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.

Maintaining is the hardest thing

It’s 7:30 a.m. Friday morning. Time to face the music. Or, rather, the numbers. I’m standing in front of my scale, heart beating loudly in my chest, trying to get the nerve to step on board.

“Please, please, please don’t let it be bad news. Please don’t let it be bad news. No bad news, not today,” I chant.

Finally, there’s nothing to do but do it. So I close my eyes, hold my breath and wait for the digital demon to do its thing.

Thankfully, the gods have decided to be merciful. My weight’s exactly the same. In fact, it’s stayed steady for a whole month now—I seem to be actually getting this maintaining thing down.

Now, in a perfect world, I’d still be losing. I still have ten more to go. But given everything else I’ve got going on right now, I decided to take a little break from the whole diet business.

Instead, I’m trying to just live. And good lord is that scary.

There’s something very comforting about being on a diet. When I’m working toward a goal, it’s easier to make myself do stuff I have no desire to do. Like ignore cravings for cake and eat carrots instead. Or go sweat at the gym after a 12-hour work day when I really want to go home and watch reruns of Scrubs.

But now that I’ve hit it? Well, for a while, it was great. People noticed. My clothes fit better. I felt better. But eventually, the novelty wore off. And now I’ve just got to keep on keeping on. With no real reward in sight.

Well, except for stress-free encounters with the scale.  Clothes that continue to fit.  And a self-confidence level that remains somewhat healthy.

All good things. But when I’m faced with a plate of brownies, or a grease-laden pizza, or am weighing the pros and cons of that second pint of beer, they’re hard to remember.

And the easy excuse, “I can’t because I’m on a diet,” is gone. Instead, I have to rely on the self-discipline that I’ve supposedly learned over the last year or so. And the healthy habits that are supposed to have burned themselves into my consciousness.

It doesn’t always work. I’ve eaten a few too many brownies lately. Blown off a few too many gym dates. Indulged in a pint or three. But I’m getting better about it. And I think I’m finding some balance.

But I still feel like I’m blundering about in the dark. And I remain just a little bit terrified.

After all, forever is a mighty long time to keep this up.

Published in: on June 9, 2008 at 3:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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Working out with the Worms

Every once in a while, I get tired of running to nowhere on the treadmill.

Sick to death of smelling that special gym-fresh rankness every exercise facility ever built seems to share.

Ready to quit the whole going-to-the-gym-to-sweat-profusely-and-hurt-incredibly routine.

In fact, over the past month and a half I’ve averaged oh, maybe two workouts a week. Max. Which ain’t nearly enough. But when burnout strikes…it hits hard. And I was fried.

Then, five yards of prime topsoil (and a bit of cow poo) landed on my driveway. Why? Because my blood runs a bit green. See, my mom is a Gardener. With a yard worthy of a magazine spread. And she taught me a house isn’t really a home until it’s surrounded by flowers o’ plenty.

Unfortunately, my house sits on top of a quarry. You can’t dig into rock. Or grow anything in it. Trust me. I tried. Thus, the giant dirt pile.

So what does that have to do with exercise, you ask?

Well, let me tell you, after 72 hours of shoveling, hauling, digging and planting, every muscle in my body hurts. And since gardening burns approximately 383 calories an hour, I killed something like seven bazillion calories.

If that’s not a workout, I don’t know what is.

And I feel good. Sore, sure. But I accomplished something—something Big. Something that I couldn’t have done if it weren’t for those muscles I spent so many hours building in the gym.

In fact, if I had gotten that same pile of dirt delivered this time last year, I would have had a heart attack—or at the very least, a pain-fueled temper tantrum—before the first wheelbarrow load got moved. And the results wouldn’t have been nearly so satisfying.

So what did I learn today?

First, you don’t have to go to the gym to get a workout. But all those exercise sessions I do put myself through inside that hall of torture? They’re way worth it.

So I guess I won’t cancel my membership just yet.

Published in: on June 2, 2008 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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