When the Mirror Lies
Posted by wendiwendy
About three months ago, I wrote about body image, weight loss and a book I had read about how to dress so you looked thinner. I mentioned that I was counting calories, trying to just lose a few pounds before my annual doctor visit in November.
I have always, always hated getting weighed at the doctor’s office. I hate it enough that it’s kept me from going to the doctor a few times. Even if I was just going in to talk to the doctor, they would weigh me. Drove me crazy and stressed me out.
I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself back in October; I wasn’t looking to lose a set amount of weight or anything. Even two or three pounds would be great, enough so that I weighed a little less than I did at my check-up a year ago. The funny thing is, my doctor really never mentions my weight. She doesn’t berate me or try to get me to go on a diet. If I fluctuate by a couple pounds, she never says anything. The only time she ever mentioned it was when I had gained about 10 pounds over the year, and even then it was just a casual comment about watching what I ate. It’s all in my head, this fear of being weighed.
At the time I wrote the blog entry, I was counting calories. And by the time I had my doctor’s appointment, I had lost seven or eight pounds. It was very exciting for me, the biggest loss I’d had since 2001, and my doctor was also enthusiastic in her casual way. The weight loss and exercise also seemed to have a good effect on my cholesterol numbers, which was an added bonus. (High cholesterol runs in my family and I’m on medication to control mine.)
Well, apparently doing the same thing for weeks on end helped me form a good habit as far as exercising and portion control, something I never ever thought would happen. I haven’t been writing about it because I don’t want to come off self-absorbed, righteous or judgmental (something that tends to happen when people lose weight). Also because it’s just something I do automatically now, so I don’t really think of it as being newsworthy. But I had to talk about it today because finally, after 15 weeks, I have reached my first milestone and have lost 20 pounds.
Now here’s the weird part. Before I started this, I would look at myself in the mirror and think I looked pretty damn good. I knew that my BMI, at 31, put me in the ‘obese’ category; this didn’t matter. I didn’t think I looked obese (I still don’t think I did, but according to the BMI charts I was). You would think that now, at 20 pounds lighter – 20 pounds that should really show up on me, because I’m 5’1” and weight loss/gain shows up quickly on a short frame – I would be ecstatic when I look in the mirror. Instead, I look in the mirror and think I look exactly the same. I see no difference, even with 20 pounds gone and my BMI down to 27.3.
I didn’t take a ‘before’ picture because I never expected to keep up with the calorie counting thing. I figured I’d slack off over the holidays (I started this the first week of October) or that I’d get complacent and tell myself that I know proper portion sizes now and I’d stop being so vigilant. I never expected to set a goal weight and to keep at this.
Part of the reason I started this, besides wanting to weigh less at my doctor’s appointment, was because of that obese BMI number. It really, really bothered me to know I was obese, even though I’d been at that weight for many years, nearly ten. I had accepted my actual weight (which I’m not going to say, but let’s just say it was nowhere near 200 pounds). I figured I was getting older (I turn 50 in August of this year) and my metabolism had slowed down, and I just had to accept that I was going to be a plump, short woman for the rest of my life.
But when I started calorie counting, my BMI was also included as a statistic on the website I’m using (Livestrong). After I lost those eight or so pounds, I moved out of the obese BMI category and into the overweight category … and it felt so good. So that’s when I decided to make a goal: the weight where I fall into the upper end of ‘normal’ on the BMI chart. I have 12 more pounds to go before I reach my goal.
Maybe when I reach that point, I’ll find some picture of me earlier in 2013, put on the same outfit and take an ‘after’ picture. That is, if I can find a photo of me where I haven’t cropped out my body. I hate seeing myself in photos. Even now – we took some pictures at Thanksgiving, when I was about 15 pounds down, and I think I look horrible in them. Like I said, I feel like I look no different. So you will not see me bragging about my rock-hard abs (my stomach is still flabby) or my toned thighs (I have thunder thighs and probably always will). But I might shout out a little ‘yay!’ here if/when I hit my goal weight. 🙂
I had pretty much been eating 1,200 calories and exercising daily – between 20 to 30 minutes of fast walking on my mini trampoline, about an hour after dinner (while we watch TV). I throw in one or two days of weight training and I really need to start doing sit-ups. I stalled for a long, long time, and then I gained two pounds. I was freaking out about this to Dave – how could I gain weight?! I was not cheating! I was eating way below my basal metabolic rate. It made no sense.
I was starting to think I’d have to eat, like, 900 calories a day – I could really see how people fall into an anorexic mindset. It completely panicked me that I was gaining weight and didn’t seem to have any control over it. What if all my hard work was ruined and I gained it all back, even though I hadn’t changed anything in my diet?
Finally I did some reading on how short people (under 5’2”) can lose weight. I mean, when you’re short you need so many less calories than someone who’s, say, 5’10”. How do people do it without starving? I started learning more about that basal metabolic rate and realized I was putting my body into starvation mode. I thought by eating 1,200 calories I would avoid it, but I was wrong. As crazy as it sounds, I needed to eat more to lose weight and make my body let go of the fat it was holding onto in case I starved to death. (Not likely!) I upped my calories to 1,450 a day (I really should go higher, but it scared me … so I started with the lower number). After I did that, I lost the two pounds I gained, plus another pound to give me that 20 pound loss.
I am really happy with this lifestyle – I just happened to find something that fits with my control-freak personality, and it’s something I can do forever so it’s not really a ‘diet.’ I eat all the same foods I always have but, man, I weigh everything. I do NOT trust myself to eyeball a portion size! I will always, always overfeed myself if I do that. I’m not hungry. We throw in pizza nights, Chinese food nights, etc. once or twice a month. I’m not low-carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo – I’m not even obsessing about fat content. I just count calories and eat as much fresh food as I can. Probably my only restriction is staying away from pre-processed and fried stuff. I don’t have to, but I prefer fresh, homemade food and it’s easier to stay within my calories if I’m not eating anything fried.
I love walking on my mini-trampoline every night – my stamina has really increased. I know it’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. Exercise has always been my weak area – maybe now that I’m doing this small, daily amount I’ll eventually branch out into other exercise.
One of these days, maybe I’ll look in the mirror and see a different, thinner me staring back. For now, though, I have to let my clothes and the scale reflect any changes. My brain is going to take a while to catch up, I guess.
About wendiwendyI'm a real-life bionic woman.
Posted on January 21, 2014, in Not Related to Hearing Loss and tagged basal metabolic rate, body image, controlling weight as you age, counting calories, distorted body image, losing weight when you're short, weight loss, weight loss for those under 5'2". Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.