Losing Weight and Self-Esteem

A few months ago, I notice that my jeans were baggy. This was good. I’d lost weight. I wasn’t trying, but I had made a few changes in my eating habits, and a few pounds lost was nice. The bad part that it meant I needed new clothes, and I REALLY didn’t want to have to shop. Not only is that experience terrible (crowded mall, lots of people, terrible parking, bad lighting. I can go on.), but having to try on a new, smaller size was terrifying. So, instead of going to the mall and nervously trying on new jeans, sweating in the dressing room, and lowing my self-esteem, I bought a few pairs online. Clearance ones. Because of course they wouldn’t fit, and I did not want to waste any more money than necessary on this doomed-to-fail experiment.

Turned out, the pants fit. They were a little tight, but damn it, they got on. They buttoned. I could sit down and even do squats in them. Hell yeah. I was a size 6! The lowest I’ve ever been. This meant…something. Progress? Validation that my workouts were working? Something about me being a better person because I was thinner?

But something really weird happened when I started wearing a size 6 (in addition to the clearance pants I bought, I got a couple more because, hell yeah! I’m a size 6!!). After going down a size, I started to really lose some self-esteem. I started feeling really fat. The thing was, yeah, the pants were a little tight, but not by much. Some of the pairs were a little tighter. You know what guys, not all size 6s are the same.

The weird was happening in my head. Wearing smaller pants that were slightly tight made me feel fat, like, the size of a house. I started to judge my body again. I started to analyze my actions.

I realized that I hadn’t been doing intense workouts lately. It wasn’t like I had stopping being physical. I was running, but that wasn’t the same intensity as my previous workouts. I’m still doing kenpo, but that doesn’t always get my sweat pouring, especially if I’m learning a new defense, focusing on visualizing my target and moving more mechanically rather than moving with force and speed.

Even though I’ve been active, I wasn’t gargling my heart. I wasn’t killing myself through every workout. I wasn’t pushing myself so hard I was exhausted for the rest of the day.

My previous workouts were tough. They were only 30 minutes, but they would wipe me out. I never really thought of them as that rough because they were only 30 minutes! Plus, I liked pushing myself that hard. It made me feel badass. Well, it made me feel badass when I was able to do the actual workouts. Often they would make me feel bad about myself when I couldn’t do the moves (you know what, fuck spider pushups).

I never really thought of those workouts as potentially too much for me, mostly because those were what I did. I did high intensity circuit workouts. Since about 2011, I started regularly doing Jillian Michaels. High intensity is her jam. She’s known for being tough. I’ve done nearly all of her workouts. I loved the convenience of working out in my home (gyms are gross). I loved the short, 30-minute workouts. I loved the feeling that the time was spent doing something worthwhile. I never thought that brutal workouts like JM would be bad for me in a way. But they were.

The way that I mean is that once I stopped doing them I lost so much self-esteem. I felt bad about my body because I was “only” doing kenpo and not doing suicide squat burpies or something. I felt bad because I was getting comfortable doing easy runs rather than single-legged, weighted sprints (those things don’t actually exist as far as I know).

Getting away from the high intensity work made me feel like a big, fat loser. I felt like a cow. I felt like my cool new size 6s were a big, fat lie, and I was the big, fat liar wearing them. I felt like the only way I could truly be thin was if I stayed doing intense training regularly and not settle for anything that didn’t get my heart pumping (oh my god, I’ve been stockhomled).

This post has been very hard for me to write. If you guys are paying attention (all three of you), you may have noticed that I haven’t written a post in three weeks. Part of this has been because I’ve been busy. Then an unexpected bout of depression overcame me and I decided to binge watch Scream the MTV show to help get over it (you guys, it’s so good).

But this post has also been challenging because it’s uncomfortable thinking about this stuff. I’m struggling to write sentences about hating my body. I hate writing about feeling fat.

I’ve always felt fat. Only within the past three years did I actually start to feel pretty good in my body (that’s also when I went fully vegan…just saying. #goveg). I grew up fat. Or chubby. Or something. I oscillated between being chubby and not-so-chubby my whole life. It sucks. It’s weird. I’ve had mega body issues. I’ve always been jealous of skinny girls. Showing your midriff is terrifying for me. Young women in clothing catalogues effortlessly looking great and comfortable in low-rise jeans or tight tees made me feel like a giant (do any of you remember those dELIA*S clothing? It was super popular in the 90s. Did you know it still exists!?!).

Three years ago, I finally got pretty okay with my body. I was relatively thin. It was no longer challenging for me to keep weight off. I felt like I finally got some part of life figured out. Losing a few pounds, dropping a size, showed me that maybe I don’t exactly. Mentally I’m still that fat girl in high school who is so sure everyone is judging her body, looking at her stomach and fat thighs, realizing that she’s always the biggest girl in the room even though that’s never the case.

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