Help me enjoy life (if only for a week)
August 30, 2009 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Help me stop dwelling on the negatives and be able to ENJOY my vacation.

Beginning last year, I lost a significant amount of weight. It was a struggle, but it felt absolutely amazing to shed the pounds. Unfortunately, I have let some of the weight creep back on, and am very down in the dumps about this. I keep saying, "tomorrow I'll start all over again, I'll eat healthy and exercise." But countless times I have been unable to actually just f*&king DO it. I know exactly what I need to do to get back on course. I have the benefit of having done it before, so I have that advantage. Here's the problem:

I am leaving on vacation with a friend in a few days. This is something I have been looking forward to for a long time. It is going to be a great time for us to spend together and unwind. However, I have become totally hung up on my weight issues and am finding it hard to muster enthusiasm for this trip. I keep saying, "man, if I hadn't screwed up my weight loss routine I'd be so much thinner for this trip," or "I'm gonna look so fat in my vacation pictures with this double chin." I am going to an amazing place with my very best friend, and instead of putting effort into prepping for the trip all of my energy is focused on the negatives. How can I get over this enough to just enjoy the moment, and take advantage of this once in a lifetime trip? I understand what I need to do to get back on track health-wise. I'm just hoping you guys can give me some advice to help me put aside my neuroses and just enjoy this trip for a week? I want to kick myself for being hung up on my physical appearance. Thanks for reading this long explanation hive. Any help is appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I assume you didn't gain all of the weight back based on your question. The fact that you described it as a significant amount of weight means that you probably feel alot better and move easier than you did before, even if you have rebounded a little bit. So can you focus on those positive things? I lost a bunch of weight myself, and have been lax lately too, but I went on a vacation not that long ago and could only marvel at how much further I could walk, that my feet didn't hurt, and that the plane ride was just fine since I wasn't crowding my seatmates.
posted by cabingirl at 1:21 PM on August 30, 2009

Stop thinking about it as a once-in-a-lifetime trip. If it's THE VACATION TO END ALL VACATIONS, then yeah, you'll want everything to be perfect, and it'll be easy to get hung up on little imperfections. If it's just one of the bajillion awesome things, big and little, that you and your friend will do over the next thirty or forty or fifty years of your lives, then that gives you permission to relax and enjoy it for whatever it is, warts and all.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:21 PM on August 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

First off - stop kicking yourself! Yeah, it sucks that you had a backslide, but that's a part of any learning experience. I too am very self-critical, and I find it helpful to think of myself as a friend. Would I berate my friend like I am berating myself? Would I ever be friends with anyone who was so critical and uncompromising?

It takes practice to shake off disappointment, sometimes we just have to compartmentalize for a while and let the sting wear off. I recommend that you talk to your friend about what fun you are going to have on vacation. Focus on their excitement and look at the trip through their eyes for a little while. Buy something nice to wear, even if it's not in the size you want it to be - make sure it's fabulous. Focus on the outer and let the inner just be for a while. Have fun!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:22 PM on August 30, 2009

I think the one of the best things to do would be to focus on making simple, fun, healthy choices with your friend on this awesome trip. Walk around the neighborhood instead of taking the bus. Eat when you're hungry, enjoying local, fresh, seasonal food in reasonable portions. Don't forget to drink a lot of water (if you're going abroad, be sure to try all the random sparkling waters too!), and don't have too much fun with alcohol so you're ready for another day of cool exploring.

This way, you can "work" toward your eventual goal of being at a weight you're happy with, without actually trying to lose weight in ounces and pounds, and you'll come back with perhaps a different number on the scale, but not any doubt about the choices you made.

The good choices you make on the trip might stay with you too - maybe you'll discover an awesome healthy fruit smoothie that's easy to make at home, or a new way to prepare a favorite dish that's healthier than before, or discover a love for a sport or activity you never knew you might like.

Overall, your vacation is not a sin; the decision to eat something like a pain au chocolat from an amazing bakery in Paris or the ripest mango of your life on a beach in Hawaii is not some violation of the Geneva Conventions of Dieting. Just think quality over quantity.

Example: I had a single scoop of pear gelato here in April and I can still taste it. The next day I went back for a single scoop of lemon gelato - and was, tragically, unable to finish it because the previous day's pear was still such a strong memory. A single scoop of gelato was too overwhelming! The pear had just been too good, too perfect - it's like my body wasn't ready for that level of stimulation. I have never been a person to throw away food, but I was seriously left with no other option. I was shocked that something so small (and so cheap!) had been such a powerful force.

You'll have a great time if you trust your power to make good decisions, and you've already shown you can do that by signing up for a vacation where, by design, you'll be on your feet and seeing awesome stuff and probably being more active than you are right now. Savor this experience!
posted by mdonley at 1:30 PM on August 30, 2009

Practical tip: take more photos than you normally would. If you're worried about catching the occasional unflattering angle, having more photos to choose from means you can weed out the odd double chin or flabby arm. I'm currently doing this with my wedding photos. At first I was all, "Oh man, my arms look FAT in all these photos from the side"--except then I realized, I don't have to show those photos to anyone if I don't want to: I have a bajillion other, more flattering photos I can use. I'm keeping all the digital files we got, but I'm only making prints of the photos I like right now.

(I also think it's important to recognize that there will always be something you don't like about your body, even after you reach your goal weight. It's equally important to recognize that no one cares as much about--or even notices--your "flaws" as much as you do. And on the third hand, it's also worth noting that what you think is ugly/fat, someone else might think is beautiful. However, I'd be a liar if I said I don't fixate on a few pounds I've gained or unflattering photos of me, so the above suggestion is simply a way to manage that.)
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:50 PM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe instead of thinking about how 'fat' you think you'll look, imagine looking back at the photos afterwards and you having a sad Charlie Brown face instead. I second Meg's point about no one else caring as much as you.

I don't know where you're going, but from the sound of it, once you are there, you'll be caught up in the moment. And that is what you should try to focus on.

If you need a mantra, maybe try "coulda, woulda, shoulda..."

Also, my experience is that most vacations have an anxiety-ridden build-up period. Typically this gets eclipsed (if not forgotten) by the awesomeness of the actual vacation. It sounds like yours a big one, so there's even greater pressure.

Definitely talk with your friend about prepping, ask them what they think absolutely cannot be forgotten/ignored before you go. That way, even if you DO fret about this right up until you are there, at least you won't be thinking 'if ONLY I wasn't so hung up on myself, maybe I'd've remembered the camera/flippers/snowshoes/didgeridoo...

good luck, and enjoy!
posted by Busithoth at 2:03 PM on August 30, 2009

I think that there are two central things to remember:

1) There's no changing the past. You weigh what you weigh. While I think that I hear some echoes of not wanting to "waste" this vacation by not having gotten in your best shape, the bottom line is that it would be a way bigger waste to not have the best time you can. Everyone screws up. Let it go, and have the best time you can.

2) No one worries about you, or notices details in the same way you do. You'll be good at some of the things you try on vacation, and you'll probably look ridiculous doing a few. You'll be attractive to some of the people you meet and not to others. This is the way of things. Life won't be different if you weighed a little more or a little less. And, tangentially, whenever I feel a bit ridiculous trying something new, or something that I wasn't sure I was totally prepared for, I've always taken a fair amount of comfort from the zen mantra, "fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."
It's really quite multipurpose.

Good luck!
posted by mercredi at 3:49 PM on August 30, 2009

The Fantasy of Being Thin.
posted by kimdog at 5:17 PM on August 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

Browse around on Shape of a Mother, the Fatshionista Flickriver, and if you're feeling adventurous, do some google image searching for images of nude women who are larger than the standard beauty ideal. Words like "plumper", "chubby", and "BBW" can help start your search, which will be NSFW and pretty eye-opening. Most women in North America would be considered plus size by any modeling agency, lots of them look smokin' hot and stylish, and I find that a big dose of visual reality is really good for re-calibrating expectations about what a woman "should" look like. (I'm assuming you're female, which may be incorrect...? I'm sure you can apply these ideas to find similar sites about men's bodies, if I'm wrong.)

Other tips:
Grab a few outfits that make you feel adorable before you go; get a haircut you like, groom your body hair and nails in a way that suits your aesthetic, and if you roll that way, wear makeup and heels whenever possible, or otherwise make efforts to dress better than usual so you feel groomed and polished.

And reframe your sense of self for the trip: pick some words that make your current size feel attractive, and use those as a theme for the trip. Practice being "luscious" or "pneumatic" or "curvaceous" or "voluptuous" or "hedonistic", and see how that feels.

Have a fun trip. You can always diet when you're dead.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:25 PM on August 30, 2009

The beautiful nekkid fat folks at The Adipositivity Project always help me feel better about my own fat body.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:53 PM on August 30, 2009

I second taking more pictures. Depending on how open you are with your best friend, you can tell her you feel crappy about gaining some of the weight back and would like her to get flattering pics of you during the vacation. This means she won't be too polite to tell you to suck in your gut, or turn more sideways, or not hold your arm against your body, or whatever. Or, if you feel embarrassed to bring that up, just ask her to take lots of pictures, say that's your goal for this vacation, to have several shots of you guys in front of everything that you see. This way you can vary your pose a little in every shot, and chances are you'll have good pictures. And then you get the best of both worlds - you experience whatever amazing things you're seeing, and you get to show people the better pictures of yourself.

Also, stand behind things for pictures. For example if you see a cool statue that's your height, don't stand near it for a picture, but stand behind it and stack your head over it like a totem pole. This way you still get to capture yourself with the statue, but you're not counting your rolls. Be creative and you get to hide your flaws AND have fun pictures that you can show off! And don't cross your arms like you're self conscious, that only emphasizes that you're uncomfortable.

And keep in mind that when you're looking at these pictures, you only notice your flaws, when someone else is looking at them they probably don't even see you because they know what you look like - they are looking at the view in the background, or whatever.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 4:29 PM on August 31, 2009

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