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How to break the weight loss = self worth equation?

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Old 02-03-2011, 04:12 PM   #1
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Default How to break the weight loss = self worth equation?

Hopefully this is the right forum to post this in...Sorry this is long, but hopefully someone can relate!

So, I'm about 135 right now, and originally that was my goal weight, but I've been thinking lately that I want to go down a bit more, to maybe 127 or so. I'm not going to lie, it's almost purely for vanity reasons, albeit a little bit b/c I think it may improve my running.

Anyway, i've been at 135 since last July, and I have just not been able to get under 134. My body, it seems, is very comfortable at 135 (after having lost about 60 lbs). And it sounds ridiculous, but while I'm at a size 6 now, I'd love to get to a 4. Part of me figures, I'm young (25), single, besides my job no big responsibilities or anyone to look after, if there's a time to reach that dream weight, it's now. At the same time, it's become abundantly clear these last few months that if i really want to get that low, I'm going to have to be very, very strict. Gone are the days where I could go off plan on the wknd, be back to normal by Tuesday, and be a lb or two lower by Friday.

So part of me is thinking (and other people are telling me as well), why bother? I mean I'm at a very healthy weight, my body has enough fuel that I can run about 25 miles a week, I can still allow myself the splurge (particularly on wknds when I do my long runs of 10+ miles), and I want to have a healthy, normal relationship with food where I'm not just eating on plan 100% of the time and can have a burger and a couple beers on the wknds with friends.

The other part of me, however, really wants to get below 130. I know it's for stupid reasons - I look at other girls who are below that weight and I pine to have that body type. I look at my huge, muscley thighs (or what I think are huge, at a size 6) and just think "if only i get lose 5-10 more lbs, then I'd be happy."

I was talking to my coworker today who is about 10 years older than me, married, and doing weight watchers, mainly b/c she wants to get healthy and have a baby (i.e. not for vanity reasons). She thinks I'm crazy for wanting to get lower and she told me something that struck a chord - she told me I have to stop basing my self-worth on my body weight. She said that while her husband could get a thinner wife, he couldn't get one as fabulous as she is, mentioning how she knows how funny she is, etc. She did admit that some of that wisdom just comes with age, but I can't really do anything about that!

I'm at a healthy weight, so why, if on any given morning, if the scale is up a couple pounds (most likely due to water weight) do I let it ruin my whole attitude that day and make me feel crummy about myself? I lost 60 lbs - something I've been trying to do for about 10 years. I feel huge and not attractive. On the flip side, if the week after I go low carb, stay strictly on plan, drink a ton of water and am suddenly down 3-4 lbs, i feel on top of the world, like I have the most self-confidence, even though I know, deep down, it was mostly just water weight that I lost, and that no one on the planet could probably tell a difference.

after spending a year devoting so.much.energy. to losing those 60 lbs and meticulously counting calories consumed and calories spent, and getting addicted to the thrill of seeing a lower number on the scale and for the first experiencing the thrill of getting noticed by the opposite sex (including the man who i had a crush on for 3+ years), how do i break the equation that low weight = self worth and happiness? I think back to myself at 60+ lbs and am absolutely mortified and can't believe I let myself get that way in the first place!
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Old 02-03-2011, 04:16 PM   #2
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You need to move your focus outside yourself. Volunteer in a nursing home, or a senior center or a food pantry. Being of service to others is a great way to put things in perspective. Through working with older people you'll see that yes - losing sixty pounds was an amazing gift for your body but losing 6 pounds doesn't matter. The United Way is a good clearing house for volunteer opportunities, or even just calling around to places or asking at school can help you find a good place to be of service to someone beyond yourself.
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Old 02-03-2011, 04:22 PM   #3
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Congrats on getting to your original goal weight! It is hard sometimes not to compare ourselves to others and want to lose a bit more weight thinking that everything will be "fine" then. If you want to lose the 6-7 pounds, then I say do it...but do it in a healthy way, and do it because you want to be healthier than you are at your current weight...and I'm sure you are very healthy weight-wise right if you are 5'6" and 135 pounds (I am 5'8" and 'normal' weight for me is 165, so you should be just fine ). But, don't stress out about it and think that an extra 6 pounds lost is going to make the world a most wonderous place with no worries
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:12 PM   #4
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it is so true if we help others it really makes us feel good about ourselves,
I was 132 once and desperatley wanted to be under 130, now I look at myself and wonder if I was insane back then becuase I let that matter soooo much.


We will be happier when, we get married, have kids, kids go to school, kids move out, get divorced, lose 5 more pounds, make more money get a better job, go to school, finish school, get a new car, get a new house, get a bigger better newer house, wear a size 12, wear a size 6 wear a size 18.
You lost 60 pounds congrats!!! Live in today be happy with where you are at and that is the secret to living life being happy.

Call a freind a sister/brother/mother you fill in the blank and ask them what you can do for them today! You may be surprised at the response.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:24 PM   #5
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It might be an age thing.

I think you've done an amazing thing with your 60 lbs gone (congratulations!) and it sounds like you think that if you're under 130 or at 127, that's going to make you feel better about yourself.

It won't.

It might get really unhealthy (you might want to be under 125, then under 120, then...) or worse yet, you will feel very bad all the time because your body simply won't take you under a particular weight.

If you really want to run better and faster, that's a question of technique, it's not a question of another 5 lbs. Maybe in training for a faster time or a longer stride or a longer race, you might lose that weight, but that's not about what the scale is showing you.

With weight training you may find that you can fit a size 4, with no weight loss at all.

But either way, even if you are under a certain weight, you have the body that you have. Your muscley thighs won't necessarily shrink. The weight that you lose may come from other parts of your body.

I hope you find happiness and fabulousness in your current body. It's okay to be happy and wonderful that you've lost all this weight and that you'll never gain it back. I hope you find a way to enjoy what you have right now.
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:02 PM   #6
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I will reply although I do struggle with this at times myself (see a post from me two days ago). Really, if losing the weight is something you want to do, then by all means, do it. However, my question is what is the difference between the 60 that you have already lost and the 5-10 that you are looking at? From your post it seems like you are saying that if you really wanted to do it, then you would go back to being meticulous and do it (like the first 60 pounds), but you really don't want to throw that kind of effort into it because you like your current lifestyle. Am I reading that wrong?

The thing is, the dissatisfaction you feel right now can be applied to anything in life. It's just showing up as a weight issue. Happiness is a mindset that you make happen (sometimes in spite of current circumstances). There will always be something to pin your dissatisfaction on. Say you lose the weight, what will become the focus then? Will it be another 5-10 pounds or your job, car?

I'll get to my goal weight (i've been there before) but due to having kids I'll be different than before. Will I then get surgery to correct breasts and my other imperfections (not knocking anyone whose had surgery)? As someone pointed out to me yesterday, even if I do reach the goal weight and size of my friend, I may not look like her. You have muscular legs, what if you still have muscular legs and don't look like the other girls even at the same weight?

I am just sharing my experience with you. I have been at my goal weight and thought I was fat. Now, when I reach it again will I think I'm fat again?
I've had the same situation with other areas of life. My hubby of 11 years used to make half the money he makes now. Then, I thought if only he made a little more money. He now makes twice as much and do you know what happened? Our lifestyle grew with his paycheck. I make a conscious effort to look around me and to look at what I have compared to then rather than all the things I want. Crazy thing? We move often (every 3 years or sometimes more often) when our house gets packed up, sometimes we are living out of suitcases for a couple of weeks and I find that sometimes I don't even miss half the stuff I think of as a necessity.

My son used to refuse to eat by mouth (he has a feeding tube). I used to think "if i could only get him to eat by mouth, even pureed food, I would be happy". Now he does and I want him chewing. I have to make myself see how far he's come rather than only focusing on the next goal I want him to reach.

I have acquaintances who are really into fashion and make up etc. I'm just not. Haven't ever been. However, my hubby knows when I spend a lot of time with them because I start to ask him questions about if he likes my clothes? Does he wish I would wear more make up?

My cure for the dissatisfaction? I have a couple.
1. I greet my day or end my day looking at the ways that my life is good (rather than what I lack).
2. I spend some time with someone (friend or volunteering) who is in some way in more need that me and then I try to make a difference in their day.
3. Discontent is contagious and so is happiness. I try to watch who I spend my time with. Your friend from work sounds like a great person to be around. She seems to be able to give you some perspective when you need it. On the flip side, if you are always hanging out with someone who is always complaining about their thighs despite their level of fitness and their size of clothing, then you are likely turning some of that overly critical consideration on yourself.

You know how they have those studies that say that if your friends are overweight, you are too? and how spouses gain weight together? It's because you adapt each other's lifestyle and perspectives (I think that was the take home message of it).
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:57 PM   #7
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Losing 60 lbs is a huge accomplishment. And for a long time it gave you a sense of purpose while you were doing it, and it gave you a sense of accomplishment when it was done. Totally legit, and WTG!

But don't you have anything ELSE in your life that gives you a sense of purpose? Or a sense of accomplishment?

I think you sound fine at your size, but you seem to want that old feeling back -- where you feel proud and good about something you accomplished.

Rather than trying to fill that need with the old thing, I'd suggest looking at your life and finding purpose again elsewhere. Work, volunteering, learning new skills, tending to your spirituality, running 5ks for a hobby...whatever it is.

Because it isn't weight loss any more and deep down you know it CANNOT be. If you can't be satisfied at a healthy 6, and chase the 4, how will you know you will be happy there? Are you going to chase the 2 next? You can't lose all the way to 0 lbs! And giving up a healthy achievement to start chasing unhealthy behaviour... that's not cool.

Or maybe you want to stick with this because you are secretly "avoiding" the next step?

Living with maintaining -- which isn't as "exciting" as losing -- all this work to ... stay the same.

Or avoiding doing the things you wanted to do at goal weight because while you were losing it seemed comfortable and far off, where now maybe it seems scary up close? (Dating? Something else?)

If you can tell yourself you are "still busy losing" then you can postpone tackling the next thing. You don't have to do your "goal weight" things you wanted to do because you "are not at goal yet." Is that it?

If it's body image stuff... try reading Real Gorgeous by Kaz Cooke. It's funny, and gives a person perspective. Make peace with the body you have and enjoy it!

My 2 cents,
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:16 PM   #8
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What is your value now? Will you be more valuable with more weightless? And how do you determine your value/worth? What else is in your life that helps you to determine your worth? Self image is hard to be objective about. When I got married I thought I needed to be 10lbs lighter...now I would be very happy at that weight. We have a warped view of ourselves when we have spent a good deal of our lives critazing and not liking us. You need to find the people that matter to you and can be honest with you to determine if you need to lose more. Even asking your doctor. You need to be sure you NEED to lose more, if its healthy for you. Especially if you are running alot!

Congrats on your success! Be proud of what you have accomplished. Then determine how more weight will matter...will you be worth more?
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:50 PM   #9
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At a certain point it becomes pretty difficult to lose fat. Your hormones work against you big time. Simply dropping calories and increasing exercise which is what your natural tendency might be can cause problems. Google amenorrhea if you don't already know what that is.

If you still want to drop to 125 I'd suggest looking into Lyle McDonald's Ultimate Diet 2. Not for the faint of heart it is an effective way for lean people to get leaner.

Hitting on the self esteem issue - recognize that most all the females you see on TV or in magazines have superior genetics for being lean and/or eating disorders. (Just like most of men have superior genetics and/or are using steroids.)
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:55 PM   #10
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I just want to send out a warning for you to be careful. I was on this forum a couple of years ago talking about losing just a bit more. I was the same weight as you, 135, and just wanted to be 125... and then 120. Then 118, 115,113... I got down to 97 pounds and let me just say it was disgusting. I was afraid to eat. I cried because my friend forced me to eat a salad. With no dressing! I'm not saying this will happen to you, but I do want you to be aware that once you get into that mind frame, it can become a problem.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:13 PM   #11
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I'm in the exact same boat as you, AlexandraT, and I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I can't offer up any helpful advice, but know that misery loves company and I am right there with you. The power of arbitrary numbers is a strong power indeed, and vanity is pretty much the only thing keeping me from being satisfied with my weight.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:20 PM   #12
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I know what you mean. I recently lost 25 pounds and am now 135 and size 6. Now, I think, oh I can get to 125, but I'm really not trying to lose. I am only trying to get that last bit of flab around my lower stomach and hips to tone up, but I know to do so I still probably need to drop just a little more. We were in the mindset for so long that we need to see the scale go down that I think psychologically it's hard for us to imagine not trying to lose weight, but only trying to maintain. The thing is, even if you get to 127, next you are going to want to get below 125, then probably below 120.

I would say, step off the scale for awhile. Stop looking at the number, focus more on what else is going on in your life and what you want to do with your body, not necessarily your weight. I don't really weigh myself as much anymore, just to make sure I am maintaining around 135, but I just try and focus on getting my body to tone. If you really feel good in your body than you can keep up with the working out and you will continue to tone, but you don't need to try and get the scale to move because you are already healthy. Keep working out like you do, but stop paying so much attention to the weight and pay more attention to life outside of the gym Like others said, just be careful that you don't keep wanting to go smaller and smaller until it gets unhealthy.

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Old 02-04-2011, 11:19 AM   #13
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First of all, WOW. Thank you everyone for your responses! It’s nice knowing there are others out there who have experienced / are experiencing similar issues.

I also def. appreciate all the advice. While I’d like to say I’d never want to get below 125 or 120 once I get below 130, or below a size 4, I guess I can’t say that unless I actually get to that point. I didn’t really think I’d really want to be under 135, and here I am!

I think moving forward I’m just going to keep plugging along, do my best diet and exercise-wise in hopes of getting below the 130, but to not kill myself over it, and to really focus on the other parts of my life that I’ve probably been neglecting the last year or so.

Some of you suggested finding something else I’m passionate about that I can focus on since I no longer have the thrill of accomplishment. Fortunately, I now do have running that has given me that. A year ago I couldn’t run a mile, and now I’m training to improve my PR on my second half marathon at the end of March, and I absolutely do have an amazing sense of accomplishment after a particularly long or grueling run. Besides the physical benefits of running, it’s also given me a lot of confidence, and I think I need to think of other parts of my life that I can be grateful for and proud of, as well as my other personal traits that make me a worthy human being, aside from being a size 6.
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:28 AM   #14
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I went through the same thing, all the way down to 109lbs. Yet I was as miserable as ever. Now I'm at 130 and with a husband and baby, I'm much happier, even though I weigh nearly 20lbs more (still normal weight!).

So I took up a hobby - I took up weightlifting. It seems like you have taken up running. That's great Sometimes when we are younger and single, we are much more focused on aesthetics than when we are older and 'ball & chained' (:P). I know I was. That's probably the perspective she was coming from.

Rather than focusing on a scale #, put your energies into fitness goals. Those are much more tangible, and much more fun to achieve, and best of all, something that can always improve as well as enhance your physique. Losing scale weight at your current weight will just become 'skinny', rather than 'fit'. Work on getting fit.
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Old 02-04-2011, 12:28 PM   #15
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You sound very healthy. You've lost sixty pounds!!! You wear a size six!!! I wonder what percentage of the population wears a size six. You run 25 miles per week and can do a ten mile run. That's fantastic!!! I'm guessing you are the envy of a lot of people.

Be happy where you are. I lost a lot of weight once. (129LBS) My original goal was 145. Then I wanted to get down to 135. I think I made it to 136 briefly. I could not sustain it. I think I lost mostly muscle. I had to sit down when I was shopping because I felt like I would fall down. Turns out my potassium was real low. When I look back and I have may times. I realize that I should have been happier when I was a size eight and seemed to stay at the same weight forever. At that weight I watched what I ate and WALKED six miles or more per day. I could splurge occasionally and not gain. After my unhealthy drop down to 136 when I started eating more again I put on weight, got frustrated, quit exercising enough, started eating unhealthy food and though it took a long time eventually gained back most of the weight I had lost.
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