Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Less than what we naturally are

My biggest struggle at the moment is the one against myself.

It is an old familiar one that I have had as long as I can remember.

I am bigger than the world expects a woman to be. Bigger than normal. not massive. But not "slim". I used to be able to justify this with the sequitur "but I'm not obese".

But now I can't.

According to my BMI I am.

And according to my three-year-old. "You're fat!"

She informed me the other morning. Ungrateful sod, my mama brain growled, this fat grew you and fed you and hugs you even when you're being a brat.

She's officially "right".

And yet I feel the best in my body that I ever have. I wear funky clothes that sing my soul to the world. Rather than the "fat clothes" I wore at two stone lighter. When I was 16 and "normal" according to every chart in the book, I felt fat. At my lightest, on my wedding day I could not eat properly. I felt fat still in places. Now four and a half stone heavier I feel good. I have been wondering whether to ask my doctor if I need to take action, or relax... but it seems so trivial - to him.

But it's not just about feelings is it? If being "obese" is bad for my health then I need to lose weight. However good I feel about myself. However well I (generally) eat. Despite the fact that I am active, though not sporty, I am not as healthy as I could be. My cake pounds could be putting a strain on my organs, beckoning diabetes my way perhaps.

Looking in the mirror I don't think I look obese. Sure, I hate my double chin which finds its way into every photo, and the tummy which looks like the empty baby pouch it is. But mostly I look like a juicy woman with curves in ALL the right places, mama!

If I lose weight, then comes the social approval because we (women) are "supposed" to be slim. We're supposed to not take up to much space. To apologise for our existence by being quiet and thin. When I start to lose weight the self hatred and judgement and playing food games in my head also begin. I stop being my own friend, and instead my body, my appetites become the enemy.

I am the size I am because I have a large appetite. I eat well. I am a social eater and this is challenging when there is always food around. I eat differently because I am feeding children. I have carried three babies in quick succession and have had almost seven years of extreme sleep deprivation that most people can barely imagine. Not to mention breast feeding. My spare time goes into creativity not pounding the treadmill. But I walk and ride my bike, as any one car family understands. As the days of little kids and walking at a snails pace with kids dragging of me fades so , I think, will a few of the "excess" pounds.

So here's the battle. I feel like I should be taking action to stop my weight continuing to rise as it has in the past year. But I have no desire to be thin to please others or excuse myself or fit in or look good on the beach. Those days are gone. I want to be OK in my fullness in my curvaceous feminine shape. Not taming my deliciousness and starving my desires because that's what our society believes women should do. I don't want to be less myself in any way...

I am not fishing for nice words - nor looking for a fat bitch slap. I'm looking for reality. And to know how you walk this road yourself...



  1. Hmm. I am a full stone heavier than I was 6 years ago (pre baby). I feel absolutely fine, and I think I look okay. For the time being, my BMI is the high end of "normal". But, like you, "swimming" with a tiddler doesn't actually mean swimming, going for a "walk" doesn't mean going for a walk, and family mealtimes are important now in a way that they didn't used to be.

    Trouble is, I look at my own mother, who's weight followed quite a steady trajectory over the decades, resulting in (you guessed it) diabetes at 50. It's a real bore, and it's not good for her. It's a real wake up call.

  2. I am relatively thin... but I wage war on myself all the time. I have (and have always had) lots of cellulite, for one, which makes baring my body less than apetising, so to speak. I am also hideously unfit!!

    My mother, too, put on weight steadily as she grew older and now has diabetes (a mild version which she is mostly controlling with a healthy, alkaline diet - but it is scary!)

    I have no solutions. I agree with you that feeling happy in your skin is more important than bowing to the pressure to be thin to please 'others'. But being healthy (now and in the future) has to come into that - not for others, but for you, right?

    As you push me to muse about this, I think the important shift is that first one: from pleasing others to feeling good within ourselves. You've already crossed that bridge. Have I?! The next bridge is going holistic and not thinking just about how we look or even how we feel (physically) but also about how each organ is doing... I guess. Will keep musing...


  3. Gah, I dunno Lucy. I'm with you on the feeling great as you are thang. But as the other ladies say, diabetes is a proper pain in the bum! How about just drinking more water and exercising more without altering what you eat too much? That way you won't feel annoyed or like you are depriving your body anything, but rather that you are enhancing it and adding something extra! You could work on toning and refining your curves with love and positive stuff like doing more yoga or some other body loving thing. Even a toe curling orgasm is a great body toner so just have lots of those!!!!! hehehe x

  4. I LOVE these responses - I'm signing straight up for Motherfunker's 30 day multi orgasm diet. Oh yeah! Totally with you on water and toning. Yes, yes, yes - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh- there's my one of five a day hehehehe!! SEriously the approaching it from the exercise rather than the food thing was the angle I came to myself just now.

    Gauri your words really touched me deeply. The holistic bridges bit. I took your ideas to the bath with me. And have formulated a plan.... Writing it up now. Will post tomorrow.

    Thank you all for your deep thought, and truth telling, sharing your deepest knowing and sensing, and your mother's stories.

  5. I really enjoyed this post for several reasons. I think you are SO on the right track in terms of your confidence and HOW you are thinking about these things. There seems to be a huge trend (both in life and in blogland) these days to just "love our bodies", no matter what. While I agree with this sentiment and the notion of fighting the conventional idea of beauty, I also see this as dangerous. I see some really large and unhealthy women opting to simply love their bodies, and I worry that they are missing something, because loving our bodies is about MORE than just loving how they look; it is also about caring for them, nurturing them, and giving them what they need. You really nailed all of this.

    I have recently been writing a bit about this topic as well. I too, like you, feel even more confident with my body now, even though I think it probably looks much less desirable (to others) than it did before I had a baby. I see my body as powerful and capable and amazing! But like you, I knew that to be healthy and to be around for my son, losing weight was simply something that needed to happen.

    My approach to this has been about health 100%. I started my weight loss journey by simply adding a few vary important foods to my diet, such as grapefruit (which does AMAZING things) and green smoothies. I lost 9lbs in 10 days and have since lost a steady 2-3lbs per week. I still eat - WELL. But the kinds of foods I have ADDED to my diet have really help boost my metabolism, and cleanse my body of impurities. I feel healthier, look better, have more energy, and love knowing that I am getting heart-healthy foods in my body that are help cleansing me of the less heart healthy foods that find their way into my diet. I have written a bit about this (though not much) if you are interested in reading.

    I would consider a month or two of simply adding some really good foods to your diet (such as grapefruit, kale, spinach -- foods that help cleanse and fight fatty build-up) and see where that leads you.

    Thank you for writing about this. You are beautiful, mama.

    1. I agree with Rachel. It's about small tweaks like this. I was feeling bloated last week and looked five months pregnant(I had my last baby 10 months ago and I'm definitely not pregnant). I decided to give up cake/chocolate/a full tub of Ben&Jerry's every evening. This week I feel slimmer. I'm not sure what the weight difference is, as I never weigh myself. Weighing in only feeds neurosis.
      It's always simple for me: reduce the sugar. Sadly that means cake and biscuits, boo sob, but at least then I can fit into my summer clothes, yippie.

  6. Oh love it - thank you Rachel - will pop over and read it now. Love grapefruit and spinach. Yet to try green smoothies - I know everyone swears by them. So I will. Totally with you about adding good stuff. Yes, yes, yes.

  7. Lucy, you and the others who responded have this whole body thing covered. not wanting to be ill when I'm older, and not having creaky joints is an incentive to lose weight. Two years ago I lost 3 and a half stone via a local Slimming World group. the weight went down, but the lively feeling I thought would return did not. I put this down to the food i was eating. all healthy and in the book, but not good for my body. too much wheat and protein. Now I am an average 1 1/2 stone overweight for my height. I feel ok about myself, but when i look in the mirror I can see that I want to lose just a little bit more, for my own comfort, for my own esteem, but the motivation has gone. Like you Lucy, when the healthy eating comes into play, the battle commences, part of me demands the chocolate and the crap. a plate full of veg doesnt please the mind as much as a pack of hobnobs! and I end up eating nothing but biscuits all day because I cannot physically find the energy to cook healthy food. stupid eh? So what to do? well for a start there's the orgasms! lets have some of those, and then there's Reiki. (got my First Degree last weekend) I'm bringing myself back into balance. drinking more water and eating less of the shite. its early days, but I think I can do it this time! arse to Slimming World (in the nicest way of course, cos they really got me over the first hurdle)and yay to natural healing!

    Looking forward to reading what you came up with in the bath!

    Mamas are fabulous whatever size, but comfort food is a false bitch!

    1. Reiki will do wonders for you. It cleanses your body and boosts your self-esteem. Spend a bit of time every morning and night doing a self-treatment on yourself whilst your lying down. Just this very act of laying your hands on your body and tuning in, will switch your mind away from food and into more holistic things. Good luck. Reiki is a wonderful thing to learn in spring. I followed it through to reiki master and although I'm a bit lapsed these days, it's always with me, especially for self-treatment.
      All the best,
      Amy @ The Daily Muttering

    2. Thank you Amy xx it is amazing the difference already! and taking the time out to do it everyday, sudenly seems so easy, why couldnt I find time before? he h, got it now!

  8. Thanks for this Lucy, it weighs on my mind more than I'd like too.

    I'm a size 14 and appreciate my body more now than I did as a size 10. But weight control is one of my goals because my parents gradually put weight on over the decades and are suffering from a multitude of painful health issues as a result (angina, arthritis, sleep apnoea etc). Never mind the feelings of poor self esteem and putting up with societal judgement aimed at the obese.

    I know what you mean about food mind games and diet. Health is mental as well as physical and the destructiveness of dieting for your mental health makes any physical gains worthless in my opinion. That said, I obsess about food 24/7 anyway so a little bit of mental obsession about eating is OK if it results in a healthier body - tricky to get the balance though!

    Exercise is definitely the key for me and has the bonus of making you feel amazing! My husband is an bike nut, eats an absolute tonne but stays thin due to all the training he does. I've been on his indoor exercise bike a lot lately and the best bit about it is that I can read at the same time. A great way to rope my unwilling mind into the program!

  9. Hannah, Suzanne - thank you both for your input and reflection - so good to know we're all on the same page - literally and metaphorically!! - here. Much love to you mamas

  10. So much to say about this Miss Dreaming Aloud...I love my body as it can make babies, love and dance. At home I have no worries about being fat (which I am, and it's fine) and my lovely husband can't even see that I am. If he is asked to compare me to other women (a la Gok in How To Look Good Naked) he would always put me way thinner than I am. I love my flesh and my squishy curves and I have no problem getting my belly out to dance in front of many people.

    I love food, wine, massage, dancing, fresh air, wind, rain and hot baths. They all appeal to my senses and are elemental pleasures. I figure thin women worry about their body as much as non-thin women, but they don't get the chocolate pleasure. I like to stretch every ounce of pleasure to the nth degree, and that applies to food and my whole life, hence I carry on eating for the sheer joy of it way after I have had enough.

    I am sure school forged a complicated relationship with food - first from 7-11 being in a boarding school with nasty food which we were forced to eat, to the lovely abundant food joys of the next school from 11-18 - the pleasures of toast and tuck and high carb comfort food , but I would probably have been this way anyway as I am something of a hedonist.

    But now I have a new dilemma - a dream come true in the shape of a horse I am sharing. When she was offered to me I was very careful to ensure she would take my weight - which she can - but the reality is that I feel that it is unfair to put her back under the unnecessary strain caused by my weight, especially when I am asking her to go fast and ride over the moor.

    So - which do I want to do more? Eat in glorious abundance, or restrict myself a little in order ride in a way which respects my horse's body?


  11. Thanks Miss M. that old school weren't that great ffor my eating habits or anxiety levels either. You know, from having sevens your love of the unicorn I think that that will triumph x

  12. Oh bugger the I pad for trying to think for me! That should be "seen" not "sevens"!

  13. Spot on Lucy! I think Rachel is right on track too. I think many women suffer with this, all want to be slim but don't understand why. I have put on weight since my thirties arrived, I don't have children so being pregnant was not an excuse for me. I then read that after 30 women loose muscle mass so it then converts into fat and it's easier to put on weight more than before. I struggled with the idea and I hated people taking photos of me but the more I changed my way of thinking the more I did for myself because of my health not because I am supposed to look a certain way. I too believe that YES we must love our shapes /bodies but women could take this as an excuse for not been responsible for their health. Loving yourself means taking responsibility; you can’t drink 2litres of coke and think you are loving yourself. I have given up many things for the sake of my health, for the sake of been the strong woman I want to be *physical and mental* and if that means less choc cakes so be it although I would never repress myself totally coz then again is not about starving myself or denying myself anything is about my maximum health. Check Dr. Marilyn Glenville she is my total hero in terms of Nutrition. I saw her about two weeks ago on the Vitality show and she says women need more than good food, exercise and so on, we need vitamins and minerals. Grape fruit, apple cider vinegar, green tea are great for breaking the fat. Just eat what you eat but add different things to your diet. We women are more complex, we have hormones and cycles and that also plays a big role in our eating habits. You need to know exactly when to stop eating, maybe you have pms cravings which then after your moon can improve with more zinc and vitamins and go on a healthy diet. Great post!

  14. My two cents would be to shift your focus ~ instead of slim, thin or losing weight (which you already said you don't actually desire) how about placing your attention on 'fit' and 'healthy' instead?

    Besides nobody wants to "lose" anything! So I would go with semantics on *releasing* weight rather than losing weight...

    Personally I don't think it's all that much about diet. It's what you think about what you're eating and also how you feel when you are eating.

    If you're interested, an insightful book and CD set I recommend is "I Will Make You Thin" by Paul McKenna.

  15. I completely understand, Lucy. Just wrote a post about my body journey over at Medicinal Marzipan. My relationship to my body keeps changing. Some days are better than others, but the emphasis needs to be on healthy and loving, not size.



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