when is enough enough?

In my second nod to Throwback Thursday [#TBT] I bring you a post I originally published a year ago exploring why I, along with other women, struggle with never feeling good (thin, pretty..)  enough. I’m pleased to say that a year later, I do feel I’ve made some good progress and have a healthier mindset. Onward and upward…

[And since you could count my total # of followers on two hands at the time I posted the original, chances are high that very few of you have seen this before, so I look forward to your thoughts.]   

Originally posted June 28, 2013 – edited

Regular readers of this blog know that I am just slightly obsessed with all things pop culture, and that I get my daily fix of Hollywood smut via Lainey Gossip. Don’t judge me.

Earlier this week, Lainey wrote about Melissa McCarthy weighing in on the issue of weight and perspective (no pun intended) in an article with MORE Magazine. Lainey’s post is here, but to save you the click through, this is Melissa’s quote:

“I’ve been every size in the world. Parts of my twenties, I was in great shape, but I didn’t appreciate it. If I was a 6 or an 8, I thought, why aren’t I a 2 or a 4? I bought into it — I should be taller, thinner, have better hair. But I think that’s part of being young. Now, especially with kids, you lose any sense of time or energy to worry about all the little stuff.”

Lainey then goes on to give her perspective. She describes looking at photos of herself taken 10 years ago and marveling at how cute [small, thin] she looked back then. And yet, at the time, being completely dissatisfied with her body. She further goes on to say that 10 years from now she will probably look back at pictures of herself from today and think the same thing.

Whoa!

Her perspective smacked me in the head like a big ol’ encyclopedia. It forced me to recognize just how distorted my own self-image has been my whole life.

Like Lainey, I look back at old photos from my 20’s and 30’s and see someone who looked much better than I remember feeling at the time. How sad is that?

Melissa McCarthy’s quote also rang true for me. It didn’t matter if I had starved myself down to a size 8, it was not good enough. I needed to be a 6.

Insanity. It was a vicious, never-ending cycle.

And speaking of starving myself, I actually did. Literally.

I stopped eating all bread, rice, pasta and potatoes for a year, some 14 or 15 years ago. My body looked great. But I was the mega bitch from hell. Anything and everything would set me off.

I WAS HUNGRY, GODDAMNIT! And that made me one helluva snarky biz-natch.

giphy

I remember one incident so clearly. I was working at a small consulting firm at the time. My boss could have been Larry David‘s long-lost brother. Not because they looked alike, but because they were personality twins. For real.

Anyway, Larry David’s doppleganger decided to bring bagels in one morning for the whole office to enjoy.

They were the really good kind. Authentic.  Jewish.  Delicious.

And they were fresh and piping hot.

300px-_this__is_a_bagel

He opened the first of two big paper bags and the smell wafted over to my desk.

I lost my mind.

Fuming, I made some catty remark about something or another (not related to the bagels), because I had to release some snark to avoid spontaneously combusting from all that bottled up, hunger-fueled, white-hot rage inside me.

That’s when he put his hand in the bag, grabbed a bagel and whipped it across the office, aiming straight for my head, while simultaneously shouting, “Eat some fucking bread, you bitch!”

I believe that was the day I started eating carbs again.

I’m not sure I ever thanked him for that, but I should have.

Being thin and miserable is bullshit. It’s no way to live.

If only I had spent more time sweating and less time depriving myself… Live and learn, as they say.

The most disturbing part of all of that, though, is that even with my body in the best shape it had been in my entire adult life, I still wasn’t satisfied. I still needed to be smaller. Thinner. Tighter. Better.

I wasn’t happy with myself because I still wasn’t as perfect as the ‘beauty standard’ served up to me in magazines, on TV and in movies, as I previously wrote about here.

And so fast forward to today, and me being all evolved and shit. Or am I?…

I’m trying to maintain my focus on being healthy, not skinny. I’m trying to honour myself by listening to my inner voice; analyzing the stuff that bothers me or raises unanswered questions deep inside. I’m also trying to embrace all the successes and wins I’ve had along the way to keep myself motivated for the rest of this journey.

But, like Lainey, I worry.

I worry that when I hit the magic ‘goal weight’ or size, that it won’t be enough.

Will my best be good enough for me?  Or will that hungry, non-carb-eating girl from 14 years ago rear her ugly head and tell me that I would look better if I just lost 5 more pounds?

The jury is out, but I’m hopeful.

I hope, for myself and for all the beautiful women out there who continue to struggle with this, that we all get to a place where our personal best is not only enough, but it’s actually …perfect.

Keep moving!

xoxo nancy

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99 thoughts on “when is enough enough?

  1. I still struggle a lot with that mindset!!

    I am focused on health and fitness and doing this in a healthy way, but there is a part of me that looks at me and says…”you are so fat…just stop stuffing yourself”

    Yes…I know I am not technically stuffing myself anymore…but it is hard work to feel like I am doing enough!

    mind you…noone has ever thrown a bagel at me…

    someone once cooked me dinner because pineapple was not a valid meal mind you…

  2. I have been on the skinny side FOREVER. and guess what, I hated my body. I want curves and boobs and big butt. Stupid. Just miserable discontented mindset. I gave up on that. Hmmm the bigger boobs, I haven’t decided yet but I just want to be healthy. I want to live longer and not be a sickly old woman so I can enjoy retirement when my kids start wanting to stay away from me.

    • Too skinny, too curvy…two sides of the same coin: both striving to look like the perfect images we see in the media.

      I just want to be healthy too, Jhanis. Health first, everything else is just gravy.

  3. I can somewhat relate to this… but since I made a daily commitment to the “crotchstrainer” four years ago, which caused quite a dramatic change in my body shape. I was 38 then and I knew it was ‘now or never’. And I did it, after a zillion shot-term (and, ultimately, failed attempts of dieting and exercising).

    Sure, I could be another eight pounds lighter if I laid off the carbs and the cakes, lol, but it’s NOT worth it. I’ve learnt how to choose my clothes, i.e. which styles flatter my wide-hipped, narrow-waisted shape and which don’t. That’s 90% of the secret, anyway 😉

    • So not worth it, Simone; I couldn’t agree more.

      Reprogramming our minds is often more work than re shaping our bodies. Objectively I can look at myself now and acknowledge I look good. Mentally though, I still struggle with: oh look at that spot there…I could stand to lose 5 more pounds…

      • But what’s the point, I ask you? Would anyone look at you and think to themselves “she’s fat!”? I doubt it. It did bother me when I was on the chubby side, and it would still bother me now, I must admit. However, minor issues, like a bit of belly fat (that I’m never going to get rid of) can be camouflaged quite effectively. I mean, I’m hardly going to run around in a crop top in my forties, am I??? 😉

      • You’re right, it’s really just that last chunk of belly fat. And you’re right, it’s only in a bikini or in the bedroom that it would be on display. Good clothing definitely disguises the “issue”. 🙂

        And – honestly – I’m not prepared to give up bread or cake to address the issue. 🙂

  4. Great post, Nancy. We skewer our self esteem with our skewed perspectives. I’m glad he tossed that bagel your way. Life is too short to omit food as one of life’s great pleasures.

    Many/most/all humans are delusional. We accept what conforms to our beliefs and reject any and all evidence to the contrary.

    By way of example, in college, when I was slim and trim, I saw only my imperfections and envisioned myself as an impossibly large gargantuan plodding oaf.

    Fi Fie Fo Fum.

    When I flip through photo albums and see photos of me THEN, now . . . I am amazed (and dismayed) at my ridiculously skewed judgment back then.

    What the hell was I thinking?

    In like vein, now that I am not so young and lithesome, I see myself in my mind’s eye as youthful and spry. Until I see photographic evidence to the contrary or am taken aback by peering into the mirror and really seeing myself as I am, today.

    Wow! When did THAT happen?!

    Given that we are subject to delusions in our thinking, the trick is to make our delusions work FOR us not AGAINST us. Visualize yourself as you want to be . . . and you will become. Or you won’t.

    But in the meantime, you’ll be far happier.

  5. Nancy, without ever having seen you, I can assure you that you’re a beautiful woman. You’re funny, caring, and determined. You have it where it counts. I’m glad you’re physically healthy, and that IS important, but it’s your insides that matter most.

  6. LOL, I love this!
    I have never given up carbs – I would be miserable if I could’t eat bread, totally miserable. Instead I’m learning to enjoy food, but in smaller quantities!
    And adding exercise… my brain plays the game “If I eat this I have to work out an extra X amount of time” and I have to decide if it’s worth it.
    Frequently, it is! 🙂

    • That’s exactly right, Kate – it is simple math really. Calories in versus calories burned. It’s why I workout like a fiend…because I like food, and I refuse to deprive myself anymore!

  7. I constantly look at old photos of my former hot self and although I miss that body, I don’t miss the person inside of it. I was an empty shell then. A thin toned beautiful empty shell. You can’t have everything. I hate my tits now but I love who I am(most days).

    • I’m pretty sure it’s only my belly I hate these days. I’m giving this whole exercise thing another 6 months and then turning to lipo to get rid of the last bit. Just kidding. Sort of.

  8. Another point, Nancy, is that as you and I inevitably age……our faces thin ( whether we want them to or not)! I have actually gotten to the point where losing a
    ‘Another 5 lbs’ makes me look gaunt in the face- actually looking ill! European women age and want their faces to look good – not worrying quite so much about the body…..American women age and want the body to look good not worrying so much about the face. I’ve seen way too many 40+ women with skinny bod’s and emaciated faces- they look horrible!! I have found a range of pounds that the scale, my face and my body are all happy with ( not saying I’m there right now!)….but it also gives you some flexibility if you live your life for a number on the scale 🙂

    • Great point, Joan. And excellent observation on the European mentality versus the North American. It’s probably a factor in the amount if injectables that NA women shoot into their faces; they need to plump up what they’ve starved out…

  9. Had to tweet this! Wonderful article. I’ve had the same experience of looking back at photos 10 years later and remembering how chubby and awkward I felt but the photos definitely did not correspond with the memories. And I akways feel so sad when that happens. What a sad way to spend our lives. Never feeling good enough 😦

  10. Whoa, sister…too bad you don’t tell it like it is! 🙂

    I’ve lived long enough – long past long enough actually – to know that these are wise words you’ve written here.

    When I was in my 20’s and weighed 117 lbs, I was doing NutriSystem and Atkins and all kinds of BS to try to get down to 110 pounds. Even my family kept telling me, “If only your thighs weren’t so big!”) I wore a size 5 and was a 34-22-34.

    Today, I have a niece who is adorable. She is petite and weighs 115. Everybody today comments on how cute she is and she truly is. I gave her a couple of dresses to wear that I wore (and saved) from back in my days of my “fat” thighs and “If only you could lose 10 pounds.” They fit her beautifully and in today’s sizes, she’s a size 2.

    Go figure. Times have definitely changed with increased waistlines, new sizing, and Photoshop UNreality.

    You summed it all up beautifully in your last paragraph: (you’re my new fitness guru wise-one, by the way): ” I hope, for myself and for all the beautiful women out there who continue to struggle with this, that we all get to a place where our personal best is not only enough, but it’s actually …perfect.”

    I hope you don’t mind if I share this on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/fitnessphotochallenge

  11. “Eat some f***ing bread, you bitch!”—Best. Line. Ever. Needs to make it into a movie with Samuel L. Jackson.

    I’ve said it before on your blog, and I’ll say it again–life’s too short for deprivation. Unless one absolutely can’t stop eating a certain food, then I say most things are fair game if eaten in moderation. A Cold Stone Creamery treat once a month never hurt anyone. A Cold Stone Creamery treat every day? Well, that’s gonna pad those hips. Some people are great about cutting out all the naughties, and I applaud them. To completely give up sugar takes hard work and dedication. I know I don’t have it in me, so instead I use my noggin to avoid overdoing it.

  12. I didn’t know you when you originally posted this post and am so glad you re-posted it!!! You showcase a sadly, too familiar way of thinking we all share! Why do we beat ourselves up so much!! Sigh…

    I love Melissa Mcarthy and the way she thinks! OMG, I also absolutely LOVE the GIF of the girl “applying” her lipstick. It is the best thing I’ve seen all day!! I will have to try it sometime.

    Re: carbs, which I am cutting back on at the moment, I so hear you! I become the ultimate brickhouseBITCH!! Because of this, I am not cutting ALL of them. I have some, but early in in the day.

    When will we all be happy with ourselves?

    • The GIF made my life! I can’t wait to bust out that move the next time a situation warrants it. 🙂

      Cutting back is cool. Moderation is awesome. Deprivation just sucks. And it makes me homicidal.

  13. As a guy, I have a hard time relating to this – because I don’t understand it.
    I’m sorry you (and all women) have to go through the pressure of an idealized body image that’s unrealistic.
    fortunately, there seems to be more backlash than usual against it these days. Hopefully that will keep up until woman are just accepted as beautiful, no matter what their shape.

    • Thanks Kathy! (But sorry to hear you’ve been plagued with the sane issue… I wish there weren’t so many of us.). Awareness is key. When we’re mindful of it we can (hopefully) overcome those crazy negative thoughts.

  14. There are two ways of looking at this. When you stop worrying about/improving/refining your diet and health regime and decide it’s good enough, will you back slide? The self criticism needs to stop but your crap food/lazy daze policman needs to stay on one shoulder while your healthy/happy angel balances you out!
    P.S. Bagels would never do the trick for me. I hate them.

    • You can’t get a good bagel in most of the US, so I’m not surprised. NYC, Toronto, Montreal…now we’ve got some GREAT bagels. Not those franchise wannabes. 🙂

  15. *sigh* you know I get your, girl. I’m always ALWAYS working on this perspective (which is why it was so important for me to share Jennie’s post today). This subject is something I always carry with me, like a burning ember in my gut. I’m in a good place now (healthier perspective), but 6 months ago that wasn’t the story. And I’m forty-effing-three! You’d think I’d have learned by now. But no. I’ll always be within different tenses of this balance. Was. Am. Will be.

    • Perfect timing on Jennie’s post, Beth. How beautifully empowering and inspirational.

      43? How about 47, my dear??? And, like you, I think I’ll also waffle between the was, am, will be tenses. Perfectly put. ❤

  16. What’s hardest about this is that our bodies conspire to trip us up. As soon as I find a regimen that works for me, my body says, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. NOPE.” So, I just don’t care anymore. I feel great, even if I’m not rail thin anymore. I wish I could still order that last size 2 sparkle dress on the J Crew clearance and have it fit, but I can’t. I’m a six (if I’m lucky and find vanity sizing) or an eight. Because life’s too short to not eat bread sometimes. (I hope you ate that bagel.)

    • Life is absolutely too short not to eat bread.

      I didn’t eat that bagel, that day, because I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. Rest assured I ate plenty in the days that followed. 🙂

  17. What you pointed out about the endless spiral of “never good enough” really sticks with me. The place I’ve landed in trying to avoid the spiral is “I can’t be all the things all the time.” When work and family are stressful, I will gain a few pounds and not look as well-groomed. When work and family are sailing along, I’m likely leaving work a few minutes early to make a yoga class and I’m also eating better, drinking more water… YOU know… so I’m all glowy. But I wouldn’t give up my career or my loved ones anymore than I’d want to lose control of my body, so… they all fluctuate as life demands.

    Anyway, now that I’ve soap-boxed all over your blog… I really liked this post, and I will never forget your boss throwing a bagel at you. Isn’t it the absolutely best when people snap and say what they really think?!

    • Oh Jennie, that boss snapped on the regular, but this time it was both a) warranted, and b) funny as hell. (Maybe not so much to me at the time, but …seriously, that was freaking funny!)

      Love your description of the ebbs and flows of focus on health and beauty, based on what else is going on in our lives at the time. When I took on the big goal of working out every day of 2013, I was unemployed, and had nothin’ but time on my hands! That made it infinitely easier to head the gym for 2-3 hours a day. I was very lucky. Now it’s all about striking a balance, and respecting those ebbs and flows. …And also learning to love myself whether I’m up 10 lbs or down 5 lbs. I’m deserving of self-love and self-respect regardless.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

  18. First: That GIF is the FUCKING BEST AND I WANT TO SEND IT TO LIKE 50 PEOPLE WHO PISS ME OFF.

    Second: Sorry I yelled at you in caps, that was uncalled for.

    Third: Lainey Gossip is my jam and I feel like we’ve spoken about this before.

    Fourth: I feel like this all the time. I can’t do a lot of carbs due to the ‘betes and good lawd I’m a bitch without them. It’s awful. I just do everything in moderation so I’m not an evil hungry she-beast.

    • ANGELLE…SHUT UP!!!! YOU KNOW [OF] LAINEY???

      OMG….

      Now we are BFFs for REAL!!

      There’s a Facebook group (I know you hate FB…) called Lainey Lurv. Please, please, please join it!! A bunch of hard-core Lainey readers rehash on stories she posts and other gossip. the snark is off the charts. Even for me.

      p.s. Who wouldn’t be a she-beast when they’re hungry and carb-deprived???

      p.p.s. That Veronica Mars GIF made my life. Made. My. Life.

  19. Hey Nancy! I too missed this the first time around. I’m thinking this should be put in book form and make it available to the world. Great post. And seriously…I’m just finishing up my first compilation and putting it in book form which I will be selling on Amazon and as a kindle AND selling on my blog. All those old posts we have need to see some more light of day and great ones like this are really important. If you want me to ‘splain how to do it….just let me know. ~Kathy

    • Thanks Kathy! I’ve been threatening to compile and publish in eBook format for a long time. I think if like to do more than just publish straight from a compilation of all the individual posts, by adding some more colour to individual stories and adding some new stuff too. I know this will take more time than I’ve got at the moment, but I really, really do want to do this. I will definitely take you up on your offer to show me the ropes! Thanks!!

  20. I totally, completely, 100% relate to what you’re saying here, Nancy. I look back at photos of my high school and twenties and can’t believe how thin I am. And I was never satisfied. I had long stretches of bulimia and all sort of other issues and for the ice of me don’t really know why now, except I had major body image issues. I’ve made a lot of peace with all that at my age, but I’m very committed to healthy eating and exercise. I could do better, but once again, some of that is about perfectionism, which will always be a negative. 😦

    • I hear you (and completely relate) in both the body image issues and the perfectionism. A bad, bad combo. I continue to work on both. It seems to get a bit easier as I age. It’s a work in progress…

  21. I could totally relate to this post. I’ve been battling my weight – and the resulting self -esteem issues that accompany it – my entire life. Maybe that’s why I’m such a wing-nut … I’m trying to find the place where I ‘fit’.

    What I found really interesting was your reaction to no-carbs – bread, pasta, rice etc. I too went no-carbs for about a year and it was the best I ever felt in my life – I slept well, had lots of energy and was – well, happy.
    I didn’t have the snarly, hungry experience you had – although periodically I would dream about toast 🙂
    I wonder how 2 people could have such a dramatically different experience? Maybe there is some truth after all in the eating-right-for-your-type kind of diet.

    • Sounds like there’s definitely something to it, Joanne. I crave bread (and related, like pasta) above all else. More than chocolate, more than fruit, more than, well, anything. Depriving myself of something I truly ENJOY eating for so long just made me angry. That said, it is the only time in my adult life my stomach was completely flat. That’s a trade off I’m just not willing to make at this stage though. 🙂

  22. Sing it, sister! I look back at my former young thin self in the same way. Interesting that after many years of struggling with my weight (after the young, thin phase), the exercise and healthier eating have come so much easier to me this last couple of years. I recently found some old weight records and I was shocked at how much I actually weighed just 12 years ago. Frightening combination of work stress, no exercise, which made the stress worse, and just eating to fill that void. I lost a good deal of it after that, and then gained a lot back. Since September of 2012, when a trip to Europe reminded me that fresh food is so much healthier and tastes so much better. Since then, it has been more of a natural process.

    Anyway, it is sad that we beat ourselves up at almost any weight/health. We need to learn to appreciate our health and cultivate that ease in our own skin. Not that I don’t have the days where I cuss that belly… Maybe the appreciation and ease only comes with age, who knows? It certainly has for me, and for that, I am grateful! Thanks for writing this so beautifully!

  23. I try to be skinny and healthy as well. No one can live up to the images that the media feeds us, so we also need to be able to put in perspective what our limitations might be. Setting a realistic goal, with a healthy lifestyle at its core seems to be the most sustainable way of getting and staying fit.

    • For me, as soon as I moved the goal from ‘getting skinny’ to ‘getting healthy’, something clicked and everything fell into place. Today I workout every day, walk at least 10,000 steps, hike mountains of 13,000’+, etc. because that’s just my life. Adopting a healthy lifestyle – and then enjoying the physical benefits that fell out of that (from dropping blood pressure meds entirely, to dropping 2 clothing size) were just the fantastic bi-products.

      • I’d love to get there. I take statins now for cholesterol, and hopefully I’ll be off of them by October. When I eat healthy, my energy is great, and my skin feels and looks healthier. I trip up during sport season, when I rushing my kids from one field to another and dinner is had at the local snack shack. I need to do a better job!

      • Fast food is the killer, for sure. I saw a meme on facebook, something like, “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”. And that is true. It takes a shit ton of movement to burn 2,000 calories. That’s one fast food meal…

      • I work near a Panera and they have some excellent salads that I’ll treat myself to. It’s when the planning is absent and when I’m in a rush that the crap food enters my face. Gotta change that.

      • Awareness/consciousness is key. On occasion I will CHOOSE to do In ‘n Out Burger, or [gasp] McDonalds, like I did after the crazy Grand Canyon hike. The point is, it’s a conscious choice, and not the easy/convenient one.

        During my previous road trip back in Aug 2013, we had to HUNT for healthier food options along the way. But if you look, you’ll find them. There’s usually a Subway at/near a BurgerKing/McD’s, etc. It’s all about making the conscious choice that supports the life you want to live.

        I know your journey will see you progressively making better choices.

  24. Pingback: well this explains everything | my year[s] of sweat!

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