Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bariatric Betty tackles Self Hate and Sabotage

Last Friday I stopped at our local Sears/ Lands End store to try on some tops.  I'm still building up my wardrobe at my goal size - my clothes from last summer are two sizes too big.  I have become a big fan of getting clothes second hand, but also hit the sales racks at places like Talbot's Outlet, Lands End, and of course Target and other places as well when I need something. 

I picked up several Medium Petite (still boggles my mind) tops and went to the dressing room.  Walking in there was a woman trying on a winter jacket (Lands End has GREAT deals on winter clothing right now) and I commented "Cute jacket!".  She replied "Not on a fat woman like me, maybe on somebody like you."  My heart fell.  I hate to hear people being cruel and calling people names, but one of the worst is when they are hateful towards themselves.  I couldn't just let it pass.  Here's a chunk of the conversation that followed:

"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself"
"No, it's true!"
"You know, a year ago I had bariatric surgery to lose over a hundred pounds, and I know it's really hard to lose weight.  Beating yourself up isn't going to make it easier."
(pause) "Wow, you lost 100 pounds!  You look great.  You would never know."
"Yeah, I feel great, too.  But for decades I tried Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, and all sorts of diets.  When you find something that works for you, you will lose weight.  For me it took surgery to get it all off - otherwise I just kept losing the same 30 pounds.  Until then, you should give yourself credit for doing the best you can."
"I guess.  It all came on after I had my kids - I was never heavy before then...."

I felt so bad - here she was berating herself to a stranger in a public changing room.  I said a supportive comment and ended up hearing her whole weight loss history.  Of course, I shared mine first (heaven knows I like to share happy stuff with everyone) - but can you imagine how much she needed to talk to someone sympathetic that she was willing to talk about something that made her ashamed and mad with a total stranger?  She was perfectly willing to say mean things to herself, and I'm sure has heard cruel comments from others.  The sense that fat people deserve to be made fun of or be the targets of snide comments - or the even more twisted thought process that targeting them might make them more likely to lose weight and be healthy - it's RIDICULOUS.

Here's a link to an interview on the Today Show that showed up yesterday after I started writing this blog.   It talks about how women hurt their self-esteem and that of others by participating in negative self-talk or negative comparisons to others.  What many may think is trying to help support a friend unhappy with their body, i.e. "Oh, no - my hips are SO much bigger than yours!" is not helping.  It is leading into an almost competitive cycle of trying to make others feel better at your own expense - where the original unhappy person then feels the need to point out that her "flaws" are even BIGGER.  So instead, talk positive.  About yourselves, about others.  When your friend says "My muffin top is turning into a whole CAKE top!", say "I think you look beautiful" - not "my muffin top just filed for it's own zip code".  When you are frustrated that your own physical fitness goals aren't showing up the way you would like,  i.e. "Why can I now see some ribs outlined but still have a jelly belly???" think "I have worked hard, I feel better, and I look better.  I can't control where my body decides to lose fat, but I can make the most of the parts I'm proud of."

Now, fast forward to yesterday, when I tried on a new pair of shorts with an older shirt.  I didn't think they necessarily worked together, so I asked my husband.  He agreed.  I tried a different shirt, and he tried to explain that my top is so curvy, but the bottom half is so straight, and the original combo just seemed to over-exaggerate it.  He was right, I have a large chest and then very little hips or butt.  So I needed an outfit that created a little more balance.  I had unrolled the legs on the short to about a 10" inseam, but originally they were rolled to about a 7" inseam.  I rolled them back up and with the new shirt felt better.  Still, I looked in the mirror several times yesterday morning, and ended up asking my 12 year old son what he thought.  Warning Sign Alert - if you have to ask your 12 year old son for fashion advice, it's a sign you are feeling a little insecure!  The following is a recap:

"Justin, does this outfit look OK?"
"Ummm, that depends... where are you going to wear it?"
(internal alarm, uh-oh, what the heck?  Maybe my tucked-in shirt is showing my extra-skin flaps too much???) "To work"
"Oh, then it's fine."
(???) "OK, just wondering , where WOULDN'T it be a OK to wear it?"
"Ummm, to drop me off with my friends"
"OK, I promise I won't be upset, but I want to know what makes you uncomfortable about your friends seeing me like this." (Oh boy, I hope this doesn't hurt too much)
"Well, Mom, could you wear jeans or something?  I'm not used to seeing your knees, it just seems weird..."

LOL.  Yes, my son wasn't embarrassed by my flaps of skin, or my large chest - he felt that my shorts falling just above my kneecaps was embarrassing!  Watch out - I'm a hootchie mama!  Looking back, I shouldn't be surprised, he told me that if any of his friends wear shorts that don't come below their knees some of the guys at school call them "bootie shorts".  It gets even more funny when you know that I wear skirts above my knee (about the same length as the shorts yesterday), but that doesn't bother him.  But shorts that showed the ENTIRE KNEECAP???? Gasp.

We can be our own worst enemy.  Don't give in to the negative trash talk in your own head.  It makes it easier to do it again, and easier to believe that others are thinking/ saying even worse. 

Speaking of our own worst enemy - I caught myself before I sabotaged myself yesterday.  Yay for the catch, boo for the constant vigilance required.  I have been making meals for a friend once a week - she's been very ill for several months, and a couple of us bring meals a couple times a week to take some of the pressure off the family.  This week I offered to bring "Breakfast for Dinner" - French toast casserole, quiche, and a carrot/ yogurt/ craisin salad.  They have a severe peanut allergy in the family, so it's important to read and re-read the labels.  I started being concerned about the quiche crust.  In the past, I have found it a little tricky to find ready-made pie crusts that don't have lard.  And now I would have to find one without any peanut oil/ exposure to nuts in the factory.   Hmmm.  I started thinking about making my own crust.  OK, that's simple.  Then I remembered how much I like to nibble on pie crust dough.  Yeah, I know, weird.  I don't know why it tastes good to me, but it does.  And then I found myself thinking about nibbling on pie crust dough probably 50 times over 24 hours.  Not exaggerating.  And about how I should probably make a little extra to make sure I had enough dough - but knowing it was really so I could eat some but still have enough.  Yikes.  So I started thinking about going back to finding a pre-made crust.  But they usually come in two packs.  I would have a whole extra pie crust.  Extra pie crust, mmmmmm.  Seriously?  Then here comes my AHA moment.  Wait, I can use that whole extra pie crust to make another quiche for another meal for them.  So I can't break off a piece and eat it, because I will need it for the next week!  Restraint engaged - logic wins!  It was that hard.  You never know where your brain will take you on these weird cravings/ food addiction trips.  Every day is a journey, where we have to make the choices that will keep us healthy.  Some days are easy down-hill paths, other days we have to climb the mountain in the way. 

On a positive note - I saw a wonderful friend this weekend who hadn't seen me for over a year.  She has seen my pics on facebook, and knew all about the surgery, but it was still a shock for her.  I loved getting to visit with her and her family, and of course the complements felt wonderful.  Mostly though, I loved seeing our kids together.  Except for maybe when two of our sons demonstrated their "feedbag method" of eating a bag of popcorn.  Gross. 

Getting ready for summer break to start next week - and it turns out I registered for another 5k I forgot about.  Now I have to figure out if I can do it with the kid's baseball schedules.... 



  1. I love this! I have gotten so bad with the self hate in the past. it wasn't until I was introduced to the body positive movement that I really started to have a better self esteem despite my obesity. I'm 6 weeks preop and really excited about getting my surgery. I have some goals in mind, but psychologically, my goal is to be comfortable in my own skin. I want to have surgery because I love myself and know I'm worth it, not because I hate myself and think only weight loss will allow me to love myself. in trying to fulfill that goal, and after getting inspired by some of my favorite bariatric bloggers like you, I have started my own blog... in order to combat my elf-hatred and love myself right up to the surgery, and well beyond!

  2. Tegan H. - great goal! Another blogger I love is - and she had a quote on her site recently that said "Your ideal weight is the one where you are the healthiest while enjoying life". I look forward to checking out your blog, too! Best of luck with your surgery - I hope your recovery goes just as well as mine did.