Q: Can you feel yourself losing weight the same as gaining it? I’ve only ever gained, and it always feels proportional. To better explain: I know I take up space, like mass, but I can’t feel the weight diff between now and say, freshman year.
I refer to this as “the creeper effect.” I’ll just say this in advance: I’ve dealt with it and while weight loss makes it different, I don’t believe it ever goes away.
Honestly, I think we all go through it, but there’s a big difference between “just noticing” 5lbs and “just noticing” 50lbs.
Like, for example – I don’t remember ever noticing that I’d gained weight. I do remember being in college, having a favorite pair of jeans (you know what I mean by “favorite pair of jeans”), going to put them on and realizing that they didn’t fit anymore, quietly shelving them in the back of the closet, and quickly grabbing something else to wear. I also think that was the day I started wearing elastic pants, because the jeans were a number size… and it might’ve been subconsciously too much for me to bear to have a numbered representation of the weight I’d gained.
I also recall trying on a pair of jeans – a year or so after the jean incident above – that were the same size of my favorite jeans… and those jeans laughed at me. I mean, they laughed at me. Those jeans said “Girl, if you don’t stop playing in this store and put me back on the shelf…” and that’s exactly what I did – I put them back on the shelf and went on my merry way, looking for elastic-y pants again. I remember people in college commenting on how “dressy” I was because I never wore jeans. Naw, I “stopped wearing jeans” because I couldn’t fit ’em like that. In 2008, I eventually found a cheap little out-of-the-way store that sold plus-sized jeans, and held onto a few pair. They were certainly not the same size as my other jeans, but I was so happy that I could wear jeans again that the size difference didn’t even register to me.
I think that at a certain point in weight gain, it gets harder to notice the occasional pound addition. I don’t know if that’s a subconscious means of protecting ourselves from the pain of still gaining yet not knowing why (and that pain, ironically, triggers a bout of emotional eating coupled with a pledge of “Tomorrow, I’m going on a diet!”), or if its the result of being taught to ignore focusing on our bodies (in the hopes that no one else would focus on our bodies), or if it is just a lifelong consequence of habitually putting everything above and before ourselves. Hell, it could be all three. All I know is that after I had my daughter, I really wasn’t paying any attention to myself… and I’m the most important person in her world.
In losing weight, it’s kind of funny. At first, I’d lose 20lbs and not notice a thing. That’s why I started clinging to my progress dress – it was allowing me to see what I obviously couldn’t see. I could track the weight without the worry. I also could look at my figure without criticizing my body (ohh, the cellulite… ohhh, the skin… if I knew then the skin issues I’d have to wait out, I might’ve given up. Just sayin’.) and just appreciate what my progress meant for my new wardrobe.
I won’t even lie – in the beginning, I could lose 30lbs and not notice a single difference. Once I started eating like I had some sense and the weight started flying off (and I’d know it was flying off because of the scale), I still could not see it. I could feel it because my mobility and my lung capacity improved, but see it as far as “taking up space?” That wasn’t happening.
There’s also the fact that even when I was a size 26, I truly believed I looked like a size 14. And I don’t mean “I thought I was sexy like a 14” – I mean, I thought I “took up the same space” as a size 14. It was confusing for a long time.
This is why the tape measure helps. It helps us identify the space that we do use, as well as identify when we begin to take up less space. I can keep track of the things I cannot always see with a standard form of measurement.
I think its normal for a woman who looks at herself to say “Oh, I feel lighter/heavier today.” I think what’s strange is beating yourself up for it. If you’re stepping up on a scale and saying “I think I feel lighter this week,” that’s one thing. But to base satisfaction or sorrow on whether or not your body has changed every single day, and your career isn’t based on that? That’s questionable.
Now, I can look at myself and tell if I’m heavier. Some people don’t want that ability, but I like the accountability it affords me. To me, if I weren’t able to tell when my body changed, it’d feel like “If I don’t know about it, I don’t have to do anything about it.” Weight changes are included in that. I feel like without that body awareness, I’d slide right back up into those size 28s. I’d just put my numbered jeans away, trade them for elastics and continue to ignore whatever problem I was dealing with instead of addressing it head on. Because, y’know, that’s the easier method… and we all like easy. Even me.
Having said all that, I do think we all notice weight fluctuation… but its a matter of whether or not we pay attention to them (or have a history of ignoring them), or turn them into something to obsess over that really matters. Like I’ve said before, having the information is great… but its whether or not you act on it (and how) that makes the difference. Hope that helps!
I have body image issues. Just got home Monday from a fantastic vacation with family. I bought an outfit and thought I was fine in the dressing room. I was shocked and ashamed at how fat I am when I looked at the pictures some family members posted on facebook. Two of my kids posted pictures of themselves with me as their profile. I love the smiles but HATE how my body looks. I don’t understand how I got from thinking I look okay in the dressing room to thinking I look like the goodyear blimp in the pics. I’ve lost about 30 pounds this year and am focusing on improving my health but the pics say I’ve got a long way to go. I’ve gained before and been unaware of it and lost and continued to wear the same clothes even though they were falling off because in my head I looked the same. What is going on?
I think you were going through what I was going through – I hid from myself the things I knew would hurt, and amplified the things I knew would make me feel better. On a large scale, I think we all do it. On a small scale, it affects each of us differently. *hug* Once we really start to face facts, we can start to find solutions… can’t solve what you can’t see. 🙂
I like this post. I can personally say that I am one of those oblivious people that doesn’t notice if I’ve gained or lost weight until someone else brings it to my attention or I can’t fit my clothes the way I did in the past. One thing I have picked up on though is that my friends or family that *make* an effort to always be aware of their weight tend to be thinner. My mom, for example, notices every single pound and has been within the same weight range for over 30 years. So I guess the saying ‘when you know better, you do better’ could be applied to this scenario as well.
I agree, my friends are the same! And yeah, your Mom IS a thin-mint! I ain’t mad at her! LOL!
“There’s also the fact that even when I was a size 26, I truly believed I looked like a size 14. And I don’t mean “I thought I was sexy like a 14″ – I mean, I thought I “took up the same space” as a size 14. It was confusing for a long time.”
I really thought this was some form of mental illness on my part because you cant tell me I’m not a 14 even when I was a 20. Thanks so much for sharing!
And y’all are right – sometimes I think what separates the ‘naturally thin’ from those of us who struggle is their constant awareness of their size and weight. Since I’ve been weighing myself daily the game has changed MAJORLY. I’m making it a lifetime habit.
“And y’all are right – sometimes I think what separates the ‘naturally thin’ from those of us who struggle is their constant awareness of their size and weight. Since I’ve been weighing myself daily the game has changed MAJORLY. I’m making it a lifetime habit.”
I agree, I just wonder about doing it healthily… so that it doesn’t devolve into an obsession, or evolve into something “punishable,” you know? Shoot, that might be another post entirely. LOL
I dont “feel” as large as am. I can relate the physical effects of the extra weight (i.e shortness of breath, etc) but not the spacial aspects. I was never a person concerned with what size I wore, I just bought what fit. Ironically, I work in retail and havent been able to purchase clothes where I work for at least 5, 6, 7 years or more (designer clothes by the way, Dior, Armani, etc). I dont even know, I just now that everything hurts and I’m tired of being tired. So I’m making a point to look in the mirror now and take stock of what’s there. I’m trying to commit to yoga because everyone says it makes you more aware of your body. it’s tough, the poses leave me gasping. But great post. You are very brave, god bless to you Erika and everyone who is on this journey. Thank you.
@Erica T. God bless you on your journey…and it is a journey. What you said, ” I dont even know, I just now that everything hurts and I’m tired of being tired.” is so telling and often the hard part. We don’t even know what to do, where to start or what exactly is the problem. I love this site because it is not only motivational/inspirational, but it gives you good information in bites we can swallow, understand and implement. Thank you Erika!
This whole post reinforces for me why taking the progress photos is such an important thing to do. My husband keeps a little photo of me in his wallet, and when he pulled it out just yesterday, I couldn’t look at it — it pained me! I was embarassed (or, “em-bare-assed”). I didn’t realize just how *heavy* I was until I saw that picture of myself 39 pounds ago.
Now I just need to get him a new photo 🙂
This was another excellent post. I too have not paid attention to my weight gain and only noticed after I can’t get into my clothes. I feel the same way I did 10-15 years ago when I was a “true” (not vanity) size 14. As I’ve gotten bigger I’ve avoided scales and told myself it was because I was using my clothes and other “factors” to tell me I’d lost weight and didn’t want to be a slave to any “number”. Needless to say that ain’t worked…LOL. Up until earlier this year, I hadn’t owned a scale in years. I’m going to have to take a page from Thembi book. I too have notice people who are more conscious about their weight tend to do something about it. Though as you said Erika you just want to avoid the obsessive/shaming aspect of it. :O)
“I agree, I just wonder about doing it healthily… so that it doesn’t devolve into an obsession, or evolve into something “punishable,” you know? Shoot, that might be another post entirely. LOL”
It absolutely is another post. I was a weight watcher for years and you only weigh in weekly there, which means that you have to just wait out unexpected results from a high sodium lunch, having your period, or slow moving bowels. It takes perspective because it takes seven days for another piece of information on how what youre doing is working. Thats how they get you.
But weighing myself every day I have about 48 hours before I find out how things are going. It takes perspective too, but I know what I actually weigh instead of some weird estimation compiled over the month.
On the other end of the spectrum, by obsession is usually about NOT getting on the scale. I figure, if I don’t see it, it can’t upset me and I am a size 14 after all. That’s how, a few years ago, when I saw that I gained 15 pounds I cried, swore off scales, and went on to gain many dozens more before I was forced to face reality.
I can totally remember the year when I stopped acknowledging how much I weighed and what I gained. Now as I work at losing it, I can say I probably gained 50 lbs over 10 years. I have lost just over 20..and the next 20 seems like forever.
The problem is I lose and I like working out and make healthy choices, but when someone points out my progress and enters the little world I created for myself, maybe its some sort of shame or embarrassment but instead of feeling proud I usually feel awkward and overly self conscious and start falling back into bad habits.
What’s that about?
I totally agree the scale says I have lost a lot of weight yet to me I look the same. Maybe I should have taken some visual records. Yet when you live with it everyday you aren’t aware of the little changes.
My best indicator is the clothes I wear and how they fit. It’s a new experience to shop for regular size clothing instead of Plus size. I still like the bagginess kinda feels safe wearing it.
When I started my journey to shed some pounds I would weigh myself a lot. I got tired of the “oh no” if I went up a pound or two. I know during that time of the month I get that creeper feeling. I chop it up to water gain and go about my day. I just keep on a more positive note to combat that feeling. Plus when I put on clothes from last summer they’re too big. Sometimes if you wear ill fitting clothes that creeper feeling comes up on you really fast. At least that’s what happened to me at times.
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