Thursday, July 9, 2009

Phantom Fat

And every morning when she looks in the mirror while getting ready for the day, she sees her former, heavier self. “My brain says, ‘Yep, still fat.’”
I have been struggling a lot with body image this week, so when I found this article from MSNBC on so-called Phantom Fat, I felt a little less crazy for being so hard on myself. What is Phantom Fat, you ask? The article explains it as continuing to carry around and perceive the excess weight that is no longer there after significant weight loss. This has been something I can remember trying to figure out as far back as last year, right before reaching my goal weight. When shopping, I still grab clothes that are too large. I still get nervous about taking too much room in the back seat of a crowded vehicle.

When I look in the mirror and honestly don't see an enormous difference. I still have a belly. My cheeks are still chubby. I won't ever have a "bikini body." Sometimes I wonder if what I see is anything similar to what I look like physically. Last week, a friend exclaimed "You're so skinny!" after not seeing me for about six months and internally all I could think was She's just saying that to be nice.

When I was 270 lbs, I'd look at pictures and not recognize myself because what I saw in the mirror was actually smaller than what I saw in photos or videos. It was always shocking to me, so I avoided looking at photographs displaying my full body. (Note: I remember being thoroughly upset by the photo to the left, taken on a family trip to Gettysburg with my mom.) These days, the opposite is true. I see photographs of myself that others have taken and still don't recognize my body, but now it's because my self-perception is much larger than what I'm assuming I look like in reality.

I always feel like I'm looking in a fun-house mirror. My body is constantly changing and I still don't have a solid sense of what sort of space I'm taking up. The summer before beginning my weight loss venture, I vividly remember breaking not one, but two folding chairs while on on the beach. This was mortifying and has always been something I keep in mind when I don't think I can do another rep or run that final mile. Yet, the other day I found myself stressing out about my upcoming vacation, hoping that my family brings along beach chairs sturdy enough to hold my significantly smaller frame. This can easily be attributed to Phantom Fat. I spent about 20 years of my life being overweight and it's hard to break certain ways of thinking and feeling.

“We become numb to how mean we’re being to ourselves,” Ressler says.

I hope to learn to be a little nicer to my reflection in the future. I'm sure it'll take some work and time, but I think it can be done.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Need of Rest

year two // day 84

On average, I sleep about 6 hours every night. This is 2 hours less than the recommended 8 hours of rest I should be getting. That's 14 hours of sleep I'm missing each week. I know I should be sleeping more, but life gets so hectic that I feel like I want to use as many hours in the day as I can. When I woke up this morning, I knew it was catching up with me. I biked to my apartment from Northern Liberties at 6:30 am at a snail's pace. My legs felt like jello from yesterday's run. On the car ride to work, my body practically begged for more rest. My eyes were heavy and my arms were getting tired just holding the steering wheel.

This is a problem. I work so hard to stay healthy. I eat nutritious foods and I exercise regularly, yet I can't seem to force myself to retire to bed at a decent hour. When I was losing a bulk of my weight, I was also getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night. I've read countless articles about the correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain, so I know better. This week I'm going to make a conscious effort to make it into bed at least an hour earlier. Well-being goes way beyond eating healthy and exercising. I am at my best when I'm well-rested and free from stress. The stress portion will take care of itself in three weeks when I leave for my long and much-needed vacation (!!!!).

My apologies for infrequent posting here, too. If I can make time for an extra hour of sleep, I can certainly make time to keep up with this blog. I honestly haven't concocted anything pretty or healthy enough to post lately. Last night I created an ugly (but tasty!) golden beet & rutabaga mash for dinner. In the past few days I've also made a slightly experimental cupcake to share with friends at the Lawn Chair Drive In. Mostly, though, I've been keeping it simple by eating favorites.

For breakfast:

what's for breakfast? // there are flax flakes under there!


what's for lunch? // black-eyed pea salad

and dinner:

what's for dinner? // goat cheese & scallion omelette

I'll report back as soon as I come up with something more exciting. Perhaps this extra 7 hours of sleep will aid in creativity!