What I learned in 2007 by Vicki Bright

by JL Fields, Editor @ Stop Chasing Skinny on July 2, 2014

What I learned in 2007 by Vicki Bright

I weighed 210 pounds on January 6, 2007. Spurred on my the desire to improve my health I decided to actively lose weight and through a year of effort and support I weighed 60 pounds less in December, 2007. While I had gone through the year trying not to think about “the number” and trying more to focus on how I feel, I found that the numbers became central in my life. Other people appeared to have no concept of what I actually weighed, so when I told people I lost 60 pounds they would stare in disbelief. I would say “I was 210 pounds” and they remained shocked. I understood that weight was in the eyes of the beholder and not easily quantified by others.  I have met and have read about people who have lost a great deal more than 60 pounds. I have lost “half of me” as one woman said to me of her over 100 pound weight loss. I lost 2 full bags of 30 pound dog food, 12 newborn babies or 6 bags of grapefruits.

It was quite a journey losing the weight and the impact on my personal and public life was astounding and devastating. I was not mentally or emotionally equipped for the end result. The constant development of my inner identity and my self-esteem was amazing and a sometimes surreal journey. I will not deny I enjoyed getting thinner and achieving a slimmer, healthier body yet in the end it was not worth it financially or emotionally. It was the reaction of others I actually did not think about when I decided to begin to try to lose weight. It never occurred to me that I would have to develop a whole new way of responding to others when they are talking about me in a very open and public way. It seemed to be OK for others to give me advice to “stop now”, as if it was like turning a light switch on and off.

My weight loss that year was physically dramatic. I was in the public eye, available to be commented upon and questioned. When one makes a body transformation one is putting themselves out there for scrutiny and questioning. People question whether you are sick, stressed or on drugs. The ego becomes ever-present, because when engaging in weight loss in public you are allowed to talk about your achievements freely. I had one day planned to count the number of days my weight loss was a topic of conversation or garnered some attention. While I never did this I expected it was at least 10 times a day. People are fascinated by perceived positive body change. I found myself to be a source of encouragement or envy, depending on which side of the fence one sits.  

The internal, very deep and personal changes cannot be explained, sometimes even to me. It is almost as if I was blindsided to the results of the effort. I imagine planting seeds, spending the season tilling the soil and watering the garden only to discover a huge bounty, an unexpected abundance and being surprised by the enormity of the result. I questioned my ability to be able to achieve a significant weight loss, because the propaganda running through my head said that if I managed to be fat before why did I think I am capable of managing to lose it now?  This is just the beginning because no matter how hard you try or what you achieve based on cultural expectations it will never be enough. I chastised myself because giving no thought to the emotional ramifications indicated that I was shallow. When “thin” world is something new it is easy to get sucked into the illusion that being thinner means you are physically so much more desirable. As a feminist I am mortified that I admit to buying into the ideal that thin is better.

The decision to lose SOME weight was premeditated. As a human being I have failings, and am often full of judgment of others. I own this part of myself; I know that I have at times been sucked into the crap that comes with fat phobia. I am openly anti-consumer culture and the way society generally over indulges in food and drinks and lifestyle generally choosing to be unhealthy was often on my mind. I judged myself for being lazy, not putting in the right amount of effort needed to be able to not have a BMI in the “obese” range.  I am entirely guilty of paying attention to the reports on the rising cost on social and health care of obesity in North America. I too had several weight related health issues over the years, and ridding myself of regular heart burn and back pain was very appealing when I decided to take the plunge.  Being overweight clouded the lens from which I viewed myself. I would know I was overweight, I could stand naked for hours and see myself with rolls of fat and no definition, yet I did not see myself as being really overweight. Yet I still strived not to be that woman I saw in the mirror. [click to continue…]

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