For the last year and change, I’ve been on a serious mission to lose some weight. I spent most of my teens and early twenties never having to worry about how much I ate or how much exercise I got, and by my late twenties, that started to catch up with me. It didn’t help that I went from having a job where I basically got three or four hours of walking in every day, to the much more sedentary office/car worklife that I have now.
Before landisdad & I got married, I decided to do Jenny Craig, in order to lose some weight, and that worked, but I got pregnant pretty soon after we got back from the honeymoon. I never lost all the baby weight I gained with the Bee, and after the Potato was born, I routinely topped the scales at over 200 lbs. I wasn’t very happy about it—as a younger woman, I was fairly accustomed to male (and some female) attention, and I missed that. But I wasn’t so miserable that I wanted to do very much about it.
Last year, around June, I started having a lot of lower back pain. I sort of decided (without the benefit of medical advice) that it was due to the excess weight I was carrying around, and I decided that it was time to do something about it. So I downloaded a free app from loseit.com, and created a weight-loss program for myself. It basically works the same way as Weight Watchers, or other diet systems—you track your caloric intake and add in any exercise you do—and every week, as you lose a pound or however much, you get a slightly smaller caloric allotment.
It works great for me, because I am a data-driven, competitive person. I like numbers, and I like being able to see the direct impact, every day, of my food choices. One of the things that it made me immediately recognize was how many calories are in ridiculous numbers of salads in chain restaurants, due to the dressing and other non-vegetable ingredients. It also gave me an instant reward for exercise—hey–I can eat 150 more calories today—which is something that I personally find very motivating. The other great thing about it, from my perspective, is that there are no ‘bad’ foods. I can eat a piece of cake, or whatever—I just have to make corresponding choices at some other point in the week that balance it out.
So far, I’ve lost over 40 pounds, which is still short of my goal of 60, but it’s a lot of progress. (I’ve also gotten rid of the back pain—but that did eventually require a doctor’s visit and a month of physical therapy, because what I had is sciatica—the moral of this story being, don’t diagnose yourself.)
People have started treating me differently. I’m treating myself differently—I had to get a whole new wardrobe, and for the first time in a long time, I bought a bunch of skirts, and some skinny pants. I dress up more—I’m not trying to hide in a uniform of a loose t-shirt and jeans or capris the way that I used to do.
I’m not a big proselytizer by any means—but if you lose 40 pounds, it’s noticeable, and people will ask you how you did it. I tend not to talk about it a lot—after all, I could have just as easily failed at this diet—and I don’t think that I have any more will-power or whatever than other people do—I just managed to find a system that reinforced my desire to change in a way that works for my crazy brain, it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. And I also don’t really want to talk about weight loss in a way that is at all judgmental, either in a positive or negative direction, really. There’s enough crap in our culture causing us to overeat, and move less, and feel bad about the way we look—and I don’t have any interest at all in feeding anyone else’s anxiety about herself. People will occasionally make nervous comments when they’re having a meal with me about how I’m “being good” and they should “be good like me,” which just make me very uncomfortable. I’m not interested in judging anyone else’s food intake (well, with the exception of my own children’s, but that’s a different thing altogether).
But yesterday I had a slightly odd experience where two of my co-workers started telling me that I had lost enough weight and I should stop. I was a little shocked, frankly, that they thought it was anyone’s business but my own what I weighed. I’m not in any danger of anorexia, or an eating disorder. The two of them had clearly been talking about me, though, and come to some conclusion about how I look, and that just pissed me off. Part of me wanted to say, “hey, back off, this is really my business,” but because they were being “nice” about it, I didn’t feel like I could (plus, they are two people that I have to work very closely with). The other part of me just said, “yeah, I appreciate your input,” which is probably just a different way of saying the first thing.
And then they kept going. It was extremely awkward, and I finally had to walk away to end the conversation, and I drove home from that meeting just recapping, over and over in my head, the many, equally rude things that I could’ve said in return, but didn’t.
Some days, it’s hard to stay shiny.