Full disclosure: This post is not directed at anyone in particular. If you posted a Transformation Tuesday photo yesterday, I did not see yours and think “I should write about how much I hate this.” I actually think about writing this every Wednesday and I had a draft ready from a previous week and I’m tired and sad and decided to just pull this draft out and edit it for Lent instead of trying to write something from scratch. PLEASE DO NOT THINK ANY OF THIS IS DIRECTED AT YOU. I honestly am thinking more about me and diet/weightloss culture in general, when I write this…it is honestly about no one person in particular.
I have a secret to tell about a shitty opinion I have.
I hate Transformation Tuesdays.
Why is it shitty to hate a day where people (in my circle of exposure it is 100% women) celebrate body transformations? Well because it makes me a shitty friend! If they’re happy, then I should be happy for them! I mean, I have friends who have lost 100+ pounds! Why do I not celebrate when they celebrate?
Well, let’s be 100% honest…it’s mostly because I don’t have my own transformation to celebrate in the traditional sense. I don’t have before/after pictures to post because my current weight is the heaviest I’ve been in 25 years? And a big chunk of my hatred is that I am reminded of that and it makes me …Jealous? Sad? Frustrated? Angry?
Well…let’s backtrack with another dose of brutal honesty: Many of the “before” photos in my usual Transformation Tuesday photos are smaller than me and so I do sometimes want to leave a comment that says, “Do I need to be transformed? Because I’m bigger than this before picture you posted.”
But then I remember it’s not about ME, it’s about THEIR PROGRESS and there’s no need to be a bitch and make them feel bad about it.
SEE. This is why I hate the day. It all comes down to one simple thing:
I HATE ALL OF THE INTENSE AND UPSETTING FEELINGS IT STIRS UP IN ME.
First: I hate that it makes me think about how my body compares now, to other points in my life. I hate that it makes me want to lose weight. I am trying my best to not EVER think about weight lost or my body size again because I have wasted so many hours of so many days thinking about it. BUT I GET SO JEALOUS because if I took my “current” photo to show as my “after” – it’s actually 40lbs heavier than the “before” of a few years ago and I start to feel REALLY BAD about that. Then, when I see so many before/after photos on Tuesdays, I GET REALLY STUPIDLY JEALOUS. Like…I started crying at one point on a Tuesday past thinking, I should be losing weight, not gaining weight.
But then? The roller coaster of extreme feelings keeps going! Because after jealousy I GET SO FUCKING ANGRY. Why? After two years of really trying to reshape the way that I think about weight and my body is it still SO EASY for me to jump back into that thought pattern? How deep is all of that societal brainwashing (because NONE of it came from my Dad, he was always perfect in his response to how I talked about my body) that I am 44 years old and after 2 years of really intense focus I still sometimes look at myself and think: Fuck. I’ve gained so much weight. I’m hideous.
And speaking of societal brainwashing, I’m also mad that anyone looks at any version of their body (me included) as needing to be transformed. I wish those Transformation Tuesday photos only focused on lowered cholesterol readings or increase in bench press weight or speed at the mile or better sleep patterns. So many things we could measure that actually measure the QUALITY OF THE HEALTH OF OUR BODIES but instead we keep doing Before/After photos of our shape/appearance/size.
I just wish, for Lent, everyone would change the way they talked about their bodies. That when they wanted to celebrate progress they would stop looking at the photos and start looking at actual health metrics. And, I mean, I don’t blame them…a lot of this anger comes from jealousy. I AM VERY JEALOUS I DO NOT HAVE GREAT BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS TO SHOW. I don’t want to admit that’s the truth, but it is.
But I am also angry that we still think that’s the best demonstration of any sort of progress of a journey to happiness and/or healthy. I’m mad that we step on the scale every day to monitor progress instead of considering how winded we get walking up the stairs. I hate we’re worried about the size of those jeans and not about whether or not we can still move furniture around our living room without breaking our hip. I hate that we all still think about looking good when we maybe haven’t had a good night’s sleep in 5 years.
Of course, a lot of that is implied with the demonstrations of weight loss. A lot of people post photos and then talk about all of the other things that feel better, so it’s not just about weightloss. BUT! Our society is so screwed up about body image and diet culture that putting those photos out FIRST is all anyone ever thinks about. All of the talk about actual health metrics gets drowned out by the PHOTOS OF THE SMALLER SELVES.
I mean…40 days at Lent probably wouldn’t do much to change culture as a whole. I just would love to see what would happen if we all stopped measuring health and progress by appearance at all on public platforms. If we all kept our public discussions restricted to health metrics not-related to appearance, then how long before we all stopped thinking about it that way. I mean, it’s one thing to keep that metric of appearance for yourself, but when we broadcast our progress to the world? I would love to see comparisons that discuss actual health statistics. I would love to see how our cultural mental attitude would change if for one dedicated chunk of time, everyone forced themselves to stop posting pictures or messages on social media about weight or size and instead talked about blood sugar or fitness goals. What if everyone simultaneously stopped talking about size/appearance and started talking about decreasing medications they’re on, or how fast they can run that mile loop in their neighborhood, or how many squats they could do in a minute, or how low their resting heartbeat was or…
You get my point. How long before we would all stop thinking about it? Because I’ve spent the better part of 2 years stopping talking about it in terms of weight and appearance and I really do try to do a reset in my brain when I feel those thought patterns emerging, BUT DAMMIT IT IS NOT WORKING BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS STILL OBSESSING ABOUT WEIGHTLOSS AND APPEARANCE.
Honestly? I’m no better even deep down inside because I’ve been stress eating SO MUCH lately and I 100% know that is unhealthy and I have 100% been thinking way more about the fact that I can’t fit into that pair of jeans I bought for NYC anymore instead of thinking about how bad it is for my blood sugar to grab a bag of peanut butter M&Ms when I check out at the store. So even after 2+ years of really trying to force myself to change the way I think about health and fitness and I still am way more focused on the size of my genes than the quantity of processed sugar I’m taking in and what it’s doing to my glucose levels.
So I’m getting back on the wagon. I’m going to really think about how to measure my health. I’m going to get out this weekend and time myself “running” a mile (I doubt I can even run one) and I’m going to time myself hiking the hill on the trails behind my house and I’m going to make an appointment with my doctor to actually get baseline measurements of stuff so I can put my money where my mouth is. Maybe I’ll go back to wearing my fitness watch again. I’m going to FILL MY BRAIN with other metrics so whenever I start thinking about my weight/appearance again I have other stats I can grab instead. If I notice those jeans don’t fit, I’ll see how long I can do a plank instead.
And maybe someday down the road I can do a different kind of Transformation Tuesday. One that focuses on sleep patterns or core strength instead of my weight and/or appearance.
Give me some other suggestions of things that would be relatively easy to monitor at home, without a blood test or anything. I’m going to make a list! And I’m going to get baseline measurements over the next few days. The first thing on the list?
- How many ounces of peanut butter M&Ms did I eat this week?
So Far? around 5oz. (It’s only Wednesday.)