Let's Talk Weight Loss

This is the first post in my Let's Talk post series, which is dedicated to controversial, private, uncomfortable, or simply not talked about issues. Like weight loss. There are weight loss blogs out there. There is "thinspiration" on Pinterest and Tumbler an elsewhere. Women often whine about wanting to lose weight a lot. It's like saying hello in American female culture. Even with all of these things where weight loss is brought up, people don't often get real about weight loss, so I'm going to.

Let me first just say that this is not a weight loss blog, or a fitness blog, or a skinny person blog. This is a lifestyle blog, and for me, eating is part of my lifestyle. That being said, eating has become an unhealthy part of my lifestyle in a lot of ways, and I'm setting out to change that. So, with that in mind, this blog is not going to be a place where you see everything I eat every day or every pound I gain or lose (hopefully lose!), but I will occasionally talk about my progress.

I guess this is the part where I tell you my story. I was never a very skinny girl. My family called me Thunder Thighs when I was little because I always had big thighs. In high school I had some really small, petite friends, but I also had friends who were bigger than me. I was a pant size 4. I did lots of crunches but not enough cardio. I was in the marching band, which kept me fairly active.

When I went to college, I started gradually putting on weight. I was living a more sedentary lifestyle, the portions in the dining hall were huge, and I could essentially eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. Growing up my mom didn't keep a lot of junk food in the house, and we hardly ever ate out. Naturally, these were things that I started to do a lot of in college. Going to college in Austin meant having access to tons of good food, plus I could go to the grocery store down the street and get a whole box of Little Debbie's for myself, and there was no one to stop me from eating that box in two sittings. I remember stepping on the scale at 145 and being surprised. I think I was around 155 when I started graduate school.

I got better in graduate school because I moved to a different town across the country and didn't have best friends to eat out with all the time. And then I started dating my still boyfriend. And we ate out all the time for a while. I gained weight. Then we started cooking at home, and that caused its own set of problems. He's a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so I started eating more meat. We also split groceries, and I think partially because of this, and partially because of conversation while eating, I started eating half of the dinners we would make, which meant I was eating the same amount as my boyfriend. When a 5'5 woman starting eating like a 5'11' man, there's a problem. Last year I weighed 160 and couldn't believe I'd let it go that far. Now I'm at 170.

On Friday I was standing in an Ann Taylor Loft dressing room trying on pants and I had to go up a size from where I was last time I went shopping. Going into college I was a size 4. Midway through college I went up to a 6. In graduate school I went up to an 8. I just bought size 10 pants.

It's really not about the size or the number on the scale. There is nothing wrong with being a size 10 or weighing 170 pounds inherently. The problem is that for the past five years I have consistently put on weight. I think some weight gain is normal in that late teens and early twenties as the body grows and regulates and figures itself out, but I've gained 25 pounds. The target weight range for a woman of my height with a medium frame is 127-141, and with a large frame is 137-155. I'm pretty sure I qualify as a medium frame, but even with a large frame I'm 15 pounds overweight. The last time I saw my doctor, he asked me what I was planning to do about my continued weight gain. When your doctor mentions it, it's probably a problem.

I know I need to and want to lose weight. But I also hate being a girl who's trying to lose weight. It just feels so typical. I don't want to be the girl who can't go out to eat or drink cocktails or eat appetizers served at parties. I also don't want to be the girl who can't go to X because she has to fit a run in somewhere in the day or the girl who shows up to teach a class or attend a meeting in workout wear. I don't want to be the girl who say oh, I'm on a diet, or who only has water and celery in the fridge, whose boyfriend secretly eats McDonald's while out running errands because there's nothing good in the house, who obsesses over every calorie. We've known this girl in movies, books, real life even. That girl is lame and shallow and no fun. But even these connotations run pretty strong with weight loss and dieting, you (and I) do not have to be this girl on the weight loss journey. The fact is, there is no shame in wanting to lose weight, as long as you're doing it for the right reasons.

So why do you want to lose weight? For me, it's because I'm consistently gaining weight, not even maintaining a higher-than-I'd-like weight, because my parents are overweight and I know that's an easy possibility for me, because I don't like being out of shape and easily winded, for my health, and to look better in my clothes.

A lot of women feel like it's not okay to talk about their weigh or weight loss because it's embarrassing or tacky or no one cares or they just want to pretend like that bigger weight never happened once the weight is lost, but the fact is that by doing this you're closing yourself off from an awesome support network out there. Unfortunately, because people don't talk about losing weight when it does come up it's awkward and people don't know how to respond. Someone might say, "you don't need to lose weight. You look great the way you are!" Which of course is really sweet, and they may even genuinely mean it, but then this deflates your plans and gives you a good excuse not to do that hard work. Or, someone might say, "you just need to exercise more," or give otherwise unwanted advice, which makes you feel judged. If you're talking to a woman, she will likely say, "me too," even if it's not really true.

The thing is, just because you want to lose weight doesn't mean you think that your weight is "wrong," or that everyone else that is your size or bigger is bad or ugly or needs to lose weight too, you're just making a decision for yourself. It could be for any number of reasons. The two things I think you need to ask yourself when you want to lose weight is 1) Why? Is it because I'm comparing myself to other versions of myself or to other people? and 2) Is this a practical comparison and a practical desire?

I look at other people constantly and am jealous of their looks, their size, etc. but in my desire to lose weight, even though I love other people's shape, I'm really comparing myself to the size and weight I was before. Is it practical? I doubt that I will ever be the size I was in high school again. I've honestly grown since then, and I know that most people do not maintain their high school size. But I think with eating right, monitoring my intake, and exercising regularly, I can drop quite a few of these pounds I've packed on.

In a separate post I'll be talking more specifically about my weight loss goals, the exercise schedule I plan to follow, the diet changes I'll be making, and the tools I'll be using to manage my weight loss, so check back for that!

Why do you want to lose weight? What tools have you used to successfully lose weight in the past? How do you feel about talking about your weight?

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