The Red Dress Epiphany
I’m super sorry guys – I’ve been ever so busy this last couple of weeks, what with the PhD, work, various project-type things, the Meal Plan, and some exciting bits and bobs relating to the blog (which I’m hoping you’ll all like, eventually!)
However, I’ve also done a spot of shopping. Well, I say “I” – I’m a girl on a very tight budget, but I needed a dress for an event, so my Mum very kindly let me borrow some dollar to pick something up.
I walked into the shop, and I picked up four or five I liked. All of which were a size 14-16, because I’ve been feeling a bit on the bloated side ever since my Mum decided to bake a really great gluten-free fruit cake. For Christmas. Which has already pretty much gone. I was celebrating Thanksgiving, after all.
Anyway, my Mum picked up a bright red, super-clingy, quite short peplum dress, that I would never, ever have picked up myself – not least because it was a size 12, and I am only ever an (optimistic) size 12 up top. This booty ain’t a size 12.
Except, as it turns out, it might be.
I tried the red dress on first, because I thought it’d be an exercise much like wrapping my entire body in cling film and attaching giant flashing arrows to every single one of my wobbly bits. Get the bad one out the way first, as it were.
Unbelievably – totally unbelievably – it fit. So unbelievably, in fact, that I very nearly took it back, but for the fact that I posted a photo on Twitter and was swiftly persuaded that it was not, in fact, too red.
Turns out, having lived with it for a few days, that it’s officially the best dress of all time. And it’s a good illustration of the things I’ve said about the psychology of getting fit. The first picture here is in February this year – the second, yesterday morning.
See what I mean about clingy? And… See what I mean about the butt? As a wise man once said, though, I like big butts and I cannot lie – so I’m not complaining.
Mentally, though, I haven’t adjusted to my size. I don’t just mean when I’m picking things up off the rail, either – when I’m trying to squeeze between tables in a bar, or going to sit down in a tight spot, or even just walking down the street, I still think I’m bigger than I am. I don’t mean that in the sense of walking around feeling miserable about my size – I just mean that I haven’t adjusted to the difference yet, so I’m working on the assumption that there’s a wider load here than there actually is.
This has worked in the opposite way for me in the past, too. When the weight’s creeping up, it gets ever more difficult to actually spot the odd pound here or there. The bigger you are, the less difference that extra kilo’s going to make, because in context, it doesn’t look all that much. And chances are, if you’re anything like me, when you’re gaining weight, those bathroom scales get lost behind… I don’t know. Toilet rolls. Towels. Other bathroom stuff. They just seem to disappear.
Suddenly, you’re pushing 300lbs with absolutely no idea how you got there. Bad times. It’s like you’ve been engulfed by it – you’re still you, but a you… With padding. And it seems entirely beyond your control. Your body’s become something you’re inhabiting, but you’re not really living in – and that can make it really hard to make the decision to commit to your physical health.
Now at the moment, I’m too busy to dedicate as much time to the gym as I’d like, and because it’s cold, there are less salads and smoothies, more soups and spuds in my diet – so in my head, I feel like I must be gaining weight. But I’m not. I’ve been at 160lbs, give or take 1-2lbs, for about six weeks – and that is awesome. I’m not trying. I’m not on a diet. I’m eating lots, and I’m not really exercising, but my weight is stable enough to just stay put while I’m busy working on other things.
The things I am still doing are walking to work (most days – the fact that I live in a city that’s mostly underwater right now isn’t helping on that front), trying to eat moderately well (most of the time – I refer you back to the Christmas cake), and trying to get enough sleep (most nights – I really have been busy, after all.)
You’ll notice that word ‘most’ coming up again and again there. If I’m doing the right thing most of the time, I’m doing enough to stay put, while still enjoying all sorts of yumminess on the side. And deep down, isn’t this what we all want? A stable, comfortable weight that’s entirely in our control, at a point where we’re happy with our bodies – but one that could easily be lowered more if we had the time or inclination to do so?
To my mind, that’s the dream right there.
And this is the sort of thing that I’m referring to when I talk about making a lifestyle change. When you’re on a diet, your whole life revolves around what you can and cannot eat. Everything’s controlled, limited, and you have to think about what you’re putting in your mouth at all times. Unless you’ve got absolutely nothing else to do, that just doesn’t work on a permanent basis – and the second you feel like you’re out of control, you feel like you’ve messed it up too much to ever go back. It’s a lot easier to make a whole bunch of small changes that you can pick up as life allows, rather than giving up, say, carbs, and trying to work around a killer ketosis headache.
That’s what this whole blog is about. Living. Really living. I’m no longer living my life around food, or around my weight – it’s a secondary matter. I’ve got other stuff to do. That’s the point we should all be aiming for, rather than reaching a set number on the scales, or a particular dress size.
I still have to remind myself of how much I’ve changed – and I’m still not used to living in the “new” me. It’s a strange, strange feeling to realise you’re smaller than you are – especially when you’re not living in diet mode at all. Quite the opposite. But trust me – it really is awesome…and achievable. And healthy.
That red dress gave me something of an epiphany, because I’d never, ever have chosen to wear something like that. It just didn’t seem like a “me” thing to wear. But I’m so glad I gave it a shot, because it gave me the chance to appreciate the way my whole life has changed, with the weight as just a part of it. I’m confident, I’m comfortable, I’m happy – and you can be too.
Be patient, and focus on changing your mindset just as much as your waistline. And for God’s sake, don’t be afraid to try something new. Sometimes, you’ll realise that you’ve changed even more than you think.