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Overweight Admission

May 16, 2010

I’ve lost about forty pounds.
You’ve heard this from me time and time again. So often, in fact, that you are probably sick of it. 
I’m assuming so, because sometimes I get sick of it, too. 

Admissions (continued from previous confessions & secrets):

Though I’ve lost a bunch of weight, I still have a bunch of weight to go.  I am living a much healthier life now than I was a  year ago, but if you were to plug my stats into a BMI calculator, you would see it steal reads “overweight.”  I know I shouldn’t base my lifestyle, self-image, or health on one calculation, but that 27+ [27.3, 27.7, 27.5, 27.2] the last several times I’m documented my progress [or anti-progress] still reminds me that I’m not where I want to be. 

BMI Calculations aside, if you asked people that know me in real life, they would tell you as well, that I am not at a healthy weight.  You may think I’m being too hard on myself, and I’ll touch on this more in a bit, but what they might tell you is that I’m a “bigger girl”, or “a little heavy”, or "not fat but…”

I know how to post a flattering photo.  I know how to delete unflattering photos.  I know that with a certain angle, in a certain mirror, or a certain outfit, the camera doesn’t add ten pounds- it subtracts them. 

smaller This photo that you may have seen 100 times, is flattering.
That hair cut is flattering. That top is flattering.
The fact that you can’t see very much of my body is flattering.
I only have one chin in this photo, and that is flattering.

Yesterday I published this vote page asking for help in making a decision on which dress to wear to Julie’s wedding at the end of the month. I posted three photos, one of each dress.  I posted the most flattering photo of each dress.  Then I realized, through counting up the votes, that most people like the dress in which I appear to be the thinnest in the photos.  

allthreeThrough blog and facebook comments, the current tally as I type this is:

Blue – 4 (with a different cardigan)

Yellow – 4

Green – 15

It’s no lie – the picture of the green dress makes me appear more slender than the other two photos.  Is it the dress? No doubt, the hand on the hip. The cardigan? The way I am taking the photo from above, holding my arm over my head creating a more flattering angle?

Most importantly, does it matter?

Why do I desire to be slender?  Why do I feel the need to reach the “normal” category on the BMI calculator?  Why do i find myself comparing myself constantly? I say I want to lose weight to not be “overweight.”  I want to drop more weight for my health.  But perhaps the fact that the category on the BMI scale is titled “normal” and not “healthy” says more than we think.

The truth is, as we’ve all heard before, the popular view in our society is that “overweight” is bad. The perception is that body shape aside, weighing more than you “should” isn’t a good thing.   But why?

We say it’s for health.  But when we a friend or family member starts to eat more vegetables or joins a gym, we are happy for them.  We want our loved ones to live longer.  We want the chances of certain fatal illness to fall.  We want them to feel better.  But when we see someone we haven’t seen for a while, and they have lost 20 pounds, we don’t say  “Wow! What low blood pressure you have!”  We say things like, “You look great!” 

The truth is, I am making healthy decisions for a variety of reasons. 
I drink water because it’s important to my health, and my training, that I stay hydrated.  I drink water because it helps me dictate my hunger cues. I drink water because it’s good for my skin.  I drink water because I know I “should.”

I eat vegetables for their nutrients and vitamins.  I eat vegetables to fuel me. I eat vegetables because they are yummy.  I eat vegetables because I know I “should.”

I run because I feel strong. I run because I enjoy it.  I run because it’s a form of stress-relief.  I run because I have set goals and am determined to complete them.  I run because I know I “should.”

I drink water to lose weight. I eat vegetables to lose weight. I run to lose weight. I lose weight to be healthy, to feel good about myself, and because I think I “should”.  In order to live longer, of course, but also in order to look better, or rather, to feel more comfortable with what I see in the mirror.

I’m kind of mad at myself for saying that, but more so because I feel that.  Even more so, perhaps, that I am upset over it at all. Because I know that it is okay to want to lose weight.  Just as much as it’s okay to not want to.
I don’t think I’m being too hard on myself, I think I am being honest.

Some days I look in the mirror and ask myself, “Who are you fooling?” as I remember that I am not as small as I try to pretend to be on the internet.  But some days I look at photos of myself from just a few years ago and think, “Wow, forty pounds is an accomplishment.”  I get frustrated with myself that I’ve allowed the weight loss to slow or pause.  Then I realize I have barely anything that fits me properly and that a lot of my clothes are much too big, and I remember that I have made a lot of progress and that shouldn’t be negated.  I remember that when I go into the store and try on clothes, I often taken the wrong size into the dressing room and need to ask for a smaller one.  This is reassuring.

Yet as often as I remember to say, “hooray me!”, I catch myself looking at other people and forgetting all I know. 

As i tried on the dresses, maneuvering to take the most flattering photos of myself, i fought to drown out the voice in my head that was reminding me that it didn’t matter WHAT angle i took the photo, soon I would be standing near two healthy living bloggers in photos -during meet ups and sleepovers and celebrations- and probably felling uncomfortable, feeling like a giant next to them. With each photo I snapped, disliked, and deleted, I was helping to produce some sort of lie.  As I cropped and selected which photos to post online, I remember that pretty soon, in real life, I will be in front of a few gorgeous women who up until now, only know what I look like due to photos I choose to place online. Photos that I choose because they are the best ones. And there is a possibility that when they see me they will think “That’s not what I thought.”  I would have fooled them.  Just as I keep trying to fool all of you, and seemingly, also myself, by only posting such “good” photos. 

The funny thing is, I don’t compare my height to other bloggers.
I don’t compare my age, or my hair style or lack there of.  I don’t fear how my eyes will look in a photo next to anyone else’s eyes.  I don’t particularly care about my accent or vocabulary when I meet these people for the first time.  Why do I care so much about my weight?  My perception needs an overhaul.

There is nothing wrong with dressing for your figure.  There is nothing wrong with posting the most flattering of photos. There is nothing wrong with a desire to feel comfortable with yourself. 

I refuse to act ashamed any longer.  Because that’s what the trying to appear smaller than I am really is to me – it’s being ashamed of how I appear now.  I’m not ashamed of my journey.  I’m not ashamed of the forty pounds.  I’m not ashamed of my emotions, or my growth, or my learning.  I’m not ashamed of my desire to set goals and reach them – I can’t be ashamed of this middle place either.  This place of in between.  This place of BMI 27. 

Not ashamed.

yellow2 green1blue2 


me6 me9


me1 me4

43 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2010 1:08 pm

    Excellent post!!! Weight/body image/healthy living is something that we can ALL come together on. Regardless of our height/ age. We struggle and conquer this every single day. It is perfectly acceptable to have different reasons for doing something :some day’s I say hi to my lab partner because I am happy to see him, other days it’s because I want him to help me with my lab report.

    You look amazing in that green dress. Not because of the fact that it makes you look slimmer, but the smile on your face. Look again and you will see what I am talking about 🙂

  2. May 16, 2010 1:18 pm

    Oh Heather, I love you! You are 100% not being too hard on yourself. I think you’ve very clearly demonstrated that you’re in a place that many women have been, will be or are in now. It’s great to look back on your past accomplishments and congratulate yourself on the progress you’ve made. It’s also ok to look ahead and say, “ok, we still have more work to do, but I’ll keep loving you, body, and we’ll get there!”. 🙂

    Also, a note on the pictures. Please remember that EVERY woman takes both flattering and unflattering pictures. Yes, even super models! But the thing that we also have to remember when we see pictures in the media and such is that 1. they’re photoshopped 99% of the time, and 2. the women are TRAINED to pose in pictures to best show off their bodies. They know exactly how to pose to make their bust look larger, their waste tinier, their arms more toned, their hips and legs slimmer, etc. And if for some reason they’re having an off day, the elite photographers there know exactly how to pose them and manipulate the camera to get the best angles and most “perfect” look out of the models that they can find.

    Also – can I just say that I loved that you brought up the stuff about comparing height, hair styles, etc. with other bloggers? It’s so true. So often in this blog world we compare weight (or physical appearance of weight), what we eat and what we do. But there is SO much more! Someone who you may think is really short, tiny and petite may actually be 5’10!

    Love you and love this post, darlin’! 🙂

  3. May 16, 2010 1:18 pm

    Body image is a hard thing for most people because they are always comparing themselves to someone else. Once you stop doing that it gets a little bit easier.

    But I really think that being very healthy and still overweight is waaaaaay better than being at a perfect weight with the worst eating and exercise habits. You are doing great with your journey. Don’t be ashamed of that. Don’t try to be like anyone else other than yourself.

  4. Julie permalink
    May 16, 2010 1:32 pm

    Never be asahmed Heather. You are an amazing person and that’s all that matters. I mean, it REALLY is! I totally get where you are coming from though…I still find myself comparing my body to other’s, and sometimes I look in the mirror and think I look thin, but then I try on summer clothes from last year that don’t fit and reality slaps me in the face. I try to not let it get to me, and so far it’s working. You know why?? Because I tell myself that my friends aren’t my friends because of how I look or what size my clothes are, people in my life like me for me…for my personality, for what’s on the inside. And that is all that matters.

    You look great in all 3 dresses, but I like the yellow one the best 🙂 It’s bright and fun just like you 🙂

  5. May 16, 2010 1:47 pm

    You are amazing.
    That is all.

    And I concur with everything Lindsey wrote. I was cheering reading her first paragraph

    Now, that is all.

  6. May 16, 2010 3:31 pm

    First of all… I like the blue personally, the color looks amazing on you. Second, I have had this exact conversation with myself for a while now. Do I think being overweight is bad, for me. Yes. Why? I WANT to be healthy, and I know having excess fat on my body can be harmful… that’s the sensible healthy side of my brain speaking. Then there’s the vain side… I’ve never, EVER been “skinny”… never. For as long as I can remember I always said “I want to wear a size 10.” bam. that’s it, I want to do that, why, because I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. Is that bad? I don’t think so. I think everyone is different and has different wants and desires and that is OK. I think its ok to want those things, IF you work to achieve them in a healthy way, no crazy crash diets, etc. I think personally, that you know YOU and whatever you want in life is yours for the taking. 🙂

    Heart you. thanks for sharing!

  7. May 16, 2010 4:22 pm

    Great post. I think everyone can relate to this, whether we are considered at a “normal” BMI or not! I’m definitely guilty of deleting unflattering photos of myself. But who isn’t? Of course we want to project our best selves to the world.

    But honestly – I think you look best in the photos where you look HAPPY. 🙂 There’s nothing more beautiful than a smile. Remember that!

  8. May 16, 2010 5:34 pm

    You should be proud of 40 lbs! That is a major accomplishment. I struggle with the same things you do, and I am of course guilty of posting only the most flattering pictures. I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with this, but at some point I would really like to reach the milestone you have hit today. It is a beautiful thing that you have come to this level of acceptance.

  9. May 16, 2010 5:46 pm

    You inspire me.

  10. May 16, 2010 6:08 pm

    You are adorable and amazingly brilliant! You are spot on, girl! Comparisons get us no where. We are perfectly perfect where we are right now.

  11. Marla permalink
    May 16, 2010 6:56 pm

    Wow, just when I though you really couldn’t be any more honest and touch yet another chord of resonance on deeply personal things,there you go an write this incredible post.
    It is so incredible because I feel the same and I try and hide these feelings.I have more weight to lose than you do or wish to,but I know I feel the same shame and pain,especially with photos,meeting people or running into old aquaintances or even get together with long lost friends..hey even with family I have these feelings of shame about my weight and body and how I look.
    I am lying to myself if I say it doesn’t affect almost every aspect of my life-the obvious,like lack of love/sex life,but even affects how I feel at work.
    Not only are you a sweet and brave soul ,but you are HELPING OTHERS face their fears…why are we hiding or pretending to be something else?Why do we allow shame and fear in so often?
    Thank you SOOOOO much for this post.It has made me realize I am not living a full and complete life in this hell I have created for myself.

    Thank you so very much.I hope I can begin to peel away my layers…of the actual fat, but also the layers of camouflage MENTALLY as well as physically.

    You are one strong and fearless chickie!Go girl go!YES!!

  12. May 16, 2010 7:53 pm

    You are awesome. So many of us feel this way but could never say it so eloquently or with such honesty. You rock – keep chasing your dreams and don’t let anything hold you back!! 🙂

  13. May 17, 2010 7:08 am

    OMG…Heather I got the BIGGEST smile on my face when I got to “Not ashamed” and the pics with your face in the dresses. It felt like a movie montage of happiness. Love this post!!

  14. Kristie permalink
    May 17, 2010 8:21 am

    What a beautiful post Heather. I love how you are rocking the honesty! I think about these things too, but it has helped me to meet other bloggers and just tell myself – okay, now they have seen you and they know you and even if you are not as fit-looking as they are they don’t like you any less. Which is ridiculous considering it’s not like if I met a blogger I would change how I felt about them based on their size. I’m always my toughest critic though, I’m sure.

  15. May 17, 2010 11:52 am

    It’s posts like this that make you one of the best bloggers in our community. You’re NEVER afraid to put your emotions out there. I respect you so much for what you are doing for all of us – bloggers, readers and women alike.

    Remember: be proud of your accomplishments. learn from your failures. either way, just keep on truckin’.

  16. May 17, 2010 12:27 pm

    For what it’s worth, I think we ALL tend to only post flattering photos of ourselves most of the time! Who wants to post a bad photo?!
    And yes, forty pounds is a HUGE accomplishment! I agree, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel like your best self. Just remember how far you’ve come and feel proud of that, too 🙂

  17. May 17, 2010 9:53 pm

    This is something that I think we all deal with. Even when I tell myself not to worry about it, I still get these little moments where I compare myself to others (I do that one a LOT), or look in the mirror and criticize myself. I don’t want to do it, but it’s become a habit at this point. We really have to make a conscious effort to change our mindset.

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re gorgeous! Just keep smiling!

    Also, I wanted to let you know, I gave you a Sweet Blog award today:

    Let’s run soon!

  18. May 18, 2010 11:49 am

    This is an amazing post Heather! I just wanted to let you know that you remind me a lot of myself. I feel very similar to you too! Thanks so much for the inspiring words and I’m definitely going to give you a shout out on my blog later tonight when I post! You will be able to check it out here:

    Thanks so much for writing this post and inspiring others including me 🙂

  19. May 18, 2010 3:59 pm

    What a wonderful post! I agree with Anne-a smile ALWAYS makes you beautiful, no matter what your BMI is 🙂

  20. May 18, 2010 3:59 pm

    You are amazing and beautiful! You are so honest, real and refreshing. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. We all go through times of feeling not so good about ourselves and our journey, but be proud of where you are.

  21. May 18, 2010 4:00 pm

    You are so incredible.

    Seriously, you inspire me EVERY DAY. Maybe because lately, I find myself doing the same thing. Or cringing at photos tagged of me on facebook, those that are ‘taken from a bad angle’. I cringe because I know that other healthy living bloggers are my friends on facebook and they are going to see my weight gain. The weight gain that I have talked about on my blog, but not necessarily PHOTOGRAPHED.

    Thank you for helping me. I really needed this today.

  22. elaine! permalink
    May 18, 2010 4:10 pm

    Your commentary on taking flattering photos was funny, because I’ve always done the exact same thing — that slightly-from-above angle works every time! And I’m in the middle range of a “normal” BMI.

    And for the record, the blue dress with the white cardigan is a WIN! It looks like something Stacy and Clinton from that show “What Not To Wear” would pick out for you. A fun and flattering print, great waistline, flirty length, and beautiful colors.

    I’m glad you posted full body shots… you really shouldn’t decapitate yourself on the internet like you did before. 😉

  23. May 18, 2010 4:24 pm

    I could have written this it is soooo me.
    Every single time I post about how I want to lose weight on my blog people jump all over me for being too hard on myself and not having to lose. But they just see the flattering pictures, I too know how to delete the bad ones.

    My BMI is too high, but honestly, I don’t care about that shit. What I do care about is the scare and I’m aiming to lower it. I just need to learn how to like myself in the in between time 🙂

  24. May 18, 2010 5:11 pm

    Wow, what an inspiring post. I totally get what you are talking about. I don’t post a lot of pictures of myself online and last week, when I did the yoga pose may, I really struggled with putting a picture of myself “out there” like that. I am so honest and open with my writing but the pictures, not so much. Thanks for keeping it real.

  25. May 18, 2010 6:13 pm

    Found this post through Caitlin/Healthy Tipping Point on twitter. I think it’s important for you to be honest with yourself without being too negative. I actually like the blue zig zags or yellow floral dresses much more than the green because they’re just visually so much more appealing. And don’t worry, we all select the most flattering body photos to post on the blog…or most of us anyway. 🙂

  26. May 18, 2010 6:31 pm

    I won’t lie and say “Oh, I’m not doing it for the weight loss.” But it’s stopped being JUST about that. With each pound I shed, it becomes easier for me to run, less pressure/strain on my body. With each pound I shed, I hypothetically will decrease my chances of certain obesity-related diseases, giving me more time to complete triathlons, run around the world, qualify for Boston. It’s stopped being JUST about the number because shit, that number doesn’t define me. I hate judging my progress only on the amount I’ve lost. I’ve learned (through a lot of trial and error and time) that when I start judging by my performance, I am in a much better place mentally.

    And, I’m glad you’re proud of your progress and where you’re at. I need to start posting more photos of myself on the blog more. I overcame a big fear yesterday of being seen in public with a bathing suit. I decided that triathlon training was more important, hopped in the pool at the gym, and then realized that I was the only person that cared what I looked like. After I started swimming, the pressure came off and now I can’t wait to go back to the pool. It’s relieving.

    I hope by posting your pictures, even the “unflattering” ones, you’re lifting that weight off your chest and appreciating the progress you’ve made.

  27. May 18, 2010 6:47 pm

    40 lbs is an amazing accomplishment~
    It’s hard not to compare yourself to others…I do it myself as much as I know I shouldn’t. In fact, I constantly compare myself to myself 5 years ago..before babies and that’s not getting me anywhere. Glad to see you proud to be you in your photos!

  28. May 18, 2010 8:30 pm

    you. are. awesome. thank you for this post.

  29. May 18, 2010 10:57 pm

    Wow, Heather. Hats off to you for everything in this post. You are incredible and beautiful and I am so happy you are seeing that! I can’t wait to hang out with you at the end of this month!!

  30. May 19, 2010 8:05 am

    I just came across your blog and I must say that this post is incredible. Losing 40 pounds is truly an accomplishment for anyone and regardless of where you are at now, you should always look at how far you’ve come, not how much farther you need to go. This is a great inspirational post and I hope others (including myself) learn more about self-acceptance and try to focus less on what others may or may not think about them. Again, wonderful post. ^_^

  31. Jenn permalink
    May 19, 2010 11:16 am

    I would like to see the dresses without the cardigan.

  32. May 19, 2010 2:39 pm

    1. I love your transparency in this post.
    2. You encourage others in such an inspiring way!
    3. With that smile I honestly think you’ll continue to win the affection of people (and readers) no matter what your weight is.

  33. May 20, 2010 12:17 am

    This is so beautifully honest. Thank you so much! I seriously got chills at the end of the post.

  34. May 21, 2010 11:18 pm

    I love this post! 🙂 You are brave, determined, and absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to meet you in August.

  35. Brendali permalink
    June 3, 2010 8:19 pm

    Ugh! I think I love you! I just found your blog and you truly are a breath of fresh air! This post was just… Perfect! Thank you for sharing

  36. Lisa permalink
    June 18, 2010 3:41 pm

    I am subscribing to your blog on the basis of this post alone! You rock!

  37. July 29, 2010 3:50 pm

    I loved this.

  38. August 8, 2010 9:31 am

    I absolutely adore this post! I too have lost a lot of weight, but still am overweight.

    I really want to accept the person I’ve become but some days are harder than others.

    Thanks for this post, you are beautiful! 🙂


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