Desperately seeking a dose of self confidence

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but self confidence is a precious commodity—one that’s not easy to find. You’d think it would come automatically once you’ve found your inner skinny girl (or skinnier girl anyway), but that’s not necessarily true.

Not true at all, actually.

I have a friend who’s lost 40 pounds (no, not me). She’s dropped three sizes and gained a whole lot of healthy habits I can only pretend to emulate. And you know what she said to me? She feels fatter, uglier than ever.

Why? Because while she’s thinner, she’s not nearly as thin as she thinks she could be—as she thinks she wants to be. She’s not shopping in the plus sizes anymore—but she’s not shopping in the itty bitty teeny weeny bikini department either.

And every time she turns around, she sees someone she thinks is thinner. Maybe, just maybe, cuter. And in her mind? Better.

How do I know? Because I think the same way.

See, when I was heavy, I was comfortable with myself. Don’t get me wrong—I hated being fat. Hated looking in the mirror and seeing what I’d become. But I knew where I stood. Those skinny girls? No way I could compete.

Nope, I was fairly invisible. Men’s gazes just kinda skated right on by. Everyone’s did, really.  And that was okay by me. There is power in anonymity.

But once the weight came off, so did the invisibility cloak. People looked at me—and when they did, they saw me, including all five bazillion ways I didn’t – don’t – measure up to Miss Teeny Weeny Bikini. And that? Very, very bad for the ego.

In fact, I’ve spent the last month struggling with that very thing. That failure—real or imaginary—to compete with the woman I think I should be. It doesn’t help that I’ve been pulling 70 hour workweeks, neglecting my workouts and my diet. Or that I’m up a pound.

But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is inside my head. And I’m not sure how to fix it. I know I can’t let my inner demons bring me down. But I don’t know how to shut them up, either. Or how to get my Inner Goddess out of the funk she’s currently in.

Until I figure it out, I’m just going to take some advice my grandma once gave me: flash the world your best smile and it’ll be too dazzled to see the quaking mess that’s hiding behind it. So far, it’s working.


What does skinny look like?

In the short time since I began this blog, I’ve talked a lot about how much weight I’ve lost in the last eleven months. Forty-five pounds, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention.

That’s how much the average 6-year-old girl (and sixteen-year-old model) weighs.

That makes me a size 10—which, as I was recently reminded by a reader, does not make me skinny by society’s standards.

What does it make me? Healthy. Happy. And hot in the eyes of my husband.

It puts the strut back in my walk.

The waist back above my hips.

The chin back in my face.

You get the idea.

But a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words, so see for yourself:

Here’s a full-length shot of me last March.
Me. March 2007.

And one taken two weeks ago.
On the Carnival Legend. April 2008.

Me in all my chipmunk-cheeked splendor last year.
Me. march 2007.

And a goofy picture of me enjoying my lunch.

Amber. 2008.

So. That’s what skinny looks like to me. My version of skinny certainly won’t put me on the cover of a magazine—but it will keep me from becoming part of the dreadful obese person B-roll that pops up on the evening news.

Now it’s your turn.

What does skinny look like to you?

Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 7:26 pm  Comments (4)  

The. Best. Compliment. Ever.

It was 9:15 in the morning. I’d gotten up late. Realized there wasn’t a drop of caffeine to be had in the house. Dug through the laundry basket desperately searching for something (anything) that wasn’t too wrinkly to wear. Then gotten stuck behind a school bus that. stopped. every. twenty. feet. on my way to work.

In a word, I was Crabby.

And I had a meeting in 15 minutes.

There was only one thought running through my mind—Get Me Coffee. Now.

Nevertheless, when on my sprint to the coffee shop I noticed some coworkers I hadn’t seen in a long time entering the building, I paused to wave hello.

But they didn’t wave back. Instead, they just stared vaguely in my direction. Snarly thoughts were already forming at the back of my brain when they finally reacted.

“Amber! I didn’t even recognize you!” one said. Better yet, their next comment  included the word “hot.”

Apparently, between the advantageously blowing wind, new clothes and vacation-fresh tan, I looked, well, good!

Now, I know I’ve lost a lot of weight. And I’ve gotten a LOT of compliments (thank you, all of you, I really appreciate it). But since they’ve all come from people that see me all the time (and have heard me whine endlessly) there’s still a little part of me that insists I don’t look that much different. That they’re just being nice.

But this time? Not even I could come up with a reason to negate their praise.

Needless to say, my day (heck, my entire week) got a whole lot brighter after that.

Thank you, you two. You know who you are.

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 9:51 pm  Comments (1)  

Cruising with your inner skinny girl

Last week, I found myself faced with the biggest diet challenge ever invented—the cruise vacation.

Those stories you hear? The ones that start with “I went on a cruise” and end with “and gained 25 pounds in seven days?”

Probably not an exaggeration.

Food is everywhere. All the time. Want a greasy slab of pizza and a Chicago dog at 3 a.m.? No problem. A six-egg omelet, loaf of French toast and an entire side of bacon for breakfast? It’s yours for the asking.

Go ahead. Ask for two entrees. Get three pina coladas before breakfast. There are no limits, people. None at all.

So what’s a girl who just bought a whole new wardrobe to do?

Get good at ignoring that inner five-year-old. And establish some pretty strict ground rules:

  1. Keep to a regular meal schedule. In other words, go for three squares, not eight.
  2. Save the drinks until it’s actually 5 o’clock. The bar staff is everywhere—get a drink every time they come around and it’s easy to consume 598234643987568534 calories before lunch.
  3. Set a one buffet trip per meal limit. This one’s tough. But important. Before you ever pick up a plate, walk around every buffet counter available to evaluate your choices (there are lots of them). Then make a decision and stick to it. Fill up your plate once and only once. Then leave (it’s easier not to cave that way).
  4. YOU CAN ONLY HAVE ONE DESSERT. Would you have three at home? No. So don’t start doing it now.
  5. Remember, fruit is your friend. And it’s the one healthy snack that’s always available.
  6. There’s a gym. Use it. Just remember, the boat’s moving. So when you’re running on a treadmill, it’s best to hang on. Trust me on this one.

Those were the rules. And I stuck to them…for the most part. However, I’m going to avoid the scale for a few days. I don’t think I’d like what it has to say right now.

Published in: on April 21, 2008 at 5:55 pm  Comments (2)  

Cue the Jaws Music

This past Saturday, my husband and I made a little expedition up to The Mall.

To give you a little background, I used to looooove going to the mall. Shopping was one of my very favorite pastimes. But then, my Inner Fat Girl got loose. And when she did, clothing stores, along with their dressing rooms, turned into torture chambers filled with funhouse mirrors.

I cried. I threw tantrums. And finally, I just stopped going. Before Saturday, I hadn’t been on a Serious Shopping Trip in almost three years.

The night before, I was so anxious, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up in a foul mood and snarled at my husband all the way to the mall. When we stepped inside the first store (H&M, in case you’re curious), I was convinced everybody was staring at me—wondering if I’d gotten lost on my way to the fat girl store. By the time I actually found myself in a fitting room, I was well on my way to having a nervous breakdown.

But then something amazing happened. I pulled on a skirt, sucked in my stomach and pulled up the zipper. And…it zipped.

At first, I thought it was a fluke.

So I tried on another skirt. And a couple of shirts. And then some more skirts. And more shirts—this time, button downs. And even, feeling really brave, some pants.

And they fit. They didn’t all look good, but they zipped, buttoned, fastened…generally covering the areas they were supposed to cover without making my body look like a stress ball that’s been squished one too many times.

In the end, I bought seven shirts and two skirts at H&M.

And that was just the beginning.

In fact, I managed to spend more money in a single day than I’ve spent on clothes in the last three years combined. I even got a bathing suit. Not a bikini (no one needs to see that), but a bathing suit.

It felt good.

My husband, bless his heart, soldiered through the day without a single word of complaint. He waited patiently outside fitting rooms, giving advice when asked, keeping his mouth shut when he wasn’t.

But when we finally arrived home, he got very, very drunk—something he doesn’t do very often.

I think I’ll drag some of my girlfriends next time.

Published in: on March 25, 2008 at 2:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Another failed plan

The key to a successful diet is careful planning. Especially when it comes to eating out. I know that. In fact, I almost always get online to look at a restaurant’s menu to see what I can “legally” eat before I go.

I went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. When I go to a Mexican place, I always get chicken fajitas, minus the tortillas. That costs me 6 or 7 points (I’m a Weight Watchers kinda girl). And that’s what I ordered today.

But that’s not what I got. When our order came out, the server presented me with steak fajitas. Now, the logical thing to do would have been to send it back. So is that what I did?


I didn’t want to wait for them to cook another batch.

I didn’t want my husband to feel like he couldn’t eat his meal.

Most of all, I didn’t want to have to tell the server he made a mistake. I’m not good with confrontations.

So I ate it. After all, I thought, how bad can steak be for you?

The answer? Very bad. That stupid cow meat doubled the points value of my meal.

And you know what that means? It means I have to have 0 point soup and salad without dressing for dinner. Mmmm, scrumptious.

So, what have we learned today?

First, I need to grow a spine.

And second, even the best plan in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t stick to it.

Published in: on March 18, 2008 at 7:22 pm  Comments (1)  

The pics that started it all.

A picture, as the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. So I’m going to be brave and post a couple of the photos that were my undoing—or maybe my doing? I don’t know.

However, thanks to my persistent begging, the powers-that-be have granted my request to have new photos taken. I’m sure they won’t be as spiffy as these, but if they turn out at all good, I’ll post ‘em so y’all can see where I’m at now.

I can’t figure out how to make them look pretty here, so until I do, I’ll put them on Shutterfly. Here’s the link:

Published in: on March 18, 2008 at 3:47 pm  Comments (1)  

Fast Forward

So here we are in March 2008.

I finally sent my outer fat girl packing. To date, I’ve lost 43 pounds. I’m still not the skinny bitch I used to be, but I can look at myself in the mirror.

And when I do, I can see my collar bone. And my pelvic bones. And the outline of my ribs. Parts of my body that I didn’t realize were missing until they suddenly reappeared.

Of course, there was no “suddenly” about it. It’s been a looooong haul. A whole year filled with hunger pangs, sore muscles and yes, the occasional tantrum ( I get cranky when I’m hungry).

I’m not done yet, either. I’ve got at least another seven pounds to go. At least.

But I’m more than a little bit proud of myself for getting this far. Now, when I’m standing in front of my closet thinking I’ve got nothing to wear, it’s because my clothes are too big. I had to punch a new hole in my belt. Last night, I even slid my jeans off without even bothering to unbutton them.

And that, my friends, made it all worthwhile.

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 10:48 pm  Comments (3)  

One Year Later…

In 2006, I realized I was fat. So you’d think I’d go on a diet. Immediately.

You’d think.

Instead, I spent a whole ‘nother year feeding my face. Watching my ass grow. Unbuttoning my pants when they got too tight, and when even that failed to provide relief, buying bigger ones.

Sometimes, I even managed to convince myself I looked good. Like, for instance, the day I was part of a real live photo shoot. It was the real deal, complete with makeup artists, hair stylists, great lighting—even a fan to do that sexy blowing hair thing.

I thought I looked hot.

Until I got the pictures back.

I didn’t recognize myself. I couldn’t believe that the person in the photo was me. It was, to put it lightly, a bad day.

And that’s when I decided to do something about it. Decided to put down the ice cream and pick up my running shoes.

Decided to set my inner skinny girl free.

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Beginning of the End

Two years ago, I realized I was fat. On that terrible day, I published the following post.

Swallowed Whole

I’m not sure when it happened. Or how. One minute, I stood among the young and cute. Weighing in at 130 pounds, I posed proudly in my string bikini. Wriggled into teeny tiny jeans and tight little tops. Placed more value on the salty taste of sweat falling off my brow than the sweet, chocolatey taste of cookies.

But then, something changed. My inner fat girl got loose. I never saw her coming. Not her dimpled butt cheeks and jiggly belly. Never got a glimpse of her over-inflated boobs. And certainly never noticed that puffy face.

Until the morning I woke up and discovered she had swallowed me whole.

Oh sure, there were moments. Moments that had I paid attention, would have set the alarm bells ringing. Like the day my size 6 jeans no longer zipped up. Definitely the morning my size 12s admitted defeat. Or the moment I realized my breasts were bursting out of my bra – and I wasn’t pregnant. Surely I should have noticed when ice cream began making a nightly appearance. Or when the dog ate my running shoes – and I didn’t realize it for a whole month.

Moments like those should have gotten my attention.

Instead, there were excuses. Work was stressful. And I was busy. I didn’t have time to exercise. Or to eat right. My medication made me gain weight. Or the dryer had shrunk my pants. I’d fix it. Tomorrow. Next week. Or next year. I’d lose it by Christmas. By summer. Definitely by my birthday.

Guess what? I’m still fat. Still shopping at Lane Bryant for my fat girl pants. Still hooving chocolate chip ice cream (although now it’s lite) while sitting on my flabby ass. Still feeling invisible – or even worse, way too obviously fat in a sea of skinny girls.

My mom could probably fit in those size 6’s I have packed away. My dad’s definitely in better shape than me. My best friend now holds my skinny girl status. While I remain, according to my husband, “just a little bit fat.”

I’m tired of it. Sick to death of it. If I could take a knife and just carve away all the excess flab, I would do it. But getting rid of the fat girl isn’t that easy. She holds on tight. Gives way slowly. And she’s always ready to stage a comeback.

I’ve thought about doing everything. Weight Watchers. South Beach. Hypnosis. Nutrisystem. Slim Fast. I’ve even (briefly) toyed with the idea of becoming bulimic. All I know is it’s a war I can’t afford to lose. Even though it’s a battle I don’t really want to fight.

I’ve been swallowed by a fat girl. When you see me, know that the skinny me, the real me, is still screaming inside. But someday, one day soon, I’m going to break free into the light.

I look forward to seeing you all then. But until that day comes, be nice to fat girls. We all have a skinny girl hiding within.

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment