One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

INSIGHTS

Why I keep trying?

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I recently received a depressing email from an online friend. She amazingly ran her first 5k, started weight training and feels absolutely wonderful! However–and I’m thinking a lot of us can relate to this–She saw a picture of herself that set her back. She went on to describe how she looked. How miserable and awful she now feels after seeing the photo.

This saddens me so much I can barely find the words. I really didn’t know how to respond. How do I tell her that sometimes I feel the same way. That there have been pictures I’ve seen of myself that cause those same negative thoughts.

This one comes to mind…


pic from 12 Miles, Chicago Pizza with a Side of BlogHer

When I saw that picture I was so conscious of my belly. I almost didn’t post it. All these thoughts started flooding my head…

Was it worth it? The weight loss? The tummy tuck? Look at me. Look at my gut. I’m disgusting. Why do I even bother?

I’m not kidding or exaggerating. Thoughts like that pop into my head ALL the time. I’m constantly battling them. Constantly.

But battle them I do and I will continue to do. I’ve come to accept that my brain works this way. Blame it on my upbringing or what people told me when I was younger, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m wired like this and I don’t think I’m alone.

My strategy for dealing with these negative thoughts is simple…

I ignore myself as much as possible.

Ridiculous, right? But what’s the alternative? To feel sorry for myself. Dive into a pint of ice cream. Ignore my child’s requests for walks to the park. Become a wall flower at weddings instead of dancing with my husband. Hide under a towel when everyone is else is swimming in the ocean.

No. No. No. I did that the first half of my life and I refuse to go back to that place. It’s what started the yo-yo diet cycle of hell to begin with.

Instead I ignore and I live the life I want to regardless of any negative self talk going on in my head.

It’s not always easy. Reminding myself that many women, regardless of size feel the same way helps. That all those "perfect" people in magazines don’t exist. That this is my body and it can do extraordinary things. It’s also the only one I have and I only have it for a short time. In a blink of an eye I’m going to go from 34 to 64 and I want to live up every moment I have before that happens. I want to run on the beach. I want to play tennis with the husband. I want to keep up with Ryan and hopefully dance around like a nut with his children. THAT is why I keep trying.

So to my friend who shall remain nameless unless she chooses, I get over my bad self-image by reminding myself of all these things. At the end of the day I’m happy with who I am not because of the body I’m in but because I’m living the life I want to live.



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Discussion

There are 44 comments so far.

    Rachel

    July 14, 2010

    Motivation – what a tricky thing indeed – and how quickly it can evaporate.

    Instead of looking at old pictures and thinking, that poor girl… I try to think, look at how far I’ve come.

    Susan

    July 14, 2010

    You know what really struck me about this post? This is not about having gone through major weight loss, or about being in maintenance. It is just about being a woman. So many of us – maybe all of us? – hear those exact voices. It is truly sad, and also infuriating. But i tis also really good to be able to recognize them and drown them out and stay present in our lives. Thanks for a great post.

    Marilou

    July 14, 2010

    Been there, done that. I’m the first one to watch photos of myself to find things to bitch about, or look at myself for long, long minutes in the mirror to finally change outfits ..

    Why after losing all that weight I can’t be happy with the way I am now? Would I be happy even if I’d lose another 100 lbs? (which is impossible hehe) .. No.

    But accepting ourselves the way we are, especially after suffering from low self esteem for so long, is a tough thing.

    Ignoring myself? I think I’m not there yet. But you do inspire me to try at least.

    Thank you. Really, that is always needed.

    Cynthia (It All Changes)

    July 14, 2010

    It is so wonderful to hear someone who still struggles with those negative voices. They are so annoying and loud some days. But your inspiration to keep going and not let them stop you made my day. Thank you.

    Michelle

    July 14, 2010

    I keep reminding myself that belly folds when sitting it *normal.* And that everyone has it, and the only reason people don’t see it in magazines is because they’re strategically posed and airbrushed so that none of that is visible! I grew up consciously keeping my arms folded in front of my belly as to hide the bulge, and part of it did come from the fact that I had a higher percentage of body fat and my body does store it in my midsection. And some of it comes from the fact that I wasn’t wearing appropriately fitting clothing. But the fact is, I’m now 140 lbs, 5’6″, with about 18-20% body fat (with the majority of it still in my midsection), and when I stand, I have definition in my abs. But if I sit or slouch, yes, I have bulge. Because I’m real. Now I just wear appropriately fitting clothes, so now I’m not self-conscious about my belly. I know it’s crumpling up under my shirt, but I remind myself that everyone else in my company has the exact same thing going on under their shirts too.

    Jane

    July 14, 2010

    You go girl! You’re so right about how time flies by. I am 30 years older than you are, and I swear that I should be your age. I gave too many years to being overweight and hiding my imperfections from the world, even when I wasn’t that overweight. Seeking perfection will only take us out of the mainstream of life, and time will do that quickly enough on its own. So don’t focus on small imperfections–don’t miss one minute of what life has to offer and what you have to offer it. It goes by too fast!

    Rachel

    July 14, 2010

    To be honest, I had to look twice at the picture to see what was “wrong” -so I guess that’s also a lesson, we are the hardest critics of ourselves. My husband takes beautiful and artistic photos and many of them are of me in “unflattering” angles or candids where my mouth is open showing off my multiple chins… of course he finds them beautiful and all I can see is my chins… sometimes we just have to step back from ourselves and realize that no one else cares…

    Cheree

    July 14, 2010

    Hear hear!

    Sometimes that chick in my head is a nasty, nasty woman, but what can you do but tell her to STFU and keep moving forward?

    Lisa

    July 14, 2010

    No one is perfect–not even celebrities. I secretly love the trash magazine that expose celebrities without makeup and showing their cellulite. They are human too!

    I am hard on myself. I can relate to you and your friend. Despite losing 100 pounds and being in great shape–I still focus on that roll around my middle. Who cares about the accomplishments?? But then I remind myself of those accomplishments and try not to be so hard on myself.

    Mary

    July 14, 2010

    I used to be that person concerned that everyone was looking at me~even though I am still over my healthy weight, I look around and see so much more to be concerned with~friend with two autistic children, mother with dementia, friends and family without jobs struggling to stay a float~these people don’t see me as their overweight friend, daughter or sister-in-law, they see me as me~and I too have finally seen me for me~and I am beautiful no matter what size I am, as long as I am healthy and happy~Thank you Roni for the inspiration everyday~

    angela

    July 14, 2010

    We definitely all feel this way some of the time. Last summer I was at my lowest weight in 10 years and I still wouldn’t put on a bathing suit in public. This summer, after regaining 30 lbs, I completely regret not living it up then… When I get back there I will. And some of the pictures will still bother me, but I’ll be living my life the way I want to be.

    Thanks for this post. It helps hearing that others feel the same way from time to time.

    Michelle

    July 14, 2010

    Thanks for this post. I am a 38 year old mother of a 5 year old and 2 year old and fitter than I have been in years, yet I kick myself because I can’t wear clothes I was wearing before I had my 2nd baby. It’s time to STOP! Life is too short to be worrying about what we look like or what people think and to be healthy and happy for those in our lives.

    Kae

    July 14, 2010

    Thanks, Roni. :)

    Tricia from Australia

    July 14, 2010

    Thank you for *speaking* this out loud. I’ve been hiding away for the last few years & have years of yo-yo hiding before that. I’m using your blog to encourage me in my ‘dietless state’. A wise friend recently told me that it is none of my business what someone else thinks of me. And I believe that when that self-talk tells me I’m everything I don’t want to be, then it is dredging up everytime I made it my business what I thought someone else was thinking of me. Now when the voice speaks, I’m telling myself that is not my business – I’m in the business of living, laughing & loving! May we all develop enough strength to live life without carrying other people’s business.

    Carla

    July 14, 2010

    I’ve been having discussions about this exact thing with my husband. He doesn’t understand why I am not happy with my body, because he loves it and sees nothing wrong. He tells me it’s all in my head and I know it is.

    Thank you!

    David

    July 14, 2010

    I have these feelings most every time I step out of the shower after working out for an hour each day for nearly a year, and after having lost 50 lbs and now even as I am widely considered overly healthy. Not only is progress terribly slow, but I simply do not look like the person I think I should look like. But I look way better than if I had never started this, and I am capable of much more. On the whole, I am better, even though I’d change my genetics and age perhaps, if given the chance. Thanks for sharing this.

    Royann22

    July 14, 2010

    Thank you for this. I am struggling with this – I’ve met some fitness goals this summer (just finished my second tri!) but see pictures of myself at the event and shudder. Ugh. I’m still 30 pounds from my goal weight, and how I look doesn’t match how I feel. I will ignore the voice. Thank you Roni.

    Michelle@Eatingjourney

    July 14, 2010

    That’s why I did the Exposed Movement. What if you started loving what you have instead of ignoring it? Even just once a week? This is why I did it. This is why I blog. We have to stop hating ourselves, demanding photo-shopped perfection.

    mery

    July 14, 2010

    i once saw pamela anderson in some late night talk show and what she said stuck with me, i remember her telling the host she didn’t like to look at herself in the mirror because in her head she was much hotter than what she saw in the mirror. so there, it happens to everybody, and albeit hard, it is our choice to ignore or pay attention to our self criticism. right?
    (disclaimer: i am not a fan of pamela anderson! lol)

    Skyler Meine

    July 14, 2010

    It is nuts what we think of ourselves sometimes. I wouldn’t of even noticed your stomach in that picture if you didn’t point it out.

    One of the challenges is that the media is killing our body image with the pictures of the perfect body. I genuinely feel terrible that so many people struggle with their appearance.

    maria @ Chasing the Now

    July 14, 2010

    Your friend is definitely not alone.

    I am also pretty sensitive about my stomach. Society makes me think I need a perfectly toned/ripped up stomach, but I honestly don’t see that ever happening. I’m learning to deal with that and move on. There’s no reason my stomach should hold me back from other fitness goals.

    Kerry

    July 14, 2010

    On the back of my race numbers, I often scribble some notes about the race – the weather, who I ran with, how I felt. When I need inspiration, I look through those race numbers – not the photos – exactly for that reason. I guess that’s my way to ignore the voice sometimes. I agree it would be better to learn to love the photos, but baby steps…..

    Lianda

    July 14, 2010

    The worst thing you can do is listen to the negative self-talk. You can’t just stop it, you must replace it with affirming positive statements said in the present – EVEN THOUGH you don’t believe them right now. Allowing the self- denigration will result in changing your physiology, and possibly getting you sick. For what? You are beautiful and worthy JUST THE WAY YOU ARE! The stress you are feeling is actually PREVENTING you from losing weight, and keeps it right on your belly. You can read more on my website about how dieting doesn’t work. Being happy, and accepting and loving yourself does. I promise.

    Mariana

    July 14, 2010

    Wow.

    Mariana

    July 14, 2010

    thank you

    Tamara

    July 15, 2010

    After graduating from college, I ballooned up from a relatively healthy size 12 (I’m 6′) to a size 16 within six months. I spent nearly three years at that size and felt awful about myself. In 2006 I finally decided to do something about it. Over the next two years, I dropped 65 pounds and was somewhere between a size 8 and 10. Better than the number of the scale was the sense of accomplishment and how strong I felt. And then I had a baby. She was born in October 2009. I didn’t gain an excessive amount of weight, and now nine months later, I’m 15 pounds away from my goal weight and my core is still a bowl of Jell-O. Even though I continually remind myself that I had a baby, I still can’t help but feel low whenever I look in the mirror. A muffin top now sits in the place I worked so hard on in the first place. I struggle with it on a regular basis. However, I’ve decided being healthy is a far more important message to pass along to my daughter, so I’ve started to train for a 10k (with a half-marathon to follow next year) and circuit train. Though my core is still weak, I feel stronger than I have since before pregnancy and I think that’s the most important thing I can give my little girl. A healthy, active mom who can keep up to her, even if my body never looks the way it was. I have to remind myself of that every day and it often falls on my own deaf ears, but I’m sure trying.

    Liz

    July 15, 2010

    I often worry about other people judging me based on what I look like and I can feel super uncomfortable around people I don’t know. One of the best pieces of advice that I got from a therapist was that most people are consumed with their own lives and thoughts that they probably don’t give a crap about what I’m wearing or how I look. Even though I still struggle, it helps to keep that in mind when I’m feeling uncomfortable.

    Foodie McBody

    July 15, 2010

    SO been there. So much. When I’m feeling great, then I see a photo and… UGH. But you are so right when you say “In a blink of an eye I’m going to go from 34 to 64” and believe me it will not matter then. I’m going to be 51 in a few weeks. Those things matter less and less even though they still do matter. I want to live my life, love the people I love and be happy.
    And you still realize that so many people would KILL to look like you do in your “bad’ picture….. oxoxo

    Ashley

    July 15, 2010

    Thanks for posting this. I needed this, especially when I’m having one of those days today.

    Lisa H.

    July 15, 2010

    Does anyone really judge us as much as we judge ourselves? Most likely not. Why does how we feel about our bodies take precendence over fun activites such as swimming with friends and family? It’s so sad to think about that and if I had a dollar for every activity I’ve skipped or been a wallflower because I was too self-conscience about how I looked, I would be one wealthy woman.

    Thank you for this post, Roni. I will definitely reconsider those nagging thoughts and push them away so I can live a real life.

    Sonia

    July 15, 2010

    Roni,

    your belly doesn’t look gross

    Brandi

    July 15, 2010

    Here Here Roni. Here Here.

    Alison Foster

    July 15, 2010

    Sometimes I get those down thoughts too- ignoring yourself is really good advice. :)

    McLauren84

    July 15, 2010

    @Angela–You should try to enjoy yourself and celebrate your body RIGHT NOW, TODAY! I think telling yourself you’ll get out there and live it up once you reach your goal weight is a slippery slope. I certainly understand where you’re coming from…believe me! But I think the “Once I’m skinny…” train of thought is so counterproductive. Everyone deserves to enjoy their life to the fullest, every single day. We never know when life could be taken away from us!

    roni

    July 15, 2010

    Angela – I agree with McLauren84. The “once I’m skinny” mentality is part of the problem. We need to get past that.

    Laura

    July 15, 2010

    Roni, your belly is beautiful. It wrinkles up just like it’s supposed to, and you would never ever know that an awesome little kid was in there once.

    And I agree, to the lady who said she would put on a bathing suit when she lost 30 pounds again, put on a bathing suit now! You are beautiful, and everyone knows it but you.

    I went through the exact same emotions when I saw the pictures from my triathlon this past Saturday. It is great to know that I am not alone, but bad to know that so many of us still struggle with body image.

    Alison

    July 15, 2010

    We are definitely our own worst enemies as I had to look at the pic twice to see the stomach, yet had it been mine they would have been the first thing I noticed about it, not the strong arm or nice smile, like I did looking at yours. I feel bad when I think I look worse now, it’s just that now I notice my weight and before I denied it. I was anorexic as a teen and know I have the thinking to go right back there, so I don’t let myself, I take other people’s compliments sincerely and continue to work on my own view of myself in the mirror, or a photo. Mostly I try to view them as a glimpse back to how far I have come. Thanks for showing me I’m not alone :)

    D

    July 15, 2010

    I know exactly when you mean…in fact, I posted about it last month after I came back from vacation & saw those pics. Some were awful. I tried to look at them all still, just so that I can visualize myself at the worst too (it’s easier to concentrate on the “nice” pics.

    BTW, I’d LOVE a belly like yours – my belly used to be my fav body part but it’s sorta messed up w/ belly-baby-weight fat now :( .

    Tina

    July 15, 2010

    What do I see in that photo? A girl named Roni who represents strength, independence, personal growth, sincerity, generosity and empathy. It’s amazing to me that you can see anything negative but I won’t start on that because I do that to myself all the time. Roni, this post came at a great time. I have a wedding to go to in a few weeks and I’m already thinking about how I want to hide. I will watch my friends dancing and be longing to be up there with them. Even though I have a DH who tells me I’m beautiful and encourages me to have fun, I’m shutting out the world. I can’t get past my image. Seems that I can see potential in everyone around me, but cannot accept myself. No, I won’t allow it. I am allowed to smile and have fun too. These chubby arms and thighs shouldn’t control my life. Seeing you, someone I think is beautiful and fit and has a body I am aiming to have too say she feels these things too when a photo doesn’t come out as great as it could have, is … well, it’s everything to me. What you wrote is beautiful. Think I’m going to get my dancing shoes and enjoy every minute at that wedding celebration. And if a photo is taken of me that will make me cringe, I will look closely to see if that person in the photo was having a good time, not anything else. Take a closer look at your photo again… what do you see?

    Casey W

    July 17, 2010

    Roni… you are an inspiration to me. I love reading your posts but I never respond. I couldnt resist commiting on this one. I love the work that you do on here. Love

    Melissa

    July 20, 2010

    Very well said Roni, I have the same attitude, the same stupid negative voice. I will never quit trying either, life is to short to not be able enjoy every bit of it. Thank you for your blog, it’s conforting to know other women go threw the same self image issues.

    MC

    July 25, 2010

    I just so happened to look at your past blog entries late last night (I pretty much follow your Twitter food log and look at your food/recipe blog.) I guess I came across this entry at the right time. See, my 24th birthday is coming up next week and I wanted a new picture to post up on Facebook, as I’ll have people commenting Happy Birthday to me (or possibly looking at my page) and I didn’t want them to think “She needs a profile picture of herself. She must still be very self-consious and have no confidence if she’s hiding herself.”) I’ve only posted one picture of ME as my profile picture in my 5+ years on FB, as I am so critical and hateful of myself. Not to mention, I have extra weight on me (still have a little over 15 pounds to lose). After reading this post, it gave me the courage to go to my parents’ desktop computer and look at the pictures from the wedding my mom and I went to last week. (I was never planning to look at them because I get disgusted and sad looking at my pictures majority of the time). I was surprised- the pictures of myself weren’t that bad and I found one I really liked and put it up as my new profile picture! See, deespite getting more in control of my overeating/binge eating over the past year (that I’ve dealt with much of my life) and losing 10 pounds, I’ve been overeating/small binges every week the last many months. Part of it is due to personal reasons that I need to address, while the other is that I don’t like the way I look or my extra weight, so I use food to fill the void/make me “feel better.” Well, after seeing those pictures of me, I saw how the 10 pound loss and the extra cardio and increased strength training has done for me in the past year. My face is slimmer and the forming double chin is almost gone, toned biceps, and my midsection is slimmer (well I’ll give credit to the mid-rise jeans too!) It made me realize how much potential I have further to achieve and it’s exciting! I really feel like I’m going to have a better grip on my emotional eating issues after realizing the possibilities…how there is much more happiness than in food. Finally, I also started to realize how hard I am on myself….I feel by posting a picture of ME on my Facebook, for example, I’m gradually taking control of my lack of self-confidence and hate for myself, as well as not allowing those people who have told me I’m not good enough, put me down, etc. not to win! So thank you for posting. By the way, I don’t see the “bulges” you’re talking about. You’re sitting down so of course you’re going to have those flaps forming. And it’s not even noticeable! When I first saw the picture and you said you didn’t like it, I couldn’t see why….I thought maybe you didn’t like the way your face looked in the picture…and then I read you didn’t like your stomach and I thought to myself “I wish I had her stomach.” lol.

    Ellie

    July 27, 2010

    This post came at exactly the right time. I’m working on my weight loss and creating a healthier lifestyle for myself now that I’ve hit my 30’s. I’ve been trying really hard to figure out what good portions sizes look like and to make my day include more movement, more “bustling around” (like making multiple trips back and forth to the dryer instead of grabbing all the clothes in one big armful) a part of my day along with a new daily walking routine. But I have something like 52 pounds to go out of 85 and I hate looking at myself. I always have. I don’t know if this is a left over childhood thing or what, but I can’t stand to see myself in the mirror or see pictures o f myself because it makes me depressed. I look at myself and wonder why would anyone ever like that person. Yet, I don’t feel that way when I don’t look at myself. When I’m out with friends or at work or school, I feel happy and like I can be a good person. It’s only when I see myself. So I make a real habit not to catch glimpses of myself in the mirror or in store windows. I ignore myself. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that too. You have no idea what a relief it is to hear that you struggle with this as well. And look at you, you’re lovely! Your posts are such and inspiration. And your picture, at least to me, matches your posts. You look genuinely nice and friendly, as well as thin and pretty. It gives me hope, that we do in fact carry truly distorted images inside us and I haven’t been deluding myself somehow. It makes me think, okay, if I have to go through life not looking at mirrors except to comb my hair, so be it. Just ignore your image and keep going, keep walking, keep trying to figure out new recipes, keep bustling.