Thursday, 16 September 2010

Do We Need Competition?

I have had a bit of a jolt over the last few days.  I have felt a stir of unease...and yes, jealousy if I am being honest. People have succeeded where I have so far failed..or at least been messing around, and I have felt uncomfortable about my efforts.

Here's my get-out clause before I tell you about it.: I tend to like people generally. I wish those I know well, always. When they are happy, I am happy.  In blog-land there are lots of people I don't 'know' but their efforts and successes really thrill me. When I read blogs and people are either doing really well, are full of purpose and determination, or successfully working their way through the slimming mire, I am delighted for them - truly pleased. In my head I am wishing them all the best or thinking "You can do this. I relate to what you are going through..."

I also find it really interesting to read their thoughts. It's impossible I think to have anything but good wishes for fellow bloggers who are trying to lose weight. We are all in this together. We may approach our problems from different angles, we may find different ways of succeeding, we may go at losing weight like a bull at a gate, or a snail in a garden full of greenery, (that one describes my efforts!) or somewhere in between, but our aim is the same. When a person is delighted because their body is shrinking, I am truly pleased for them. There is no envy...the success of others in blog-land is like a kick up the behind for me. I tell myself it IS possible to lose a lot of weight. It can be done.

So....why have I had my nose put out of joint recently?

Last week I called in to see a friend (an ex colleague) I haven't seen for a while - since March - and her daughter Angie made me a cup of tea whilst her mother ran out into the garden to take the dry clothes off the line as the heavens opened and the rain came down. She is 29 and an extremely bright and talented girl, friendly and outgoing, well qualified and holds down a good job, but in the almost twelve years I have known my friend, her daughter has always been extremely big. She was obese. Lardy. She waddled rather than walked and always seemed to have to catch her breath when speaking if she'd been moving for any length of time..and by that I mean movement around the house. (Sorry if that sounds cruel, but let's not pretend that isn't as it is.)

However..last week when I saw her it was VERY obvious that she had shed LOTS of pounds! WHAT A TRANSFORMATION! Angie is a pretty girl, but isn't it incredible how people really blossom when their fat suit shrinks? Her face wasn't puffy, she had just one chin and her lovely eyes weren't stuck in deep sockets under heavy lids any more. What was really noticeable was her shoulders. They weren't rounded any more. Her 'feck' (as she herself called it...her face/neck - just one body part!) had seperated. Her neck had grown! Her upper arms weren't massive and chunky, her back wasn't rounded, and her elbows were bony. She had a waist too! Now, she was by no means 'slim' (not yet!) but wow - she looked SO different, and so much more (it has to be said because it is the case) - attractive. Now I know the sisterhood isn't supposed to compare, believe that our fat makes us lesser people...but hold on. This very big young woman had lost a lot of weight and she did look amazing. She also looked, for the first time I'd known her, like a young woman..not someone past their prime.  She looked so much better for losing weight. I congratulated her on her efforts. Angie was thrilled that I was so surprised. I told her she looked good. She did....and WAIL....I didn't!!!!!!

All of a sudden, I was the fattest person in the room. THUD. Horrible realisation that someone has lost weight and I haven't...well, not much. No one is noticing my missing lbs. I began to feel a bit uncomfortable......or was I jealous?

'The surest route to breeding jealousy is to compare. Since jealousy comes from feeling less than another, comparisons only fan the fires.'
~ Dorothy Corkville Briggs

Ooooh. I secretly felt some shame. Just telling it like it is. If Angie can really succeed in shedding the pounds, why haven't I? OK, so comparisons are odious, but I secretly vowed to increase my efforts. Of course, a few days later and the shock factor/shame element fades, and I continued to bumble on in my own sweet way.

Shock number two. I rushed out of the house early this morning to catch a bus. I was chairing a meeting in town. Who should be at the bus stop when I got there but my neighbour and good friend Janet. She is the same age as me. We'd become firm friends when our children were little, (we've known each other for about 28 years!) and in that time Janet and I have attended slimming clubs (I was only a little overweight - Janet had a lot of weight to lose) and together we bemoaned our less than trim figures and generally put the world to rights. She has been a wonderful, reliable friend and neighbour and although we don't see much of each other these days now the children have grown and we aren't tied to the house as much, when we do get together on rare occasions, we always have a laugh and enjoy catching up with each others news. . Janet always used to say I had very little to lose..I worked then, she was at home all day. My rushing about kept me slim(ish). Janet used to lose weight and gain it back..and then as she returned to work we didn't see each other as we usually did but when we bumped into each other we'd catch up.. but I hadn't seen her for a while..we are like ships that pass in the night of late. When I last saw her I was having a moan about my big body. Women together can do that...and we remain nice people...we always tell each other how wonderful we are too, but there is no denying our fat bodies tended to be what we would change if we could. I have gained a lot of weight this decade..most of it in the last six years and in many ways it has been beyond my control, but I didn't do anything about it either, when I was able to.

Eeek! as I approached the bus stop I was aware that Janet had lost a lot of weight too! Just like Angie, Janet was looking GOOD! (Why do people look younger when they lose weight???) Now she didn't look awful before, but all of a sudden, she looked 'transformed' and there is no other word for it! She told me her doctor had advised her to lose weight. She'd had a knee operation and had been suffering with pains in both knees and ankles for years. Her extra weight didn't help, but she found it hard to keep it off once she lost it. Now...she was looking slimmer than I'd ever seen her! I congratulated her on her efforts and told her how good she looked. She said she felt years younger for losing 40+ pounds. Like Angie, she has done it alone. There have been no special foods or slimming clubs - just sheer hard work and determination, a sensible eating plan and more exercise has brought about their smaller, trimmer figures. Janet had more weight to lose but she was much smaller than when I'd last chatted with her. She'd coloured her hair and styled it differently and I was really impressed. She said she felt like a 'new woman' and I was so pleased for her. She is a great woman and a lovely person. She glowed...she DID look like a new woman. All I know is, being fat has affected my confidence. I'd like to say it hasn't, but it has. Janet was delighted with her weight loss.

She got off the bus before I did and I was again left to reflect on my lack of loss. OK, so at least I am losing weight, and as I said before, comparisons with other women serve no purpose, but I did feel secretly jealous that they looked good and I didn't, particularly. OH life is about more than having a slim, trim body. I know that. But life in a fat body can be difficult too, as we all know. Again I resolved to grab the bull by the horns, be strict with myself, up the exercise, lower the calories....but as I write now, hours later, the initial impact of another person, a friend losing weight, has deserted me.

This is my struggle. I have to do it for me, and if anything, I have to be inspired by the efforts of Angie and Janet - two women who were bigger than me who are now smaller than me. Ouch. It stings....and makes me feel that I am lacking in some way. I am not. I just haven't given it my all as they have. Simple. My problem. The solution rests with me, and I know that and have from the day I consciously began to eat mindfully with the intention of losing weight and shaping up.

I know losing weight isn't a race and I know we all have to do it in a way which suits us, at a pace which suits us, but I really have thought about setting myself a few goals. Well, perhaps tomorrow, because daughter called round and left a packet of chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies for us as they were on special offer at her local supermarket. Did I need one with my last cup of tea? No. Did I have one - or two or three of them? Yes.

And I wonder why others are succeeding whilst I am crawling along taking off weight and putting it back on. Hey need to call Sherlock Holmes.

Anyway...these things have been on my mind today. I'll say here and now that I caught the bus today so I could go to a large government office and chair a meeting. (I am an independent member of the committee. I volunteered for the role, was interviewed and elected.) I did that successfully, even though the agenda was packed and the gathering of members loud and unsettled. I brought order to the proceedings and drew the meeting to a close skillfully. I'd done my homework, knew what were the pertinent parts up for discussion and steered the group away from the time-wasting blind alleys some were keen to go down. I felt proud and was thanked by the head of the service and the secretary taking notes. Both complimented my handling of a difficult agenda. That made me feel good and reminded me that we have to look for all the things in our lives which make up what we are. Our fat padding is temporary and doesn't alter the person inside. I do know however that two formerly fat (and lovely) women are feeling a whole lot better about themselves after shedding weight - and that I am - I really am, happy for them. I might not be where they are now, but I can get there. I know that.  

I don't know if you identify with any of my thoughts - you may have a different way of looking at things, but I am aware a friend looking so much slimmer has the ability to unsettle me. I have recently seen two fat women shed pounds. All I can say is....blimey, their efforts were worth it! I am not competing. That would be silly, but perhaps my complacency has been shaken a little. My comfort zone is far too comfortable! :)

Does anything ever make you sit up and take notice, and then work harder in your efforts to lose weight?

Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.  ~ Alan Watts


  1. As for me, I was making progress, slowly, but life has intervened to speed it up. I ambled along so long that medical problems cropped up. I won't look back and whine but I will work hard at trying to salvage a brighter future.

  2. I to like Glenn am making progress. I have ran up on friends though that were heavy like me and they had lost most of their weight. I was green all over with jealously let me tell you. Sometimes it helps to see what other people can do though and maybe this was the jolt you needed to shake you out of your comfort zone as you say. You can do it.. Wonderful post..

  3. Wow..the same thing happened to me this past week (are you sure you aren't me in another zone? Wow) and I've been feeling exactly the same way.
    I have a friend who went to the gym with me back when I lost the weight before. She was about the same size as me and we both lost a lot of weight together, then life happened for both of us and we both dropped out. I saw her last summer and she had gained all of her weight back too...I had heard that she also started going back to the gym but hadn't run into her until this past week..and damn if she didn't look good..she is almost back to where she was in her weight loss..I know that I shouldn't be jealous and I am truly happy that she is looking so good but I still Wish it was me..Why can't I wake up in the morning and look that good? Here I am working my butt off at the gym and I still haven't lost any about discouraging. And I know that I should use "T" as an incentive but it actually almost put me on a "binge"...and I keep remembering that it's harder to lose the older you get. "T" is in her 30's and me ..I'm over 50...Life just isn't fair sometimes..

  4. Great post. Yes. There are several things that make me sit up and take notice. I have blogged about a few (Cigarettes are no good for your health). By Dr. Fit to Fat says it louder than I am able here. Kiss My Ass.... and....Are you Willing? (
    from Dr. Fatty Finds Fitness by Dr. Fat To Fit. Read it. Then go to Sean Anderson’s blog and read his latest posts. Don't get discouraged. My pounds are coming off very, very slowly (only 16 pounds down after almost 3 months. But they are coming off. You are worth it. You need to do it now. Arm yourself. Slay your dragons. Michele

  5. FG,

    Girl, I have been there....and been there again...and been there again. J is breathing down my neck threatening to pass me up, and of course you know that B has become a scuba skinny with a lot of gas (literally). It's hard...and you get pissed because others seem to be doing the work with no work at all...but like I say to J in our daily morning chat, "Damn it...WE ARE WORTH IT" and so are you .

    Fight the good fight~

  6. You have your health, be grateful. You can choose to nurture that, to improve on it and make your life a delight, or you can choose not to. Right now I'm watching someone face far scarier things than having to face down some skinny chicks. You want to get thinner, healthier and walk down that aisle with the man that loves you then DO IT.

    Go read the last two weeks of Head Nurse That will give you some perspective.

    Then, get your stuff in gear. Good luck, good life.

    Barb, more than a little bit cranky and maybe a bit unfair

  7. I have no answers (for anything) but good luck, dont worry about griping, youre only human and keep smiling, I'm sure people see the real you underneath your problem.

  8. Oh dear you sound discouraged. Please know that it is not too late. I am older than you, I assume, and have lost (drum roll) 70 lbs this year. I am amazed. Sometimes it just takes a wake up call. Mine was numb toes...and fear of getting *the diabetes*, and visions of future missing limbs. EEEEEEEKK! In other words, it takes what it takes. Then, kind of suddenly, biscuits and breads and other tempting foods just didn't seem too tempting anymore. The payoff in short term pleasure didn't trump the reality of, say, future missing feet. Sigh. I wish it had taken less for me to get my fanny in gear and wake up years earlier to the certainty of more future pain as a fat woman. Certainly social pressure didn't faze me. I was as loveable then (70 lbs heavier) as I am now, and as I will be 40 lbs lighter, next year. Love-ability has nothing to do with it. Live-ability has everything to do with getting on with this task. Good luck dear. You are worth it!


  9. Barb wrote: "You have your health, be grateful."

    You make assumptions Barb. The bag full of prescription medicines I pick up every month indicate otherwise. Thankfully I am not terminally ill, but my health has declined considerably this last decade. My sons also have health problems - serious ones. On Saturday I dealt with one of those, which manifested itself in convlusions. I dealt with it and didn't have to call an ambulance. All weekend the results of that adenaline rush of fear has affected me adversely. Believe me when I say that I wish we all were in good health. Some have better health, others have it a lot worse. It's rather insulting to assume my worries amount to the thinner appearance of two of my friends. It was a post to illustrate a point, that's all, and I am always aware of my blessings despite life's worries.