A few years ago I was overweight edging into obese territory. I avoided looking in mirrors. I didn’t realize to what degree until I started again. I didn’t like the way my face looked in my graduation photos, starting to get fat in my cheeks.
In my case my growing size was caused primarily by an over fondness for ice cream. Losing weight is very simple. There’s no great secret to it; you eat less and move more. But just because it’s easy to understand doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish. If you want to permanently change your weight you have to permanently change the way you eat and exercise.
I stopped buying ice cream. I’m not tempted to eat a whole quart of ice cream when there’s none in the house. I try to eat things that are low-calorie and nutrient rich, i.e. fruits and veggies and limit things that are calorie dense, e.g. peanut butter, cheese, fruit juice. I’ve tried to change my relationship with food. I want to eat because I’m hungry not as an emotional reaction. Not because I’m bored or stressed or sad or as a reward.
I’ve gone to the gym exactly once in my life and hated it. I’m not going to voluntarily spend chunks of my life doing something I hate even if it ultimately prolongs my life. It just isn’t worth it. Even if I forced myself to go I know I’d eventually end up making excuses to skip it and stop going entirely. Instead I’ve tried to incorporate physical activities I enjoy into my life. I bike to work. I take long walks during my lunch break. And I take dance lessons.
I have lost 40lbs over the past two years. And climbing the hill to the health center no longer renders me winded and hypertensive. But I’m still 10-20lbs shy of my goal weight (chosen because it’s considered healthy for my height). But I am loving my body regardless.
I told myself I wasn’t going to get any new clothes until I reached my goal. But I went shopping last weekend anyway. Part of the reason it was so wonderful was that it was so much better than the last time I'd gone dress shopping. I'd felt everything looked terrible on me, which was no surprise because I looked terrible. Struggling to pull dresses back over my head was a frustrating and miserable experience. I really hated getting trapped in "large" dresses.
This time I actually liked the way the dresses hugged my curves. And I actually pranced around the dressing room mostly naked. Dancing to happy music in my head. It was great. I'm still heavier than I'm supposed to be, but I'm happy with the way I look. This is where the changing of attitudes comes in.
If you scroll towards the bottom of a free cam site you'll find girls who don't look like they came from the standard model mold. Women of varied shapes and sizes. I've heard them described as "real women" but I don't think it's fair to say women are "fake" just because they happen to fit society's narrow beauty standards.
There was one woman in particular, who was my age, my height, my weight. She was beautiful. And it made me realize that I was too. Seeing her all confident and sexy made me feel better about myself.
I am way less critical of other people than I am of myself. When I look in the mirror I fixate on all the things I don't like. All the things I feel I need to change. But when I look at other women I focus on all the best parts of them. I see something beautiful and sexy and desirable.
But maybe this doesn't work for women who don't find other women sexually attractive. I've noticed that women can be very harshly critical of others. I guess because they feel like it's a competition. And tearing down other women will somehow make them better or at least make them feel better. But I've found just the opposite to be true. Finding beauty in other woman helps me see it in myself.
I wish models and actresses and pop stars reflected the wide range of womanhood. I wish we all had more women who looked like us who were celebrated as being beautiful and talented. I wish we all felt more confident and sexy. I wish I weren't the only curvy young woman on the beach.