Search This Blog

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"perfection": worth a little hunger?

I've had the very beginning of this post in my drafts folder for a few days. Then Monday happened. Finishing one of my usual self-absorbed paeons to navelgazing seemed tone-deaf when a horrible fitness-related tragedy in which innocent people were maimed and killed had just occurred in my own city. But you know what? I have absolutely nothing original to say about that. I have no new perspective. There's nothing I could write that hasn't been better expressed elsewhere. I can only suggest that if you would like to read a moving article (and comments) on the meaning of Monday's events from the POV of a runner, you go here.  And if trivialities in the face of horrible events annoy or offend you, click away from here for awhile. Trivialities are all I've got.


So. Last Friday marked the end of my six weeks of post-fulk dieting. Six weeks of whining and hunger and moaning and hunger and complaining and hunger. Did I mention hunger?  When I diet by calorie-counting**, I am always so, so hungry.  I have a healthy appetite--I may have mentioned that before--and 1400-1500 calories is not much food.  Oh, it could be worse, obviously. 1500 calories is enough to fit in a glass of wine or some other small treat here or there.  It's not super-strict deprivation. But it's not enough food to keep my belleh from grumbling or keep me from constantly thinking about whether it's time to eat again yet.

Last Friday also marked the first time in that six week period that I got the Random Number Generating Device*** to read 113. This was not my "goal weight" (sigh) but it was, y'know, close enough. Close enough that it was time for me to decide whether I was going to keep dieting or call that mutha. In my attempt to make a rational decision about that, I decided to employ a couple other data points besides the RNGD. I measured my waist: 24.75". And I took several unflattering, badly-lit, non-tanned, non-flexed, camera-self-timer pictures directly out of the shower, dripping hair n' all, in naught but my underwear****.

Note: I clearly do see the point that a person who weighs 113 and has a 24.75" waist and all of whose clothes range between a size 00 and a size 2 could be said to be beyond "rational" when considering whether to continue dieting.  If I did not hang around an online (bodybuilding-related) site where many, many people are obsessed with being extremely lean, I wouldn't even be questioning this. I'd be saying to myself, bitch, you have (vanity-sized but still) 00 jeans that require a belt to stay up. No one who can honestly say that has any business being on a diet. Now go eat a fucking donut and hush yourself. What *is* your problem?

I do have a problem. Beyond the crazee. So you hush up about that. My problem is uneven fat distribution.  As my lovely unflattering pictures made abundantly clear, I have approximately 2 pounds of excess fat on the back of each thigh. If you could suck that four pounds out and slather it back on evenly over my whole body, like spreading peanut butter on toast*****, you wouldn't think I had any extra fat. You'd think, huh, that woman's lean as hell. I'd like to say genetics has fucked me, but truth is, that gynoid fat has been proven to be good for one's health. Genetics thinks it's doing me a favor by depositing that extra four pounds of fat right on my saddlebags. It's me that's fucked myself by hanging around people who are in general horrified by it.

I wouldn't even say it's peer pressure. I threw my unflattering pictures up on the internet and my weightlifting buddies, being sweet kind supportive friends, told me I look great and I'd be fine no matter what I decided to do: cut more, maintain, or start another bulk.  Meanwhile on the same forum, people much leaner than me were dieting and other people were putting up transformation pictures where they hit (DEXA-verified!) 15% bodyfat and being effusively praised for it.  No one was going to come out and say to me, "Andrea, yeah, you are still too fat, so suck it up and starve some more" but it is really hard to see other people being lauded for more and more fat loss and NOT think that there's something a little wrong with you if you aren't striving for that. You're lazy. You're half-assing it. You're not serious. You're not committed. You're deluding yourself about how attractive (or not!) you are.

Meanwhile, as I was struggling with this, in other corners of the interwebs, in a great coincidence, other people were discussing the pressure to be lean, the fear of having any fat at allthe difference between looking perfect and being healthy,  and the conflation of fat loss with healthy behaviors.  There must've been something in the air last week or two. Or else all the crap in the media about getting a summer bikini body has made a majority of intelligent, reflective, fitness-oriented women want to pull their hair out, punch someone, or, y'know, blog.

This is me from the front.

Not a great picture, for (as I said) many reasons, but even so, it does not displease me. If I were tanned and lit correctly, if I were flexing and posed right, you'd see how much muscle I have. But even without that, I can look at it and think that, well, I look pretty athletic. Which was always my aim.

And this is me from behind.

You see whereof I speak, I assume. But honestly? I can't make myself hate this very much either. For one thing, for the great majority of my life I wouldn't have even looked too closely in the mirror at myself in a thong, nevermind taken a picture of such. Nevermind shown it to anyone. Nevermind put it on the interwebs where strangers and friends****** could see it. In my old age I have come to love and appreciate my body enough to look at it in all its imperfections and still feel fondly disposed to it. That's a victory all in its own. I may be deluded, but I think my imperfect body is beautiful. And I'd rather be deluded in that direction than in the converse.  Grandiose fantasies are so much more pleasant than paranoid ones.

So what did I ultimately decide to do?  Well, I decided to take the weekend off.  The weekend lasting through Tuesday, since my son's birthday is April 16 and I had Chinese food and cupcakes to consume. Then I was going to reassess.  Well, here it is, April 18 and I still haven't reassessed. I honestly am on the fence still.  Eating till I was actually full the last few days has been blissful. On the other hand? I could lose four more pounds in another 6 weeks and maybe...maybe...some of it would be from that thigh chub. And then I could take a thong picture that wasn't vaguely horrifying when I'm not in the mood to be deluded. It seems so close to achieving. And then I remember how much I whined from March 1 to April 12.


**I can lose weight easily and without hunger by going low carb. Unfortunately I can't lift weights on low carb. My muscles demand bagels or they won't deadlift shit.

***the scale, of course

****I have to admit I did put on "good" picture-taking underwear.

*****you diet for 6 weeks and see how many food-related metaphors *you* use

******not sure which is more embarrassing, frankly

And google chrome doesn't think horrifying is a word. Huh.


  1. Your problem isn't uneven fat distribution your problem is hanging out on bodybuilding forums!!!

    But you probably knew someone was going to say that.

    Love your blog and thanks for the link :)

  2. Yeah, I do know :-) It was really hard to find other chicks who lift heavy stuff to chat with, though, and having online weightlifting friends saves my real life friends from going into a boredom coma when I excitedly try to tell them about how much I did or didn't rack pull. (That *should* be fascinating to everyone, right???)

    And you are very welcome. I loved your post!