The Fallacy That Skinny People Don't Need to Lose Weight
This is was originally posted on September 13, 2009. At the time, I was 20 pounds overweight and looking to lose it, so I joined SparkPeople.com. Since then, I lost, then gained, and then gained some more. I am reposting this for those who are new to my blog. Plus, it's interesting to go back and see how much I've changed since then.
The post was a response to something I read on a Spark People message board where someone took issue with "skinny" people being on the site. "Skinny" is a subjective term, but it applied to anyone who wasn't classified as obese. At the time I wrote this, I was about 20 pounds overweight.
Replying to a message board post brought me back to my blog to write this.
I have heard on this site, and elsewhere, people remark how they don't understand how "skinny people" need to be on Sparkpeople to lose weight and some probably even resent that someone who may only have ten pounds to lose is even here at all.
It's all about perception. And judgments about our motivations and our sincerity.
I am one of those so called "skinny" people.
When I signed up on this site, I was 20 pounds overweight and out of shape. My clothes were just a bit too snug on me. I was not eating what I should be eating. My tummy was flabby. My backside was flat and jiggly. My thighs were like Jell-O. But if you looked at me, you probably could not see that. Looking at me, you probably would wonder where that extra 20 pounds was. At 5'6", I carry that 20 pounds differently than someone who is only 5' tall.
You don't see what I see in the mirror. When I wear certain things, I can hide that extra 20 pounds from the world and nobody needs to know that my thighs rub together when I walk.
I came here because I wanted to live a healthy life. I came here to learn how to eat properly and how to pick myself up when I fall off the wagon. I came here to make the yo-yo stop once and for all. I came here to learn how to get into shape and not be so winded when I walk up a flight of stairs.
We as a society are conditioned to think that only dramatic weight loss is worthy weight loss. Having a 300 pound person lose 100 pounds on the Biggest Loser makes for better TV than a 165 pound person losing 20 pounds. Showing before and after pictures of someone losing 50 pounds probably sells more Jenny Craig memberships or Nutrisystem food deliveries or infomercial workout DVD's than someone else losing only 15 pounds.
I am not vain because I want to lose weight. I am not shallow because I want to lose weight. I do not have a distorted view of my body because I want to lose weight. My desire to lose weight is not because of an eating disorder. I am no more shallow, vain, or anorexic than the overweight person is lazy, slothful, or has no self control.
I want to be healthy. I want my clothes to fit me better. I want to be in shape. I want to have energy and not be tired all the time. I want to learn ways to eat healthy when I don't have time to cook regular food.
Isn't this why we're all here?
A part of me resents the fact that I am judged by others as "not being fat enough" to lose weight or to be on a website like this. Exercising and eating healthier and understanding what you are putting into your body and what effect it has on you isn't the exclusive right of those who only have 30 or more pounds to lose.
There was a time in my life where I didn't have to worry about my weight. But at the age of 39, my metabolism isn't what it used to be and now I have to work at keeping the extra pounds off of me.
We are all here for the same purpose. It should not matter if someone needs to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds.
I am a fan of the Biggest Loser and even with my smaller amount of weight I had to lose, I find inspriation from the people who are on it, too, and from Bob Harper particularly. If someone who weighs 300 pounds can make that change in their lives, then what's my excuse for not?
Looking back at this, I'm struck by two things.
The first of these two things is this was clearly a case of "reverse-discrimination", although I take exception with that term, because discrimination is discrimination regardless of who is passing judgement on whom, and it's not right to do it, period. We will not learn to get along as human beings until we can admit that we're all judgmental, even those of us who take the most abuse from others. There seems to be a misconception that groups who are discriminated against are incapable of themselves discriminating against others. In other words, when they discriminate or say something bigoted, they get a free pass because if I, being in the majority, call them on it, then I'm called out as a bigot for calling them on their bigotry. This is something I may elaborate on further in a different post.
The second thing is more personal. Ever since I've been able to learn to "let go", I've not been so obsessed with losing weight. I've stopped worrying about it and stopped getting hung up on numbers and "doing it right". When I let go of that perfectionism, it became so much easier for me to pick myself up, get motivated, and most of all, stop beating myself up if I slipped. I have dropped about 14 pounds since I moved to South Dakota without being obsessed with doing it.
You can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can't take Wisconsin out of the girl.