So, I’ve been anticipating this post for a long time. Well, when I say anticipating, what I really mean is I’ve been nagging the author for months to write me a few words. Penned by one of my favourite people in the whole world, this guest post gives you an insight from a bloke’s perspective on the female quest for skinniness. It just so happens that this particular bloke is one of my best friends, and he has a genuine appreciation of the fuller female form!
Less is More or Less?
At one point Betty tried pulling a tea cosy over her head to make it harder to find the fridge. (Image of the Woman of Willendorf statue)
For every woman who worries that their arse might acquire its own postcode, (like Dee), there will be a number of men who would not only be happy about that state of affairs, but would also seek to have the arse officially recognised as an Area of Outstanding Beauty and protected by law, lest one square inch of its ample undulations be lost to mankind.
Nowadays in Western society men preferring more voluptuous women are generally regarded as anything from a bit weird through to incomprehensibly deviant, the latter view generally being held by people who view anything above a size zero as “massive.”
If we were to take broad look at the nature of attraction historically across all global cultures however, we would find it is this modern worship of the skinny that would be seen as a deviation from the historic norm.
If HG Wells had not simply written a novel about a time machine, but actually invented one (quite a challenge I admit) then any woman afflicted with a hobnob addiction could’ve made great use of it. Instead of embarking on yet another dispiriting diet, they could simply hop on the machine, set the dial backwards, and in the bat of an eyelid be regarded as Kate Moss.
For the first time travel jaunt I’d suggest setting the dial back 25,000 years. That’s when the stone figure pictured above (The Woman of Willendorf) is thought to have been carved.
We might never know with much certainty why it was carved. Perhaps it was “before” carving from a Neolithic diet advert. I was once a bit of a Woolly Mammoth until I discovered the ‘Slimfast Tea Cosy’. As soon as it was on my head I could no longer find my food writes Betty from Cave no.7
I think there’s a stronger possibility that the carver had a thing for very big women. She might possibly have been the world’s first “centrefold”. Perhaps the centrefold was invented because she had trouble fitting on one page..?
Should you think that’s too much speculation, and you’d prefer to travel to a time when you know for certain you’d be adored, I’d suggest you go back a mere 370 years, and visit Istanbul. Introduce yourself to Sultan Ibrahim. Sir MIxalot’s lyrics “I like big butts and I cannot lie” could’ve been inspired by the Sultan. He was once so impressed by seeing a particular cow’s arse that he had a copy of it sculpted in gold and sent around his empire with the instructions to find a woman with a similar rear. The mission successfully returned a woman for whom the title fat cow was not an insult but her ticket to becoming the most powerful woman in the empire. A husband here might risk incurring wrath if he DIDN’T answer the question Does my bum look big in this? with Yes dear, it most certainly does!
That the Sultan called her Sugar Cube is perhaps an indication he wanted to ensure her rear would remain as large as his empire. Get James Bond to accompany you back there and we could have a “Gold Arse” follow up to “Gold Finger”.
Travel a few years further back still, and you could be one of Ruben’s models. It wasn’t just Ruben who liked “Rubenesque” women. His paintings of larger ladies were extremely popular, getting him lucrative commissions from royalty around Europe.
Should the time travel company charge by the year travelled (it would bring new meaning to “1830 holidays”) and you want to keep the costs down, try the Victorian period. Their erotic pictures usually show arses that could never be shoe-horned into any modern fashion model’s outfits.
Perhaps the time machine isn’t required at all. If Freud’s painting “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” can sell for $33 million in 1995 becoming the most expensive painting ever by a living artist, then maybe the sight of very large naked ladies is still as greatly valued as in Rubens day, or prehistoric times.
If a song about admiring large female butts should be the second highest selling record in the US in 1992, or in the UK Dawn French when at her largest was voted the sexiest woman on TV for several consecutive years, could that be indicative that naked or clothed, more people than might be imagined find larger women attractive? Perhaps social and media pressure mean the lyrics should’ve been “I like big butts but I can and do lie”? Perhaps it’s easier to acknowledge Dawn French’s sexiness in an anonymous vote than openly admit attraction to a similar sized woman in your office?
The fashion and dieting industry have become so enormous (the former worth $3,000 trillion and the latter $586 billion in 2014) and so wholly culturally dominant, that when annexed with the power of modern media, their perpetual “large is ugly” mantra becomes ingrained into modern thought and unconditionally accepted as an all pervading truth. Any disagreement is treated as deviant heresy.
Sometimes the examples of this social acceptance are subtle and shown more by what isn’t there than what is. There is no derogatory title of “Starver” but there is a derogatory term of “Feeder”. It is clearly wrong to coerce anyone into either weight gain or weight loss. So why is it any more acceptable to make someone feel like the Elephant Man/Woman for gaining 10lbs? The claim that it is done for the other person’s health and wellbeing is largely disingenuous, as the motive is more likely selfish than selfless, and the stress and depression it may cause someone, particularly if they already lack confidence, would considerably outweigh any possible marginal health gains.
As a woman you might have many different reasons for dieting, from health and fitness, to mobility, or simply even a better choice of clothes. If becoming more attractive to men is one of your reasons, be aware that is an impossible goal. For some men it will work, but for some, your less will for them be less not more. Better to view your goal as a change of fan base!
So, I had an email this week from someone in the posse who’d rather stay in the shadows but she and I have exchanged a few notes back and forth which gave me a lot of food for thought…with her permission I’ve published her words in an open letter, because this is all about us all helping each other, and some of the things she had to say helped me to hold the mirror up to myself. Do feel free to chip in with your own thoughts below, although she won’t be able to respond!
I’ve commented on your blog a handful of times but I’m not always super comfortable commenting publicly when this whole topic is so personal to each of us. It only just occurred to me to email you!
I read various fitness and healthy living blogs but for some reason you’ve really touched me and I find myself thinking about you a lot. I really want you to succeed so much — but I think you have a lot of emotional work to do before you get there. I hope that doesn’t sound judgemental at all! I say so because I’ve been there, and I recognise a lot of the feelings that were unhelpful to me when I was struggling with bingeing.
First, I want to recommend a book that was incredibly helpful to me. It’s written by a recovered anorexic who developed binge eating as part of her anorexia and struggled with it for many years once she was weight-restored. It’s called Brain Over Binge. (For a link to the website click HERE) The basic idea is that bingeing is a habit that needs to be broken, and that thinking of yourself as powerless in the face of binge urges is disempowering and sets you up to fail. This has definitely been true of me in the past — if I’m going to binge anyway why bother resisting?
It seems like you’re in a similar place with your relationship with the Asshole voice. The author mentions that she managed to break the cycle by deciding just to acknowledge
her urge to binge and reassure herself that it doesn’t mean she has to give in, that she gets to choose what and when and how much to eat. I think this is the revelation you had towards the beginning of your journey when you first named the Asshole voice but it feels like you have recently lost sight of that.
I’ve been thinking about this since I read one of your recent posts, because I recognised the frustration with not being “able” to eat reduced (in price) venison pies and so on as something that used to be a big part of my life (“I want pizza but I can’t have it because then I’ll get fat,” precipitating me eating two large pizzas for dinner, days, weeks or even months later) and yet are now totally alien to my current life.
I think what I really want to say to you is: instead of being angry that you left the supermarket with chicken and vegetables when you could have had cheap junk food, be proud of yourself for making the healthier choice which will take you closer to your goals; acknowledge that the choice you made is the loving one for your body and not a
punishment for being fat (since most thin people who take care of themselves wouldn’t binge on discounted pies!).
Reframe the experience. You wouldn’t have wanted the venison pies if you hadn’t seen them, so it’s not a desire that’s coming from you but from the self-sabotaging voice that doesn’t believe you can succeed and wants you to fail. Besides, they’ll be there next year. There will always be venison pies and Quality Street and cheese balls and pizza. You should celebrate your good choices, because success breeds success and if you don’t acknowledge that you did something successful that chain reaction doesn’t get a chance to take place. Honestly, after your success in Cuba passing over venison pies should be a walk in the park!
(You know what I struggled with before Christmas was not buying a load of mini Christmas puddings that they were selling in the Co-Op just because they were covered in golden glitter and looked really cute, besides each was only 50 calories. Except I’m not even that big a fan of Christmas pudding so why would I waste my money and food budget on mini Christmas puds! Isn’t it crazy what obsessions get into our heads just because we’re at the supermarket and it’s right there?)
Eventually you’ll make choice after choice in this way and it just becomes the default. I’ve maintained a loss of about 50lbs for almost eight years and contrary to what seems like a lot of people’s experiences it hasn’t been a struggle for me, but I am a very different person now from who I was then. The default way I go through my life now is to go to the gym regularly, and to eat mostly whole foods, and I don’t feel angry or deprived.
When I look back at the way I used to live, which was just to sleep in all day and skip lectures and then go to the shop and eat one big binge-meal of crap, I feel sad for myself. My life is much better now. The only thing I really know about this is that you can’t do it if you’re white knuckling the whole way, or if you look at things in a deprivation mindset or get angry about the choices you’re making to step towards your goals.
Anyway, this has been a really long email but the take-away is that a lot of people are in your corner and rooting for your success. I hope some of my experiences are helpful for you.
Best of luck in 2017, I hope the God of Pain is forgiving!
So I’d like to introduce you to Jamie, who is at the very beginning of her journey to Skinny Town. Jamie joined the posse this last week, and has also just picked up her virtual pen so she can tell her story through her own blog. Which, by the way is a tiny bit fabulous…it looks awesome, I mean when I started out I had a handful of words on an empty page. Jamie’s pages on the other hand…well check them out for yourself HERE. Nice, right? Jamie, it’s over to you…
Sometimes, the path you’re on takes an unexpected turn. Like the blind date that turned into your best friend. Or the chance encounter that became a fantastic job opportunity. Or, on the flip side, the pregnancy that only led to heartbreak instead of joy.
My unexpected turn was a miscarriage. It was my third pregnancy, and I believed it would be as uneventful and blessed as the previous two. And yet, this baby’s life ended before it had a chance to start. The phrases that people used to try to comfort a grieving woman still baffle me. “It’s a blessing in disguise,” they told me. “At least you have other children,” they said. “It happened for a reason,” I heard more times than I could count.
On the outside, I smiled and said all the things that were expected of me. I took care of my children. I loved my husband. But inside, I was lost and raging and struggling to understand. Life, for me, had started on a bright and beautiful path, and I did not know how to cope when things became difficult. I withdrew into myself, spending more and more time reading books or playing the piano. My husband would take the kids to the park to play, and I was more than happy to spend that time alone.
My answer to all of life’s problems was to stop, eat a Reese’s while drinking a Dr. Pepper, and then decide what to do. Yes–my drug of choice was a little chocolate cup filled with peanut butter.
Thirteen years later, I can see that I have been given many other blessings.
My daughter, Kennedy: I am crazy-blessed to have this special girl with her nutty sense of humor and her huge heart.
My two sons, Taylor and Caleb, and my husband, Ryan: These guys keep me laughing and make sure I know that I am loved.
My family: We are a crazy bunch, but we have a lot of love for one another.
But as happy as I am now, I know that the destructive path I began traveling so long ago resulted in a different, more sedentary lifestyle than the one I had known before. Those choices I made resulted in extra pounds I am now carrying. 100 of them, to be exact.
There is something cringeworthy and shameful about the number 100. I feel embarrassed even as I write it. How does a person get to be 100 pounds overweight without making life changes? How did I not see that I was on the wrong path? How did I not know I was headed in the wrong direction? The answer is that I did know I was headed in the wrong direction, but I didn’t have the will and determination I needed to fix it. It took too much effort to turn around.
My children have been gently nudging me towards health for a while now. Suggesting a walk. Suggesting a different diet. Suggesting a bike ride. Gently, of course. And always because it’s something they want to do. I have truly been blessed by how delicately they have handled my increasing weight problem.
Last week, I finally gave in and took the dogs for a walk with my daughter. It was a beautiful autumn day. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and I had the best companion a person could wish for. The years fell away, and suddenly, I remembered what I loved so much about being outside and being active. One mile became two, and before I knew it, we had walked a brisk 3.6 miles. And I had spent two hours with my favorite girl in the world.
We made plans, she and I, to create milestones I could reach for. One: changing my nutritional intake. Meaning changing my eating habits. And logging ALL of my foods. Every. Single. Little. Bite. Two: A one-mile fun run set for December 3. Three: a 5k. Sometime soon. Just as soon as I can put a little more jog in my WOG. For the unenlightened, a WOG is a walk/jog, and right now, most of my WOGGING is walking.
100 steps. I took 100 steps in the wrong direction, and it will take me 100 steps to get back. 100 steps until the body I have on the outside matches the skinny soul I have on the inside. You see, I am a skinny soul hiding in a big woman’s body. I just have to find the courage to make the change.
Deb wrote to me this week in the comments thread of my ‘about me’ page, and some of the things she said in her note resonated with me as I know they will with some of you lot – we’ve all been there, right? I thought maybe you’d like to offer a perspective, since we’re quite good at that…sometimes all we need is a bit of a leg up 🙂
I am not sure how I found your blog Dee, but I am so glad I did. I have been dipping in and out for a few weeks, and am enjoying all I read. I am not one for fitness blogs which read like the daily diary of a gym bunny, (as a fat girl I just don’t relate) and as for logging weight loss in kgs, it’s like a foreign language.
My problem I know, but I love how you write about your life and thoughts. I have been the wrong side of 60 for two years and spent the last decade promising myself I’d sort out my shape, fitness and weight. It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen as 60 approached either. I blame a lack of really wanting it. The comfort zone of the sofa, Netflix and a family sized bag of Maltesers (all to myself) had more pulling power.
Now, and for the last three months I have half-heartedly attempted to eat healthily and move myself more. I lack discipline, because I think I am quite content. I am content until someone wants to take a photo, or I have to go to an event and know I look hideous in all my ‘best’ clothes, or catching a glimpse of myself in a full length mirror (I avoid them at home) makes me run to the fridge to find comfort food.
I am annoyed that I let myself get fatter and fatter, because it’s ruined my self-confidence, although I try hard to be the smiley person who’s good company. I don’t want to live like this any longer, but I so lack self-discipline. The internet is great for motivation, and I am so glad I came across your blog. I can relate to so much you tell us about.
Now, I just need to find a will of iron, and the self-talk that keeps me on track when I feel like soothing bad days with food. Exercise will be the next step. Thanks for writing as you do, no holds barred, and well done on your weight-loss success.
I’m delighted to introduce you to Autumn, who, as we speak is unpacking her bags in Skinny Town after a phenomenal loss of 120lbs! Autumn has been part of the posse from the early days and I’m delighted that we’ve all been a part of her journey…she’s a little shy about posting photos of herself and I totally understand that, so you guys will have to believe me when I tell you that I’ve had a little sneak peek and she looks utterly amazing!
Hello All! I feel as if I know each of you as I read each post and comment.
I don’t comment often, but I am out here in the ether cheering each of you on. Dee asked me to write this guest post about my story and I told her I would be honored to do so. (I threw in a “honoured” for the sake of her British roots).
Today is one year to the day that I decided to change my life. Somehow the fact that it was the Ides of March escaped me….
My knee needed replacing. I ruined it with the extra weight. Surgery was scheduled 2 weeks out. Mind you, I had known for literally years that this was coming and for months I had known the exact date. So 2 weeks out seemed a good time to lose 100 plus pounds.
Besides, I had taken my cat to the vet that day and the vet told me to put him on a diet and stop the free feed immediately. He gave me a chart which showed cats at different weights and rated them 1-10. He pointed out that my cat was a solid 8 headed for 9. I said “I know, right?” The vet informed me that we weren’t discussing my cats good looks. Sigh. So in a show of solidarity I joined Jack on his diet.
I finally drew the line in the sand. I wanted to quit being fat. I became laser focused on appetizers and mini food. I still wanted to eat! I don’t remember much of those first weeks prior as I was terrified of the surgery. Made it through that fine and spent the next several weeks making cookies. Yep. Baking quarter inch thick buttery sugar cookies.
During the recovery time, (while on heavy pain meds) I decided it was my new life direction to make and decorate cookies. I ordered all sorts of cookie cutters, cookie decorations, food colors, and all matter of paraphernalia. Made some super cute ones of skeletons with shiny new knees… All the while making dozens daily and icing them while sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter. I am only relating this to show 1. SOME one should have questioned the wisdom of this decision and removed credit cards from my grasp while I was medicated. 2. I am still unclear as to how I managed to stay focused on losing but I did.
For instance, I knew blue cheese dressing was fattening, but had NEVER read the label, what? 160 calories for 2 tablespoons?! Who eats only 2 tablespoons!?! Only one of a myriad of epiphanies. I bought a scale and keep it out with measuring cups and measuring spoons.
I have learned that if I have a big eating meal calorie wise or a big day that I just get back on the program. I absolutely don’t give up or in. I have one friend that had WLS and told me I would know I was really doing well when my underwear fell off! Not a bad goal. Not all days go right, my husband walked in last week to me with a tub of peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets half gone and several beers under my belt. It happens. No judgement. Move on.
Today I marked one year of this new life. I am down 120 pounds! I have gone from size 24 and 3X to size 8. I am thrilled and beyond happy. I have several quotes that have helped me. One was “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” I repeated that often and guess what? I AM happy I started a year ago.
I keep a list on my phone of things I love about being skinny.
1. Turning over in bed
2. Crossing my legs
3. No more GERD
4. No more Snoring
5. No plus sized chairs
6. No more profuse sweating
7. Smaller suitcase for travel because of smaller clothes!
8. Arms not falling asleep because of fat pinching nerves
9. Taking deep breaths
10. Painting my toes
11. Smaller shoe size
Not an exhaustive list but you get the idea.
Things I have done over this past year to lose the weight.
1. I weigh DAILY. non negotiable.
2. Track weight daily on a calendar along with any exercise I have done, eating out etc. anything that might affect the weight gets notated. I don’t get excited day to day, but I do track. I DO count Mondays as my weigh day and know what I have lost for the week. I cannot let myself get so far afield as not to weigh daily.
3. I make my food from scratch. I shop the perimeter of the store. (no more boxed mac and cheese)
4. I do not drink soda. diet or regular.
5. I TRY and get 64-128 oz of water down daily. I do have to pee ALL OF THE TIME, but I notice that it helps so much.
6. I eat my largest meal at midday. Lunch.
7. I eat fruit daily. any type
8. I prep salads, I wash, chop etc. I cook meat ahead, weigh and portion it out . I find if I don’t have food ready measured and ready to eat, I will make a poor choice. Chips or what have you.
9. If I want something I eat it. No food is “bad” or off limits.
10. I measure and weigh my food.
11. I track my food to watch my calories. Lots of good online places to do that.
12. Try and stay at 1200 calories per day.
I will leave you with my favorite quote.
“Don’t Quit, Suffer now and life the rest of your life as a champion” Muhammad Ali
Allow me to introduce a guest spot written by our very own Fleury Knox! If you follow the blog regularly you’ll recognise Fleury as one of our most cherished chatterboxes, and I’m delighted she’s stepped out of the thought threads to share a few insights of her own. With almost 50lbs lost, I for one will be taking note!
Everything I know about life I learned on a Diet. (With apologies to Robert Fulghum and his many emulators). Thank you, Dee & all new friends in the Posse!
- If you drop it, pick up the pieces.
- Save the instructions.
- Do your homework.
- Don’t pay much attention to people’s comments.
- Get out in the world.
- Cultivate what gives you joy.
- Refer to your compass from time to time.
- If it turns into clutter, get rid of it.
- Show up.
- Appreciate each other.
- If it isn’t delicious don’t eat it all.
- Don’t be afraid of succeeding.
- It’s not a sprint; it’s not a marathon; it is a trip.
- Try not to spend ahead.
- If you can’t always be strong, be stubborn.
- Enjoy the humor in it.
- Don’t invest too much time in regrets.
[Whew!] I have a fresh respect for the wise ones who distilled down entire codes of behavior – like, the Ten Commandments! How the hell? Or the Sermon on the Mount, compact & complete: Love Your Brother as Yourself; Rabbi Hillel (standing-on-one-foot), pretty much concurred with that and added, The Rest is Commentary.
I love the BOTSG blog, and I treasure everyone who checks, reads, savors and squirms, forwards, and comments on Dee’s posts. Commentary I got!
Much of my life has been lived while on a Diet, while off my Diet; long stretches passed in refusal to pay attention to diet; and some years overlaid by the fallout from that. I must say, at S.I.L.’s wedding in the 80’s, I felt like a goddess in a clingy knee-length dress – once. My hips and thighs never fit into it before or after that.
I was an impostor, coming out like a Girl Werewolf to shop for cute clothes, whenever my weight had fluctuated down. I have always, always had closet zoning: stuff I would like to wear, stuff I can wear, stuff I wore before the last plunge down the roller coaster. My personal WalMart women’s department, a comprehensive selection, to include Plus Sizes.
I am afraid I am not on this Journey to attain Fitness. That would be out of character for me, I have never been a fitness enthusiast. Hubby #1 was indeed Outdoorsy (😁) but I can tell you I have no intention of trekking out into the woods again, not until I can stand in hiking boots and a backpack & discreetly take a leak.
Well, enough of this blather. Thanks for the invite!
Our first guest post comes courtesy of Tracey Coleman, who has been a regular contributor to our blog over the last few months. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me referring to her as the incredible shrinking woman after an awesome weight loss of 85lbs! If you want to read more about Tracey’s story, you can find her blog HERE!
Do you REALLY want it?
TimeHop is probably one of my favorite apps. It goes back in time and finds posts you’ve made on Social Media and photos stored in your Cloud. Two years ago my first trainer suggested I take monthly pictures of myself in my underwear so I could truly see the transformation over time. This week I saw an underwear picture of me from a year ago (I will never post underwear pictures of me ever!) and I was shocked to see myself.
It’s strange, you know. I look in the mirror every day and I see Tracey at the moment. I remember what I looked like two years ago, but I still remember myself at that two year mark. The transformation from two years ago to one year ago was impressive. By that time, I had gone from a size 18 to a size 12 (probably was a 10, but had entirely skipped that investment in clothing). Looking at my TimeHop pictures makes me do a double take. I’m like, “Who are you and what happened?”
In January, 2014 I weighed 232 lbs. I lived with from chronic knee pain. I suffered from anxiety and depression which were managed by working constantly, binge eating, watching countless hours of television and a compulsion to participate in too many outside activities. I used to keep myself so busy that there was not time to take care of myself.
I often say that the road to fitness is a journey, not a sprint. When I first made the commitment to lose weight and become fit, I was the turtle, not the hare. It took me a long time to get going, to find the right path, to believe in myself. The one thing that made the biggest difference in my transformation was the internal dialogue I had with myself. The constant argument I had. How bad do you really want this, Tracey? Is it important? Do you want to be fat for the rest of your life?
So, let me ask you. Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to run your first 5K (or 10K or marathon)? Is there something you want to accomplish this year? If you can answer yes to any of those questions, let me ask you this. How badly do you want it?
Without the motivation, desire and internal drive to accomplish your goal, your struggle will be difficult, if not impossible. I hear you, “I do want to lose weight.” You have to want it badly enough to affect changes in your lifestyle to accomplish your goal. It means denying yourself birthday cake (or at least substituting Angel Food cake with fresh strawberries instead), eating foods you might not be crazy about, drinking water even if you’re not used to it, and working out at the gym. It means changing your lifestyle. You cannot go about doing things the way you have all your life and expect to accomplish your fitness goals.
How do you find the motivation?
Don’t do it alone! Get a partner to support and encourage you. Make sure it’s someone who won’t put up with or listen to your excuses. This is key.
Set interim fitness goals along the way, such as running a 5K, hiking a tall mountain, doing push-ups, or something else. Working towards these goals motivated me far more than trying to or needing to lose weight did. If you are significantly over weight, chances are it will be hard to pick a fitness activity that floats your boat right away. I did not start riding a bike until March, 2015. By September, I did my first Century ride and now I love cycling more than anything. Cycling gave me a high that is difficult to describe. This means taking risks, being willing to work through setbacks and challenges. If you can do that through your fitness goals, it will be much easier to lose the weight.
I started reading Dee’s blog last fall and immediately fell in love with her. I so appreciate the way she shares her internal dialogue with us. Thank you, Dee for allowing me to share my story with your audience.