Monday, April 9, 2012

Bus in Reverse

Time for another edition of Monday on my Mind. This Monday?

I hate my body.

Maybe that shouldn't be surprising considering I've been overweight/obese for 90% of my life. But, no matter what sort of shape I was in, I've never hated my body. Saturday night that changed. We were watching a DVD of the anniversary event at the Reggae Bar I go to. I was "wining" on the wall, and I couldn't believe how absolutely huge I was.

Even though I've been the same size since my Australia trip of 2009 (gained 7 kilos on that trip, somehow), this feeling has come over me fairly suddenly. But I suppose it's not entirely without warning.

More and more as I looked in the mirror, I wasn't liking what I was seeing. And then factor in where I live as opposed to where I used to live... As I've mentioned before, Barbados is an overwhelmingly Black country. Black people seem to carry weight better than other races. In addition to which black men generally prefer more curves than white guys, or Asian guys. So as a teen, my ample hips were a good thing, garnering me attention even from "big men." Now, living in Japan, a country where the women's shoes tend to run up to about an 8 (US) and anyone above a size 12 (US) in clothes has trouble finding clothes.

At first, it's a bit depressing, but then you get used to it. You tell yourself their make-up is different, and you could not be that small even if you te only 15 rice grains a day. Still it got to me eventually. In most Western countries, I'd be considered fat/obese, but I would not be alone, and there'd be loads of people bigger than I am. At home, there would even be some people who'd consider me attractive as is. Here in Japan, I can only recall seeing 2 people bigger than me. In all 4 years. Sometimes, I'm tempted to ask where they buy their clothes, but I feel like that would be super-inappropriate since fat stands out so much more here. (One of them is a friend though, so I'll ask eventually.)

My problem is twofold really. Firstly, I'm fat. Secondly, I suddenly have a horrible self image.

I'm doing all the right things to change my body. I resolved to work out this year, originally to keep my bipolar in order. Since then, I've resolved to do Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred in all the 30 day months (four times a year).

Somehow, despite the fact that I'm doing all I'm supposed to be doing workout-wise, I'm not getting any results. I've managed to increase my body fat percentage. That's not going to discourage me from workouts, since weight-loss/size is not my prime goal, but still it would be nice to look like I work out, dang it!

Can I tell you a secret? I'm not sure if I want to fix it. I feel like going through the positive self-talk to get me to a place where I love my body would actually be detrimental to my fitness goals. I mean, if I love being fat and unfit, why workout?

On the other hand, I'm a bit afraid not to fix it. I don't diet. That's partly because I'm too lazy to make the effort it requires and partly because I'm a naturally healthy eater. But another part of it is that I'm an extremist. I'm afraid I'd end up only eating once a day for 30 seconds, or something similarly stupid. Now that I hate my body, I'm tempted to workout twice a day, 7 days a week, since nothing else seems to be working. That would possibly do more harm than it's worth. But a part of me just doesn't care.

Who knows? Maybe it will fix itself. Maybe when I look in the mirror I won't see a long-haul bus in reverse. Maybe I'll just see a woman.

It's Monday. That's what's on my mind.


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Instead of a long-haul bus, how about long-haul changes? I know a Pilates instructor who makes clients put 25cents in a jar (for kids charity) every time they say something like I'm fat or I hate my body. I've had to put money in the jar so I'm not speaking from some high-and-mighty perch. Her theory is that culture teaches women to disparage themseleves and other women about body image, and she thinks women shouldn't disparage themselves. She herself lost 40 pounds by increasing exercise and decreasing food intake, particularly things containing sugar. But it's a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. We all need to love ourselves enough to care. Speaking of which, I need to cut the snack foods I've slipped back into eating.

Sophia Richardson said...

If I was inclined to travel (I'm not really, and I'm learning to accept this about myself) then I would be worried about travelling to some places e.g. Asia for just this reason. No-one wants to be the only fat person in the city.

This post makes me sad. I feel dumb for saying that, but that's the basic feeling I got as I read. Wanting to hate yourself as motivation to change is, to my mind, really not the way to go. With that route, when do you call it a day? At what magical number on the scales or size on the clothes tag do you suddenly stop hating yourself? If you hate yourself and lose weight, then you still have to deal with getting rid of the self-hate. If you hate yourself and don't lose weight, you'll just feel even worse. I think if you want to make a change, it should be because you want to feel healthier -- whatever that looks/feels like to you --, and you should do it because you love yourself enough to want your body to feel good.

I hope none of that comes across as holier-than-thou. Lord knows I don't meet the Western ideal of beauty.

Asia Morela said...

When you talked about how being fat or big stands out more in Japan, I immediately recalled a blog post by some blogger I'm following:

Anyway, I also think you shouldn't be afraid of fixing your body image problem. I think I've felt this way before, and it's not... constructive. Trust me, if you love yourself and feel confident, you'll still want to improve/work out/whatever, possibly even more so. Only it won't feel like punishment anymore.

Megan said...

Congrats on admitting that you feel bad. It always hurts me to see heavier women feel like they have to force confidence if it isn't really there (if it is, great, flaunt it).

It probably seems expected because of my blog, but I can't endorse the martial art I train enough. I saw three issues you mentioned that it does a beautiful job of addressing.

Bi-polar disorder...quite a few men and women I know train and say it helps them with depression and ADD...I know those are very different, but the exercise has been proven to provide help.

Body size...It's incredibly intense (and fun). You get smaller without really trying and eat right not because you should, but because you have to to train. You have to eat as fuel, not pleasure. (I'm a foodie and a non dieter and I'm sitting here finishing off my dinner which is totally within the rules of the Paleo diet).

Body image...this is a big one for me (I write on it pretty regularly). Training has forced me to look at my body as something other than a brain cart, food hole, man attracter and potential baby-maker. Learning to use myself, all of it, toward a specific purpose has changed the way I view the intent of my body, which has changed the way I look at what I don't like. Also, since it's a grappling art and VERY close in nature, I've been grabbed, pulled, squeezed and turned every way imaginable by hot guys (having a guy you have a huge crush on press his face into your fleshy tummy really changes your perspective), cute guys, not-so-cute guys, smart guys, tough girls, girly girls and everything in between. All these people know my body intimately and objectively and it's helped me to do the same.

I know not everyone will like this art...Brazilian jiu jitsu is special, but I encourage you to at least try the free week that's offered at most gyms. It's growing in popularity in Japan and is absolutely addicting.

If you don't like it though, keep searching for an physical activity you enjoy and that takes your focus off the way you "look".

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