No Man’s Land

There was a moment on the weekend when I had a glimpse of what it was like to just have a body, as opposed to The Body, that Thing that I waste so much time and energy worrying about. I was with my gorgeous boy at a park, we’d had lunch with his family and were rolling hard-boiled eggs down a hill. I was watching some kids playing on the swings.

"I see you’re bursting for a go on those swings," said my boy with a grin.

"Me? Noooo. I don’t think that seat is designed for the likes of my arse."

"Of course it is! Let’s go!"

To my surprise, I fit on the seat with room to spare. The two of us swang back and forth, made lame jokes about always wanting to be swingers, tried to make our swings crash into each other and yelled at his parents like five year olds, "Look at me! Look at meeeeeee!". It was such a thrill to feel so active and un-self-conscious and… normal.

24 hours later, I was sitting there beside him on the couch, my feet up on the coffee table.

"I hate my feet."

"You shouldn’t hate your feet. They’re great feet. They do what they’re supposed to do. You shouldn’t hate any of your body. It gets you from A to B in style."

"Yeah yeahhhhh, you always say that."

"Don’t worry, the lecture is over!"

I never wanted to be one of those Does My Bum Look Big In This chicks. For the most part I’m not. I’m more of a, Don’t You Agree My Tits Look Good In This chick. But last night I was poles apart from the swinging chick. All I could do was think of my flaws and how much weight I still have left to lose and my seeming inability to lose it.

I’ve really been struggling for the past six months or so. I have been hovering around 90 kilos all that time and cannot seem to get any lower. I know that if I could just knuckle down and work really hard I could lose the 15 kilos I need to get to the top of my healthy weight range, perhaps by this time next year or even sooner.  If I could just tap into that determined, obsessive, all-or-nothing attitude that blasted away the last 60-something kilos, I know I could get there.

The thing is, the loss of that that passion/obsession for exercise and food has coincided with me finding, for the first time, just a passion/obsession for life itself. When I started this journey in 2001, losing weight was the entire focus of my life. It was pretty much all I had. I had withdrawn from my family and friends as I was so depressed about my weight, so when I finally decided to do something about it, it was a very private project with few interuptions.

But the more weight I lost the more confidence I gained, and I started to put together ‘a life’ of sorts. This past year, moving overseas has taken it to another level. I am just so excited to be here and to be experiencing so many new things. I have really come out of my shell and started to be more outgoing and adventurous, the person I always suspected I was under the lard suit. Some days I can’t believe I have a body that lets me be like this, the very same body that would hope her sister would pick up the mail so I wouldn’t have to walk all the way to the end of the driveway to the letterbox.

So yeah, I am just living it up now, so focused on friends and travel and love instead of losing weight being my entire existence. I know it’s a good thing to Get A Life, but as dumb as this will sound, there are days when I get frustrated at how I have let life get in the way of my weight loss. I’ve basically been maintaining since for six months – eating and exercising well for the most part, but eating out when I feel like it and only getting incidental exercise on the weekends coz I’m either working, sightseeing or getting cosy with the boy.

I can’t seem to find the right words to explain this strange mix of conflicting feelings I have about all this. It changes so quickly. There’s admiration and pride in myself and in body for all things it can do now because of my hard work, but it’s countered by frustration as I can’t seem to find the focus and determination to finish the job. One minute I am besotted with my new body and can’t stop staring at my collarbones in the mirror. A moment later I am cursing it, like my feet in yesterday’s case, which was just me indirectly saying "I am sick and tired of this whole lumpy mess of a body".

I know I need to take things up a notch if I want to shift more weight. I know I will need to focus. It’s just hard to do when for the first time in my life I have other things to be passionate about aside from losing weight. I am just stuck in this No Man’s Land, not dangerously obese anymore, not limited to elasticated pants, but still too big for my height and still unable to wear trendy clothes. Small enough to feel good about myself, but with the niggling knowledge that my jeans could be smaller than a size 18. I also think about the fact that a great percentage of diet bloggers have started their journey at my weight, or lower, yet here I am living it up like I’m already over the finish line.

And of course, it’s not just Having A Life that’s holding me back. There’s also fear. Fear that I won’t get smaller than this, fear because I’ve never been smaller than this in my adult life. Fear of actually getting off my arse and putting in the effort.

All that swinging and soul-searching has made me exhausted. That’ll do for now.

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17 thoughts on “No Man’s Land

  1. I’m going to make what might sound like a radical proposal here, but stick with me. Talk to your doctor and see how s/he feels about your current weight. Perhaps your weight is above the “recommended” level (which is junk anyway) but still perfectly healthy for you. If that’s the case, what about declaring a moratorium on trying to lose more FOR NOW and just enjoying what you’ve done/learning to maintain? If you happen to lose during that time, so be it, but just enjoy what you’ve done in the meantime. I make this suggestion because I was in much the same place as you a few years ago. I never felt satisfied, even after losing 110 pounds, and constantly told myself that I still needed to lose another 20 pounds. Sadly, I ended up gaining it all back (and more) AND never enjoyed it while I was there. Just a few bites of wisdom, for what they’re worth!

  2. Why not take the focus off the weight (Why dont I take my own advice!) and try focusing on your fitness level- which sounds perfectly fit!
    Perhaps you could set a goal to jog in a 5k road race? It’s alot of fun- it’s certainly not about racing- it’s about completing! Also you’d be joggin a bit and that so elevates the mood- and makes you feel like your Super Woman!
    Just a thought- Take care
    _

  3. Just sending hugs your way. I understand your exhaustion. It’s a fierce battle.

    Here’s to more swinging! Cheers.

  4. Ooh, it’s a toughie, but I do think that even if you were a wee Kylie-like thing, those same worries would be bothering you like moths round a porch light. Just don’t let that ruin all the good Life stuff. You’ve done incredibly well – and I’m sure you will continue to do so – in the mean-time, try salsa classes! I just did. Very sweaty, very fun and you can take The Boy for some Latin hip-bumping. Cha cha cha!

  5. Dear DG, I totally relate, among other things, to the “I’ve never been smaller than this in my life”. I’m now smaller than I’ve ever been in years, and it scared me too, but I’ve chosen to take it with a calm, serene *joy*. Don’t let fear play with your mind, it’s a miserable powerless enemy, fear is bluffing : as soon as you ignore it, it goes away. Fear can’t win against serenity. F*ck fear, actually 🙂

  6. Hooray for getting a life! I did this at college and managed to more or less stop worrying about my weight – and not coincidentally got fitter than I had been for ages, because the life included things like playing football. This period did happen to coincide with falling in love – which provided a nice ego-boost, though it wasn’t the whole reason.

    Unfortunately I haven’t managed to remain quite in this happy state; I kind of lost my life studying for finals and got very unfit; tried to rectify this last summer and got a certain distance before life became very complex and I got even unfitter. (Still haven’t enrolled at gym: intention to do so now six months old.) I think I’m probably as heavy as I’ve ever been, though I don’t know what I weighed before last summer (scared to find out) so cannot prove it.

    However! This summer will be Round 2. In the meantime, I’m not letting myself skive from life on the grounds that I’m not thin enough. I’m in a musical in May which involves foxtrotting and pretending to be a music-hall dancer/loose woman, neither of which I would have had the guts to do a few years back. So there are a lot of thinner girls onstage? Doesn’t matter. Most of the time.

    Don’t really know what point I’m making here, except that I agreed wholeheartedly with your post. So congratulations on your swinging. (It’s got to burn calories, too!)

  7. i hear ya! i have lost 50 lb., need to lose another 20 or 30, but i’m not disgusting (most of the time) either. in no man’s land for sure. and when people compliment me on looking good, i think ok better than i did, but not that good yet. i am concentrating on training for a road race with my friend, so that has been a good fitness focus, despite being stalled in my weight loss for a few months (losing .5 a week)due to having a life (that includes socializing, that includes food, that means my be all and end all isn’t my diet). i totally relate to your post, your ambivalence… and i do think you can either let it ride or kick it up a notch again, but just choose one or the other and be content with the pluses of that choice… i think both are ok. cheers!!!!

  8. There’s probably loads of things you’d like to do. If you’re like me, it’s go on holiday, have a savings account or be a size twelve again. And I get frustrated when I don’t eat healthy or put away money from my paycheck, but also, there’s just too much going on in life to focus on just what I don’t do or have.

    Thinking about that.. maybe I’m not the best motivator to kick start you 🙂 But because I think you rock, it’d be great to see you stay this size and this happy forever, rather than face the loneliness and desperation that drove you to lose weight the first time.

  9. Hmm I don’t know, I think that was a good post but I just wanted to point out that you might be doing yourself an injustice by talking about “hovering around 90 kilos”? From what I have seen, you have still been losing.

    I might have missed a weight gain since I only started reading this three months ago, but in that time your weight stats have jumped down about four kilos. That’s pretty cool, especially since you’re learning to enjoy life more at the same time.

    And maybe thinking about the kilos someone is starting at is a bit irrelevant if you don’t take height into account? A five footer could weigh 70 kilos and be much worse off than you at 90ish. Even in my case….I’m shorter than you, and I DID start my weight loss at below your current weight. I’ve lost a few kilos, but even with that loss your BMI is lower than mine. (Well done, by the way, you’re almost about to drop below the evil 30 number! I think that’s great and well deserved!)

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that, sure, think of ways to speed up the weight loss if you feel it’s too slow (or don’t! keep enjoying life), but don’t tell yourself you’ve stagnated. You have made some good progress, and this diet-blog lurker is cheering for you 🙂

  10. We, former huge “lumpy messes of a body” (to quote one of my favourite authors) have a lot of catching up with life to do. No matter if we just hit goal, are half way there, or even just starting, have CERTAINLY a LOT of catching up with life to do. And if we dare go back to the gloomy days of constant binging, then we will see what not having a life (or not having a happy life) was part of the reason for which that huge piece of chocolate cake was sitting in front of us. Don’t be afraid of it. Surely having a life is a full time job, and apparently it makes everything else a part time job, even loosing weight. But loosing weight isnt mainly done in order to get the strength we need to live the life we deserve? Sometimes we’re might be just afraid of closure you know. We are afraid of accomplishment because..then…what? We have spent a big part of our lives either binging or starving (so to speak). I know I am subconsciously afraid of this holly day that I will get on the dreadfull scales and see that magical number that I have dreamed and worked hard for. So what will I do? Start binging again now that I don’t have to starve? I think f*ck both options. I’ll just live my life. With equilibrium. And joy. After all I will have worked too hard for it! Consider yourself extremely lucky for practicing already in maintaining and living. You are simply substituting one routine for another. A more balanced one. (God I wrote too much again…but then…your entries are such great stimulants :o)

  11. ahhh you’re all lovely people, thanks for such helpful comments!

    beth – i got down to almost 90kg at the end of last year, but gained 3kg over xmas, so all i’ve done this year is take off the xmas kilos… if you look at it over the past six months things have generally hovered around 90-94 kg.

    what i meant by the comparison to other diet bloggers is not so much about the same weight but there’s many around my clothing size that are just starting out. i should have written that instead. i guess i just look at people my size who are so full of enthusiasm coz they’re just starting, but i am their size after years of trying to get to that same point and now i feel kinda burned out.

    i think exericse might be the key here. maybe i need some exercise-related goal to focus on as opposed to thinking about weight loss…

  12. Then again, DG, as one who is starting (again) at size 16-18ish, it’s possible that I don’t quite have the motivation and self-belief you’ve proved you have. I’ve never lost a significant amount because I find too many excuses not to do the work. I’m quite good at convincing myself that I don’t really look fat, and my friends do it too; if I hear another person telling me I must have poor body-image I’ll scream!

    In fact, I think my body-image is too good if anything; I think I look fine with my clothes on, so I don’t get going, and it’s only when, say, I have to wear shorts or a swimsuit in public that reality starts to bite…

    You, on the other hand, look great in your recent photos, and do at least know that you have the ability to lose weight, because you’ve done it before. You’ve also got much fitter and healthier – you can evidently do things that would leave me a wheezing scarlet-faced wreck – and you’re an inspiration to us all! (Even on your less optimistic days.) The fact that you had a greater distance to come to get to this point only makes the achievement greater.

  13. I like the idea of taking a little break and focusing on this life thing. At least you know you aren’t gaining anything, and that’s a real accomplishment (IMO) — almost as hard as losing the weight to start with. Frankly, I envy how you have incorporated so many healthy habits into your life and have seen the payoff! Maybe you don’t need to lose as much as you thought?

  14. I have two options for you.
    #1 – Go and spend 8 months traveling in India! You will love it and be gone with the last 15 kg by the time you finish! You will also be fit because you will be walking all over the place doing stuff. Also it is cheap as hell so your hard earned pounds will go a long way.
    #2 Go on a diet for a month or 6 weeks. This might kick start you again. Even try something radical if you have to – fit for life or something. Doing this might shake up things a bit. I am not a keen believer in Diets (hence I like the India opition better 😉 But I think sometimes they do help you to refocus. Just set yourself a limited time period and then return to what you are doing now once that time period is over.

  15. DG, this is the time when a lot of people give up and make do…when they have reached a point in their weight loss when they feel that they are acceptably overweight and not grossly overweight.

    You, my friend, need to re-visit some of your older journal entries and see how far you have come. Now is not the time for excuses, now is the time for bravery as this is a very courageous journey that you have embarked on.

    So gather up all your courage and get on with the job so that one day you will find yourself coming out of the strain of the doing and going into the peace of the done.

  16. hey, i feel ya. i’ve lost 64 pounds and i’m in a 14/16 (us sizes). and i’ve gained and re-lost fo the last 4 months. i’m semi-happy here, in my non-obese state. but i still want to be non-overweight as well. sad part of this comment is, i don’t have any helpful advice. so let me know when you get some and share the wealth!!

  17. Hi DG,

    First of all I want to say what a wonderful writer you are! I came across your website and was quickly hooked on your funny, witty, honest entries. I think you should get some screenwriting software and convert your diary into a screenplay!

    One thing that I did when I started to get bored of the whole weight loss journey was take my measurements. I did my usual exercise and tried to make good food choices, a month later while I had only lost 7 lbs (3KG- I think :)) I had lost 8 inches! I was so excited and really started focusing on shrinking instead of the scale going down. I am sure you have heard this all before but it is now such a motivator for me. And since I am only measuring once a month it isn’t as stressful as weighing in once a week or everyday. I measured my bust, waist, hips, thigh and upper arm. Now I have measurement goals instead of weight. It is nice to think of losing 4 inches in my bust instead of thinking that I have to lose X amount of weight. Anyway, it has worked for me (at least for now!). I know you will reach your goals!!! You are awesome.

    -Sarah from San Francisco