Patience, Perfection, and That Time I Pretended I Was the Subway Guy

Patience, Perfection, and That Time I Pretended I Was the Subway Guy

Perfection is something I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in; it’s right up there with the phrase ‘nothing tastes as good as thin feels’ and the 2013 Cliff Richard calendar in my ‘List of Things I Strongly Oppose.’

But sometimes, for reasons beyond my control – also known as this blog – I have to pretend I’m perfect. Today was one instance of that. Today, I got to wander around my local gym, having my photo taken whilst holding some frankly pretty impressive pants.

Oh yeah. Check ME out. That’s the result – and if that doesn’t imply I’m perfect, I don’t know what does. I suppose now would be an appropriate time for a ‘LOL.’ So be it.

It’s quite fun, wandering around the gym in stillettos and a dress while everyone else is working out with wild abandon, holding a pair of trousers with a waist that’s 18 inches larger than the one in the dress I’m currently wearing. That’s the sort of thing to make a girl feel like she’s got it all sussed.

Which, to some extent, I do. I mean, I’m getting pretty good at this weight loss business. I’ve got an utterly amazing new job. This time next week, I’ll be in my adorable new room in London, wearing some of the lovely new clothes I’ve treated myself to for the aforementioned new job. All these things mean I really ought to be sitting, oblivious to the world, surrounded by a huge cloud of smug and high-fiving my own reflection.

But alas, no such joy.

Still, I can’t help but feel that maybe – just maybe – I might be ‘found out.’ I’ve heard people in PhD circles describe something called ‘impostor syndrome’ which pretty much sums it up. I’m fit, I’m healthy, and I’m doing a pretty decent job of everything I need to do, and yet still, there’s a little bit of doubt in there that I’m eventually going to be discovered for the donut fiend with Cousin It hair and a penchant for drunkenly pretending to be Britney Spears that I really am.

This means that, from time to time, I have to sit myself down and give myself a lil’ bit of a talking to. Fortunately, I also have you fantastic people – and consider this a shout out to all the people who’ve taken the time to send me a message of late, especially since the meal plan came out – because you all make my day and rock my world on a very regular basis.

But reconciling your new self with the ‘old you’ is one of those things that takes time – and it’s why, even after all these months and years, and despite many people trying to convince me otherwise, I’m still opposed to the idea of a quick fix. Like I’ve said before,

“this sort of drastic change needs to be a slow-burn process. Seeing yourself differently because you know you’ve put in months and years of hard work to get there has a very different impact on you than waking up after surgery or extreme, sudden weight loss having been changed by something or someone externally.

Personally, I can completely understand how it’s easy to regain the weight if you suddenly drop 100lbs in a short space of time, because in your head, you’re still the same person. You haven’t learned how to live in a different body, or how to maintain it – and you’re not psychologically prepared for the change in yourself and your identity.”

Source: The Psychology of Getting Fit

From the master cleanse to the gastric band, I can’t help but feel as though this sort of rapid change and quick-fix attitude must have some sort of negative psychological effect, long-term. For example, I’ve spoken to very few people who’ve taken one of those avenues to weight loss that doesn’t seem really, really fixated on the scale. Day-to-day, happiness seems to be dependent on the amount of weight lost – and if a plateau or (heaven forbid) even a little bit of weight gain happens, it’s viewed as something that deserves punishment through ever more extreme measures.

I’m not meaning this to sound in any way inflammatory – quite the opposite. These people seem to have more focus than I do, and will probably get to where they’re going faster than me, but… I worry about the long-term psychological effects of this kind of attitude – especially because most people end up opting for extreme diets or surgery because of an underlying psychological issue they’ve got in the first place that makes it more difficult to do the ‘healthy living’ thing. The potential, it seems to me, is for the solution to exacerbate the problem – leading to a much worse situation further down the line.

And it’s for other people, too, that I worry, when these sorts of quick fixes are becoming increasingly common. I mean, last night, having had an ice-cream and movies night with the family (because yes, I still eat ice cream – again, I am an impostor), I found myself half-heartedly watching a programme about the biggest celebrity weight loss transformations, or something to that effect. Needless to say, it was pretty depressing – not least because most of them had taken one of these quick fix routes to lose their excess weight.

If I hadn’t already been trekkin’ on down the weight loss road, I’d probably be a little tempted to consider taking a similar route – because it seems to me that there aren’t enough people willing to stand up and say that they’ve lost weight very slowly, and by being pretty normal.

That might be part of the reason behind my feeling like an impostor – because in reality, I’m not living every day as though I’m on a ‘health kick,’ and I go weeks without so much as looking at the scales. Currently, I don’t even own a set. The diet guru, I ain’t.

Don’t get me wrong – I lose a couple of pounds, and I’m pleased about it. It’s progress in the right direction – but it’s just not that big a deal any more. If I have a particularly good week, where I hit the gym hard and eat right, that’s brilliant – but if I’m a little more laissez-faire about it… That’s good too. The 20lbs I’ve still got to lose will come off in their own time, just so long as I live a pretty healthy lifestyle – but there’s no rush. It’s cool.

This isn’t a state of mind that’s come easily – I’ve had to deal with a heck of a lot of issues along the way, to get to a point where I can stop letting it wear me down. I’ve had issues with emotional eating, I’ve been depressed, I’ve binged (and had one, miserable, failed attempt to purge) – but I’m pretty much past all that, and now, I’m just living. Living well, I might add.

Except, that is, around my time of the month, when I’m prepared to maim anyone that gets between me and a biscuit. That ain’t changing any time soon.

I suppose what I’m saying – much like Matt has said previously, here – is that for all my posing with big pants, and the before and after shots, and the meal plans, and the workout programmes… I don’t want to be a part of the diet industry. I don’t want to be selling you guys anything that isn’t a real life, because I don’t want to be responsible for even one person taking extreme measures to lose weight.

Instead, if I could have my dream outcome here, I’d want to be responsible for a lot of people ditching extreme measures, and losing weight anyhow. That’s what all this is for. So have patience, and trust yourself – because if I’ve learned one thing, it’s this:

Normal is way, way more fun than perfect.

8 thoughts on “Patience, Perfection, and That Time I Pretended I Was the Subway Guy”

  • Amen!
    It seems that nowadays everybody wants quick fixes for everything. Nobody wants to wait anymore. Don’t feel like making dinner? Microwave meal! Want to lose those thunder thighs? Liposuction! Want to lose weight? Gastric band! Want to grow muscles? Pec implants!
    In my honest opinion, I think that the things you work hardest for, are the things you value most. That is why it’s okay to reach your weight loss goal not in two months, but in two years. It didn’t take you two months to get there, so you might as well take it easy on the way back. Without the scales, of course. Life is a lot more peaceful without that apparatus from hell!
    Oh, and by the way – you look good in that photo, Katie! I’d say some smugness is definitely in order 😉

  • Another Excellent post. It’s taken me a few years to lose my 120lbs and I still have 15 or more to go. I agree, weight loss is a marathon not a sprint and I firmly believe by taking you time, changing your mentality it will come off and stay off. We are normal, rounded, slightly confused people. Exactly how it should be. 🙂

  • Your comment about imposter syndrome reminded me of David Foster Wallace’s famous commencement address, “This is Water.” See what I mean:

    “If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.”

    By idolizing beauty — or, for that matter, progress — we tie our self-respect and self-satisfaction to the number on the scale or the inches around our waist. Occupations with appearance swallows all that is rich and kind and compelling about our presence in the world. We assume that we can only move “up” or “down”; we think in binaries of “good” or “bad,” “perfect” or not. But the world is so much more complicated than that! Wallace concludes:

    “The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.”

    That’s how I think of it, too. And, come to mention it, it practically sounds like a quote from this blog.

    Here’s the full text of the speech, in case you want to read or re-read it: Alternatively, here’s a link to the audio with some notable excerpts:

    Just gorgeous.

    • Wow – I can’t even begin to tell you how flattered I am to be compared to David Foster Wallace… The man’s a genius! I can only dream – and having just read “This is Water” I’m in awe of it. I love these quotes – and I think they may serve as inspiration for a future post. So thank you, again, for such an amazing compliment, and some real food for thought 🙂

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