Monday, June 27, 2011

Emotional Baggage

This is a really hard post to write...mostly because it doesn't present me in my best light. But, heck, I've shared the Sex in the City cookie dough tales with you. So I figure I might as well spit out what's on my mind.

So, here it is: I struggle with being overly concerned with my appearance. I am constantly defining myself by the number on the scale and the size of the clothing that I'm wearing. Since starting this weight loss journey, I have lost roughly 80 pounds. Now, I know that many others have lost more and that in the grand scheme of things maybe 80 pounds isn't so epic. But it's been a major change for me.

I spent most of my early adult-hood, defining myself by my weight. On my better days, I thought of myself as pleasantly curvy--and with a 42DD chest, large hips, and solid thighs. On my worse days, I felt like the hulk. I remember screening men by their reaction to me. Would they like a bigger girl? Did they seem interested in me? And because I didn't value myself enough, I felt that all men who were interested in me (at my current weight) were obviously inferior to the "cool" guys who passed me by, hardly glancing in my direction.

I used my personality as a consolation prize. I laughed a lot, gave a lot, and generally tried to compensate for my too large frame. I let guys treat me badly because I didn't feel I was worthy of anything better. Of course, there were a few exceptions. A sweet, brief summer romance before college. A nice medical student I met before graduate school.

In my head, my weight was my defining feature--the only thing that really mattered.

You would think that if weight was so important to me, I would have done everything in my power to lose it--way before I hit 24 years old. But it's not so simple. At the time, I honestly believed I was doomed to be overweight forever. I felt powerless over my weight, incapable of changing my habits. So, I ate more and more. The more unhappy I got with my weight, the more I binged. It was a vicious circle.

For some reason, I decided to join Weight Watchers in March of 2010 and that decision has been life changing for me. It's been a fantastic ride of learning healthy habits and losing weight.

But I still have the same issues--just the reverse now. I am finally close to being a "normal weight," for the first time in my adult life, and it's amazing. These days, I walk into a bar, and I'm not the fat girl. I no longer feel compelled to compensate for my body. I can smile and flirt with the lead singer of a band, and most likely he'll smile and flirt back. I can wear short skirts and clingy dresses. Random men like to buy me tequila shots. I suddenly feel like an attractive woman in her mid-twenties. With a decent figure to boot.

But now I feel like I've lost sight of who I am (or maybe I never knew). I find myself doing the exact thing as when I weighed 240 lbs--defining myself in terms of my weight. I look to men to validate that I'm "not fat" and end up being more promiscuous that I'd like. I find myself flirting and behaving with men as if they are a ruler of my success: If every man desires me, than maybe I'm desirable. But of course, even the most beautiful women aren't universally beloved. And it's not just because people have different thresholds for beauty. It's because looks are just a small factor of who a person is.

I need to place more value on the inner Katie.
I thought that losing the weight would rid me of this problem, but unfortunately I still carry some of the psychological baggage I had with me throughout my life. I need to focus on losing weight to be a strong and confident person--inside and out. I need to stop obsessing about the labels, fat and thin, and focus instead on being happy and healthy. I need to focus on the deeper issues and be less concerned with the superficial.

Can anyone relate to this? I'd love to hear your feedback.


  1. YES. I feel like I should "YES" to all of your posts! ;-)

    I place way too much importance on my looks... I hate that I do that, but I do.

    And I had a promiscuous stage a few years ago, and it was for the same reason you stated: validation. I wanted men to tell me that I was beautiful and wanted. I didn't know how to tell those things to MYSELF.

    And I still feel the need to be validated, I think that's probably why I love my blog so much! People validate me every day on there.

    It's probably not the best reason to love blogging, but there it is.

    80 pounds since March 2010 is HUGE by anyone's standards. You have done so well! And it's harder to address the inner problems (why we got fat to begin with) than it is to fix the outer problem of how to get rid of the fat.

  2. I definetly can relate to a lot of this. I think everyone looks for validation in some way. While I get embarressed, I won't lie. I secretly love when people acknowledge my weight loss. It is pretty empowering. My sister makes jokes now that she isn't going to complement me anymore, because she doesn't want it going to my head haha.

    I never really put an honest effort into losing weight because it was, in my mind, an impossible feat. And I had never known a skinny me, so I just assumed she didn't exist. I had sort of come to terms with being one of the bigger girls. It was when pretty much my entire family joined weight watchers and had success that I gained the balls to give it an honest go. And now I realized I was scared to try, and to put that effort in.

    Thanks for writing this Katie. It's hard to put yourself out there like that, it was very refreshing to read.

  3. katie it's imn0tg0nnagiveup from ww...your blog was SO ON TARGET with what i had posted and am feeling. tears began flowing down my face as i read your blog b/c it was so relate-able and honest and genuine and real.

    thank u for sharing it.

    i hope u can find ur way through this tough battle too! we just have to keep relying on one another for support through our "negative thoughts"


  4. Oh my god, can I relate. I'm on WW, about ten pounds in to a forty pound loss. I try to tell myself that I'm losing weight to be healthy, but the truth is I want to look good. I don't want to be the chubby one in my friend group, I don't want to be the one who gets the wing man, I don't want to feel embarrassed at the beach. Period.

    I think that sometimes WW goes too far in stressing the health reasons for losing weight. Obviously they are numerous, but it's okay to want to lose weight so you look better, too. It becomes a problem when looking good is all you think about. As 20-somethings, we've spent all our lives being told by the media that looking good is all that matters, so it's not surprising that it's sometimes all we think about.

    Anyway, it's a thorny, uncomfotable issue and I'm right there with you.

  5. Wow, I relate so much! Both to this and your latest post. I love that you are being so raw and honest. I've also lost 80 pounds (82 and counting!) and it's some head trip, huh? How you're not who you thought you would be when you reached this size. How it's never quite enough. How weight loss helps solve some problems...while revealing a host of others.

    Thanks for being real, Katie. It's a good journey we're on...just might be a bit longer and more complicated than we thought.