Tuesday, June 19, 2012

10 Reasons I'm (Still) Overweight

By Mimi Hecht 

A few weeks ago, not coincidentally just after the cheesecake holiday, I hit a remarkable low in my years and years of yo-yo dieting. I was feeling fat, tired, hopeless—questioning my ability to ever get it together and work towards the healthy and thin body I have always craved. 

Since I was 15, I've been conscious of my weight. Not in an insecure way. In fact, sometimes I feel like had I been more insecure like the girls around me, perhaps I'd actually have the determination to succeed at a diet. But even with feeling pretty confident with my body, I always wanted to be thinner. And even when people complimented my body for it's height and supposedly lean look, I was very aware of the extra flubber that weighed me down and prevented me from fitting into things better. I have always been what some people like to call "tall and big boned" but it's really called "overweight." I wear it well, but I have always been about 15 pounds overweight. And then I lose it. Then I gain it. Even at my wedding, when I looked and felt amazing, I was still overweight. 

Last summer, I lost 15 pounds. I felt amazing, confident, and hopeful that in the near future I would be my ideal weight. But then I let go. I didn't binge or lose total control, but I lost sight of the discipline. Now, a year later, I just found out that I have slowly gained back all the weight I had lost from my hard work. The extra weight is burdensome, but more so the realization that I couldn't hold on to my success and keep the weight off. As you can imagine, I feel pretty down about my lack of control. I feel reckless. And desperate. 

I've decided that if I have to lose weight and do this now, for good, or it's never. And I know what needs to be different is actually addressing why I fail—actually dissecting my habits that have up until now built so many stories of failure.

I've started seeing my diet downfalls as more of a mental sickness. Okay, I know that sounds harsh. Who doesn't struggle with their weight? It's normal. But identifying what makes my struggles unique is now laying the groundwork for a successful non-dieting experience. I like to call it the "Get your S!*t together, Mimi" plan. 

I'm about to make myself embarrassingly vulnerable. But I believe deeply that joining together in honesty is often a solution, if not simply healing. And maybe this will help just one more person. So here it is. 

Ten Reasons I'm (Still) Overweight 
(And what needs to change)

I am an excitable person. So when I resolve to get fit and lose weight, it comes with a lot of passion. And with that passion, naturally, comes publicity. I talk about why I'm dieting (again), what my plan is (foolproof, no doubt), why it's going to work this time (riiiiiight). Talk, talk. Blah, blah, blah...on and on. I don't know how my husband, sister and friends have not clobbered me over the head yet. TOO. MUCH. TALK. As if all my dialogue is an actual exercise. When, in fact, its simply just making me feel like I'm being more active and productive than I really am. 
Not to self: Stop talking. It does not burn calories. 

I feel proud that I know a lot about dieting and health. I'm not someone who doesn't understand what being healthy requires. And, just like I have a jabbering issue, I also have this deep need to make it known that I am not some uneducated, incapable neb. So I have this shtik where I make it very known to myself that if I wanted, I could lose weight in a jiffy and rock it. But, alas, just like talking doesn't get me the body I want, spending time flaunting and hashing over my ideals in my mind is equally tricking. It makes me feel like I'm okay, when I'm really suffering. 
Note to self: Stop spending time thinking you're good at this and start feeling just a taaaaad more pathetic. 

This is an obvious one for most people. But I feel like I have an extreme case. Forget birthdays and other special occasions. I use food to reward myself for a plethora of average accomplishments. Like still being alive at the end of the day. Oddly enough, I'll even reward myself with a cookie for having a healthy breakfast earlier. (So now you see why I used the term "mental illness?") Indulging in food when I feel I deserve it is something that I will have to struggle to be conscious of, probably my entire life. When I had my miscarriage a few months ago, I wasn't even aware of how I let go. Even though I wasn't obviously downtrodden about the experience, I still told myself "I deserve this. Look what I just went through. Now is not the time for discipline." It's different than emotional eating. It's excusing and reasoning unhealthy habits, and convincing myself it's a deserved present. 
Note to self: Newsflash! Getting fat is not a gift. And it's not your birthday everyday. 

I don't mean to scare all my skinny friends, but this is how I think: Being skinny is awesome. You have no problems. You always feel great in your body. Everyone adores you instantly. I know this isn't true, but my mind certainly goes there. It takes a lot to admit this when I take pride in not being victim to society's messages about our bodies. But
Note to self: Being thin is not Moshiach. It will feel great, but you will not turn into a unicorn.

I know that some people are blessed with speedfast metabolisms and the ability to eat whatever they want with no proof on their tiny frames. But the truth is that most people who maintain great figures and healthy bodies DO have to work at it. I realized I have this ill mindset when I caught myself repeatedly telling my skinny (and drop dead gorgeous) sister "Why don't you just eat that? Your thin!" and "Seriously why are you being so disciplined, you've got an amazing figure!" What was I really expressing? This notion that skinny people are gifted with this magical spell that allows them to be reckless without any effect on their bodies. This would explain why every time I lose some weight I eat like a pig, unconsciously succumbing to this non-existant magical spell. 
Note to self: Being skinny takes work. This is not a Houdini show.

Often, when I diet successfully and lose a little weight, I start to feel really awesome. Like, wow, I did it. So I reward. I let go. I lose sight. And the weight I'm so convinced can't possibly come from this little "reward" creeps on unexpectedly and the cycle repeats. 
Note to self: You may be awesome, but you're not skinny. Reach your goal and then we'll talk about throwing you a little party. 

Ever since I was in high school, dieting was cool. Whether you were the girl not putting sugar in her coffee (wow, she's so disciplined!) or the gal keeping a legitimate food diary, there was always this certain "chic" image that went along with going to great lengths to lose weight. Maybe it's because these people in my life were always skinny to begin with? :) Either way, I always wanted that to be me. This notion has always led me to fad diets, and often unbalanced ones. So this time around, I am not dieting. I am taking the coolness out of it. Instead, I am just doing what I need to do to get where I need to be. 
Note to self: "Diet" is your new four-letter-word. Use with caution. 

Once I'm eating, I just. don't. stop. I love food. I repeat: I LOVE food. But the truth is, when I sit down to eat, it's more like turning an engine on. The smells and tastes just keep rushing in, giving me a sort of high that prevents me from pressing the "you're full" button.
Note to self: You are inhaling your food. Stop eating like there are ten starving Mimi's nestled inside of you. 

I'm a socialite, so I always like to join up with others when it comes to diet and exercise. I try and drag my friends into it. My husband. Someone who will share the burden of discipline I just can't seem to handle myself. Will you exercise with me? Let's report to each other. What are you doing? I'll do it, too. But this really just reflects an inability to take control...of my own overweight self.
Note to self: If you want to lose weight, it's going to have to be exactly that: YOU.

I don't have a good place to walk. It doesn't fit into my schedule. We need to live near a Trader Joe's. I work too hard to give this energy. I need better walking shoes. The weather is bad. I was hungry and there was nothing else to eat. It's Shabbos. I might as well say, "I just don't want to." I mean, seriously. 
Note to self: Everything is as right as it ever will be. All you need is to want it. 

Okay, phew. It feels good to get that all out in writing. Thanks for listening. I welcome all your insights, advice, book recommendations, recipes...and I also want to hear if you relate to any of this— if you've conquered any of these bad habits yourself! 

Because of all these deeply engrained mental pitfalls, I feel like finally losing real weight is going to be like moving a mountain. I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of bad habits like not sitting down to eat, skipping breakfast and picking at my kids' food. But, alas, the most overarching epiphany is just the absolute grossness I feel when I fall so low. And reminding myself of that -- coupled with a new awareness about my lifelong downfalls -- is already working to get my tush into gear (I waited to see some success before I wrote this!). So here's some good news to round this up and accelerate more progress: I have lost 4 lbs since last Monday!  


A very special shout out to my smart, sensitive and supportive sister Mushky for being there for me through this process—for helping me make the right conclusions and get active, but mostly for rooting me on along the way! Soon I will be borrowing your clothes, mark my word.


11 LadyMama voices:

Esther said... [Reply to comment]

#3 is totally me, I use food as a reward for everything, and I deserves rewards more than I would like to say is really what I deserve.
Good luck Mimi, maybe I will get inspired by u on this, even that #10 always kills my excitement when I get 100000 excuses a minute

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

i just want you to know that a while ago i was looking at your pictures (yes, i was stalking you!) and i was thinking, i wish i looked like that. you are statuesque. dont be so tough on yourself. you look great. and im not just saying this to boost your ego.

Princess Lea said... [Reply to comment]

I'm also tall, and I also always have had to watch myself.

There is such a feeling of accomplishment when pounds disappear and don't reappear. I did it gradually over the years, but I have managed to keep a major chunk of weight at bay for quite some time.

I also love food, and to get myself to portion control was REALLY hard. It was horrible. But then, after a week of agony, suddenly it wasn't hard anymore.

The thing is, since I am single, it is easier. I noticed every time my siblings show up with their kids my discipline goes out the window. It's hard with little kids around to keep to the straight and narrow - that is what I have to tackle next!

Fashion-isha said... [Reply to comment]

I absolutely love the honesty here. You sound so much like me, and probably a lot of women! I wish you all the luck I know you'll be successful!!
ps just wait until you're in your 40's when diets cease to work at all...and I mean really! Aargh!!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Shkoach! May I ask how you are working towards losing the weight? I joined an all women's fitness club after gaining 20 lbs this year which was a lot even on my 5"9 frame. There, I got some nutrition planning and education about eating. Now I eat way more often than I did but of foods that make my metabolism faster. I can even have a cheat day where I eat whatever I want (which actually recharges the metabolism). This sort of approach is documented here- NOT my blog, but a similar approach:
Good luck!

shayna said... [Reply to comment]

Mimi, I appreciate your goal.of.wanting to lose weight and have a certain body, but what would happen if you just ate to be healthy whatever thar meant....?

leah said... [Reply to comment]

hahaha!! u have an awesome sense of humor that many a skinny ppl dont get close to! HA! good luck! quinoa rocks btw!

Sarah said... [Reply to comment]

You just blew my mind. I need to print this out and hang it on my fridge!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I love it! Such an honest and funny article! Keep it up:) I think we all struggle with body image. As they say though "knowing the problem is half the solution" wishing u much success sista!

Ira kroll said... [Reply to comment]

It's not just the ladies who have these issues. I own each and every one of the ten you've listed.

I'm guilty! Of. Each. One!

Don't think that men aren't subject to body-image problems. We can't be strong enough, ripped enough, can't have enough stamina or speed.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I think we all have the same problem! I find myself excuses all the time to eat like a pig! In September I lost a little more than 6 pounds and suddenly I had my uncle and cousin for the weekend and I found myself excuses to eat sugar in EVERYTHING! At the end of the WE I weighted myself and I had gained nothing so that was basically another reason for continuing what I was doing... I think I'm mentally ill too!