I’ve been doing this weightloss thing for over four years now, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned about science and nutrition, I’ve learned about weight lifting and endurance, I’ve learned about myself and more importantly, how what you’re doing can attract both positive and negative people.
The past few days I’ve gotten a lot of direct messages on Instagram about my weightloss. I’d rank them like this:
- Most messages – asking if I want wraps to “fix” my stomach”
No, I don’t want your wraps. I don’t want your creams. I don’t want to be solicited. Many of these messages are coming from people who either don’t follow me/know my story or have been following me for a few seconds before determining they should message me about wraps. Clearly, almost all of these people are trying to get my business, don’t really care about my journey and truly don’t understand weightloss and the affect it can cause on the body.
- Many messages – asking how I’ve done, what’s the magic secret
First, these people are looking for a quick fix and think I have the answer. Most of them don’t follow my journey or haven’t follow for very long so they don’t realize that I have worked for over 4 years and that my journey has taken many turns, has had ups and downs and that I’ve had to change my approach many times to fit my lifestyle. The beauty about weightloss is that there is actually a science behind it. Everyone’s body reacts differently to different methods. There is no cookie cutter plan that will work for everyone because of a variety of factors. So when these people message me, I’m honest and I tell them I’ve focused on my nutrition plan a lot and that I’ve added cardio and weights as necessary. That I started with just getting moving and that I’m constantly setting new goals. For most, this isn’t what they want to hear and that’s ok, but that’s my story to tell.
- Some messages – thanking me for sharing my story, telling me that they can relate to parts of it and that I’m brave
Well, kiddos, let’s get one thing straight, I am not brave. There are a million accounts out there sharing their lives, sharing their weightloss, sharing their meal plans. This isn’t new. I use social media as an outlet to share my journey to:
- Hold me accountable to my goals. If I say it aloud then it’s reality.
- Show others that I’m a normal person, with a job and goals. I want to show people that to reach their goals, you can’t make excuses. I travel for work and I show how I plan for those times that it’s not convenient to be concerned about being healthy and my goals.
- Show others that weightlifting is one of the best things that have happened to me. Not just physically, but mentally. I can quantify weightlifting easily – I can tell you that when I started squatting I was using a 25 pounds pre-weighted barbell and that last Sunday I PR’d 150 pounds. That progress that makes me excited about lifting. It shows me how strong I am and that I am capable of more than I thought I was.
- Show others that every journey is different and mine happens to include flexible dieting. That I believe in true balance – even though by my dessert photos you would never know it. I believe in the powers that are pancakes, asparagus, chicken breast, protein ice cream and guacamole. I don’t believe in restricting and that progress is very possible with this balance.
- Maybe change the minds of those who believe that beauty is a thin figure without imperfections. I may be the most fit I have ever been, but I have a number of imperfections. Those that are visible are my loose skin, stretch marks, and deflated breasts from large weightloss. Those that can’t be seen are the negative thoughts I have about my stomach, the concern I have about going back to binge eating, and not thinking I’m good enough or strong enough to accomplish the goals that I created for myself.
- I want to change how we talk about weightloss, weightlifting, body expectations placed on us by ourselves and others.
I use social media to face my own fears and to help others as well – maybe they’ll embrace their imperfections or think differently about what it means to be healthy.
I’ve made a few posts that are really vulnerable, but that’s how I face my fear. I am going to be stepping on stage in 3 weeks. It’s not the first time, but this time there’s more loose skin. I do have a much better package, but that doesn’t make me any less frustrated that I don’t look as fit as I feel. There are 4 posts that truly stick out me that have received some positive feedback and as well as some nasty feedback. They’re pretty much the reason for this post and it’s length.
- Video of my stomach from April 7th
This video was taken post-gym and post-breakfast, but really shows how much loose skin I have in my middle. It’s received over 13,000 views and over 300 likes. The positive comments are:
- how brave I am
- how women who have had babies also look like this and hope that one day they are as comfortable with their bodies like I am
- people are proud of me for the hard work I’ve put in
- I am still beautiful with the loose skin.
The negative comments are a lot more fun, so here are some screenshots.
There are a few things I want to address with this video and the comments, even some of the positive comments.
- I have never said that I’m not beautiful. I know I am because my boyfriend tells me every day. Most days I feel beautiful. Some days I think I look like hot shit in my clothes and some days I don’t. We should not equate our weight or skin with beauty because you will constantly find imperfections and reasons as to why you are not as beautiful as the girl whose profile you just looked at.
- I have never compared my loose skin to someone else’s. Telling me that it could be worse only makes you looks like an asshole. I am 5’4”- my profile says so. I have lost 107 pounds over 4 years; length of the time of the loss doesn’t make it any less dramatic. Yes, I weightlift, but where I hold my fat and weight affects how my body looks. My loose skin is mine, it’s a reflection of my journey and at first I didn’t think I would want surgery because I did this to myself. However, over the last few months it’s been a bigger conversation because I have truly fell in love with competing and I want to be able to win in the fall season. I also become very self-aware when I’m active such as running, bending over and yes, being intimidate with my boyfriend. There are some clothes that fit funny because of how the skin sits on my body. So yes, maybe there is someone out there who has it worse than me and maybe they are coping better or worse than me, but I would never make them feel like they shouldn’t feel good about how hard they’ve worked or bad about how their body looks just because there’s a possibility of someone, somewhere working harder than them or with more imperfections.
There’s a lot I’ve learned going through different phases on my weightloss journey and the biggest one is that being fit can mean a lot of different things and weight is relative. I feel sorrier for those who think that how my midsection looks is funny because they have a skewed view of the world. This is my reality, it’s not pretty and it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. I gained weight and now I’ve lost it. This is the effect of that loss. Yes, it makes me sad sometimes and yes, it frustrates me, but that’s why I’ve decided to have surgery. Many choose to do that too. Does that mean that we can laugh because I’ll have a scar or a new belly button? No. Comments like this almost don’t deserve to be acknowledged, but at the same time its society that has led so many to believe that women specifically can’t have imperfections and must look a certain way. Men have their own standards too, but they’re not talked about as much and there is certainly not as much emphasis on them.
I would say: think before you comment. Read the caption to gain understanding of the post.
- Comparison of side profile – before lifting and last week’s check in
Please don’t compare your body to mine – I will forever say this over and over and sometimes to myself even. The comment has since been deleted, but a woman commented that she had the body I used to have and she wants the one I currently do. Again, I’m short so my fat is relative and so is my muscle. I’m in competition prep and that’s a very different lifestyle. I weightlift and I track what I eat just like I breathe. Everyone has different goals and methods. We are all at different stages of our lives. I’m 27 years old and I don’t have children – I never intend to. I travel for work and to me health and fitness is more than a hobby. This is my lifestyle. I have embraced it with wide open arms. Comparing your chapter 2 to my chapter 50 is only going to make you feel like you’re never going to accomplish your goals.
Have patience because it’s going to take time.
- Morning ab shot
Two things. 1 fat doesn’t turn into muscle. That’s not how science works.
I’ve gotten messages in response to this photo and I’ve seen some photos where people, both men and women, talk about how they want to turn their fat into muscle. Well, I believe some of you failed health because fat and muscle are two totally different things. You can maintain, gain or burn fat just like you can maintain, grow or burn muscle, but fat cannot physically convert into muscle. When you burn fat, you are just now able to see the muscle you already had. Loosing fat means that the number on the scale will go down. Gaining muscle also means that the scale will change. It may go up because muscle takes up less space than fat, but a pound of muscle still weighs a pound. This also means that if you lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle you may appear thinner or fitter or whatever word you want to use, but the scale will be the same. At this point in my weightloss, if I wasn’t in prep, the scale wouldn’t matter much if at all. At this point, my coach asks me how I feel about how my body looks, how do my clothes feel and how do I feel during my workouts.
When I first started losing weight, it was 100% about the scale because at 5’4” and over 240 pounds, I needed that number to go do to see progress. At different points of my journey, different methods to measure progress have had more or less weight – per say, than others. Don’t tell me that the weight I currently am is your goal weight because I remember saying I wanted to be 150 pounds and a size 10 because I didn’t think I was capable of more. Well at 180 pounds I was a size 10, I knew I needed to reevaluate. I’m 133.6 and a size 2 right now.
- Stop being so surprised at what the body can accomplish. I need to be better about this too.
According to a post on Built Lean, there are a few things that should be considered when discussing abs definition and visibility. First, your body fat percentage. If you have a lot of fat, you’re not going to see a lot of definition or any at all. For women to start seeing ab definition they need to be between 20-22% body fat. This is typically the fit category and there will be some definition on the arms and legs. Women with 15-17% body fat, many bikini and fitness models, muscle definition will be apparent and there will be some vascularity as well. Women with 10-12% body fat, bodybuilders for example, will show striations and separation between muscles. Second, where is your fat place? If you hold your “weight” in your midsection, you’re less likely to show abs, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We all have abs, some may be less strong than others, but when there’s no fat over them you can see them clearly.
For me, I have skin over mine. My body fat was tested a few weeks ago – I know we’re all so sick of me talking about my stomach and my body fat, but I was in the extremely fit category at 16.2% at 135 pounds. I’m 133.6 pounds as of this morning, so aside from skin, there should be ab definition. So don’t be surprised that you can see it. Also, on that matter, don’t be surprised at your own accomplishments. NSV’s and all, you set your own goals, if you accomplish them then be excited, not shocked. You know how much effort you are putting in, there should be no shock. Again, I need to be better about this because most days I wake up and I’m like “yep, wow, this is my body. Yep, I lifted that weight.”
- Comparison of my backside – before weight lifting to last week’s check in
Time is usually on your side. Most people aren’t trying to win a trophy or medal. Most have goals to just live a healthier lifestyle. I am not trying to necessarily live a healthier lifestyle right now. This comparison like the side profile is almost a 2 years difference. It shows what weightlifting and tracking my macro nutrition has done for my body. This was not an overnight change. The day I started lifting and tracking was with the goal of competing 5 months later. I did take a break from the prep lifestyle, but I never stopped lifting or tracking my meals. Since January this year, I have been training for another bikini competition. I will have been in prep for 4 months when I compete.
Don’t say because my backside changed someone else will. The commenter below doesn’t follow me and didn’t look through my other comparisons that day, all he saw was that my backside is smaller, tighter and there’s definition in my back. My motivation is probably different than his friend’s motivation. My methods and body are my own. Comparing what I’ve been able to accomplish to what he believes his friend can accomplish is not the best way to go about supporting and motivating his friend.
- Protein gelato sandwich with a Complete Cookie
I don’t believe in cheat meals. I believe in flexible dieting. I also believe in balance – saying not right now, but maybe later. The moment you start using terms like cheating is the moment that you start to creative a negative relationship with food. I used to binge and it would be from being too restrictive. There are also emotional triggers, but that’s something a little differently – but still reflects a poor relationship with food. I admit, in the beginning eliminating things out of my daily consumption was necessary. These eliminations included chips, pasta, soda and random candies. They have no nutritional value anyway and aren’t very filling. It was easy to eliminate them. But when I log on, I see people who are almost apologizing for enjoy dinner last night or indulging in a cupcake. I think we know how I feel about cupcakes so indulge on. The problem comes from having a cupcake every day if it doesn’t work for you plan. You can’t get upset at your own results if you own actions prevent you from reaching your goals. That being said, if you can eat the cupcake every day and still reach goals then eat the damn thing and celebrate. I count macro nutrition (fat, carbs and protein) because it allows me to be flexible in what I want to eat day to day; it also helps me reach my goals effectively. I’m nourishing my body with specific amount necessary – no more, no less – for my goals. I do look at some micro nutrients as well such as fiber and more recently potassium and sodium, but not as closely. If I can eat gelato and cookies every night I will, but I also know that during the day I need to eat some veggies too.
Have I gone over my macro goals before? Yes, definitely. I eat out for work and while I track and make the best decisions possible, it’s hard when you’re not preparing the meal. Have I under eaten? Probably, again, if I’m not making the meal it’s hard to be perfect. Hell, it’s hard to be perfect anyway, but I’m usually within my goals. I’m dedicated to my sport and to my goals and that’s why prep hasn’t be hard for me, but my journey as a whole, has been up and down with both workouts and eating. That’s normal, that’s human. But I call it what it is, balance and life.
I’m probably going to start rambling, but I want to say that what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how good you’re doing there will always be someone there to bring you down. I believe that you need to learn all you can because science doesn’t lie, just read everything. Treat yourself well because no one will treat you better – for me that means what you say to yourself and what you “allow” yourself to do, say or eat. Own your journey, be proud for others’ accomplishments, but don’t beat yourself up for not being farther along than you are. Evaluate your goals and create high standards, dream as big as the moon, but keep in mind the chapter that you are in. Lastly, put sprinkles on everything.