Saturday, October 26, 2013

Week 41 - Some Good News and Some Thoughts on Change (Including Thoughts on Maria Kang)

I'll start with my good news.

Several years ago Land's End had a custom jeans service.  When you have a body shaped like mine, services like this are a dream come true.  When you have a fairly high waist-to-hip ratio, a poochy belly, and fairly thick thighs, all in addition to not only being short, but being shorter than your average petite inseam, you have a hard time finding clothes that fit.  It was nice to be able to order jeans cut to my measurements.

Measurements is a key word here.  I really wasn't honest with mine when I ordered those jeans.  They were more about what I thought they were, or should be, rather than what they actually were.  When I received my new jeans, they were rather snug.  They weren't impossible to put on, but they weren't all that comfortable.  I kept them partially because they were non-refundable, and partially because I thought they would inspire me to lose weight.  They could be my measure of progress. I wore them regardless of fit, knowing they would pinch me all day and leave angry red welts in my skin by the day's end.

At the beginning of this year I was still trying to squeeze into them.  It was ridiculous.  I was a good 6 pounds heavier and probably another inch or three bigger than I was when I first bought them.  I looked as if I was poured into them and I always had to wear a shirt that was long enough to not ever reveal my sizeable muffin top (a muffin top despite the fact that the jeans were not particularly low-waisted).

I finally decided to stop wearing them.  They remained snug for much of the winter and spring.  When hot weather came, I put them away for the season.

I have been slowly unpacking my winter clothes these past two weeks.  I found the jeans.  I put them on.

They fit!  They didn't just fit.  They had room in the waist.  My thighs didn't bulge out of them.  They weren't my tight jeans anymore.  They were my normal-fitting jeans.  (What used to be my normal-fitting jeans are now my way-too-big jeans.)  I was walking around the house whooping it up and saying over and over that my jeans fit.  They fit me for the first time.  In other words, I am not just thinner than I was at the beginning of the year.  I'm thinner than I have been since the time I bought the jeans and even long before that - probably a good 15 years. 

So what if they're Mom Jeans?

Anyway, on to the more serious part of this post.

Anyone with an internet connection has likely seen this meme.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.mariakang.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Maria-Kang1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.mariakang.com/about/&h=960&w=768&sz=77&tbnid=G0xaC8y9vVUxrM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=72&zoom=1&usg=__gpiTy_OWal3xr8NjYI4YZ0VUaVE=&docid=jMlGonrZ8DNBgM&sa=X&ei=jrZrUqruJ4WIkQe6zoCgAQ&ved=0CFAQ9QEwBQ

Chances are if you have seen this brainless piece of fitspo, then you probably have read all of the backlash and the backlash against the backlash.  Maria Kang is lapping up the publicity as well as the contorvery.

I feel the same way about this photo as I feel about all fitspo.  First it doesn't tell the whole story.  Maria Kang will tell you that she has a full time job and no nannies (so who takes care of the kids when she's in the gym?) and she's just like the rest of us.  What she doesn't tell us is that her full time job is as a trainer and fitness model.  It's her job to look like that.  We also don't know what she is eating, or if she looks like that when she's not preparing for a photo shoot.

The second issue I have with the photo is the assumption that there is one ideal way to look, and if you don't look that way, you are not doing anything to better yourself.  Kang suggests you are making "excuses".  It insult those of us who regularly stay active, who find some time to exercise every day, and who do their best to eat as much fresh, nutritious food as possible but still don't look like that.  Would I like to look like Maria Kang?  Yes, I would.  I also know that I would not like to subject myself to that kind of lifestyle.  I have read enough stories about the routines and eating habits of fitness models preparing for a shoot or competition.  It's not sustainable and it's not healthy in the long terms.  I don't prioritize how I look over how I feel.  Would you consider that "making excuses"? 

One very important lesson I have learned from this program is my body is my body and I can't predict how training and eating will affect it.  My body doesn't like to let go of fat.  It likes its fat.  I make strength and fat loss gains very slowly.  One of the reasons why I have given up on program after program is that I always make such slow progress and after a while it stops feeling like it's worth it.  Lean Eating is getting me over that, but I still feel frustrated.   My jeans may fit, but I lost nothing in terms of pounds or inches this month.  Maria Kang may have taken a few months to get the body she has.  It would likely take me two years even if I ate a fitness model diet and exercised with a fitness model regimen. 

I said in my previous post that I am learning my body is going to change in its own way in its own time.  Over the months the changes I have seen have happened in different places and in different areas.  In the beginning my waist shrank pretty quickly, but has held steady for months.  My thighs and hips have been steadily decreasing in very tiny increments.  I was frustrated to the point of despair for many months over the size of my arms.  They refused to shrink and continued to look like slabs of meat.  In the past month or two they have finally begun firming up and become smaller.  In terms of actual pounds on the scale, I can go a month without losing anything and then lose a decent amount in the next two months. 

I can't predict where I will be by the time this program ends.  I can't predict how long it will take before I actually reach my goals.  I'm sure it will take another year to get to that point.  I don't need Maria Kang or anyone else shaming me into saying I'm making excuses.  I'll get to where I'm going in my own way and in my own time.

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