 140.

      That’s pretty much exactly how I feel. Just wherever that line between happiness and obsession is, I want to like myself there. (that is so tortured, but I’m tired.)

  5. May 20, 2009 7:34 am

    It’s so refreshing to hear weight loss and body image issues discussed in such a healthy way! So many women have the fantasy that a certain size pants is going to change their life and make them a different person.

    And I too find it sad that there can’t be more harmony between fat acceptance folks and those who choose to lose weight for their health.

    I love that as you’re thinking ahead to “maintenance,” your goals are not about calories and pounds so much as self acceptance. We live in such a screwed up culture that is so hostile to women loving themselves for who they are.

  6. May 22, 2009 7:02 am

    I really recommend any book by Victoria Moran. I love Fit from Within and Creating a Charmed Life…very helpful and inspiring!

  7. June 8, 2009 9:02 pm

    Kami Gray’s “The Denim Diet.” despite it’s name is a very well done book on how to “do it.”

  8. June 8, 2009 9:04 pm

    “The Denim Diet,” despite it’s name, by Kami Gray, is a very well written book on how to “do it.”

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