My Lifestyle

The Media Diet

I’ve been a larger person for the great majority of my life.  I’ve never experienced being someone who has teeny little invisible-to-others flaws they pick apart in the mirror.  In fact, for most of my adult life I thought it would just be fantastic to wear a size 14 so I could shop somewhere that sold clothes I liked.  I never coveted a “thigh gap” or a stomach with so little fat you could see my abdominal muscles.  I thought it would be great if my thighs didn’t chafe when I walked from all the rubbing.

The closest I ever got to the nit-picking your body phase was at the end of my weight-loss and the year that followed.  I flew past original goals, to wear that size 14 and be able to walk anywhere I wanted to without getting out of breath or chafing my thighs.  I was wearing size 8, even 6 in some things.  My thighs didn’t chafe.  In fact, they didn’t touch at all.  In clothes, my stomach looked flat.  I lost most of my breast tissue and went from a DD-cup to a small C or even a large B.

While I was deep in the process of obsessively losing weight, I became a consumer of a type of media I previously never knew existed: fitness and health.  I started looking at pictures of fitness models.  I started following them and reading about their workout routines and diets.  I worked out at least 6 times a week, for 1-2 hours each time.  It was all very intense.  No walks in the park for me!  I weighed myself every morning and I adjusted my diet accordingly.  I was the thinnest I had ever been in my life and I kept it that way with constant vigilance.  But I still didn’t look like the fitness models.  There was a time when I thought I should, and could, look like them if I just tried a little harder.  Why not?  I lost 125 pounds.  I could do anything.  All it takes is enough “will-power” right?  If I didn’t get the six-pack, I must be full of lazy-excuses.  That’s what those fitness model types said, and look at them!  It must be true…

Except that it’s not true at all.  My body is my body.  I first gained weight in the third grade.  My adult body had never been so small.  I have been so many sizes in my life, from 6 to 24.  I have yo-yo dieted, losing and gaining 20-40 pounds at a time.  I even lost 100+ pounds, gained it all back and lost it again.  I bet I have lost close to 500 pounds in my life if you added it all up.

The reason I do not, and never will, look like one of those headless ab posters actually doesn’t have anything to do with laziness or excuses.  It’s just not the way my body is going to look due to my genetics and personal history.  It took me a long time to recognize and be able to accept that, especially with all the messaging telling you that if you just Tried a Little Harder, you could make all your perfect body dreams come true.

The fitness and health world is not at all what it seems to be.  At my heaviest, I would have killed to be the size 14.  Visible abs were never on my radar.  My outlook on myself was far healthier before I ever started reading about health and fitness.  Isn’t that just backwards?  Shouldn’t the health industry be promoting actual health and fitness, not obsessive body re-composition?

I had long ago stopped looking at fashion magazines and models.  I knew they were underweight and that it was crazy to think I would ever look like them.  But the fitness look seemed so “healthy” and that’s how it was promoted.  Anybody can do this, they tell you.  You just have to want it bad enough.  Just eat a “clean” diet, lift weights, and wake up one day looking like Jamie Eason!

Fast forward to now.  My outlook is totally different.  I’m never going to look like Jamie Eason.  I’m me.  I look like me.  Kate.  Hi!  Nice to meet you.  My thighs touch and my belly is not flat.  I am strong and healthy.

The 2013 picture was taken a few months ago.  I'm wearing the same outfit today, so I must be a similar size.  I don't weigh myself anymore though, so I can't say for sure.
The 2013 picture was taken a few months ago. I’m wearing the same outfit today, so I must be a similar size. I don’t weigh myself anymore though, so I can’t say for sure.

I went on a new type of diet, you see.  I went on a Media Diet.  I already didn’t watch much TV or read magazines, but I do spend a lot of time online.  Throughout my changing lifestyle I had managed to build up quite the repertoire of places to consume other people’s tight, toned, surgically and digitally enhanced bodies online and read about their endless nit-picking of their imperceptible flaws, Facebook being the most gluttonous.

The most important tool of the Media Diet for me the Facebook UNLIKE button.  Does the page post fitspo?  Unlike.  Does it go on about counting carbs after 3 pm to get the flattest belly?  Unlike.  Does it tell me I’m not good enough the way I am?  Unlike.  Does it send me the message that if I don’t look like the model in the picture, I’m a lazy, full of excuses waste of space?  UNLIKE at the speed of light!

If it does not lift me up and support actual health and actual fitness, I don’t need to consume it.

We are bombarded with messages about not being good enough every single day.  You cannot completely escape this.  I can’t stop going to the grocery store and seeing the headlines about which celebrities are too fat and which are too thin.  But I can take an active role in many parts of my life.  I can choose.

You do not have to buy those magazines or follow those pages to be healthy.  If you’re like me, you might be a lot saner and healthier without them.

My New Years Resolution this year was to stop reading weight/health/nutrition books.  I am proud to say that in 2013 I have only read fiction and art books.

Come to think of it, ever since I went on my Media Diet, I am doing a lot of things I enjoy that are important to me that I wasn’t doing before.  I’m not working out 6 days a week anymore.  I am walking in the park.  I am hiking.  I am practicing yoga.  I only go to the gym 1 time a week, for BodyPump, which is just plain FUN.  I have drawn in my sketchbook almost every day this year, something I kept telling myself I would do that I never did.  I guess I needed to free up the mental space for it.  When I get sick or am too exhausted, I do a crazy thing: I REST.  I do not worry about what it might do to my weight the next day.

I don’t track anything anymore, except my menstrual cycle.  When I exercise, I do it for myself, for my mental and physical health, and because I want to, not for calories burned.  I don’t do it to earn my dinner.  I’m going to eat dinner either way.  And sometimes it’s going to be pizza.

I have allowed myself time and space to think about what is really important to me, how I really feel about my body, and to stop comparing myself to anyone else.  Comparing yourself to other people is stupid.  A person with my body and my history is never going to look like someone who has always been thin.  That’s a great big “DUH.” right?  But I think a lot of people still don’t get it.

Many people would look at my body and find things to dislike about it, but I am not them, so it’s okay.   My hips?  They are glorious.  My stomach and thighs that touch once more (but don’t chafe)- so nice, so comforting, so warm and soft.  Fat is not an enemy, it is part of my body.  It gives me my hourglass shape.  It gives me my fabulous D-cups.  I gives me warmth.  I am no longer constantly cold.  I don’t feel dizzy.  I have a lot more energy.  I am more comfortable sleeping.  I feel more attractive and less self-conscious.

Contrary to what I thought, being the thinnest ever didn’t make me happier.  It didn’t make me better.  It just made me look different.  I remember how I felt when I took the middle picture you see above, and I kept staring at it thinking “Wow, I am actually thin.”  It was strange and intriguing.  It was an out of body experience for sure.  When I look at the picture of me now, I see me.  It’s not weird, it just is.  Living the life I want to live naturally returned me to the body I was meant to have.  The funny thing is, this is the body I probably would have had if I had never dieted at all.  If I had just let my body mature as it was meant to.  But everything told me I wasn’t okay the way I was, and I believed it.  I don’t believe it now.  And anyway, it’s not for anyone else to say.

You shouldn’t consume things that make you feel like crap.  That includes food and media.  Are there people in real life or online in your life who treat you like crap?  Do they talk down to you?  Do they act like they know you better than you know yourself?  Do they make you doubt yourself?  Cut them out.  You deserve better.  And make sure you’re not one of them.

Truth.
Truth.

20 thoughts on “The Media Diet

  1. Love this!!! I don’t consume media or television…I have lost weight to feel better…there is a little more to go to feel my ‘best’, but it is not ‘skinny, skinny’…I know how that good point feels and I know when it is too much and too little 🙂 I adore your fb posts, but don’t always take time to read your blogs (I should change that 🙂 and Thank you!

  2. A wonderful post and such a healthy attitude—Emotionally and mentally healthy. My mother calls me fat everytime she sees me and that’s because I am a size 8 and no longer a size 4. I am 51 years old and have no desire to be a size 4. I love the curves I have at size 8 that I never had when I was skinny–ok- I always had hips, we are we kidding. But I am quite content the way I am. Sure I would love to lose the belly fat–but it’s not me. My body or what it looks like does not define who I am. I love your post.

    🙂

    Ivonne

  3. I too gained weight in third grade. I’m not sure what triggered it but ever since then I’ve been overweight. Last May/June I was down 94# and then by December I put half of the weight I lost, back on. UGH. But now I’m back on track and have help, support group, etc. I’m down 75# now and am “in the zone” to get off ALL the weight and KEEP it off. Thank you for the post and the extra motivation!!

  4. This post really resonates with me. Right now I think I am kind of in that place you talked about from when you were in a size 8/6. Maybe one day I will kick my own butt and be more at peace the way you are.

    One thing I quickly realized after getting as thin as I could without being considered “underweight” is that my body will never look like those women in the media. I will always have big calves and muscular thighs regardless. I will never have abs that show no matter how hard I try (and I have tried!) because of all the yo-yoing that has messed up my tummy area with all that extra skin.

  5. Kate, what a beautiful and phenomenal post!!! I LOVE (x infinity) this post!!! I am on a mission to share deep and insightful messages such as this to change the contracted kind of thinking our western society holds, one person at a time. Thank you for posting!

  6. I;m pretty close to losing a total of 100 pounds and it’s been a gradual process. I don’t know what I want my body to look like in the future. I don’t know how much weight I want to lose exactly, but what I do know is that I want to be healthier, happier, and energetic. I like flipping through magazines and reading success weight loss and fitness stories, but I’m okay with not looking like those people. We’re all different and special in our own ways and that’s what makes us beautiful no matter our size. I really enjoyed reading your post……..Healthy Journey

  7. This is really an awesome post and more people should unlike/unfriend fitness pages and magazines that exhibit female bodies that are unrealistic! I am a personal trainer and I have even unsubscribed to almost all of my fitness magazines for this reason. Junk! I also have put myself on a media diet and encourage my clients to do so. When clients are constantly telling me they want to be the same size they were years ago, I ask them why and usually I hear something about more people making them feel loved or attractive. Sad! I also hear about all of the stress and stuff that was going on in their lives and come to find out a lot of them are more happy now. I tell them they will get to their weight loss goal by doing it the healthy and sane way. No crash dieting!

  8. Thanks for another wonderful post! You keep on inspiring me to step further away from comparing my body to others, or even to my own past’s body. One of my resolutions this year was to make sure that any weight loss goals that I have take a back seat to my other, WAY more important life goals. So far, so good. 🙂

  9. Reblogged this on Kris does Kettlebells and commented:
    It’s time we stop hating on ourselves. Thanks Kate for another excellent blog post. I’m so close to ‘unliking’ several Facebook sites that no longer resonate with me and my ‘middle ground’ thoughts on food and fitness. Thanks for being a voice of reason. 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for this! I was on a fb site yesterday, which I will unlike later, and was going to start pumping iron daily and trying to eat just so. I use so much mental power trying to do things just so. I am diabetic so I do have to pay attention but am told a walk in the park is best with some light weight lifting to keep my numbers in range. Again thank you!

  11. Beautiful post! This is the message that needs to be all over the media. This is the message I want the next generation of girls to understand and embrace. How much more peaceful and beautiful of a world would it be if there was more focus on FUN and PLAY and REST and JOY…than on the thigh gap, and the number on the scale, and so on. Thank you for your wisdom!

  12. Reblogged this on Hot Pink, High Heels, & Explosions and commented:
    I struggle with this on a regular bais. 325lb+ me would have been elated to be the size that I am. Thanks to fitspo, thinspo, and even people in my life who talk about my size and weight — I am always trying to be thinner and fitter. Not for me, not in a health way — but to “fit in”. Thanks to Kate for putting my feelings into words.

  13. Thank you for this post! It really resonates with me. I had a goal of losing a lot of weight last year. I did, but now have put half of it back on as I try to find some balance in my life. I don’t want to binge eat any more, but I don’t want to feel guilty about eating either. I want to exercise because I know it makes me feel good, not to offset some calorie intake. This year my goal is to find that balance in my life, so every moment of every day isn’t calorie related, and to be happy with the body that comes with that balanced lifestyle. Your post is awesome!

  14. An amazingly wonderful post. Not quite arrived at that body happy place just yet. I think I would be if I could get off the meds … I still struggle with this one. 😀 Love that you have gotten to this place. It gives me hope that I will soon find my happy place. What works for me and will allow me to settle in and rest. 😀

  15. I love your body-loving blog posts. I know I have room for improvement in the food and exercise areas but I know that I was not happy when I was below 200 lbs because 50% of my waking hours was food focused. Now I am taking your advice and learning to focus on the quality of food rather than worrying about numbers.

    On the same body-loving things I’ve been reading, I came across a knitting book recently that addressed some of the clothing dilemmas. It was a wake up call to find out that what I thought looked good on me emphasized the wrong areas. By changing how the same garment is worn can have a drastic impact as to whether my clothes highlight my shape in a flattering or non-flattering way. Just another way to look at ourselves in a more positive light without looking at numbers.

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