I’ve never been “skinny”. Throughout primary school and high school the mean boys called me fat. I truly believed I was. Sometimes I was depressed about it and other times I would just get on with enjoying life with people who didn’t want to put me down.
The truth is, I don’t think I was ever really fat, at least not when I was in school. I was on the pudgy side, sure. I was not skinny, but my BMI was probably in a healthy range, or possibly the low end of overweight. However, when I did leave school — left the convenience of organised sport, no longer had set meal times, left Mum’s cooking — I put on weight. It was reasonably gradual; on the order of 20kg (about 44lb) over 5 years.
The worst weight increase was over 2008 when I was doing honours at uni (and mostly hating it), doing almost no exercise (because I spent so much time at uni) and eating a lot of big carb-filled meals (very good pasta, risotto and curries at uni).
Why am I talking about this?
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned being overweight on my blog before… Partly because I was embarrassed: why, when you can present any version of yourself that you want, would you include the fat part? Also, I didn’t realise how much weight I’d actually put on. When you start putting on weight there are some natural reflexes, such as avoiding mirrors and photographs, that help you fool yourself into thinking that you haven’t really put on that much. And since I’ve had it in my head since childhood that I am fat, it’s easy to dismiss an increase in weight as “just the way I am”.
But now, losing weight has been such a significant part of the last year, that I feel the need to document it in some way.
My weight loss journey started on a pretty ordinary day. I was in my local shopping centre and I saw my reflection in a shop window. I thought to myself “What the hell? You don’t look like that! When did you get so fat?” I decided something had to be done.
It’s not just about looks. My Mum survived Breast Cancer and my Dad has Type II Diabetes; being overweight is a risk factor for both of those diseases, and I would rather not get them too! Not to mention the host of other diseases and health risks associated with being overweight.
Although losing weight doesn’t guarantee I won’t get them (I don’t think Mum was overweight when she got cancer), at least I know I’ve done what I can to reduce my chances.
For those that look at the photos above and think “she’s not that fat”, or “I’ve seen worse”, if being that size was a health risk for me (and it was!), imagine what a health risk it is to be bigger! For a long time I didn’t worry about my weight because there is always someone bigger, but your health is not something that you should put at risk because the risks are socially acceptable. Disease doesn’t grade on a curve.
On the 23rd April 2009 I joined Weight Watchers. I chose Weight Watchers because Mum had done it before and I was a bit familiar with the POINTS system. I don’t regret joining for a moment! I have really enjoyed learning about food and health and I really enjoy eating healthier and feeling better.
Weight Watchers has some really good resources and they give you so much useful information in non-overwhelming batches. For example, at the start they give you booklets about getting started (which I still go back to for recipes sometimes) and about the Good Health Guidelines. When you try to stick to those guidelines (1 portion of carbs with every meal, protein 2-3 times a day, 5 serves of veggies, 2 serves of fruit, 8 glasses of water etc) your body functions so much better. It’s brilliant!
Over the last 10 months I’ve lost 22.4kg (and still going). Everything seems so much easier now! Moving, exercising, clothes shopping… it’s all loads easier. I even feel like I can relate to people better because I’m not self-conscious, and I’m no longer uncomfortable in my own skin.
A lot of people are embarrassed to discuss weight loss or eating habits, and I empathise completely. It would be nice if we weren’t though. It’d be great if we could openly encourage each other to be healthier, without seeming superficial.
I haven’t been reading weight loss blogs or anything, but one blog crossed my Twitter stream recently. Kudos to Tyler for sharing his journey and giving others handy hints along the way!
Sometimes I’ve wondered how taking care of ourselves fits in with a Christian worldview. Sometimes the health reasons for losing weight can seem like excuses and one can get caught up in just looking good.
I have found myself falling into that trap and need to remind myself that a godly women adorns herself in good works (1 Tim 2), she’s a woman who loves Christ and loves others.
However, there are so many benefits to losing excess weight that will benefit your ministry too, I think it’s not only okay, but maybe even wise. God has given us this body and it’s the only one we’re gonna get (until Jesus returns). Healthier eating and regular exercise strengthens your body against illness, strengthens your muscles and bones, increases your metabolism, gives you more energy and helps you to sleep better. Also, there’s the relational stuff I mentioned before. Having more energy, getting sick less often, and feeling confident to relate to others sound like excellent assets to ministry to me.
Big thanks to everyone who has supported me thus far!