Coming to Terms With My “Half-Way” Body

glass_half_full
Warning: This is a rambling, stream of consciousness post …. and I don’t have the desire to play editor to slim it down.

This weekend it hit me that I am the size/weight I was during my summer of losing back in 2004, my “half-way” size/shape, if you will.

And while some might not be upset by this realization, I have to say, it was an unsettling feeling for me.

It goes without saying that I never want to go back to my unhealthy habits of chewing/spitting or excessively over-exercising.

But those ways weren’t how I lost weight in the first place, anyway. I did it the old-fashioned way: eating less, moving more, following WW Online.

It worked then, and it’s not working now and truthfully, that frustrates me. I wish it didn’t frustrate me or upset me, but it does.

Five years later, that equilibrium I sought and found seems completely messed up because I work out like a fiend, I’m strength training, I’m journaling and I’m still unable to lose weight — I’m eating too much (even with journaling/following WW) to lose.

I’m “overweight” again. I honestly don’t mean to sound like I’m beating myself up here, but it’s the truth. (Even if you ignore the scale, my BMI is above normal now, too, and I’m up a size in clothes from my leanest).

I think the only way I can lose weight at this point is by eating NO activity points at all … and truthfully, I have trouble doing that. I lost eating all my points, all 35 Flex points, plus all of my activity points (if not more). And I feel “entitled” to those activity points … something I have struggled with for years.

I know I need to reframe it, but I’m having trouble with doing it.

Anyway, as soon as my clothes feel tight (like they do now), I feel super-anxious and I have to admit, it’s downright scary. Especially when people you care about are succeeding at losing weight. I’m genuinely happy for them, but it makes me wonder, why can’t I? Especially because I did it before … so effortlessly.

(Granted, just not drinking a whipped raspberry mocha and sipping a kiwi-strawberry Snapple a day probably was enough to spur weight loss back then!)

I remember going to a neighbor’s 4th of July party that summer of slimming down, and everyone commenting on my weight loss (I was down about 15 lbs then). I remember how proud of my mom was of me, how good I felt about myself. Me, the chubby girl, was finally leaning out. I looked good, and I felt good. Confident, even.

(I believe my personal barometer, sense of self, was different then. I was comparing a heavier me to a newly lighter me; it makes sense I’d feel good at this current weight/size then, compared to my former self … and also explains why (in my head) my sense of self is skewed now.)

That year, I continued to lose, and got to my ultimate low … which didn’t last; it was too low for me to easily maintain and so I ended up maintaining about 8 higher than that for three years. And now, well, I’m about 8-10 higher than that. I’m basically a puffier version of that lean me, but not quite as puffy as I felt at my heaviest. I’m “half-way” me, caught somewhere between thin me and heavy me … and I do have fears about that. I’m not gonna lie and say I don’t … that’d be disingenuous.

I know it’s not all about the scale, and that ultimately it’s more about health than anything else, but I hate not being “healthy” or feeling my best.

Adding insult to injury, it’s really hard when your clothes feel tight instead of loosening as they did that “summer of thin.”

I remember I had to pin or alter everything, and then finally, just literally shopped myself into debt because I’d gone from a 12/14 to a 4/6 in the course of 8 months and as a professional, the pinned-up pants weren’t cutting it anymore.

I literally couldn’t wear anything I owned back then. I needed new everything: bras, underwear, workout clothes, jeans, tops, suits, dresses, skirts … it was a costly venture, for sure …

But I loved it. I ate it up.

It might sould ridiculous now, but I loved tugging at the waistband and letting my pants fall around my hips, or seeing how baggy tops and pants and skirts had become.

I loved slipping into 6s, and sometimes a 4. I felt empowered. Lean, mean …

I’d stare at myself in the bathroom mirror at work, shocked at my own body, running my hands over my (then-slim) hips and feeling like a queen. It was, as I noted in one of my first blog entries, addicting.

Now, five years later (nearly 30, vs nearly 25) I’m in my “half-way” body yet again, with the scale tipping in the opposite direction. I’m more or less the size/shape I was when I was mid-way through losing, halfway between my original weight and my happy, comfortable weight.

More fit than I was back then, sure … (and I realize that’s a big plus) but definitely puffier.

I hate to sound like I’m whining, or like I’m unhappy even though I kept off half of what I lost (research shows most people tend to gain it all back and then some), but it does feel discouraging to realize this.

I don’t know about how others in a similar situation feel, but I think I’ll always feel like I’m two steps away from going all the way back to my starting weight.

My anxious, controlling nature won’t allow me to go there (ok, with the exception of for pregnancy someday maybe) … but I’m definitely at risk for going back there if I’m not vigilant.

Even as a glass-half-full kind of girl, even with all the wonderful, beautiful people and things in my life — all of which I am grateful and feel blessed to have — I struggle with accepting this reality as my own.

I’m someone who always wants things RIGHTNOW, and I simply don’t have the level of patience I had back then. I think that’s primarily because when I was losing in 2004, I didn’t know where I’d “end up” size or weight-wise. Having been heavier my whole life up til then, I had no clue where I’d settle/even out.

And now I know what was … what could be, and it’s hard to accept that I’ve slipped up.

Even as I type this, I hate how that sounds; like I’m longing for the past, whining over the body I “lost”. But it’s not just about the body – it’s the mindset I had back then that I long for.

Deep down, I know this is me now and I should love myself here. Rationally, I know “that was then, this is now …”

But it still stings to feel so uncomfortable in my own skin sometimes. I want to be ok, happy, content where I am.

I’ve said before, and I stand by it today … recovery from those ugly habits is worth the 8-10 lbs I’ve gained this year; I’m so proud of how far I’ve come … truly, I am.

But deep down, even if I accept those pounds half the time, the other half of the time, I am mentally struggling with wanting them gone: wanting to feel good in my own skin, wanting to take pictures instead of being behind the camera.

I realize my weight gain is no one’s fault but my own, and that’s it’s a purely self-inflicted situation … and not an uncommon one in the slightest.

I also realize that it’s very challenging (and perhaps even irresponsible?) to be talking about weight loss and recovering from ugly disordered eating behaviors in the same blog … but they are intertwined in my world, and I struggle with separating the two.

I want so desperately to be happy with my body as I am now, in this moment, but I just want to share with all of you here that it’s a real genuine struggle. Some days I feel really ok … and other days, not so much.

I feel schizo/contradictory posting sometimes because I do see my Libra personality coming out — being unable to take a stance and stick to it, but rather seeing/feeling both sides of anything/everything, which can paralyze me.

Please know, it’s not about vanity, or even striving for a perfect figure… but rather getting back what I know I’m capable of. Therapy helped me see I don’t need to shoot for straight “A’s” but at least a B … ya know!?

This is a battle I’m waging in my head, which sometimes comes to fruition (however subconsciously) in my actions … and I wish it’d just disappear.

Some days I’m ready to declare victory and others … like today … not so much (which could be hormonal, now that I think about it …!)

Trying on clothes this weekend was particularly disillusioning. How can one not take it to heart when nothing fits right, when nothing lays nicely? I wish I knew; I wish I could let it rub off my back easily like so many women can.

I truly hope I can get there someday … but I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t tell you I’m just not there yet.

I am proud of the strides I’ve made in terms of my behaviors … but I’m not quite there yet in my head … and I don’t know I ever will be.

As my husband always used to say to me when we were long-distance international all those years, longing for one another and just wanting our life to finally be ours: “The only thing left to lose is faith.”

He’s right. I do have faith. And I don’t want to lose it.

How about you? How have you handled weight gain? How has it mentally affected you as you view yourself? Any advice?

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34 thoughts on “Coming to Terms With My “Half-Way” Body

  1. Handling weight gain is never easy, no matter what your prior experiences are (ED, no ED, healthyweight gain, unhealthy… ) It is all challenging to deal with a changing body, esp. in the direction you don’t want. In my personal past of weight gain after weight loss, at first I tell myself a few pounds are okay, but then I just beat myself up mentally all the time once I hit the 5-10 pounds gained mark. I pinch and poke and prod my body and tell myself I can’t let this continue, but then I keep eating too much, not exercising, etc. Weight gain leads to depression leads to weight gain….vicious cycle that is hard to break b/c of the mental anguish, I know.

    This time around I’m determined not to let myself gain weight that I’m really not comfortable with. By that I mean that I’m okay gaining a few pounds, but that I need to control myself reasonably to prevent the mental anguish that comes along with gaining weight again in the future, not fitting clothes, etc. I’m a Libra, too, and I don’t want my non-committal nature to prevent me from staying healthy.

    I, too, am 5 years older than the last time I lost weight and was a skinny bitch. It is definitely different this time around…slower metabolism? Body created more fat cells that are harder to purge? Whatever it is, I’ve had to accept that I’m not going to be quite like I was 5 years ago. Even though I’ve lost a lot of weight I still hate my body in many ways, and I’m struggling with accepting that I’m not perfect and it’s okay.

    Have you switched up your workout recently? You may have reached a plateau, and changing your weight routine, cardio choice, and method of workout may offer a boost. But don’t despair! You are still acting in a very healthful manner by working out and taking care of yourself physically.

    It is always a challenge to be reasonable about weight, and when clothes don’t fit how we want it really stings. Committing to a healthy approach to losing weight while feeling down is really, really hard. I’m sorry I’ve rambled, too, but I want you to know you’re not alone. You have made tremendous progress, and the weight you gained was because you were being healthier.

    I don’t think it’s irresponsible to talk about weight loss and DE. The last thing we want for you is to be pushed back to DE because of how you feel about yourself, or have weight turn into a trigger. Your progress is wonderful, and we are here to support you and help you feel good about yourself.

    Man, I ramble even more! I really hope you can tell your readers care, and that you continue to share your triumphs and trials with us. Let us know what we can do to help you–you are worth it and we want you to be happy and healthy!

  2. This rambling post of yours seems to have been stolen from my head!

    Especially the part about losing the second time around and the frustration of knowing “what could be.” and why is it so hard to lose it this time? And I too did it before with WW and exercise but now with ED behaviors “dealt with,” I fear that losing weight the same way I did before is impossible, I am no longer the same person.

  3. It’s like you’re talking about me! I have lost weight in the past and felt so ‘proud’ and confident that I binge ate all those pounds back. Well, not all, but enough to make me feel uncomfortable again…yes I can’t agree more, it’s very hard to love myself right now. I am stuck in a cycle of healthy eating for 4 days, then binging on the 5th….I used to cry about it a lot but I now know that I feel and look healthier after only 4days of healthy eating again. Perseverance and consistency are the key. Don’t give up!

  4. You could’ve written this post from my brain… i’ve been “stuck” for almost 3 years now, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that while this isn’t how I want my body to look, I’m healthy, and thats really all that matters. I don’t handle gains well, at all. WHen I weigh in and the scale says I’m up, I am known to burst into tears. It’s JUST a number… and am I willing to eat up all my spare time to work out? Nope. Am I willing to give up my favorite foods altogether to lose weight? Absolutely not. Im working on acceptance… and staying healthy, both physically and emotionally!

  5. I am so unbelievably touched right now by these comments. Thank you so much.

    In the words of the late, great MJ … “You are not alone” and it’s great to know that.

  6. I can relate 500% to everything you wrote and am going through similar situation now. You have every right to be frustrated and to vent away. I am down a good deal from the weight I gained last year but still 8 lbs from where I like to be. That “ideal” number in my head that I know is hard for me to maintain yet I constantly think oh if I can get there again I can do it. Or I just want to get there to show myself I can even if I dont’ have the intention of staying there. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that at 40 now I might not be able to get to the weight that was seemingly “effortless” to get to in my early 30’s.

    As for your stalled weight loss despite heavy activity/tracking etc–two things that helped me when I was totally stuck was to cut WAY back on cardio (but not strength training) and to weigh/measure my food and count calories. With WW points you can really take in more calories than you need for loss due to the way points are calculated. There is also the likelihood that one eats less nutritious foods that are lower point and I really do think that what you eat is as important in how much you eat.

  7. I just can’t imagine cutting back on cardio; I crave it … but I will try to focus more on what I’m eating, I’m sure that will help … even if it’s within points, even if it’s within my RMR … I still might need less (or different foods) to lose. I could def. eat cleaner … the thing is, I’m still counting points and journaling on Sparkpeople so I’m still creating what ought to be at least 0.5-1 lb. a week loss … and nothing is happening.

  8. Ditto, Double Ditto to everything you’ve said.

    I lost 20+ pounds 2 summers ago and have gained back 10–I just couldn’t stay that low (size 4/6).

    In the beginning of trying to lose weight, I really only wanted to lose10 pounds but I was on a roll and just kept going. Now that I’ve seen a smaller size/number, I cannot feel happy with achieving my original goal of losing the 10 pounds! It’s really depressing sometimes…. Why can’t I be happy that I did lose the 10lbs and have kep that off??

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that there’s yet another woman who understands completely (as I sit here in capris that fit me a heck of a lot better 10 lbs ago!)

  9. But it’s not just about the body – it’s the mindset I had back then that I long for.

    Deep down, I know this is me now and I should love myself here. Rationally, I know “that was then, this is now …”

    But it still stings to feel so uncomfortable in my own skin sometimes. I want to be ok, happy, content where I am.

    Wow this post really hit home with me. I lost almost 50 lbs and have gained 60 back. I’ve past the half way point and kept going and going. Looking back I wonder how I ever let it happen, how absent did I have to be mentally, what pacified me as I tucked away “skinny clothes” and pulled out stuff I didn’t like that even felt too tight.

    And now… I just want to sleep. I just get into this vegetative state where I don’t want to do anything. And this is sad but it is true: I feel like it’s a battle I can’t win. Yet I know I can. Or at least that I can get back to where I was with hard work and some determination. But still. I look at the mountain ahead of me and think “I just want to take a nap please.”

    **hugs** I wish I had something more peppy or inspirational to say but what you are writing about is reality: your reality. It’s important for you to process it and grapple with it emotionally to know how to best move forward in the future. Remember this is your blog, your journey… write whatever you want. We are here for you.

    Kelly

  10. You don’t need to stop cardio but cut back on time and intensity. It really worked for me and dozens of other people on the fitness message boards I read. It was hard for me to get over the idea that a workout that didn’t leave me drench in sweat and gasping for air was still a good workout. Yet things like longer brisk walks or bike rides at moderate pace is what has been best for me for weight loss and prevents the deep hunger I get from working out really hard. Lots of cardio can make you hungrier and more tired and the body will automatically want more food to recover from this. And even if you still eat within your AP’s earned it can be more than the body needs to lose.
    The weighing all foods onthe scale can be tedious but for a week or two it can be insightful. I found I was eating a lot more cals than I thougth, even when I had been measuring with cups, tablespoons. And I mean weigh everything even veggies. It was extremely useful information for me and showed me what I truly needed to eat to lose (a lot less than my RMR test or the formulas predicted)

  11. Thanks so much, everyone.

    I do bike and try to do other forms of exercise that are less intense. I’m positive 100% of it is about my food vs my exercise at this point though … I just need to make more changes. And I’m reisisting it because it’s mentally exhausting at times.

    I’m a weigher/measurer but veggies?! I kind of have to draw the line at that one, at least mentally!! 😉 I believe you it worked for you, and could work for me … but veggies?!

    It’d be very disheartening but maybe it’s true–my RMR was tested at 1605, maybe it’s not accurate?

  12. See the food “problem” could be that you are eating too much because you are too hungry/depleted from all the exercise. What your body needs to replenish itself is often more than you burned with the exercise itself, even if you are only eating equal to AP’s earned (which is again not an exact science whether you use HRM or online calculator)

    The weighing of everything is just for a short time, to get a feel of how many cals you are truly consuming. It killed me to weigh veggies but I eat a lot of them and yes they are super low in calories but it wasn’t uncommon for a meal (or snack) of mine to contain 50+ calories from veggies. Its not a lot but a few times a day that is 150+ calories. Adding to the other things that add calories here and there and BAM there goes the deficit. It takes very little to put you over the ledge of losing and into the range of maintaining. Now for soemone losing with no problems I would NEVER suggest to weigh veggies but when you are stuck I think it is best to know your true intake. If not you are just bound to stay stuck, get frustrated, vicious cycle.

    The RMR testing is very inaccurate. I had mine tested 3 times and got 3 widely different readings from 900-1700. Needless to say I don’t put much stock in those. I found my maintenance levels through trial and error and it is lower than any of the formulas predict. 😦

    1. I think that RMR testing is pretty accurate, but you have to have not eaten, not had coffee, and not moved much that day in order for it to be accurate, since those things boost your metabolism. What I have found to be accurate, based on my own experiments with my body and on published studies, is the bodybugg. I posted about it below.

      1. even with those variables, the RMR test has been shown to not be that accurate when done in a gym setting. Just the “stress” and stimuation of getting up, driving to the the test etc is enough to throw it off.

  13. That was a GREAT post. My weight fluctuates about 5lbs and I always feel like I look so much better when I’m on the low side. I just feel more like the way I’m supposed to look or something. Even though I try so hard to just accept my body as it is. It’s a tough balance and it’s hard to keep perspective. I wonder if it will be different when I have kids.

    Anyway, the Girl with the Red Hair ( http://girlwiththeredhair.com/ ) just wrote a short post about her similar concerns.

  14. That’s a good point, Lara.

    OK, I’ll give it some thought. I’m fine with the other stuff but veggies just seems extreme. Though you’ve had success with it, so I have to trust that.

    I just have found a maintaining weight I’m NOT happy with. I’m 8-10 lbs higher than last July, when I began blogging. And it’s hard.

    Wow, that is insane the discrepancy. And 900 sounds awfully low, for anyone. I know you’re tiny (5 foot, right?) but still!!!

    Thanks LG. I hope when I have kids, I handle things better. I will have to check that out. I’m also a girl with red hair 🙂

  15. I am 5’2. I almost slapped the woman when she told me 900, especially after previuosly testing at 1700 (and that was back when I had less muscle) Since then I read stuff about those tests that make me believe they are quite inaccurate unless done in hospital setting for much longer than 15 or so minutes they do at the gym.

    1. I wonder if the lady had it calibrated wrong. Just a thought. Also, when I’ve done these, it was for 30 minutes.

  16. We are sooooooooooooooooo alike.

    “I feel schizo/contradictory posting sometimes because I do see my Libra personality coming out — being unable to take a stance and stick to it, but rather seeing/feeling both sides of anything/everything, which can paralyze me.”

    This really hit home for me and I’m a freaking Capricorn.

    Huge hugs…I think you look awesome and you’re still inspiring to me.

  17. Thank you so much for being honest. I’m not a Libra, but I am the exact same way – I usually am unable to take a firm stance in most things, and it’s good to hear your complete thoughts on this.

    When I gained weight after my hip injury, I really didn’t know what to think. Was this my new “happy weight”? Should I learn to be happy with the extra pounds, and move on? I am very stubborn and didn’t want to accept the extra weight, but what’s more is that I was binging (not purging, at the time) like mad and feeling craptastic because of my food choices. I just wanted to feel HEALTHY again.

    I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to get back to a certain number on the scale. Once I got back to exercising, though, I was so elated with my healthier choices in working out and eating better, that the number seemed to be less important than when I first started out.

    I would be interested to see how your body reacted if you switched up your workout routine – though you seem so active right now! For me, adding in weights (something I’d never done before) was key. Could you talk to your trainer about new things you could try?

    I think something is HUGE here – you’ve not chewed/spit in a long time, and that is wonderful!! Maybe it is just like quitting smoking? People tend to gain weight at first, then it comes off over time?

    As always, wonderful post. I think most women can relate to having felt like this at LEAST once in their lives.

  18. Aw you’re the best, Stac! 🙂 Thank you.

    Hi Holly — I stopped with the trainer when I started P90X. I’m 100% sure this is about intake vs output. I can’t do much more fitness-wise.

    But I like your way of thinking about it — it’s like someone who quits and it’s hard to not gain weight when you go through a major change like that.

    Thank you 🙂

  19. You might want to consider getting a body bugg – it tells you exactly how many calories you’re burning. I’ve found it very helpful, because I know how much I can eat and still lose weight, yet I don’t eat too little and get starved. They’re pricey ($250) but I have found it to be an invaluable tool.

    For instance, I burn more calories on a day that I skip the gym and clean house all day than a day that I go to the gym and do 45 minutes weights plus 30 minutes cardio + walk the dogs in the hills for 45 minutes! Who knew?

  20. The bodybugg could be a good idea. Mine was tested first thing in the morning before any food, water, exercise. Interesting observation!

    1. Still, those tests are not accurate (see my comments above)
      I have heard good things about the Bodybugg and a similar device the Go Wear Fit.

  21. ((hug)) Lissa, hang in there sweetie! Look at all of these people who care about you and love you!!

    A few thoughts:

    – when I was training for the marathon, I lost NO weight – I was hungry ALL the time. There are articles about this (most recently in the NY Times) but it really is true that too much cardio is not going to help you lose weight – even if it does feel great. I know you love your cardio, but IMO that is more of a problem for you than your food. That is of course just an outsider observation, but if you are hungry and eating, well, maybe try not getting yourself so hungry. I mean, you aren’t eating unhealthily in general, right?

    – If you had never gotten down to that 4/6, would the “old you” have been happy with the weight you are at now? I am sure the answer is yes. It seems like this post is a struggle to do just that. You know, my guess is that even at a smaller size, you would have eventually found things to “improve” about your body – maybe we all just need to accept that we will never be 100% happy with our bodies. Easier said than done, I know…

    Anyway, great post, thanks for sharing, this kind of “real” emotion and writing is really great.

    xoxo

  22. Thnaks, Yas…I appreciate your insight. No, def. not eating unhealthy … but still too much to lose. I didn’t work out yesterday–baby steps 😉

    Yes that’s a good point, had I never gotten that low, I’d be very happy where I am now, for sure. Thank you…

  23. I realize you already have close to 30 posts on this, but I wanted to quickly chime in on a few things: 1. I fullllllly agree with Yas – if you’d never gotten so low, you’d be content with where you are. Keep it in perspective. 2. I think I mentioned some article that I’d read (no, it was YOU who showed it to me, I think!) about the concept of a “net loss” – the idea being that if you’ve lost and gained, you need to take stock in the total amount you’ve lost overall – so if you’ve lost 30 and gained back 20, while it may feel crummy, you need to focus on the positive – you’ve still lost 10 lbs! And 3. You can be the world’s most diligent calorie or Points counter, but your body has its own method of ingesting food – just because a serving of Cheerios is 110 calories does not mean you’re actually taking in 110 calories – it can be more or less, depending on your genetic makeup. So DO NOT beat yourself up on this stuff – it’s an inexact science.

    This may sound scary, but I really think you might want to consider taking a week or two and just eating what you feel like, when you feel like – if you just free yourself from being so fixated on it, you might end up feeling very liberated.

    I can’t say it enough – you are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful – you were when you weighed more and you still are now – and you have a world of fans who adore you. Do not let food demons rob you of your inner and outer beauty and shining personality!

    PS – I know I owe you an email and phone call 🙂

  24. Hey sweets! 🙂 Aw thank you — I think I do need to keep it in perspective. I’ve still kept 17 of 30-35 off … that’s not so shabby. And you’re right, too — I think I do need to be freer, but I’m just afraid of not counting. I’m just being honest.

    It’ll be a huge challenge, but maybe it’s one I do need to do. I can try it this weekend, actually …

    Thank you, honey … and hope to talk soon –miss you!

    1. I have been re-reading Intuitive Eating. It really is a wonderful wonderful book, so much insight and “a ha” moments and makes so much sense. They have a series of steps you go through to get to the “not counting” way of eating. Even if you are not yet there I highly suggesting reading (or re-reading) this book.

  25. I’ve read it, and could probably use a refresher. I don’t know I was ready then to take it on …

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