If you’ve known me at all over the past decade, you know one thing for sure. Whether we’ve worked together, been close friends, or even just friends on social media, one thing is clear. My weight has fluctuated, A LOT.
From school, job changes, having babies, crash diets, and finally lifestyle changes, it’s been a roller coaster for my poor body.
If there’s one standout, positive thing that my weight fluctuations have given me, I’d say it’s perspective.
Over the past 10 years, I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to experience life in so many different body types. From sedentary to active. To morbidly obese, to “skinny fat”, to lean. From a size 22+, to a size 4, and everywhere in between.
I know the thoughts that can go through your mind in each of these bodies, and one thing that I’ve come to realize lately, is how much we can judge people at the other end of the spectrum. It’s easy to look at a stranger at face value, and assume all kinds of things about them when you’ve never lived life in their body, or in their shoes.
When I was obese, I assumed that the thin people of the world made all kinds of judgments about me. But honestly, I had a lot of opinions about them too.
I figured that they were just genetically lucky. They didn’t have to work for their body, or think about what they ate. If I saw a thin girl at a restaurant scarfing down a plate of nachos, my mind would subconsciously jump to conclusions right away.
“Must be nice!”
“I bet she won’t look like that after she has kids.”
“I wish I could eat whatever I felt like and not gain weight, but I wasn’t blessed with her metabolism.”
These types of things would race through my mind about her, and then I would start on myself:
“You were just destined to be overweight.”
“You’ve ruined your body, you’ll never look like that.”
“You’re lazy, and not disciplined enough to ever look like that.”
The way we compare ourselves to each other, and the things we say to ourselves can be awful. But I didn’t just limit my judgmental thoughts to eating interactions…oh no! If ever there was a time when I was disgusted with myself enough to actually try to go to the gym and lose weight, I would automatically start judging those dang skinny girls at the gym too.
“You can’t seriously enjoy this, and clearly you don’t need to lose weight, you must be here to meet a man.”
And then to myself:
“Why are you even bothering? This is awful and you’re not going to be able to keep this up for as long as it’s going to take to lose weight.”
“You’re wasting your time.”
I judged “fit” people, and I assumed that they were judging me too. All of these things I told myself, I just assumed were the things that they were thinking too.
Over time I learned to turn those thought off.
I pushed those thoughts to the side, because my need to accomplish my goal, was bigger than what other people might be thinking. I had to quit caring what other people thought, and learn to keep my eyes on my own paper.
One day, I finally looked up, and realized I had somehow changed seats. I looked in the mirror, and aside from a little loose skin and some pretty gnarly stretch marks, I was starting to kind of look “fit”. I was starting to be able to actually see my muscles in places, and I truly enjoyed my time spent in the gym. I had a whole new perspective, that I had never had before.
I didn’t worry anymore about what people thought about me in the gym, and I began to notice how I wasn’t spending as much time comparing my body or my eating habits to others either.
Now when I see a “skinny” girl at a restaurant shoveling down a cheeseburger, I don’t think, “must be nice!” Now I think, “Yes! Cheat meal!” I realize that I always just assumed that she was just one of the lucky ones…one of those blessed few who could eat whatever they wanted and have the perfect body. Now I have enough knowledge about nutrition to realize, she probably doesn’t. She probably doesn’t eat that way all of the time like I used to. Because if she did, her body probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with all of those extra calories either. Maybe she’s been tracking her macros all week, just waiting for this special “cheat meal”. Or maybe she has far worse issues with food, and that’s the only thing she’s eaten today. You just never know.
Maybe that “fit mom” at the gym is just like me too. Maybe she didn’t always look that way, and maybe she truly enjoys that little bit of alone time she steals for herself each day. Maybe she really needs that time to focus, unwind, and feel good about herself before she goes home and has to wipe snot and poop for the rest of the day.
Now that I’m on the other end of the spectrum, I feel like I have a unique perspective, not on either extreme, but from somewhere in the middle. I understand why that thin mom loves the gym and how she balances her diet. But I also remember being in that other body, feeling judged, and tired, and like I was chasing my tail…caring so much about how my body looked to other people, but trying to pretend I didn’t.
I Totally Get It
I see that gym-lover, and I think, “Good for her. I totally get it, I’ve got a long day ahead too. Blast that music girl, forget that to-do list for an hour! You’re a beast!”
And when I see that person, just at the beginning of their weight loss or fitness journey, I make no assumptions about their lifestyle, why they gained weight, their eating habits, and especially not about what they’re capable of. The only thing I’m thinking is, “Good for her. I totally get it. I hope you find a way to feel comfortable here, your body is just as capable as anyone in here, and I hope you keep going. The way you feel right now will pass, just give it some time.”
You Know the Saying
You know that saying about assumptions? It’s true! We should never, ever assume that we know another person’s lifestyle, or body, or motives.
I can without a doubt tell you, that my current lifestyle and body type are my favorite so far. But shockingly, I can say now, that I do feel lucky to have had the experience of living in my body, in so many different stages. I feel like it’s given me the gift of perspective, and I hope that I can use my perspective to help some else realize how capable they are, and that they can view their life from a different seat whenever they choose to.