Tag Archives: Body Image

Reasons I Want to Lose Weight

I am nearly three weeks into my weight loss journey. So far, I have managed to keep off the weight I lost in my first week, but haven’t lost any more weight. Next week is my birthday, which is too special an occasion for dieting. My parents and sister will be over this coming week-end, but I don’t hope that between this and my actual birthday, that will be three days of overeatig. I’m just hoping that I won’t gain any weight.

I fully intended to stick with the journaling challenge which my post last week was inspired by regularly. I did stick with the food journal, but other things got in the way of me journaling about my journey again. The second exercise in the 28-day weight control journaling challenge by Mari L. McCarthy asks me to list every reason I can think of why I want to lose weight. McCarthy recommends going beyond the obvious reasons and digging deeper into my motivation. I have been thinking all week and it’s proving harder than I expected. Today, I will attempt to do this exercse.

Health-Related Reasons

My health is the main reason I want to lose weight. I once watched an episode of Dr. G: Medical Examiner in which Dr. G examined the bodies of people who had died of the five most common avoidable causes of death in the United States. One of the bodies was of a young woman of my height who weighed 117kg. My first thought was: “So I’m not that bad.” Then again, that woman was dead. I am alive and would like to continue living for another five or six decades. Obesity was at the time the second most common avoidable cause of death after smoking. I am pretty sure it’s surpassed smoking now.

Here are the health-related reasons for me to lose weight.


  • I have high blood pressure, whch is linked to obesity. I want to prevent this hypertension from becoming chronic.

  • I snore. This not only wakes my husband. It also causes me to wake up unrefreshed. Snoring is bidirectionally related to obesity. I don’t stop breathing (yet), but I don’t want to get this far and ideally want to stop snoring entirely.

  • I want to increase my mobility, endurance, flexibility and general fitness.

  • I don’t want to become a type 2 diabetic.

  • Coronary heart disease runs in my family on both sides. I want to lower my risk of this.

  • I have back pain semi-regularly. This is in part due to scoliosis, but I’m pretty sure those 20kg of extra weight I carry don’t help.

Mental Health

Exercise and eating a balanced diet are not just good for your physical health, but mental health as well. I experience mild to moderate depression every once in a while. Though at the time I was most miserable in my life, I was at a healthy weight, my weight of course wasn’t the reason I was miserable. Besides, even though I felt miserable at the time, I didn’t feel as inert as I often do now. This could definitely be related to those extra pounds.

Then there is my self-image. I know that my body image and self-esteem aren’t magically going to increase if I lose weight and my husband still finds me attractive. However, I do feel that increased physical fitness will increase my sense of success.

Goals

So what are my weight loss goals? My ultimate goal is to be at a healthy BMI in 2 1/2 years. As I already said, in one year, I want to have dropped my first 10kg so that I’m no longer obese.

One month from now, I want to be able to work-out on the elliptical trainer for 25 minutes a day, five days a week. I also hope that by that time, I’ve heard from the adaptive horseback riding school I signed up for last week. Lastly, I hope to have dropped one kilogram.

Inspire me. What are your reasons for staying at or getting to a healthy weight?

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When I Look in the Mirror…: Blindness and Body Image

Today, Finish the Sentence Friday’s starter sentence is: “When I look in the mirror, I see…”. Now I could easily respond that I’m blind so I don’t see anything in the mirror. That would however be feeding a common misconception, that is, that blind people don’t have body image issues because they can’t see what they look like in the mirror. Some people even go so far as to assume blind people can’t have eating disorders for this reason. First of all, of course, not all eating disorders are about body image. However, let me tell you, I know several blind people with anorexia, which is in part about body image.

The relationship between my blindness and my body image is however quite complicated. I can’t say there is no relationship, because there is. For example, I gained over 40lbs in the last four years. I know this because people tell me the number on the scale. However, I haven’t tried this but I’m pretty sure that if I had to estimate my size, I would be far off and see myself as far thinner than I am. I do obviously feel my body and I use my hands to measure it. That’s gotten harder as I’ve become bigger, but I don’t notice it as much as someone would by looking in the mirror. I don’t exactly see myself as skinny, in that I know I’m quite fat, but I do often have a hard time reconciling the numbers on the scale with how I feel like I look.

This may seem weird, because I do have a negative image of my body’s shape and size. I hate the fact that I’m fat. When I notice clothing getting tighter, I feel pretty awful about myself. I’ve said that I should weigh half as much as I do now (which would put me in the underweight range). That being said, I play these mind tricks where I allow myself to gain weight despite wanting to lose it. Like, I’ve gotten this insane kind of logic where I’m at a good weight if halving it would put me in the anorexic range. I got it from a Dutch book called something like “How I halved myself and won the battle against anorexia again”.

There are other aspects to body image of course. People who estimate my age by looking at my face, usually think I’m quite a bit older than I am. I can feel the tiny wrinkles on my face, of course, if I really attend to them. That in turn makes them feel a lot larger than my husband says they are – he actually says I don’t have wrinkles at all. However, again, in my mind I still see myself as looking like a teenager.

The last time I had some vision of what I looked like, I was about thirteen. In this light, it makes sense that I am stuck on the image of myself as a teenager. It’s not just my body image though. I still see myself as somewhat like a teenager in many ways. That could be my autistic difficulty adjusting to change applied to myself.

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A Letter to My Body

Dear body,

I am sorry. I have not been taking good care of you lately. I have not been exercising regularly, have been binge eating a lot and have slept at all the wrong moments and been awake at night.

Of course, I could blame my eating disorder and see it as something entirely separate from myself. I could blame the holiday season. I could blame the winter blues (or general blues, since I’m not sure if it’s seasonal at all) for my laziness regarding exercise, my increase in binge eating and my poor sleeping habits. Then again, that’d be avoiding my responsibility.

Sometimes, I feel as though you don’t deserve to be taken care of. I feel you’re ugly, fat and unheathy anyway. You’re fat, but at least my husband doesn’t consider you ugly and you could be a lot less healthy than you are.

Besides, right now I don’t have as poor an image of you as I had before. I like my skin feeling softer when I apply shower cream, then scrub it, then apply body butter. I particularly even like my belly, which is the part you seem to be storing most of your fat.

I want you to know there’s nothing you did to deserve me stuffing you with binge food and depriving you of the exercise and sleep you need. I’m stressed, but you didn’t cause me to be stressed. I’m slightly depressed, but you didn’t cause me to be depressed.

So I want to thank you for being relatively healthy while I don’t take as good care of you as I should. All your major functions (except for vision of course) are intact. You keep your vitamin and mineral levels okay. You haven’t developed diseases like diabetes or heart disease in spite of your obesity, caused by my lack of proper care. You are okay.

As I said, I could look at your negative attributes: your not being as fit as I’d like you to be, your causing me acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and random pains and aches. Then again, whether it’s you causing me these problems or me causing you these problems, could be debated. The thing is, I can’t change your functions without taking better care of you first.

As dialectical behavior therapy also teaches, I can’t change you witout accepting you as you are first. You are okay as you are. Now I can work on improving you.

Yours,
Astrid

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Mom's Small Victories

Physical Effects of My Eating Disorder

The first journaling question in Journaling in Eating Disorder Recovery is about body image. The author asks you to journal about what your eating disorder is doing to your body. She also asks you to contemplate whether your body image is worth these effects.

My eating disorder mostly involves bingeing, which is good for neither my body nor my body image. After all, it not only causes me to be nauseated after a binge and get acid reflux (I believe this is also triggered by bingeing and not just by purging), but above all it has caused me to gain about 40lbs in a two-year period. As a result, I am now about 30lbs overweight. This of course results in poor body image, because, you know, I don’t just think I am fat.

I just googled the physical effects of bulimia, and some I find are related to bingeing. For example, people who binge get a bloated stomach and stomach pains. The bloated stomach causes it to take longer before you feel full. A severe binge can even lead to a ruptured stomach.

I also purge on a semi-regular basis. While I don’t purge nearly as often as some bulimics, I do vomit significantly more than people who are sick every now and again with a stomach bug. Purging can have the following effects:


  • Tooth decay.

  • Erosion of dental enamel.

  • Dehydration.

  • Irritation of the esophagus.

  • Sore throat.

  • Acid reflux.


I have many of these symptoms.

Of some symptoms I found, it isn’t stated whether bingeing, purging or laxative use causes them, but I have them whichever is the cause. For example, one source listed acne as a possible effect. I use to think I’m too old for acne, but nonetheless I do get an eruption when my eating disorder is particularly severe.

Effects that aren’t mentioned, are the long-term consequences of obesity. Think, for example, type 2 diabetes. I don’t know where he found this so can’t check the source, but my husband says that eating lots of sweets is now thought to actually lead to type 2 diabetes because of leading to a chronically elevated blood glucose level.

Is my body image worth these consequences? Of course, my body image is damaged by my being obese, but what if purging actually causes weight loss? Note in this sense that in my case it hasn’t led to weight loss, but just suppose it did. Then, still, I would have to say that health is more important than outer beauty.

I do, however, sometimes believe that purging can’t hurt while obesity can. In this sense, I weigh the health risks rather than the effects on my body image. Or do I?

After all, people’s encouraging obese people to lose weight for health reasons is generally coupled with a lot of shaming of people’s fat status. Even if other people don’t say so, I tend to think that I need to lose weight to be good enough. I still tend to think my husband doesn’t find me attractive even though he’s stated a few times that his reason for encouraging me to lose weight is my health. Other people, like some staff, do more clearly fat-shame. For example, we get metabolic screenings, including waist measurements, every six months to a year. At my last screening, the nurse took my measurements and then commented I really need to lose weight. So far it could still be interpreted as pure concern for my health, but another patient was next. She took this woman’s measurements and then commented to me: “See, it can get worse.” That really was an unnecessary comment that instilled shame rather than motivation to get healthy.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

What I Like About Myself

One of the June prompts over at The SITS Girls asks about a favorite thing about yourself. My husband occasionally jokes that my being a blogger makes me slightly narcissistic, so I’m going to exploit this prompt and list not just one thing I like about myself, but several.

I am going to start with physical features. Beauty is on the inside, but it’s good if you have something you like about your appearance too. I used to hate my body. Now most features are mostly neutral to me. I know I’m quite overweight, and I dislike that, but I don’t hate it. That’s a good thing.

Two features I like about myself are my hair and my eyes. I particularly like my hair since I had it cut and it’s somewhat wavy again. I don’t like short hair, never did. In fact, my mother used to push me about getting my hair cut short when I was young. I didn’t give in. Currently, I have my hair to about shoulder length. My hair is dark brown, although my father keeps calling it dark blond.

My eyes are a kind of greenish blue I’m told. I was never able to see my own eye color, but from my concept of color, I like this. I had a huge cataract removed from my left eye in 2013. Though the surgery wasn’t a success in terms of regained vision, the doctor commented that it did lead to aesthetic improvement.

Now that I think on it, I realize the features that I like are both features that my parents have made negative comments on. The hair wars were in fact much worse than the few words I used above can describe. Regardign my eyes, when I went to the eye doctor for an unrelated reason in 2004, shortly after the cataract had been discovered, my father asked the doctor whether aesthetics could be a reason to get the cataract removed.

With regard to personality features, I don’t like the one aspect my parents are over the top proud of: my intelligence. Conversely, I consider myself quite imaginative and creative, though I know that most people don’t share this opinion. Lastly, I like my determination, and again it’s a trait that most people say I don’t possess. That’s quite interesting.

Book Review: A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal

A few weeks ago, I was given a promo code on Kobo for having been a customer for a year. I searched for interesting juvenile fiction, and came across A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal (Albert Whitman & Company, 2014). The synopsis sounded interesting, so I decided to buy the book, and finished it within a week.

Synopsis

Allie Johnston’s secret wish since the day she was twelve is to have her nose done. But she hasn’t told anyone – not her parents, or even her best friend, Jen. But when she starts visiting a plastic surgery discussion board on the Web, she finds people who get her, for the first time in her life. Her new friends, including two girls her age with vastly different backgrounds who share her obsession with changing their faces—but for very different reasons. A sharply written, insightful book about learning to be happy with who we are.

My Review

For the most part, I liked this book. Most characters are really formed, though on the surface they may come across a bit superficial. That’s the whole point of the book I believe: even if a person may seem shallow, often you don’t see what’sinside of their minds unless you really attempt to get to know them. For example, Amber, the most goodlooking girl in the school, has a hidden life of pain that Allie doesn’t get to find out until she looks beyond Amber’s outward appearance.

The character of Allie herself seems to have deliberately been developed to seem a bit boring. Unlike Amber and some other characters, she doesn’t have much drama in her life. All she has is a screwed body image. This again serves the point of the book well: Allie may have a bump on her nose, but overall she has a pretty good life.

The book’s ending in terms of Allie’s nose surgery (which she ends up canceling at the last moment) is quite predictable. However, it’s not whether she has surgery that makes this book interesting, but the mental processes leading up to her decision. In this sense, I was more interested in learning about the other characters than I was in learning about Allie. After all, it’s the other characters who teach Allie that it’s not her looks that make her who she is.

MamaMummyMum

My Experience with Disordered Eating #NEDAwareness

This week is NEDAwareness week, a week to raise awareness of disordered eating and body image issues, established by the National Eating Disorders Association. I have several things to say about disordered eating and body image issues, and at first, I was going to write a list of common myths about eating disorders. These, however, are all over the Internet already. The only thing I might be able to add is the Dutch perspective. However, another way of addressing common myths about disordered eating and body image is to share my own experience.

First, I do not nd have never had a diagnosable eating disorder. I do however have pretty significant issues with disordered eating and body image. I mostly engage in binge eating, which I do on average once or twice a week. I overeat on more occasions, but then I either don’t eat so much that it can be considered a binge or don’t feel as though I’ve lost control. You see, I’ve lost sight of what is and isn’t nromal, how much to eat, etc.

To get to a common myth anyway: many people believe that you can only have an eating disorder if you’r thin, and/or that anorexia is the most common eating disorder. In fact, in the Netherlands, there are twnety times more people with eating disorders who have a healthy weight than there are people with anorexia. Binge eating disorder, which is what I am closest to, is the most common eating disorder, followed by bulimia and then anorexia. I still encounter people, including nurses, who say that I “only” overeat, so what’s the big deal? About three years ago, I started occasionally inducing vomiting, and that’s when my eating issue first felt real to me. In reality, I’ve had binge eating episodes since adolescence.

I am overweight. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m currently obese, but I haven’t weighed myself in months. On the Dutch eating disorder site I participate on, there were topics for discussing underweight and then healthy weight long before the admins finally opened a discussion thread on overweight. Most people believe that eating disorders are something you can overcome by just trying, and this is especially true for binge eating. I won’t say that people don’t minimize the struggles anorexics face, but with binge eating, people often assume that you just like to snack. On the same Dutch eating disorder site I mentioned, there is a blog post on the difference between an eating issue and an eating disorder, and someone who likes high-calorie food is portrayed as the one with the eating issue, while an underweight, restricting person is portrayed as the one with the eating disorder.

Let’s get one thing straight: you can have any weight and have an eating disorder. You can also display any number of eating-related behaviors and have an eating disorder. Examples of eating disordered behaviors include bingeing, purging, restricting, but also having rigid rituals or rules around eating. I know that rituals around eating dono’t mean you have an eating disorder per se, but they may be a sign of eating issues and they can interfere with healthy food intake and daily life. For example, if you’re so self-conscious about your weight (whether you actually are overweight or underweight or not) that you don’t want to eat in other people’s presence, this can lead to a lot of problems in your social life and can also mean you get less food into your body than you need, even if you’re not consciously restricting. Also, eating only a select number of foods or food types can be very unhealthy. I’ve heard of something called selective eating disorder, but this is not recognized by clinicians at this point. In my own experience, this habit interacts with my binge eating behaviors. For example, if I’ve had something for lunch that I don’t like (and I’m a very picky eater I’m told), I run a high risk of bingeing later in the day.

Lastly, I want to dismantle one myth that isn’t applicable to me personally: that eating disorders only affect white adolescent females. (Well, okay, I’m not an adolescnet anymore, but I’m white and I’m female.) There was a Dutch study in 2012 that asked around 250 high school boys about their eating and body image. As many as 25% had eating disorder features, including calorie counting (13%), being significantly underweight (10%) and laxative abuse (2%). This study showed the fact that eating disorders are probably underrecognized in males.