On July 4, I woke up, checked my phone and read a comment on my When The Dress Fits… post that felt like a punch in the stomach. I almost responded via email right then, but I know myself and I know I need time to process my thoughts and brood. I would have haphazardly gotten some of my thoughts out but not all, then wished I took a different approach. So, I waited. I alternated between thinking about what I’d say in response and trying not think about it at all. I’m glad I waited because as the week went on, I kept thinking of more I wanted to say in response — especially because if one person comments it, others might be thinking it.
I found a lot of things troubling about this comment, and as the days went on I kept thinking of more. The best way to get out all my thoughts is separating my points about the commenter’s assumptions into sections:
You don’t have to be “fat” to feel uncomfortable in your skin
I have a small frame. I never say things like, “OMG I am so fat.” No. I know what I look like. I know that what I see when I look in the mirror is not the same as what you likely see, but I know that when it comes down to it I am thin.
I’ve gone through a few stages where I wasn’t “tiny thin” as the commenter describes. In college I was a good 20 pounds heavier. Once I graduated and ate like a normal person again (by normal person I mean person who doesn’t eat four dinners in one night) I lost the weight.
But that’s not even what I tend to think about when I think about being uncomfortable with myself. I think about the time in 2008 when a salesgirl called me thick.
I can’t even begin to describe the pain her words caused for me. At the time I was in the midst of my GI illness with absolutely no idea how to manage it. I was a very healthy eater for a few years by then, so I didn’t know what to do when I gained weight, was constantly bloated and inflamed, none of my clothes fit anymore and I felt uncomfortable. That is the best word to describe it. I was uncomfortable ALL THE TIME. Every weekend I stayed in pajamas in bed because I couldn’t deal with getting dressed and seeing myself. I didn’t want to put on more sweatpants or think about all the jeans that didn’t fit.
It’s hard enough to feel that way and feel so powerless to change it, and an outside source adding fuel to the fire by calling me thick destroyed me.
A couple of years later I got myself into a much healthier place, cleaned up my eating and grew to love effective exercise and really turned my life around from that immensely difficult and depressing time.
And even now, when I had a better handle on everything and was loving working out and all the positive changes I felt and saw, I still have times where I feel uncomfortable. I don’t tend to voice these feelings because of comments just like this. For some reason there is this idea that smaller people don’t have the right to admit they aren’t happy with their bodies.
I hear all the time “Oh you’re so skinny, you can eat as many of those [brownies/cookies/pretzel croissants] as you want!” No. I am in good shape because I work hard at it, because I want to be in great shape. While I eat all the foods I just mentioned, I definitely can’t “eat as many as I want” any more than the next person can! I gain weight or inches just like everyone else. I happen to be on the small side, but when I gain, I feel uncomfortable just like anyone else.
So, while I do have a small frame, I have the same struggles as anyone else at any size. Being small doesn’t mean being fit comes easily for me. I’m not in good shape because I am “tiny thin,” I’m in good shape because I work really hard at it. Erica Sara wrote a very eloquent post about this same thing last year, saying, “People seem to think that because I’m thin, I don’t have feelings.”
Exactly. That comment was mean-spirited; she very easily could have phrased the same point in a different light, but that’s not what she was going for here.
Why does being thin make my gain any less significant than someone else’s?
I don’t actually know how much I gained last year. I don’t own a scale and I don’t measure myself. It is easy to assume that because I am relatively thin that I only gained “an inch,” but my guess is that it was a bit more than that because of the whole not fitting into my clothes thing. That said, even if it is just an inch, why does it matter? What does it matter to anyone else if I want to fit back into my clothes?
It’s not easier (financially) for me to buy a new dress than to exercise
While I focused on the actual dress in my post because it had a lot of meaning for me — I treated myself to an expensive thing I don’t normally buy, I wore it on my first day at my job — the dress itself wasn’t the only clothing issue I had. The problem was almost ALL of my clothes. My jeans didn’t fit, my workout pants felt uncomfortable, my workout tops pulled too much, my skirts didn’t fit and neither did some of my other dresses.
So while I certainly can’t afford to buy a new $300 dress that was a treat to myself every time I gain or lose weight, I REALLY can’t afford to replace my entire wardrobe every time either. I don’t know anyone who can, and I have a hard time believing the commenter can either. And I don’t know why anyone would. It makes no sense, especially when I know it’s not that hard for me to get back into shape.
And if I’m going that route and just buying new clothes but not getting back into shape, what happens when I gain even more than the “inch”? Buy another new wardrobe? And then when my health sucks because I’m in bad shape and I can’t afford my medical bills, what then?
It’s not easier (mentally) for me to buy a new dress than to exercise
Hate to burst the commenter’s bubble, but I hate shopping and I love Refine. It actually IS easier for me to take Refine for an hour than to shop for an hour.
The dress was the vehicle; it was not the point
I only wrote about the dress at all because I was pleasantly surprised when it fit. I usually blog on Tuesdays, and I usually know what I will write about ahead of time. I wrote that post on a Friday afternoon on a whim because I realized the significance of my hard work. I wasn’t tracking or counting or doing anything I wouldn’t normally do. My sister-in-law explained it well when she said the dress was a writing tool for me to express the way I feel about exercise (specifically Refine) and how it relates specifically to me in this one time period. The dress was not the point of my taking Refine classes.
If I make Refine sound like “beating myself up” on this blog, it reflects a weakness in my writing
The point of my post was to demonstrate that beginning ANY fitness routine is extremely difficult, and that like anyone else first starting out, I too wanted to quit.
Even though I just ran a marathon and took Refine for a year before that, it was just as hard for me starting over as for people who never exercised before. But when you stick with it, it gets easier! You improve quickly, you get stronger. I was struggling at Refine for about a month, as I mentioned in the post, before I began to feel strong again.
Once I got past that initial month where the class was more difficult, I fell right back into my groove and was in love with the class once again. I went from being nervous about the classes to craving them, looking forward to them.
My intentions with that blog post was to show that beginning an exercise regime is hard, but it gets better and you can achieve your goals. I never meant for it to seem like I was miserable or like I was beating myself up for months just to lose an inch. If that’s how it came across, then that means I’m not as effective a writer as I’d like to be.
I’ve taken classes that DID feel like beating myself up and while a class like that can also be an excellent workout, I don’t return if I feel that way. I don’t see a need for me, or anyone, to beat themselves up to lose an inch. I don’t do workouts that make me miserable; I work out to feel happy.
I would have taken Refine classes this entire time even if my dress did fit
If I still fit into all my clothes, I still would have started back up with Refine in exactly the same way. I didn’t go back to the class to lose an inch, I went back to the class because I missed it and loved it and I wanted to feel that adrenaline that I feel after every single class. I went back to the class and HAPPENED to lose whatever I gained, but that is absolutely NOT why I went back.
I adore Refine Method. Every day I think about how thankful I am to have a workout in my life that I love so much. I try to get everyone I know to go there because I truly believe they will love it too. The other day after class, I even thought (and considered Tweeting), “I wish I could marry Refine.” That is sad on a number of levels, but yes, I love this workout.
As the Ander wrote in his post 10 Random Things You Don’t Know About Dori: “She Likes The Refine Method – As she’s written here a million times, she is a big fan of this workout. No matter how crappy she feels before, she always comes back with a big smile on her face.”
Would you choose a new dress over that?