runnin’ for the shelter

5/12/10

Because of some comments, emails, and Facebook messages about the last few blogs, I probably should be less callous and more honest when discussing our physical forms. I’ve definitely had to battle all kinds of body self-loathing issues, many of them instilled early on – I’ve tried not to talk about them much on the blog, but over the years, these things leak out.

My own weight ballooned after my metabolism changed around age 22, and you can see it in the pictures I took at Carolina, as I went from being a stick figure to a marshmallowy fratboy. My weight spent the next 18 years yo-yo-ing around, but I confess: I fucking hated being overweight, even if it was slight. Pictures of me from certain times made me so fucking nauseous that I would go into spasm and lose a shitload of weight out of anger.

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the unfathomable 1994 “alterno-chick” Halloween pic at left prompted me to lose 15 pounds by six months later (w/ Chip), right

When I started taking Dexedrine a few months before I turned 40, I did it for lifelong ADD reasons and had no idea about its weight-loss properties. I was flyin’ pretty fat at the time, having joined Tessa in 2004-05 in her pregnancy weight gain, only I wasn’t actually carrying a baby in my belly:

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I started the Dexedrine in October 2006, and by January, I was wondering why all my shorts were falling off. By May 2007, I had lost about 20 pounds:

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…and it just made everything So. Much. Easier. I could run faster, I started working out regularly, and it heightened my mood immeasurably. Was it a cheat? Sorta. And to be sure, some of these effects weren’t permanent (my depression spiked soon after, and only recently has abated) but keeping the weight off is a priority, not just because it’s healthy, but because I HAVE AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP TO THE WAY I LOOK AND FEEL WHEN I’M FUCKING FAT.

There, I said it. I know I may sound like a petulant teenager, or someone not well put-together. It also may sound like I judge others for their weight – after all, if you hate your own weight so much, what’s stopping you from hating theirs? I assure you, it doesn’t work like that.

And so now I can ask you, the world at large (if you will): Do you find yourself hating a part – or a characteristic – of your own body? And specifically, how is your weight and how do you deal with it?

You may answer as yourself, of course, but anonymous animals are always honest-er.

0 thoughts on “runnin’ for the shelter

  1. anonymous

    The two things I’ve always hated about my body were my large breasts: double D on a five foot, slim body, and my dark body hair.
    I wrestled with these aspects of myself, feeling like they were self-esteem issues to come to terms with, until I finally gave in and allowed myself to have a breast reduction in my mid-30’s. This was nearly 20 years after having my first consultation for such a surgery at age 16. What a world of difference. I was able to be athletic in the way I had been as a kid and early teen. And the scarring that I had let discourage me from this surgery in my 20’s is really not a big deal to me at all. I’m so much more at home in my body.
    Shortly after this, I started doing laser hair removal in the couple of spots where my hair made me really self-conscious, and after a few treatments, that problem was solved too.
    I always wish my feminist self who had resisted modifying my body to fit “patriarchal” views of what is attractive had allowed myself to do these things earlier. My body image and self-esteem are just fine. My weight bounces between 5-20lbs above “ideal” and it doesn’t concern me at all. I have no problem loving my body or prancing around with all of my imperfections, scars, stretch marks, varicose veins, etc. But getting rid of the ginormous breasts and thick dark hairs on my belly just eliminated all of the physical self-loathing that I’d struggled with for years.
    I always thought that if I had a daughter, I’d encourage her to love herself fully and not worry about externals. But my own experience really changed my mind. If I had a daughter who inherited some of these characteristics and was bothered by them, I’d probably support her in doing something to change them in her teens. But it is a fine line. How do you know that it’s not an underlying self-loathing that transfers to the next fixation on wrongness with one’s body? In my case, it really went away, but I guess for others, it doesn’t.

    Reply
  2. Kelly in NC

    After 4 kids, I’d go under the knife for a tummy tuck. I’m not overweight but the post pregnancy wrinkly belly is disheartening nonetheless.
    Bigger boobs would be nice.
    Hate my thighs but that could be fixed with a little exercise. Maybe a lot of exercise.
    And on a related issue – when did a women’s size 6 become a size 2? I’m smart enough to know that this is a psychological gimmick cooked up in the marketing department but even so, I gotta admit buying a 2 feels pretty good.

    Reply
  3. LFMD

    No need for an anon animal name here. It’s LFMD, and I have become FAT! And I HATE IT! And I can’t seem to get NOT FAT!
    As background, I am five feet tall and never really watched what I ate. I was always of “average” weight. . . not slim but “normal.” I was never really active, but when I met my husband at age 23, I started to run, because he was a big runner and he loved it. I’d say I was in my best shape when I was dating my husband and when I was first married.
    I gained a lot of weight when my daughter was born, but I was able to lose some of it over the course of two years or so. HOWEVER, during my 30’s, the weight started to pile on. I don’t know if it is my metabolism or my exhausting working mom lifestyle, but at age 40, I weighed as much as I had at my highest pregnancy weight, AND I WAS NOT PREGNANT.
    There have been many events lately that you would think would encourage me to lose weight. When my little brother got engaged and his fiancee (who is 10 years younger than me) asked me to be a bridesmaid, the idea of wearing a strapless gown and stand among a group of skinny 20somethings terrified me, but I was not able to motivate myself to lose weight. When my husband was sworn in as a judge, the fear of looking like the trim, athletic, handsome judge’s fat, frumpy wife, was not enough to motivate me (I bought a girdle and a pretty suit and tried to create a “thin” aura about me).
    At the end of each work day, I can’t wait to strip my clothes off because the red marks around my waist because my pants are too tight are killing me. I don’t want to buy new clothes in the next size up, yet everything I own is too tight and uncomfortable. The seams on my work clothes are screaming! I wear the same articles of work clothes each week because I only have a handful of things that fit! I have joined and dropped out of Weight Watchers 3 times! The photos of me on Facebook are at least 5 years old!
    I could complain like this all day, but you get the idea. I hate looking at photos of me, and I avoid mirrors. I have a gym membership that I rarely use. I have an underlying self-loathing that affects my mood every day. I don’t understand why I can’t motivate myself to get trim and lose the lbs. I know that I need to put myself FIRST and focuse on ME, but when I focus on ME, I am all about the immediate gratification of food and naps and quiet times relaxing.

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  4. anon

    At almost 40, I am now, and always have been, very thin and very tall. It’s genetics, and my size has nothing to do with what I eat or how I exercise. I have always hated being thin, and like being overweight, it makes you feel obvious and a target for unsolicited commentary.
    For some reason, the world is horrified at the thought of someone saying, “My, look at how fat you are,” but to comment on one’s extreme lack of fat is evidently socially acceptable.
    I cannot join a gym for fear people will assume I’m anorexic, and the last time I got up enough nerve to tour a gym during a sales pitch, I overheard a “why’s SHE here?” and a “skinny bitch.”
    By and large, people are rude, and if they would shut their mouths and stop rolling their eyes for two seconds about other people, we might just have a chance at forming a healthy relationship with our own body images. No one needs anyone to tell them they are too fat or too thin or too this or too that. WE ALREADY KNOW.

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  5. Fatty McFatterson

    First, I was depressed. Then I discovered meds.
    Then, I was bulimic, but I got over it.
    Then I became an alcoholic, until I quit drinking.
    Then I got fat.
    Shopping in the plus size section sucks, but on balance, I’d rather carry some extra weight than be a drunk.

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  6. Demi

    >>Do you find yourself hating a part – or a characteristic – of your own body?
    You’ve asked this question before, and I was proud to have to dig deep. Not because I am perfect, but because I just don’t do this anymore.
    >>And specifically, how is your weight and how do you deal with it?
    I ballooned as an adolescent, then starved myself before high school. My resulting complete reversal of fortunes in social acceptance were so radical that, in combination with my self-esteem issues at the hands of years of taunting and teasing, a pattern of (undiagnosed) eating disorders were cemented in place for years to come.
    A combination of food control and exercising like a nut was how I controlled my ticket to social acceptance. (Had I ever figured out how to make myself puke, I am certain I would have also been bulimic, but my gag reflex just wasn’t up to par). In hindsight, it was all insane.
    A minor boating accident in 1996 left me in a back brace with a couple of cracked vertebrae, and I was fearful that without running/going to the gym, I would balloon up into a blimp. Eight weeks of a) not rearranging my social calendar just to get a run or a workout in and b) still having a life (my husband would not entertain my proclivity to induce social isolation in an effort to avoid food), and I was on the road to emotional healing. I had not gained a pound. It was like FREEDOM!
    It took another 10 years to completely heal from that messed up place; Those years included multiple pregnancies and recovery from “baby weight.” Weight from successive babies was not as easy to lose – but achieved through careful calorie counting at myfooddiary.com.
    Right now I am at a place where I eschew any regular regimen of exercise or diet, and I am so proud to say it. I might do yoga two or three times a month, workout on the Wii or walk, but my sanity and sense of self hangs on none of it. Wish I could live the last few decades over with this attitude.
    I really related to Demi Moore when she was quoted in the media several weeks ago saying something to the effect of “When I finally stopped trying to conquer my body, it became the body I always wanted.” For her, it’s likely true in the physical sense; For me, it’s true by reason of perception.

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  7. LFMD

    Where are all the men?
    Thanks for sending me kind messages b/c of my post. You know who you are! You folks are so kind.
    I probably sound more pathetic than I mean to in my post. The cold hard fact of the matter is that I have at least 50 lbs to lose, and I have been this way since turning 40. I will be 42 next month. Sometimes I feel as though I have given up on myself, and I am just too young for that to happen.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

    Reply
  8. Claverack Weekender

    Gained 30 lbs of male sympathy pregnancy weight with baby #1. Carried that around for quite a while, and worked hard to lose it before baby #2 was born. Lost 40lbs on weight watchers. Still follow the diet for the most part. Have kept the weight off for two years and through the arrival of baby #3. Much happier.

    Reply
  9. cormorant

    I’m male, single. I was always the small, smart kid and weighed a buck twenty-five until my mid 30s, when I decided to get to the gym and bulk up my natural thinness. Within 6 months, I had gained 20 pounds of muscle and have built that up to a total of 30+ pounds. I’m not the skinny kid anymore, and I feel much better seeing my more muscular build in the mirror. Although I now gain weight easier than ever before and have to pay attention to my diet, I’m good at monitoring the pounds and can drop them relatively quickly by adjusting portion control. (I. love. food.) I don’t, however, obsess over body image, and my build is at its best ever. I do get more attention from people these days, although it hasn’t acceleratd my dating life drastically. (I still haven’t found a regimen to lessen my pickiness. *sigh*)

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  10. Dewey

    Guy here. 40.
    The history, in short, is that the college and mid-20s years (drinking and unhealthy eating and did I mention the excessive drinking?) really saw me packing on the pounds. To the point that I look at photos now from that era and I’m disgusted.
    Lost a lot of weight before my first wedding, in the late 1990s. Gained it back, and I’ve been battling it with a semi-regular gym routine for the last 3 years or so. Down 18 pounds, back up 10. Doing a yo-yo thing for a while now. Still 15-20 pounds away from what would be an ideal weight.
    I hate my soft midsection and my chest. OK, man boobs. Ugh. Hurts even to write it.
    I didn’t think I had food issues, but then I realized I binge snack far too easily. Some crackers turns into some cereal turns into a jar of peanut butter and a spoon.
    I like myself much better when I am following positive exercise and eating habits and when the pants are not so tight and when I get to drop down a belt notch. Those positive feelings and the reinforcement I get from my wife tend to keep me sticking to those habits, but I wonder if I am still too dependent on external factors for motivation. Maybe I shouldn’t care what my skinny and fit mother-in-law will think when she sees me next (she has huge eating/body image issues, after all), but I do, and that pushes me. Whatever gets you up at o’dark hundred to exercise, I guess.

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  11. xuxE

    oh a comment like this is enough to make me start an entire blog:
    I always wish my feminist self who had resisted modifying my body to fit “patriarchal” views of what is attractive had allowed myself to do these things earlier.
    i will so join you in burning every mckinnon or dworkin pathological crap we can find in a giant bonfire while dancing around it in 6 inch stillettos, corsettes, viva glam mac lipstick. oh i was so freakin miserable trying to embrace that bullshit pseudo-feminist anti-glam aesthetic.
    what were we talking about again? fatness. i gained hella weight in pregnancy because i hated being pregnant and couldn’t do anything i found fun except eat. i think i even attempted to crochet at one point. but i think it’s normal to gain weight while your pregnant and i didn’t stress about it at all because when i see skinny pregnant women they look weird to me, like they are malnourished or on crack, makes me feel kind of worried or concerned. anyway, that was the most fat i’ve done.
    i got back to prepregnancy weight, a little more than college but not much, purely because i wanted more fashion. fashion makes me so happy. i guess you can have good fashion when you’re pregnant or fat too but it’s a lot harder and i’m too lazy to deal with it.
    and since i like instant gratification and i’m really results oriented, i did this eating plan of no dairy, no meat, no refined carbs, no sugar, no fat. virtually a raw vegetable diet, with like, some nuts and a little lean fish. just eat like a damn gorilla in the forest and you will drop pretty much every excess pound avaialble in 4-6 weeks. great thing too is it is actually a healthy thing and makes you lose your stomach first.
    to Ian’s point, once you drop weight it’s easier to excercise so i started going to the gym so i don’t have to eat like an herbivore and can still be fit.
    @LFMD i think if you are all about food and naps then i say just be all about food and naps and to hell with the gym, let yourself off the hook and rock your best sexy cherub look. but if that’s not what you want i would be happy to send you the details on the plan i did an if you stick with it religiously for a month you will shed that 50lbs.

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  12. Piglet

    I’ve built up both muscles and a beer gut. I like my arms and shoulders, really like my legs, which have pretty much always been lean and buff from walking everywhere and up and down stairs. Hate my midsection.
    Do I hate it enough to do what it takes to fix it? Maybe I will, someday. It’s all about the diet. I get plenty of exercise, both weights and cardio, and the gut is pretty much all attributable to what I eat and drink. That and my books and music are just about the only pleasures I get, and I cry at the thought of giving them up and eating rabbit food.
    Part of it came from eating with my wife’s family. I’m overweight; they’re obese.
    Ian, did you have a particular diet that got you the results you wanted? I’m willing to consider anything, at least think about it.

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  13. Joanna

    Ian, you are such a good sport!
    xtcian.com commenters, you are such awesome people. xuxE is making me laugh on a daily basis lately.
    Pregnancies and subsequent health issues broke me of the strong emotional connection I had to my appearance when I was younger and should have been overjoyed with how I looked. It just doesn’t matter so much anymore. And while there are things I would change if I magically could, I certainly don’t “hate” anything. Belly’s mushy. I do pilates and yoga and wish I could still wear a bikini, but hate? No. More often, I look in the mirror at a somewhat different shape and think, “Hmm, is that really me? Interesting.”

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  14. Joanna

    To be clear, there are MANY things 20 y.o. me would hate about my 40 y.o. appearance and she would be horrified that I leave the house in yesterday’s outfit, no shower, no makeup.

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  15. tregen

    I’m 42 (hard for me to believe sometimes), male, half mexican/half white. Obesity runs on one side of my family and both my sister and brother are obese. My father died of diabetes. I weighed in at about 150#s until my mid twenties when I jumped up to maybe 170#. I grew up on a farm and did manual labor until my late 20s for a living. I look back at those pictures and see a ripped buy who ate and drank all he wanted… no problem. Then, I went off to law school, joined a firm, stressed myself out on a daily basis and ballooned up to over 200#. I’m 6’0″ so I carried the weigh okay but hate the feeling of my stomach on my belt and generally not feeling like I look great. AFter a bit I worked my way down to just under 200# and I’m happy here.
    Turns out, that we aren’t suppose to be skinny when we are older. Take a look at our friends in nature… sure the young buck looks good, but the big, stout, chubby guy that’s been around the block a few times is the king of the tribe. Same goes for the ladies, Momma’s in nature don’t look like skinny does, they look like moms! Beautiful, wonderful moms.
    Younger folks – enjoy what you have. It want last.
    Older folks – Be proud. You’ve made it!
    Sometime…..everyone. Go out with a big, tall obese person. Feel their power, feel everyone get the hell out of your way. Feel the confidence. I love it.
    And if your obese. Wear it proud. Lose weight if you’re concerned about your weight but if not, be the king/queen and let the people worried about being their high school weight worry about been stuck at 19 years old.
    T

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  16. CM

    “Where are all the men?”
    LOL
    Anyway…does my entire face count? ‘Cause if there was something simple I could have done to look better-looking from, say, 4th grade through college, I would have done it – but I just had a moussy face that was never considered pretty. In eighth grade, one kid always yelled “Llllips!!!” at me in the halls because he thought I had big lips. (Meanwhile, the kid had horrible skin but I wasn’t going to be mean like he was and say anything.)
    Someone in seventh grade made fun of my overbite even though I was about to get braces, and someone said I had a big Jewish nose even though it’s not so bad. So it was different things on different days. You can see the sad progression by looking at my mournful essay on school pictures that I posted a week or two ago on my blog. I guess if I was more self-aware back then I could have figured out how to fix some of it. (Yeah, by punching a few people, ha ha, just kidding.) OH well. Being insecure in school builds character.

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  17. emma

    I’m ten pounds overweight. But the sad fact of the matter is is that I will always be at least ten pounds overweight. I could lose twenty pounds right now and still believe that I was ten pounds overweight due to my mental issues with my weight. But my 40 YO self at least acknowledges this and although I deal with it by being OCD about my exercise regimen, that is at least healthier than the ways that I used to deal with it.
    I know that I am in better shape than I was in my 20s, but I also know that since hitting forty, I have put on a little weight for no reason at all and right now, I am trying to lose the 5 pounds that I have recently gained (although I am ten pounds overweight).
    My husband has done a wonderful job over the course of our marriage of rebuilding my self-esteem/image and always says very positive things about me. I think that helps a lot. But I guess it takes years to build back what took years to erode. I’m getting there.

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  18. A. Nonymous

    Ah, weight… I’ve yo-yoed since I was twelve, and with the benefit of hindsight I can tell why: When I’m unhappy, I gain weight; when I’m happy (either with work or with friends or with a relationship), I drop weight. Point: My family moved when I was 12 (gained weight, fat through junior high – much fun that!); discovered sports in high school (wrestling and lacrosse), dropped weight; went to UNC, gained MUCHO weight freshman and sophomore year (beer, pizza and Time Out); found a great group of friends junior year, lost weight. Also around this time discovered running, which I fell in love with. Stayed thin through grad school (again, happy and active). Grad school ended, moved to NY, stopped running, started drinking heavily, ballooned. Moved to LA three years later, REALLY ballooned (no walking and really, really miserable). Three years after that, quit drinking, made friends and went on Body for Life, which WORKED. I dropped 35 pounds in six months. Fell in love. Relationship didn’t work out; gained 35 pounds BACK. Since then, I’ve dropped about fifteen of it through conscious eating and exercise. Oh, and this Web site truly does help me – http://www.getfitslowly.com/

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  19. aMale

    I’m sure I would care more about my physical hotness, such as it is or might be, if either I truly aspired to sleeping around (as opposed to merely wanting to interest women who interest me) or if my wife were able to tell me what if anything arouses her, but neither is the case. To the extent I’ve nothing else to take pride in, I lament my form–and I don’t think that’s pathological per se. No pride means no sex, since my wife is motionless throughout the duration of foreplay, and it takes some chutzpah to foreplay by myself. I’m sure my state of concern has a lot to do with not having a workplace and not being in any competition that I know of. When I was young I measured myself against zeitgeisty physical ideals (concluding I was beyond hope), and as an aging adult I have more personal aspirations that I measure myself against, but I notice that these vary. I wonder if these measurements are any more accurate than the ones indicating I was beyond hope when in some sense I certainly wasn’t. In another sense though I think staked my hopes on people who were “out of my league,” because I think my hope was for salvation, and I was in such a tough place mentally and socially, I need someone damn hot to fit the bill. I blame the Beatles. Love is not all you need.

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  20. Lfmd

    XuxE! Please share your plan! My sexy cherub look is bordering on the Rubenesque, and I don’t want to go there.

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  21. aMale

    In other words, my physical form is a means to sex and sex appeal, as I tend to think about it. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that when I’m lighter and leaner I feel happier, more robust and more in control. Who knows what that’s about. So besides hotness I must acknowledge “sportiness” as something I’ve just started to care about.

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  22. anon girl

    If you asked my friends, they would probably say that I’m pretty frickin’ lucky – never seem to gain weight, eat whatever I want, lost both of my pregnancy weight gains quickly and seemingly easily enough…
    But I think the truth is really more complicated than that. My grandfather died from diabetic complications; my sister was anorexic for many years during middle school and high school (I wonder even now if she isn’t bulimic but that’s a whole new story); my mother put us all on the Adkins diet when she gained weight after quitting smoking – I was 13. All that stuff does crazy things to a girl who was nicknamed “thunder thighs” at the lovely age of 12 (after a wonderful 6-inch growth spurt – I haven’t grown any since).
    I was never fat, but I did gain close to 35 lbs as a freshman. Like you, Ian, I saw a picture from Halloween and was disgusted and immediately went on a diet to lose 20 pounds. Since then, I have obsessed about never going above a certain number on the scale. Since we don’t have one that works, I can tell by the way clothes feel on me. I keep a running tally on a daily basis of what I have eaten and/or drank and plan accordingly if I know that I am going out to a restaurant, drinking at happy hour with the girls, or whatever. I was too paranoid to enjoy the joys of “eating for two” so I never had any ice cream – only fat-free sorbet. We have this program at work that we have to participate in in order to receive health benefits. Since the health appointments are yearly, I start thinking about what I need to do to match the prior year’s numbers 2 months ahead of time. I hate to work out, but make myself – trick myself really by saying it will make me less tired, I’ll have more energy, etc.
    It also doesn’t help that I work in a high-visible work environment where being eye candy goes a long way. It also doesn’t help that my husband has certain health issues that result in his not being able to keep weight on. I have this weird phobia about weighing more than he. Always did – I had to end a relationship when I found out I weighed more.
    Enough rambling I think.

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  23. pudgy penguin

    Body issues? Yup, got ’em. I’m in my mid 30s now, and I remember, in high school, always thinking I was fat. But I wasn’t. My weight fluctuated a few pounds in either direction, depending on my activity levels, but I was never heavy.
    Until my now husband-then boyfriend and I moved in together, started eating dinner out more often, and eating big meals at home. I packed on some pounds. Then lost them. Then gained them again the past few years.
    But a couple of months ago I started with a local boot camp/fitness program for women. And I love it! I’ve lost about 15 pounds and lots of inches. I have plenty more to lose (at least 20, but really more like 30), but I think I’m in the best cardiovascular shape of my life. My legs and arms are getting really strong. I have so much more energy to play with my kids. I don’t get winded on stairs, and I can jump rope with my family.
    The only way I fit it in is to get up super duper early. I wouldn’t do it otherwise–I have a 9-5ish job, and I wouldn’t go after work.
    The big thing, though, hasn’t been just exercise, but really watching what I eat. I’m also doing Weight Watchers, and trying really hard not to overindulge. I was eating sooo much food. Not always junk food, but way too much.
    Right now, I feel great, and I look a lot better. But I think what’s really hard right now is that I feel like a million bucks but I don’t look it yet. I still look like an overweight mom. And I’m really ready to feel attractive even when I look in the mirror.
    I do have one tip for LFMD: sometimes the worst thing is not buying the size up. I find it much easier to focus on losing weight when I’m wearing clothes that actually fit. Looking good in my clothes makes it easier to get smaller. For some reason. So, really, but some clothes that fit well so you don’t have to feel sad and uncomfortable all day everyday.

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  24. jump jivin' whale

    I’m a 43 yr old male and I’m the poster child for “fat but fit”.
    I work out 3-5 times a week but I’m still carrying 50+ lbs of extra blubber. My doctor is shocked that my blood pressure, cholesterol and so forth are healthy. I do more active sports than almost any of my friends. I just eat too much and my willpower, though capable of carrying me through 60 hour workweeks and epic endurance feats, doesn’t seem capable of getting me to put the cookie down.
    I’ve struggled with weight since just after college. I was a 160 lb athlete at UNC (I’m 6′), then I swelled up to 200, lost back to 160, swelled up again to 220, lost back to 190 (adding some muscle this time), then 12 years ago shot up to 270. I managed to get back to a more-muscular 200 over the next 2 years, but since then I’ve crept back up to 270.
    As long as I’m active, I feel pretty awesome. Plenty of energy, good mood, strong sex drive. I don’t even *feel* fat until I look in the mirror or find that something doesn’t fit anymore.
    I got a little bent out of shape over the post a couple days back, but now I see where you’re coming from, Ian.
    Maybe I should become another of Dexy’s Midnight Runners?

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  25. Ehren

    I’ve been overweight for most of my adult life. I’ve never been too into sports, never watched what I ate, etc. But I’ve never had problems (or at least no more than normal) getting girls, and I’ve always been able to out-hike just about anyone I’ve been on hiking terms with.
    About a year or so ago, though, I realized that I needed to be proactive and get into good shape before I turned 40, when it becomes increasingly more difficult to put on muscle mass or lose weight. So I joined a gym, and now I’m biking to work most days (about 10 miles round-trip), and I’m definitely getting in better shape, slowly but surely.
    I’ve got a big frame, and a long torso, so I wear weight fairly well. The only thing I really hate is when my face looks fat. I also feel like my shoulders and chest could use more muscle mass to make my body shape look “normal”, but I think that’s just something I notice.

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  26. Katie K

    Oh gads. Body issues. I was anorexic in high school, where I ran 4 miles every day and ate a dry packet of hot cocoa for dinner with a spoon. I took laxatives and dabbled in the bulimic arts. My boyfriend at the time got really mad and concerned, and it snapped me out of it. Since then, however, I’m constantly concerned about my body, hate extra pounds (which I have a few right now), and let it consume me all day (didn’t mean to use the word ‘consume’ there). I’m far too preoccupied with it. Also I inherited from my mother a penchant for emotionally eating. I eat when I’m tired, sad, bored, stressed, lonely, anxious. I went to hypnotherapy for it a couple years ago, and it had a big positive impact on me. What I’ve realized though is that I just have to exercise, ideally every day. My depression abates a bit when I do it, and I feel strong and healthy and don’t want to eat that crap that makes me feel bad. I eat the stuff that makes me feel bad when I feel bad. Then I punish myself by thinking, “I have to burn 700 calories at the gym tomorrow” (and then I go to the gym and do that, cursing myself the whole time). Food. Body. So complicated. Two of the things that seem like they should be so simple as we must do them for species survival can end up being so complicated – food and sex. And breathing air is SO DIFFICULT.

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  27. Katie K

    O yeah – something else other than exercise is realizing that I need to be nice to myself. Overeating as a mechanism for dealing with life is not nice. Neither is dating mean men (which I did all through college), or telling myself I’m dumb/not funny/not pretty/not smart/ blah blah blah. Ah, therapy.

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  28. michelle

    My fat-induced self hatred is probably even more sick and pronounced than Ian’s, and most likely comes from the same place (not namin’ names, but you can probably guess). A little over two years ago, the consuming love of a wonderful man who didn’t at all care or notice that I was 30 pounds overweight (on a very small frame) somehow gave me the courage to finally, truly, ask for help, which came in the form of Weight Watchers, which I think has saved my emotional life and kept the hatred at bay. I slowly (less than a pound a week) lost 25 pounds and have kept it off for over a year (except I think I gained back about 5 pounds in Mai Tai’s this last week on our honeymoon). And yet – although I hate myself less, it’s like Emma said – it’s never enough. I hate the extra chub that hangs around, I hate that I was unable to lose that five extra pounds before the wedding, I hate walking by my reflection and seeing my belly pouch out. But – I’m now at a normal bodyweight, a healthy BMI, so why isn’t that enough? I think it’s that I’ve struggled with my weight – and had it commented on – since I was 12 years old, and it’s really difficult to lose that practice of denial and self-loathing after only a year. It got so bad a few years ago that I didn’t want to see my friends, didn’t want to leave the house, and, frankly, drank a wee bit too much on too many occasions in an attempt to briefly forget just how disgusted I was with my own body.
    I was lucky enough to marry the man (just two weeks ago today!) who adored my fatter self, and he struggles to understand why I’m so fucking crazy about my weight – but he is steadfastly supportive and loving and caring about it, as well as how I have to eat to maintain my current weight. So that’s the good news. But the poison of fat-induced self hatred is far too internal and deep to be eradicated by a wonderful partner. Instead, we just have to ask for their patience, and hope that as the months pass, we can learn to hate ourselves less.

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