Tag: confidence

Exercise and Weight Loss Success

Many of you know I believe in a healthy lifestyle or the Health at Every Size Movement http://www.haescommunity.org/. 

How do you determine the success of a health regiment or diet? I would wager that 90% of you would answer “weight loss”  or if you didn’t you probably would be thinking ‘weight loss’ in your head but saying something more socially acceptable.

Here’s the thing- THAT IS WRONG!!

Every day there seems to be more evidence that the link between weight, even obesity, and actual health is not as strong as we once thought.  This defies the logic of the ‘war on obesity’, Michele Obama, scores of trainers/dieticians but that doesn’t mean it is not true.

Read this book.  It will BLOW YOUR MIND

health at every sizeThink it is just one woman’s crazy enabling antics?  No.  The book has 7 pages of detailed recommendations from doctors, leaders, scientists etc.  (see articles for more back up

US News World Report 

New York Times, and New York Times

The Today Show

To start the book Dr Bacon (I know ironic last name) shares her testimonial.  Here it is directly from the book:

health at every size 2This quote might lead you to believe the book is merely anecdotal but its not.  There is real science to back up what she says about eating healthy, being happy and not worrying about weight.  She leaves no stone unturned answering questions about diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease, bone density, and even has the most brilliant defense against gastric bypass I’ve ever read. I’m telling you it will change the way anyone, not just the obese, look at eating, health and exercise. Here is my favorite (this is also quoted in Amy Farrell’s brilliant book Fat Stigma):

UC Davis.

“In this study, a group of fat women was divided into 2 groups, one receiving coaching in restrictive eating (diet) and exercise, the other being encouraged to eat a healthy diet, listen to their bodies cues, to foster ways to engage in fun exercise and take part in a fat acceptance discussion group.

Significantly group 1- the traditional diet/exercise group- initially lost weight, but by the end half had dropped out; most had regained weight; blood pressure, cholesterol, and other metabolic measures had not improved and self-esteem levels had dropped.

In contrast, group 2 hadn’t lost any weight, but most stayed with the 2 year program; their blood pressure, cholesterol, and other metabolic measures had improved dramatically; their self-esteem levels increased substantially; and they exercised regularly.  Encouraged to pay attention to their bodies, to stop restricting calories, to fight the discrimination they experienced as fat people, and to enjoy their bodies through physical movement and eating well- the non-dieters showed significant health improvements.  But, and this is the key point, they never became thin.”

Doesn’t that blow your mind?

One of Dr.  Bacon’s patients describes her battle and realization of her own worth so beautifully:

health at every size 3

I recently have become aware of the activist Jeanette DePatie, otherwise known as The Fat Chick.  She gets it.  I wish someone had explained this to me when I started exercising (instead I went into it expecting to lose 100 lbs in the first year. Sigh…)

I am happy most of the time. I love  my life most of the time.  I have times when I’m more fit than others but I’ve basically looked the same since I was 17 years old and I was always ashamed by that, like it was this big failure I could never overcome.  Now I just make sure I have clothes that fit me in lots of sizes and work out at least 3 times a week.  Would I like to be skinny?  Yes, but I’m finally not convinced I’d be any happier if I was (or healthier).  The guilt is for the most part gone.

I hope this encourages all of you.  I started my journey saying I was the Only Happy Fat Woman in America and I had friends who fought me on it.  They thought I was just being patronizing or disingenuous but it was true then and today it is still true (I really had someone argue with me saying I was basically full of crap.  Not true).  TV will make you believe you have to be miserable if you are fat (biggest loser sorry)  but its a lie! Be healthy, be happy, be human, have bad days, eat cake and then work out for an hour the next day, find stuff you love, therapies that work and live the best life you can.

Every time Tanya and I swim together people look and have a surprised expression.  I know they think ‘I’ve never seen a girl that looks like do what they are doing’ and that makes me so happy.  It may be my greatest legacy of all.

So thats what I have to say on that.  Get active.  Be happy.  Love life and Follow God.

And just keep at it.
And just keep at it.
Do something you never thought you could do.  I love MMA (kick boxing) and I'm not too bad at it!
Do something you never thought you could do. I love MMA (kick boxing) and I’m not too bad at it!
Do a fashion show when you find a cute pair of jeans.  Who cares!
Do a fashion show when you find a cute pair of jeans. Who cares!
Find something you love.  Even after all the swims I've done it still makes me smile
Find something you love. Even after all the swims I’ve done it still makes me smile
My trainer who has stood by me for 4 years. She is why I go to treehouse and she is one of my rocks.  I really love her.
My trainer who has stood by me for 4 years. She is why I go to treehouse and she is one of my rocks. I really love her.

I would also just add that my times in the water when I’m at my thinnest and best trained is about 3 minutes faster than when I’m not.  My recovery is much better but my time really isn’t.  Funny. It just goes to show what your definition of success makes such a difference in achieving it.  If I was only focused on times I’d never be successful.

Imposters

When I was in college I was given an editorial by Lynne Tempest called ‘A Pinch of Reality’ that I’ve hung onto all these years (it was originally posted in Network magazine in 1991 and I have the pink handout I got probably 12 years ago in college! I told you I was a pack rat!).   It has always wrung true to me and I was thinking about it this weekend.

The main point of the piece is that many women feel they are ‘imposters’ in their own lives.  Here’s some examples she gives:

‘”I’m not really a composer but for my final project I did compose just a couple of little pieces” said a classmate recently in a course on women composers.  After several apologies and self-effacing gestures, she sat down at the piano and played 3 magnificent compositions.’

‘”It’s just a simple pet project.  Nothing really” said another classmate, as he pulled from a plastic bag an exquisite front panel for an Amish quilt she recreated.’

“‘After studying several months in preparation for the LSAT, and after having taken a handful of difficult classes to boost an already high GPA, a close friend was recently surprised to have been accepted into a prestigious law school.  ‘I just can’t believe they accepted me'”

‘Imposters? Impossible”

Tempest then goes on to describe what she calls ‘Imposter Syndrome’.  She describes it in her own life as an editor “What if I can’t do it? It’s just a matter of time before they discover I really don’t know what I’m doing’.  These were common refrains played over in my mind during my first months as editor.  It didn’t’ seem to matter that I had been intimately involved in the production of network for 6 years.  I knew it was just a matter of time before they found me out. I was scared.  I felt alone”

“Why is it so hard for women to accept their own genius? What are we afraid of? And what does it mean when we don’t allow ourselves to relish in a job well done? By denying our own capabilities, we prevent ourselves from fully enjoying what we’ve worked so hard to achieve. ”

Isn’t it the truth?  I was thinking about that this week, because literally every time I swim or box or lift a lot of weights, whatever, I’m shocked at my own accomplishments.  Shocked is not too strong a word.  It always surprises me.  Every time I box I think ‘how did I do that?’ I watch that video of me boxing and there is a side of me that thinks ‘ah, I was just lucky’.  This after doing it for months and months.  It doesn’t seem like it could really be me? Every time I swim I look back at the lake and think ‘how did I do that’?

On one hand the imposter syndrome is a good thing because I get the thrill of surprise every time I achieve something but it can cause a lot of anxiety too.  There is never confidence I can really do it.  I am often plagued by the ‘what if’s’ and get anxiety.  What if I wrote a book and someone hated me?  What if I got half way through my swim and had to stop?  What if I tried really hard at a relationship and was rejected? It seems almost easier to expect failure and be pleasantly surprised with success? but that doesn’t seem right either? but the times in my life when I’ve assumed things were going well, accepted success as a given have also been a bit of a nightmare. Hmmm… (You see why I deal with anxiety!).  Maybe all of us women are just afraid of being dumped, being rejected because let’s be honest that sucks! So its easier to just fake it.

And it’s not just with sports.  I remember getting that same feeling every time I got a good grade on a class or a paper.  Thinking ‘wow I can’t believe I did that…’.  Who knew I was smart?  When I got my MBA everyone would talk about how I was one of the smartest people in the class but I never really believed it.  I remember one person saying that Jodi and I were the ‘dream team’.  I wish! (see…just did it)

I say this and I actually think I have a pretty healthy self-esteem.  I’m comfortable with my body, I’m willing to compliment myself and I get excited about my life but still there is always that voice protecting myself.  At least I never stop trying things but I can’t completely stop that voice in my head telling me that I’m an imposter like Tempest says.  I’m not really a swimmer just someone with a cap and goggles making a show about it.

Tempest seems to think this is a problem only faced by women.  What do you think? Men, out there- do you feel like imposters in your life? I know its not much of a problem for my Dad.  He walks into a room expecting to be pretty darn good at everything he tries.  He’s the most confident person I know.

The funny thing is that I don’t see anyone else in this way? I don’t think others are secretly not living up to their potential or not good enough.  I think everyone else is awesome and inspiring.

Perhaps we do this to protect ourselves from criticism? We’d rather say the criticisms in our head first so that if the world let’s it out it’s not as crushing.  Perhaps some of us felt over-criticized as a child and developed the technique as a coping mechanism?

I know for me I was plagued with a hard-edged, critical choir teacher in high school and I still definitely feel like an imposter in any kind of performance. I remember performing On My Own to a girl who had played Eponine on Broadway and she was so complimentary.  She even said ‘I think that song is perfect for your voice’.  While I was flattered there was a side of me that wanted to shrug it off like I was a singing imposter and she’d soon learn I’m not very good.  Even someone of that caliber didn’t quite convince me.  It excited me but didn’t quite convince me. I still LOVE singing every chance I get but don’t really feel great at it.  Does that make sense? Can you relate to that in your life?

I mean there are some things I know I’m not good at like dancing.  I suck at dancing.  There is no imposter pretense going on there.  For some reason I have an easier acknowledging the things I suck at then the things I’m good at.  My friends gush and pay me all kinds of compliments and I think ‘oh, they’re just being nice’.  And I say that having a pretty healthy self esteem!

I think the hard part is women don’t want to be too cocky or conceited but there has to be a balanced level of humility and pride?  Right? What is the solution?

Maybe part of it is there is always someone else to compare to- sometimes even our former selves?  We can beat ourselves up over our bodies, athletic abilities whatever that we used to have instead of just saying ‘wow, I did pretty good for a 30+ amateur swimmer’.

What do you think?  Do you find yourself feeling like an imposter in your life and apologizing for your accomplishments?  How can we stop this?

Tempest says, “This is where sisterhood comes in.  Let’s make a vow to one another.  Next time you hear a statement like ‘I can’t believe they accepted me’ or ‘It’s nothing really’, step forward and pinch that woman- a simple reminder she can’t deny her strengths.  Let her know she’s real.”

Sounds like a good vow to me.  I’m in and will be pinching myself a lot! What about you? How can we stop this imposteritis among us?

My Weird Self Image and Other Updates

So I haven’t posted for a bit.  To begin with I had a lot of make up work to do in both my jobs after being sick so long.  The next reason is I have been exercising like a maniac at my new GYM!!!  Yes, I finally decided to step my exercise to the next level and join a gym.  It was a hard decision because the only gym nearby that had a pool  (an absolute requirement) is at the top of my price range ($69 a month).  The gym is called the Treehouse Athletic Club and is about 5 minutes from my apartment.  Treehouse is actually a great deal for families but they sock it to the singles (I’m sorry but you think it would be the other way around.  I’m only one person!).  Weeks ago I asked my facebook friends whether I should join a gym and one of them said “make sure it is somewhere you want to be”.  This sounds obvious but is not the case with most gyms.  They are usually “too body builder, show-off my weights, I’m a total tool”,  for my taste.  On the other end of the spectrum I have done Curves once before but its expensive for what you get and doesn’t provide classes, a pool or any real cardio.

With these expectations I went in to Treehouse last Monday for a trial day and it was like they knew I was coming.  There even happened to be a swim instructor there who gives tips on your stroke twice a week.  Need I mention that the pool blew me a way and the spa was even better.  There are 2 hot tubs, 2 pools (one for laps, one for child play), tons of equipment and weight machines and classes galore.  Plus, the whole environment felt so relaxing.  They have fluffy bathrobes, shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the showers, deodorant spray and lotion in the changing rooms, a swimsuit dryer, and nice hair dryers.  In the words of my friend “this is a place I want to be”.  After weighing the options, on Thursday I went in and paid the year-long membership (got a 10% discount for paying upfront) and have been using it like crazy since.  Anyone in the Draper area who would like to check it out let me know.  I have a few guest day passes. There have been times when I’ve joined gyms before but this time feels different.  This whole fitness quest has felt different.  I’m now at 285 (that’s 28 lbs lost since March) and working to get down to 250 asap.

Speaking of 250…the other day I was watching TLC when a weight loss program came on.  The idea was to profile people who are trying to lose 100 lbs.  One of the men on the show was nearly 500 lbs- clearly a huge problem.  However, the girl they profiled was 258 lbs, and they were acting like the two amounts were identical in scale.  I will be thrilled when I get to 250 lbs but that’s not really what bothered me.  I genuinely see myself and certainly myself at 258 lbs as beautiful not some grotesque human being as this show was portraying.  The woman wouldn’t look at her wedding pictures because she was so horrified at her weight.  They even interviewed her parents who said how disappointed they were in their obese daughter (Isn’t that awful! I wish I was making this up).  I’m not trying to defend being 250 lbs.  I know it is unhealthy in many ways but isn’t it strange that I have such a different viewpoint than the producers of this show or the woman involved? When I look in the mirror (even at 285 lbs) I see a beautiful plus size girl.

This is not the first time that I have noticed my unusual degree of self-acceptance.  When other people are apologizing and criticizing themselves I often feel great.  Of course, I have moments of self-doubt and discouragement but usually not because of my behavior, performance or body.  In fact, Megan is always laughing at how freely I compliment myself.  I simply respond,  “I live alone. If I don’t say it no one will!”.   For example, when I cook a new recipe or try a different technique I will tell everyone at the table if the food is delicious (my former roommates can attest to that!)!

Several years ago another example hit me.  I was an obedient, hard-working missionary-not perfect, but I can honestly say I tried my hardest each day.  When I got on the plane leaving Indiana I knew in my heart I had found everyone I needed to find, and worked as hard as I could.  I left with NO REGRETS.

I naively thought all good missionaries felt this way and had this same reassurance from the Lord.  A couple  years after the mission Julia Graves came to visit me, and we met up with several sisters from our mission to see both our mission presidents.  When chatting with President Simmons I said

“the great thing about a mission is it is the one thing in life you can do with no regrets.  You can know you served the Lord 100%”.

I was not saying this to boast or brag about my great mission.  I really did think everyone felt this way; however, when we got in the car one of the sisters said

“Wow, sister Wagner. I wish I felt that way about my mission.”.  Then all of the others agreed with her.

I can’t overstate how surprised I was by their reaction. It made me step back and realize my many blessings.  I knew then Heavenly Father had given me my sense of peace and closure to a very physically, spiritually and mentally draining mission.  I didn’t specifically pray for this reassurance but the Lord knew I needed it.

I was thinking about this experience and the 258 program when I realized perhaps my acceptance of my body has also been a blessing.  Maybe the Lord needed me to be happy with myself until I was ready to change.  He needs me to be actively serving, loving and trying my best no matter what my weight is. He also loves me regardless of my appearance.  Last year I read a book called the Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl, and I hated it with a passion.  The thing that made me mad is the author portrays her heavy self as practically worthless- like a big blob incapable of interacting with friends, family, or participating in activities such as travel or other recreation.  I promise that when I lose weight I will never look down on the old me.  I have value and am beautiful even at 285lbs, and I don’t care if  some stupid TLC program or book says otherwise!