Self-acceptance… at any size!

August 15, 2008 at 10:05 am (Life gets in the way...) (, , )

Buxom chick looking hot in an advert!

A few years back, I had a terrible Weight Watchers experience. In the beginning, the weight came off and I was happy (at least, I THOUGHT I was happy), but once I got to within 1/2 a stone of my self-set “target weight” (which I had been “tutted” at over as being “too easy a target – you could go at least a stone lower than that!”), I hit a plateau. I gradually cut the calories, week by week, till I was on half what I should have been eating according to the programme. Throughout my entire time at WW I was swimming immediately after work a minimum of three times a week for an hour, and was going one weekend day to swim and use the gym for a minimum of three hours. On top of this, I walked briskly or cycled to work (1.5 miles uphill on the way to work, downhill on the way home) 5 days a week, rain or shine.

I actually ended up GAINING weight after that plateau – no matter what I did. I was made to feel guilty – a lying failure who apparently couldn’t control myself – because according to the WW instructor, if I was following the programme and not “cheating” or “forgetting to log my food correctly” then I should be losing weight. Week after week, I would don my lightest clothes (floaty summer dresses in the middle of winter!), slip off my shoes, my belt, even my watch and ear-rings if they were large ones, and step on the scales. Every week I would either have stayed the same weight or gained a little more, and would be made to feel terrible about myself. Amazingly, I was PAYING MONEY EVERY WEEK for the privilege of being made to feel bad about myself. I can’t believe I stuck it out for so long before finally just not attending the “classes” any more. And, of course, that made me feel even more of a failure because I had quit.

The only time in my adult life I have ever been thin (I was a UK size 10 at that point) was at the end of my first term at college after suffering malnutrition. I was on a very physically demanding college course and was barely eating a thing while I stayed in the halls of residence. I was not a well person at all. When I went back to college the second term (after taking a MONTH off over the Xmas holidays instead of 2 weeks because I was so ill and could barely swallow), I continued starving myself because I was terrified that I’d gain the weight back. Of course, eventually, it crept back on anyway – and then some. A year after finishing college, I was bigger than I’d been when I started.

At the beginning of this year, I found myself at my heaviest ever – I was 14 stones – a weight that had maintained itself (give or take a pound or so) pretty much no matter what I did for the best part of the previous year.

Five weeks later I discovered I was pregnant and you know what? I’ve stopped worrying about my weight all of a sudden! I eat when I’m hungry and eat what I want to eat – exactly as I did before – and get praised by the midwife because apparently my eating habits and choices are extremely healthy. I am currently 34 weeks pregnant and everyone at work is amazed that I still walk there and back every day – I also regularly walk 2 miles into town and the same distance back on weekends when I need to pick something up or just meet friends.

I mentioned my “healthy” food choices a moment ago. When I was a kid, you’d be hard-pushed to get me to eat any vegetables – I’d rather polish off several cream cakes or scones with lashings of butter, jam and cheese – and I was incredibly skinny. Nowadays, I adore a very wide range of fruit and vegetables, I only occasionally have cakes or sweets (although when I fancy them, I do not deny myself a little indulgence!), and I am much bigger. In fact, when I described an average meal of mine to the midwife she almost jumped up and applauded me – apparently my proportions of the different food types were pretty much spot on to what I am “supposed” to eat – the majority of my plate filled with a variety of veg (in all the colours of the rainbow, simply because I like the different tastes, you understand!), a portion of pulses and/or carbohydrates takes over the second largest part of my meal, then the protein – I only ever have a small portion of meat, usually poultry, or fish (usually haddock or salmon). I sometimes find I can’t finish everything on my plate, but, unlike when I was a child, I refuse to feel guilty over leaving something (I used to get the whole, “Think of the starving children in Africa!” routine. I always wanted to scream, “Well, how will MY eating the food help them? If you want to send my green beans and carrots over to Ethiopia for them to eat, please, feel free!”).

The fact is, I’ve been eating that way for years – and I still didn’t get down to a skinny size 10. You know what? I’ve come to the conclusion I’m just not meant to be a 10 – maybe a shapely 14 or 16 is what I should be. I’ve been told I look great by many people – not just my adoring hubby and loving family, but I’ve never been able to see it. If you look at the picture of me that I display below, you’ll see how I looked just before Christmas 2007. Fair enough, it’s only a head and shoulders shot, but you can also see the colossal cleavage there. I have been given various compliments for this photograph, ranging from “gorgeous” to “beautiful” to “incredibly hot”. Just for the record, that top I’m wearing in that picture is a UK size 18. Yes – all you guys who said I look fantastic are praising someone who is, by contemporary standards, a “fat chick”.

Me – big and beautiful just last Christmas!

But you know what? I no longer mind that I don’t have a tiny waist (I do actually have a waist which is currently rather hidden by my rather impressive baby-bump!), and I rather admire my own round rump (which is currently acting as counter-balance to my bump up-front to keep me from tipping over forward – LOL!).

I am SO much happier now than I have ever been – I have a wonderful husband who has always found me incredibly sexy and attractive, whether thin or fat, and I have what I am assured is a very healthy baby on the way. Not worrying about my weight has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and I am glad I got to this point in my life before I ruined the rest of it by continuing to torture and guilt-trip myself. I’m still working on a healthier mindset, but I finally feel I’m getting somewhere with it!

Strangely, despite all my past self-loathing, I have always thought that many people look far better with “a bit of flesh on their bones” rather than being walking skeletons. Witness the following before-and-after-type-photos – in these examples, I actually think these female celebrities look a HELL of a lot better when they are just that little bit larger and rounder. Neither one of them is fat in either picture, but I really do think the “before” pictures, where they don’t have all their bones sticking out, look far better:

Gerri Halliwell

Myleene Klass

I remember the first time I saw the model Sophie Dahl – she was a spectacular size 16 (if I remember correctly) and looked absolutely stunning. She was the heroine of “fat chicks” everywhere, proving that you could be big and not just beautiful but incredibly sexy. Then she shed the “extra pounds”. Now I think she looks like a lollypop – a big round head on a skinny little body – it just doesn’t look right to me at all.

A larger Sophie Dahl at her very best

The incredibly sexy Queen Latifah – large and looking TOTALLY hot!

And it doesn’t just go for the women-folk either – I might be married to a slender guy, but I have found (and still do find) some larger men very attractive. In fact, there is one “tubby celeb” I find particularly sexy – Jack Black totally rocks! He’s funny, he’s talented, he comes across as being a lot of fun to be around, he’s got a great look, and all this makes him incredibly appealing and, yes, sexy. And you know what? He’s a big guy! He’s big and he’s SEXY!

Jack Black certainly gets MY motor running!

Looking back at photographs of me, I think to myself, “Hey, I looked fabulous there!”, yet at the time, I felt horribly fat and miserable – all because I wasn’t a sleek size 10 or 12. Now, looking at those pictures, I see that I had a fantastic figure – curvy and gorgeous. Knowing what I now know (that binge dieting CAUSES more weight and health problems than it can ever hope to solve), I can see that if I’d never started dieting in the first place, I might well have stayed that size and shape instead of ballooning up and down time and time again. But at that point in my life, I was stuck in the “thin is healthy” mindset – it’s simply not true!

Larger people can be just as healthy, if not more so, than thin people. That’s not to say there aren’t unhealthy fat people too – just that more often than not, your size doesn’t play as big a role in your overall health as you might think.

I am a “larger lady”, a “fat chick”, a “big girl”. I have never had any problems with blood pressure or cholesterol and I am physically very active (although I quit with the gym and swimming after the WW disaster!). I am not diabetic, nor do I show any signs of heading that way. I am a healthy and rather fit person the size I am. My stamina levels, when it comes to things like walking long distances or certain indoor activities, are phenomenal – I can outpace and outlast many other people I know.

People can be healthy AT ANY SIZE OR SHAPE – you can’t tell a person’s health-levels just by looking at them. They can also be attractive, dress well and look amazing, and yes, be downright sexy, whether they are fat or thin. If only we could all throw off the shackles of public pressure and shout, “I REFUSE TO HAVE MY SIZE AND SHAPE DICTATED TO ME!” and then be accepting of one another, as well as of ourselves, we could all be so much happier – and healthier.

FOR AN INCREDIBLY INSPIRATIONAL LOOK ON “FAT ACCEPTANCE” AND HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE, PLEASE DO VISIT KATE HARDING’S SHAPELY PROSE.

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6 Comments

  1. Sandy said,

    I have been looking at her site for a while now…and though I don’t agree with 100% of everything that is there I do agree with HAES. What ALL diet plans forget to tell you is that muscle weighs more than fat (it is also a lot more efficient in burning calories FYI) and if you are working out and exercising (even just walking briskly on a regular basis) you are building muscle…hence gaining weight you “lost”.

    Most of the “diets” and all this weight loss “fat is unhealthy” crap is based on the BMI…and the BMI (if you look at Shapely Prose) is a crock. A perfectly thin healthy person can have an “overweight” or even “obese” BMI. Why? Because they probably have a good deal of muscle mass on them. BMI does not account for weight based on muscle or fat. Half of all the pro baseball players in America, muscley as they are, would be considered obese by that standard.

    They have also just published a study that many “fatties” aren’t unhealthy anyway and many thin people ARE…so I say as long as you are healthy, no heart issues, diabetes, etc…don’t worry about your weight. Eat a balanced diet of fruits and veggies…but don’t be scared of food…exercise well (that will help keep your heart healthy!!) and you won’t have to worry about.

  2. kell1976 said,

    It was actually through your blog that I spotted Shapely Prose, Sandy. Like you, I don’t agree with everything on it, but a lot of it is inspirational and can help you realise that you can be fine as you are without having to be a stick insect. 🙂

  3. Sarah said,

    I agree that the BMI is crap. I always use it as a defense because I have a supposedly “healthy” BMI, but my boyfriend is always telling me to lose weight. That is because he can see that I am out of shape, eating the wring things, have no stamina, and obviously feel bad all the time…he wants me to be healthy and happy. Most people wouldn’t consider me overweight, but I am. My body type dictates that I should be about 20 pounds lighter, which I used to be! All the extra weight on me is fat, not muscle.

    Thanks for this, Kell! This reaffirms my goal of being HEALTHY, not SKINNY!! 🙂

  4. Sandy said,

    Hi Sarah!

    Have you tried cutting out some of your refined sugar and carbs (like sodas and such)? I know with this last pregnancy I had gestational diabetes so I HAD to cut out all refined sugars and pastas and breads and go whole wheat and limit my amounts to 15g per serving as well as make sure to take in more protein. For 3 days I was really really bad off with being tired and feeling like crap…but then I felt awesome and had a lot of energy and just felt all around better (with the exception of being pregnant and having a baby pressing on my sciatic nerve! LOL).

    It could be something you might can try…cut down on refined sugars and breads/pastas and replace them with whole wheat/whole grains and take in more protein. You may feel like shit for a few days but after that you may feel a lot better. I tell you, DH went on the same regimen for support and we both vowed that we would continue to eat that way because we felt so much better! That doesn’t meant I don’t eat what I want…I ate some Hershey’s chocolate bars today…but I am just more conscious of what is in everything now….

    Just a thought!

  5. Sandy said,

    Oh, and PS…Shapely Prose has a BMI slide show on the blog…it shows you pictures of women and their BMIs…you can see the BMI is a crock because a lot of those women are THIN but have a high “unhealthy” BMI!!!

  6. kell1976 said,

    True – the BMI Project pics were what really caught my attention. Very worth while havig a look!

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