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Positive Self-Image Doesn’t Make It Ok To Be Overweight.

Hold on! Before you nail me to the cross, remember that one year ago, I started my weight loss journey. I lost sixty-five pounds via the Ideal Protein Diet, and what’s more, I learned how to eat healthy.  I know how it is to be the fat friend, the chubby wife, the one who has to shop at Lane Bryant. No matter how confident you may be, it’s never fun to feel miserable.

At my heaviest, 220 pounds, June 2010.
Nearly one year later, May 2011

The last seven plus months haven’t been easy. Keeping the weight off is much harder than I thought, even with exercise. I still fluctuate more than I’d like, and I’m determined to lose the seven or so pounds I’ve gained. I’m not sharing this again to receive more pats on the back, but rather because I see a disturbing trend out there in social media land. So many people shun the skinny body (as they should) and post links about being happy to be a “real woman,” among other terminology.

Yes, we should all learn to love ourselves. We shouldn’t judge our bodies by how the celebrities or our friends look, and as women, we need to accept there is no perfect figure. But being overweight isn’t just about how we look—it’s about how we feel, and our health.

With the obesity epidemic in this country, it’s disturbing to see so many people nearly bragging about how they’re okay with extra pounds. I have to give any heavy woman huge props for being confident in her figure, because I never was, but confidence and beauty doesn’t negate the harsh truth: they’re not healthy. They’re putting too much stress on their body. Their hearts are working harder than they should be, their bones are overloaded–hell, their entire system is overloaded.  And that includes the brain. Eating junk doesn’t do anything for our intelligence, stamina, or self-esteem. Not to mention Type 2 Diabetes. It’s on the rise like never before, and many people have no idea how dangerous this disease is, especially if it goes unchecked for years.

What’s more, the next generation is obese and some experts say they will be the first generation not to outlive their parents. What we are doing to our children is nothing short of neglect. By not teaching them proper eating habits as kids, we’re setting them up to fail as healthy adults, just like me. My parents are wonderful, but they weren’t great about what I ate. I grew up on Pepsi, McDonald’s, and a lot of sugar products, and it set me up for a lifetime of struggle. If we won’t help ourselves, we can at least help our children.

I don’t mean to preach. I get it. It SUCKS that some people can eat whatever they want with no consequences and the rest of us get fatter just thinking about it. It’s not fair some are natural born athletes while others (like myself) stumble over two left feet.  But life isn’t  fair, and if we want to have a long one, we have to start taking accountability. Trust me, it pisses me off on a daily basis that I have to stay under 100 carbs per day (yes, per day) just to maintain. And I’ll never be fully happy with my figure. I don’t think I have the gumption to go hardcore and become lean and mean–it will be a daily challenge for me just to stay relatively fit.

So how do we get healthy? There are a variety of diets out there, including Ideal Protein, Atkins, and RESET. All focus on cutting way back on carbs and eating a lot of protein to help burn the body’s fat storage. Ideal Protein is very strict and relies on their food packets as well as two servings of green veggies and unlimited lettuce at lunch and dinner. It WILL work if you stick with it, but it’s expensive. Weight Watchers has worked for millions of people, as well as Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. Again, all cost money, so it depends on your budget. If it’s tight, try searching your local grocery store for a product called EAS. It’s a protein shake in chocolate and vanilla, and they also have various protein bars. They’re low in calories and carbs and make great lunch and snack options.

Other getting healthy essentials:

*Switch to whole grain bread, rice, and pasta. Run from the word enriched. Anything white is more carb heavy and generally unhealthy. I use Village Hearth’s 12 Grain Light Bread, and it’s delicious. Sara Lee makes a really good multi-grain as well. As for the pasta, I wrinkled my nose at the idea of whole grain pasta, but it’s good and easy to get used to.

*Eat more green. Make sure your plate has more veggies on it than carbs, even if they’re whole grain/healthy carbs.

*Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit. Berries are best, and smoothies are wonderful option. Using 1% milk with lowfat yogurt, splenda, and frozen strawberries makes a yummy, sweet treat.

*Greek Yogurt instead of regular. If you like yogurt, you need to try Greek yogurt. It’s thicker, smoother, and has a lot more protein.

*Switch from regular salt to Real Salt/Sea Salt. Americans get WAY too much sodium, which causes the body to retain water and is bad for the heart.

*Diet Soda still causes weight gain. My dietician said that most diet drinks have a compound in them (I can’t remember the name!) that the body will process as sugar, and they can hinder weight loss.

*Water. 64 oz per day, to be exact. Sounds like a lot, but get yourself a big bottle and keep it full. Your skin and stomach will thank you.

*A weight loss buddy. This was the biggest key for me. I had a weekly check in with my dietician, and she was an amazing support system. She’d gone through the diet herself, so she knew what I was going through. Having someone working with you provides accountability and support.

*And the obvious: exercise. It’s the worst part for most of us, but it’s vital to a healthy life. Find something that’s fun instead of tedious. Try Just Dance with your kids or take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Make five trips up and down the stairs. Give Zumba or 10 minute bursts a try. Just get moving.

What about you? What healthy eating tips do you have? What are the things that trip your diet up the most?

39 comments on… “Positive Self-Image Doesn’t Make It Ok To Be Overweight.”

  1. It is so easy to go back to where we were as we live in a society where unhealthy eating is accepted: children are given cookies for snacks, fast food is seen as the easy solution for a busy life. We need to constantly remind ourselves of our desire to be at a healthy weight (not overweight, nor too skinny!) and make the daily choices that help us achieve our goal.

    • Yes! And school lunches aren’t great, either. Thankfully my daughter is more aware since I went through my diet, but she still loves the sweets and I have to limit them. It is a daily challenge, especially with the ease of fast food. THanks!

      • Oh yes, I cant stand school lunches – I want to know what my son is eating! I do allow him to pick a day and buy 1 lunch a week, usually its on pizza day. The one fast food treat he gets occasionally is Wendy’s he loves…my only fast food love is Chik Fil A…oh, I just cant go there!

  2. There are definitely misperceptions about body size and appearance acceptance in regards to health. I’ve been involved with lots of eating disorder/body image outreach and have come across two schools of thought: the eat anything/everything and accept it philosophy (w/little regard to wellness) and the eat well while learning to embrace yourself for who and where you are in your journey. I side fully with the latter.

    While I’m not a fan of diets (funny – it’s the topic of my post today ;)) I do believe in finding what works for you. Everyone of us has different needs and preferences. Love your tips on incorporating more healthy foods and seeking buddy support. Positivity breeds success.

    • I side with you as well. Some people are healthy at a size 12 while others are far too heavy. And no, diets in general aren’t great. I think – as I did with Ideal Protein – you have to use them as a stepping stone to fully change your eating habits, or the weight will just return. Thanks so much!

  3. Great post, Stacy! You’ve made it so far; keep it up!

    I’ve heard a low glycemic diet is also good. I don’t know what it does in terms of weight loss, but it’s really good if your body’s pancreas is strained. I’m working on adding more of that type of food to my diet. Because of my gluten allergy, most of the food I eat is made of brown rice, which is like the highest glycemic food there is.

    I’m back to trying to keep up with Tai Chi every day! I did four out of five days this past week, which is pretty good for me. It’s actually quite a workout (but then, I’m not exactly in shape). You wouldn’t think so, with the very slow movements, but it is!

    • Thanks, lady. I know you deal with Type 1 Diabetes and are well aware of the effects. A gluten allergy would be rough, you poor thing. I’ve not heart that about low glycemic. I’ll have to do some research, but it makes since. The diet I was on eliminated your carbs and essentially retrains the pancreas to process insulin correctly instead of being overloaded. Oh really on the Tai Chi? Something else to check out!

  4. Congrats on your weight loss but most importantly, on your renewed health! I couldn’t agree more, it’s great to be confident with excessive weight but that shouldn’t be a reason to not lose the weight. It’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy and fit. For me, I’ve just gotten to the point where I hate the fact that I get tired going up stairs or walking around the block. I want to FEEL fit and energetic and strong! I am tired of feeling sluggish and fatigued watching my evenings by from the couch infront of the TV. I want to LIVE!
    I started keeping a daily food journal so I record everything I eat and how much water I drink. This weekend I got leak-proof 24 ounce water bottles and a bag of lemons. Last night I drank 96 ounces of water with lemon and I’ll have 48 done before I leave work!
    Hubby and I joined a swimming class, got ourselves sharpened skates and bought cross crountry skies to find fun, active things to do during the winter. We also bought a home-gym BowFlex and put it in the LIVING ROOM so there’s no getting around it. We’ve also started doing dance cardio in the living room. We agreed to stop eating out and are buying MORE whole foods and switched to all whole grain. No more pop and we switched to sea salt (only when necessary).
    Yes, it’s only been a week. Yes, one night last week we had Kraft Dinner (better than eating out) but we are slowly but surely making change and heading in the right direction. I’m determined to make it stick for 2012 and beyond. I am way to tired of being tired!!
    Here here – GREAT post Stacy! LOVE IT!

    • Thanks! That’s where I was, too. I was tired of feeling crappy and I was pre-diabetic. All I had to do was look at my mother to see where I was headed. I wanted to feel good and be able to do more things with Grace, too. It’s amazing how eating too many carbs and calories makes us sluggish, isn’t it?

      A daily food journal was something I did during the diet, too, and something I need to get back to. Best way of keeping track so things don’t add up. Awesome on the water drinkage! Swimming is wonderful and my favorite exercise. I just can’t swing the gym fees being a stay it home mom. Would love to get a BowFlex, too. Those things are awesome. Congrats to you and hubby for your dedication to being healthy – you won’t regret it! Slowly and surely is just fine. Keep it up!

  5. Stacy, being a healthy weight is key. After having my daughter, my metabolism changed. I struggle to keep weight on. If I don’t exercise, I lose weight. Crazy, right? But I need to put on muscle. I don’t like seeing myself in pictures and realizing I don’t have a butt to speak of. And I’m bony. I don’t like it. I want to be a healthy weight, and some curves would be nice. I’m doing what I can to keep myself healthy. Eating good foods, exercising, and wishing the butt fairy would pay me a visit. 😉

    • It is crazy, but I know a couple of people like that, and I’ve heard it’s nearly as unhealthy (and frustrating) as being heavy. Not having enough muscle mass is bad all the way around. It sounds like you’re doing all you can…the only advice I would have, if you’re not already doing it, is to make sure you get lots of protein. Good luck, and thanks!

  6. Stacy, you hit it right on! And I was actually my heaviest too at 220 lbs which was not good on a 5′ 7″ frame and I lost 55lbs ! I will never be thin but feel good at a size 10/12. You look amazing now and isnt it wonderful to see and feel what you did in a year?

    I did Weight Watchers and loved it as I could eat regular food..and still have my wine 😉 Came off slow and stayed off except for the year my mom died I put on almost 20 lbs. I got half off and now the rest is peeling away. Not doing WW now but just limited my carbs. Plus I love fruits and veggies and my Chobani yogurt – dont take that away.

    Congratulations on losing it – a huge accomplishment and gives you extra confidence I’m sure embarking on a new career as author!

    • Great job to you, too! I feel good most of the time, too, but it’s amazing the difference a few pounds makes now, you know? That’s why I need to lose this seven.

      I’ve heard many great things about Weight Watchers. I think it’s one of the few that really set a person up for lifelong success as long as they use their tools. I don’t blame you on the weight gain after your mom passed – that would be extremely tough. LOVE Chobani! It’s my favorite.

      Congrats to you too, and thanks!

      • You are right that WW sets you up with tools for life…its funny as I continue to always make many of their recipe such as their mashed potatoes as its yummy….just use reduced fat sour cream, shredded parmesan and fresh garlic and YUM!

        And you are brave to post your before=photos….I dont know where mine are thankfully!

  7. Stacy, you are an inspiration!

    Another place to find similar principles in healthy eating, that actually helped me lose 10 pounds in 3 months, was a book called “The Abs Diet for Women.” I used that because I cant afford those paid programs like WW, and I can’t afford a gym (but the local park has nice challenging hiking trails). The book covers what things we need to be healthy and what things to avoid and uses primarily regular food, which I think is a plus; it talks about needing to build muscle to burn fat and give us energy; and there are cookbooks available from its authors. But most importantly, each of us needs to find a diet/exercise combo that works for us.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there as a motivating example of what hard work and commitment can do. I admire your courage and fortitude. You go, girl!

    • Oh, thank you! And thanks for sharing the book – I will definitely check it out. Yes, using regular food is a plus. That’s why the diet I went on was so expensive, but I don’t think I would have lost it any other way. You’re very welcome, and thank you so much for the kind words!

  8. Peter @ MoreApplesADay

    “So many people shun the skinny body (as they should) and post links about being happy to be a “real woman,” among other terminology.” I don’t believe the skinny body should be shunned, for it is only natural to be lean and fit. The mentality of a quick fix to achieve a skinny body or a lifelong restrictive lifestyle should be shunned.

    “It SUCKS that some people can eat whatever they want with no consequences and the rest of us get fatter just thinking about it.” Nobody escapes the reality of the harm they put their bodies through. Whether you are large or appear to be healthy due to your current physique, an unhealthy lifestyle will lead to a diseased body and a shortened life.

    There are so many diets out there that offer the promise of weight loss, as you mentioned (Atkins and etc…), and many of them deliver on this promise. It is a promise of losing weight but not a promise of achieving better health. In order to achieve optimal health, seek what has been done before: rely on natural sources for your food supply, exercise, reduce stressors, and maintain a healthy environment.

    If you do this, you will not have to calorie count or restrict your carbs, instead, you will become free of your addictions and various cravings in life. You will become healthier and you will live longer, without obesity and the progression of disease which has become normal today.

    As for protein, we do not need as much as “they” say we need. Protein and all of the items found on your average nutritional label have become too popularized. Fat is not bad, if you are intaking natural and healthy fats. Carbs are not bad, if you are… (grains need to be more closely looked at, even the whole grains which are touted as healthy). And we cannot get more than enough protein, vitamins, and minerals from a daily consumption of natural foods. Do not rely on vitamins and supplements, we would not be here today if they were our only means of survival (our ancestors did not have them).

    Best wishes to your health…

    LIVE Longer We Will!

    • I agree about your approach, and that’s why Ideal Protein worked so well for me. It teaches all of that, including focus on more natural foods, good and bad fats, etc. So much stuff I didn’t know before. For me, carbs are bad. I watch my weight daily, and no matter the whole grain, too many carbs will nail me to the wall. I think it’s just one of the little differences in my metabolism.

      Thanks so much!

  9. Congrats on your weight loss! That’s no easy feat. I think we should love and accept ourselves but that love and acceptance also means wanting to be healthy. It’s not loving or accepting to tolerate being unhealthy. At the same time, I’m not convinced the BMI recommendations fit all people and all body types. We all don’t have to be super skinny to be healthy. In fact, it’s possible to be a skinny fat person. Even being at one’s “ideal” weight doesn’t guarantee that a person is fit. Of course, that still doesn’t make obesity an alternative. Our goal should be to be as healthy as we can be, the waistline should follow naturally.

    • Thanks. It wasn’t easy, and many days I find myself wondering how I did it. I don’t know where I got the willpower.

      No on the BMI recs. I actually got down to my goal weight and the BMI still had me as mildly overweight – as a size 10! And that’s a really good point about being a skinny fat person – some people metabolize well and eat a lot of junk.

      Thanks again!

  10. I gained quite a bit of weight AFTER I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic simply because the doctor put me on a fixed insulin schedule which turned out to be too high for me. When I went on the pump and started counting carbohydrates I lost between 20 and 30 pounds, but the last 30 just don’t want to come off. (Some did come off during chemo for cancer, but it came right back.) I’m not on a weight-loss diet, but I use software called Diet Sleuth to keep track of the carbs, fat and protein of everything I eat (weigh with a gram scale when I’m home, or use the nutrition boxes if I eat stuff like Healthy Choice dinners.) My balance is too poor for most exercise, but I keep a stationary bike and rowing machine set up facing the TV, and almost all of my TV/DVD watching is combined with an hour or more a day of exercise. And I rarely buy anything without checking the nutrition label. (By the way, “enriched” is a problem only if the enrichment is replacing nutrients removed during processing.)

    • Wow, after being diagnosed at Type 1? That’s really rough. My mom has problems losing now because of her insulin and because she has to have 45 carbs/meal. It sounds like you’re doing all you can, so don’t get down on yourself. You eat healthy and exercise, and that’s what matters.

  11. The one thing I don’t understand is why people say this to me all the time:

    “You’re lucky, you get to eat anything you want and you never gain weight!”

    The thing is, I eat what I desire to eat in moderation. I don’t look at eating as if it’s a reward or for comfort. Eating food to me is something I have to do to stay alive and to make the growling noise in my stomach go away. I never understood this, but when I think of it in terms of addiction, I understand because I used to be a smoker. I quit over 12 years ago.

    I put on 15 pounds when I quit smoking. Food tasted so good! But, after a while, the pounds came back off because I was back into my old routine, eat one or two small meals a day.

    I think if you put food in perspective, it’s neither your friend nor your enemy, just a necessity, it would be easier to deal with what is internally eating you, which is what typically causes people to over eat.

    • You have the right attitude. I think eating addition is much like smoking. My issue is that I want to eat when I’m bored, or if I’m watching tv, or pretty much whenever. It’s something I’m almost constantly aware of. I don’t think I know a reformed smoker who didn’t put on weight, and that’s too bad. One is just as bad as the other. So glad to hear your weight came off easily.

      I think what it boils down to is that every one of us is different in terms of metabolism and what makes us gain/lose. It’s finding our own balance that is key.

      Thanks for the comment and advice:)

  12. I am so impressed with your perseverence. I’m going to speak up as an historically “skinny” person (although I hate that word). Anyway, I have a naturally high metabolism, and sometimes I have talked about getting in shape. I usually get shrugged off. Even if I’m not sporting a bunch of extra pounds, there have been times when my eating has been very unhealthy and I was unable to climb stairs without panting. With heart disease in my family, that concerned me.

    Thus, I LOVE your focus on health and healthy eating. When you pay attention to how you treat your body overall, you will likely get positive results in your physical appearance. Obesity is not a good plan for health, nor is replacing a meal with a soda even if you’re not overweight (yes, I have done that before and stayed in the calorie count).

    Good for you standing up for health, Stacy! By the way, you look terrific. And more importantly, you are a beautiful person.

    • Thanks. I haven’t felt like I’ve been perserving lately. Seems like it’s constant issue. Wow on your metabolism. That’s lucky and not so lucky at the same time. It’s probably harder to have accountability with your eating.

      I completely agree – you have to take care of all facets of the body, and no, skipping meals is bad but we’ve all done it.

      Thank you so much!

  13. Girl, you have a message that we all need to hear and you tell it in a way that makes me want to listen. I like your writing voice.

    I’m one of those people you mention that others like to hate, but eating whatever you want doesn’t mean you give a flip about health. I’m so guilty of riding the junk food train right now. When my mom got cancer I thought if I controlled my food by eating healthy I would be alright. The problem is that my definition of alright was to not get sick and die. I had a self image problem. It’s taken a long time to move away from the thoughts I had about eating right to be alright. I’m glad I moved away but I’m sort of at the opposite extreme now. Your post was helpful to jerk a knot in my tail and pay attention to my health for the right reasons. Thanks and good luck with your Rowing. See you around the words in 80 days, my friend.

    • Thanks so much! I worried I would offend people. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother, and I can completely understand. I’m so glad my post had a positive effect on you, and I hope you’re able to curtail the junk food train. Trust me, that’s something I deal with on an hourly basis. Good luck!

  14. I found this post via Writer’s Digest. I’m a writer so I spend most of my day sitting. I force myself to get up and walk around every hour. I also convinced my husband to sign up for a couple’s workout class (as we both need to lose a few pounds!) Great post and good luck with continuing to get healthy.

    • Hi there, and welcome. Like you, I’m a writer and spend a lot of my time sitting. Great idea to make sure you’re up walking around often – it’s so easy to get involved in the book and forget to move. How fun for you and your hubby! Good luck, and thank you!

  15. I learned something new today. I never knew Greek yogurt was better for you than regular. I *heart* Fage yogurt. It comes in 0%, 2%, and Full fat. The full fat is 15 grams of fat per serving, and it is better than ice cream–even the plain variety. Of course, I make myself buy the 2%. But sometimes I accidentally buy one Full fat Fage. Of course, I can’t just throw it away. LOL

    I am awed that you lost all this weight. It’s not an easy thing to do, and you rock for keeping it off. 😀 I’m glad to be your friend.

    • Fage is wonderful, too. I get the lowfat kind in cherry and strawberry. Yes, if you’re looking for protein, it’s definitely better. And I think it’s more filling. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the full fat kind. Aw thanks so much, you too. Although most days I wonder where my willpower went, lol.

  16. Finally someone said what I have been thinking for years. Also, congrats on losing the weight. That was certainly no easy task. It’s much easier to maintain a healthy weight than it is to shed a significant amount of weight. I lost 100 lbs in a short amount of time, and now I have become a person that I once mocked. You know, the people who worry about gaining 2 lbs. But now that I am at a healthy weight, I realize the importance of weight maintenance. Letting a pound slip here and there can eventually lead to becoming overweight. So nipping it in the bud is important because it saves you the arduous task of having to drop a massive amount of weight.

    Women who brag about being ‘curvy’ –which is generally a code word for overweight– is no different than me bragging about being a chronic drinker. Women who are overweight generally have no problems finding male suitors, and unfortunately, that makes them lose touch with reality. Fact is, the average man hardly discriminates against women, so he will take a heavy woman or a skinny woman. Whatever comes his way, to be brutally honest. When overweight women notice that their weight has no effect on their sex/social lives, they start thinking that weight is not an issue, and continue living an unhealthy lifestyle.

    I blame both men and women for this problem because it has glamorized and trivialized unhealthy lifestyles.

    • Thanks so much, and congrats to you, too. Yes, I worry about every pound, and it seems everything I eat with any kind of carb content puts weight on me, so I have to maintain constant vigilance, lol. It really sucks, but that’s how I’m made. And yes, curvy is usually a code for overweight, which is too bad. To me, curvy is like Marilyn Monroe. Your take on the average man is interesting. When I was younger and single, I never felt like the guys looked my way because of my weight. Then again, my husband did, and I was chubby when we met.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting!

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